Dangaizer 3 Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, September 20, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2002
What They Say
Avid gamer Hina Mitsurugi loves the fast paced action of battle. Whether it's blasting away the competition on her favorite arcade game or watching the latest kickboxing match, she's always ready for a good fight. When an innocent outing with friends turns into an all out battle for survival, Hina must put her virtual battle skills to the test in the real world - only this is no game and she doesn't get a second chance!
Hunted by assassins and thrown into a battle between ancient gigantic robots, Hina is in for the shock of her life - it seems she's one of the pilots of Dangaizer, the most powerful robot of all time!
Now her and her fellow pilots, Cindy and Reika, have been targeted for annihilation by Dangaizer's ancient enemies, the evil organization of Goma. Somehow the trio must awaken Hina's past memories and unlock her destiny before Goma manages to destroy Dangaizer and seize control of the entire planet!
Hina loved high-tech battle, she just never thought her life would become one!
Masami Obari and his designs are back for another four part OVA series, with the first two parts here. Knowing my love/hate relationship with Obari, I wasn’t sure how this one would go over.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The series features a pretty standard stereo mix with some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the music sounds particularly good. We listened to this disc fully in English as well and had no issues with it.
Released in 1999, these episodes are some very high quality OVA pieces of work. The transfer here brings the quality through quite well, with only a few extremely minor things bothering me, such as a bit of tiny edge cross coloration during the ending sequence (which is drawn images by Obari) and one of the villains in the second episode. This is just so minor though that it barely even registers unless you’re looking for it. Otherwise, colors are vivid and richly layered, blacks are nice and solid and overall things look excellent.
The front cover is a decent looking image of the three main heroines in their combat outfits with a soft colored version of the Dangaizer in the background. The back cover is I think the first Right Stuf back cover that feels like every other companies release – and I mean that in a very positive way. There’s several small animation shots and a good summary of the shows premise. The discs features and basic production information is also clearly listed. Since this is a review copy, no insert is included. The package is a clear keepcase, but the reverse side is just white.
The main menu has most of the features right on it, keeping things a slight bit crowded but quick to access. There’s a good static animation collage of various characters from the show with the opening song playing to it. Language selection is available on the main page, though just for audio. If you select Japanese, you’ll get subtitles, but if you want subtitles with the English track (such as I do for second viewings), you have to set that on the fly.
There’s a couple of extras here, with the really useful one being several pages of background information that’ll give some very helpful clues into why things are they way they are here. There’s also a brief video gallery of shots from the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the years, Obari’s done a fair amount of work that hasn’t excited me all that much in terms of story. And sometimes visually as well when he’s the character designer, as he’s very much of the big fanservice style with women who would never be able to stand upright if they existed. Dangaizer 3 continues with the stories that make little sense, but the visual flow of this show is just highly engaging this time around.
The story of Dangaizer 3 is highly reminiscent of Hades Project Zeorymer to me, and that being a favorite, I’m definitely interested in this show. The series takes place in the future in Neo Hong Kong, as we get introduced to young Hina Mitsurugi. She’s like most high schooler’s her age, but she’s also a bit different in that she’s a big arcade game fanatic and plays them as much as possible. We see her late to a concert with her friends since she played thirty three rounds of Nexus undefeated. Overall, she comes across as a slightly ditzy but really good person.
On the other side of things, a mysterious dark organization is playing a game of some sorts, talking about checkmate and jokers and revivals. There’s a lot of mystery to what they talk about early on, but their primary concern is the apparent arrival of a new joker to the game. Some spirited discussion among the normal looking members and those in their stylized outfits ensues, but eventually it comes down to one of them will take on this joker and end this particular problem.
To complicate matters is an archaeologist and his team who have discovered a vast underground civilization and are in the process of exploring part of it. The stereotypical leader in his safari gear goes on about this civilization, which is thousands and thousands of years old and extinct. They were very highly advanced and had used the concept of Feng Shui to harness the planets natural energies to build their society. They also liked giant shiny robots, because they built several of those as well, with four of them being the four main forces of air, water, land and fire. The fifth one was their big project, the Dangaizer. While the elemental ones only required one pilot, the enormous capabilities of Dangaizer required three pilots.
Like any good ancient civilization, they all destroyed themselves and left their stuff behind. So now that it’s something like 10,000 years later, we’ve got the evil group whose found the elemental robots and then this wacky archaeologist and his group who accidentally unleash the Dangaizer robot upon the world. The release of this robot is of course a blessing in disguise.
Because, as it turns out, young Hina is considered to be the joker that doesn’t really affect anything. So when the bad girl Crimson Sapphire arrives on the scene of the concert and starts a combat engagement with Hina in a special separate spatial location, Hina’s long dormant abilities begin to rise to the surface, and she gets the aid of two other woman who are also drawn by their history and nature. As expected, all three are destined to pilot the newly revived Dangaizer and defeat the evil people and their plans for world domination.
It is a fairly standard plot, but the first two episodes are heavily couched in doublespeak and dialogue that makes no sense without a good amount of background. That throws off the first episode quite a bit, but by the second episode as we get to know more of the characters, the flow really starts to work well. If you’ve seen a show liked Hades Project Zeorymer before, especially with that being very Feng Shui oriented, you’ll find yourself very easily getting into the show and letting things reveal themselves as they go on. But definite kudos to Right Stuf for providing a good section of background information.
Obari managed to really impress me this time around with the character designs. While his characters often have breasts that defy all laws of physics and gravity, they’re for the most part much better here, with only a couple of characters having breasts that don’t belong on those sized frames. The general design of the characters is nicely detailed, more so than a TV series due to its OVA origins, and this is really enhanced by the color palette used. What’s really eye-catching is the combat uniforms the women wear when they go to pilot their respective robots. They’re a mix of modern, classic roman and standard anime conventions with sigils and runes that just look amazing.
I was also glad at the way Hina played out. With her origins showing a very game-influenced life, it was refreshing (much like Yamamoto Yohko) to have a character whose sure of their abilities once they get going and stand up to the more veteran members. When she gets chastised by a teammate, she stands up for herself and says things along the lines of the need to try new things and to experiment, especially since it’s all new. She knows it’s not a game, but the training she’s gotten from games over her life manages to provide her with a way of coping.
Confusing as hell sometimes, gorgeous and lush for most of the rest, Dangaizer 3 is a slick looking little OVA series that I’m eager to see the conclusion of in the next volume. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, but it was a real surprise, enough so that I’ve now watched it three times and can’t get enough of these designs.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Background Information
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dangaizer 3