Hyper Police Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, March 08, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2003



What They Say
Blast into the future with four more exciting adventures from anime's most dynamic crime-fighting team!

Contains:
Cat's Bell
Natsuki, Sakura and the President make it safely to shore after their ship is bombed. No matter where they go, an enemy tracks them until they discover that Natsuki's bell charm necklace is really a transmitter, forcing them to pose as decoys.

Samurai Japan
Sakura is injured during a fight against Yoroi and disappears. A worried Natsuki and others look for her, while Sakura is treated by Shononoshin Senkura, who has time traveled from the Warring States Period and mistaken Sakura for his lover.

Cherry (Sakura) Blossoms, or Does It?
Natsuki finds out that Sakura has placed a bet involving Shonoshin and tries desperately to stop it, while Sakura finds herself becoming attracted to the handsome time traveler.

Everybody, Strange?
The national holiday and mating season time of cherry blossom has arrived. Lovestruck Sakura chases Shonoshin while Tommy pursues Po, while Shonoshin thinks the town's mad atmosphere is a sign of impending war.

The Review!
The fun from the last volume continues as the team works officially again and we then move into the realm of the truly fantastic as a new cast member signs on.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese but in the newly created 5.1 remix. We listened to this new mix for the first two episodes and found it to be decent, but the source doesn’t really offer up much of a chance to do a lot with it. Most of the audio is still through the center channel with mostly the music getting some playback in the rear speakers. Throughout what we heard, there were no discernable dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The transfer for this release is pretty much on par for what we were expecting, which is a solid but unexceptional looking release. While there’s no cross coloration or all that much aliasing, there’s some bits of dirt throughout the print. Colors look good though the show doesn’t use a very vibrant palette. There’s little to complain about with the transfer, but it’s not something that’s going to stand out based on the way the show was designed.

Packaging:
While not as glaring as some of the earlier ones, I still have to wonder at using day-glo lime green as a background color for anything not representing 70’s Americana. But we’ve got it here, though with the very nice image of a sexy Natsuki in her new outfit alongside Batanen. The back cover provides a number of screenshots and gives a summary for each of the four episodes. The basic creative staff is listed as well as the technical features and language formats. The insert provides another shot of the front cover piece of Batanen and Natsuki while listing the (9!) chapter stops for each of the four episodes

Menu:
The menu is a nice static image one brief pass of music that shows two of the female leads in a nice vibrant piece of artwork. All four episodes are selectable from the main page as well as a play all selection and the audio selection menu. Selecting an episode brings you to a chapter selection section. The menus overall are nice and fast, but we experienced some slowdowns in moving through chapter selection and trying to get back to the main menu.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the series progresses, I’m finding myself liking it more and more, especially now that we’re fully past that bad phase where they were all let go from being official bounty hunters.

This volume carries over with the final part of the episode that had started on the previous volume, with the gang having gone off to another city to help smuggle back a religious leader so that he wouldn’t get killed by those trying to eliminate him before he could perform a particular ceremony. The episode is mostly action with some good chase scenes, but it also provides a lot of really good fanservice moments as the group ends up with no clothes. Poor Batanen. I certainly can’t blame him for staring at Natsuki that way.

With that episodes conclusion, things move back to Tokyo and the oddness there. The next two parts, plus a small part of the third episode, brings a new twist into things. In the present time, we have the entire group chasing after one particular bounty and working hard to capture him, though he’s really tough and has managed to avoid them all after a chase. When he finally takes on Natsuki and Sakura together, we end up flashing to 16th century Japan.

Yep, back in time, as we follow the path of Sakunoshin, a samurai whose evading the forces of a former ally that’s about to attack his lord and master, Nobunaga. He finds himself eventually encircled in the woods as Kasumi arrives to help him out. Kasumi ends up sacrificing herself so he can warn Nobunaga, only to have a cross effect of her explosion and the weapons used in the present time affect each other, and Sakunoshin is thrown into the shows present time.

Sakunoshin’s arrival in the present time brings some humorous moments right from the start, though best of all is that he mistakes Sakura for Kasumi and whisks her away from the battle scene. With her unconscious, he undresses her completely (with a great moment of confusing her bra for a hat) and tends to her wounds. Sakura awakens when he’s gone and is shocked and figures she’s been raped. So when the dark outline of Sakunoshin returns, she freaks and takes off, while he realizes it wasn’t Kasumi. He’s sort of allowed though, since his whole world has just changed drastically.

Through a series of events, Sakunoshin finds himself now living with Natsuki and Sakura while Sakura is doing everything she can to win him over since he’s the tall dark and handsome type. His arrival has definitely brought a change to the group dynamic and it’s working quite well as he ends up dealing with each of the team members in some way. The addition of a potential love interest for Sakura has definitely changed that character, though she’s swinging between moods in how she deals with it.

One of the best parts of this disc is the final episode though that deals with the arrival of spring, and that means love is in the air. When Natsuki goes into heat, like cats are going to do, oh what a change in her style and behavior. Far too funny and played out wonderfully.

With only two volumes left to go, I’m curious to see what they intend to do about a larger plot that’s been hinted at or just go with some simple multipart stories. The characters themselves tend to be more interesting to watch than a large plot, so small stories and fun adventures with them are what I’m hoping for. But I’m just glad that the show is picking up a bit more for me to enjoy it.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 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: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Image Entertainment
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hyper Police