King of Bandit Jing Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003
What They Say
The Bandit King along with his sidekick, Kir, stealthily weave their way through one adventure after another! Trouble seems to find them at every turn, but will they be clever enough to evade the danger that awaits them?
"The Little Girl from Technicolor Town"
Jing and Kir find themselves on a whirlwind rescue mission in the Technicolor Town of Pompier to save a young girl placed on the auction block after being transformed into a sculpture masterpiece. The evil Drambuie wants to make her a part of his art collection, but not if Jing and Kir have anything to say about it!
"The Eternal City of Revaiva (Part 1)"
Jing and Kir embark on yet another adventure as they meet Vermouth, a young girl who needs their help on her mission to discover eternal life. Unbeknownst to them, the hunter Pernod and his partner China Lilet are close at their heels, hoping to get their hands on the treasure first.
"The Eternal City of Revaiva (Part 2)"
Jing, Kir and Vermouth arrive at the city of Revaiva, unknowingly leading the meddling duo Pernod and China Lilet there as well. They meet King Cointreau, who believes Jing's fate is to be their next king. But Jing foresees lurking danger and takes matters into his own hands.
The King of Bandits returns for three more episodes in a strange world.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that does a rather good job at times of creating a sense of depth and directionality, particularly for some of the background characters and noises. Dialogue throughout the show is nice and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.
Originally airing in 2002, Jing's transfer is extremely clean looking. With a vibrant color palette used mixed with some really dark and rough colors, the bright points really stand out strongly here. The backgrounds are also creatively used to provide a sense of depth but thankfully manage to avoid creating any problems with aliasing. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent, leaving this to be a great looking release.
This front cover is another rather nice piece that mixes pieces of artwork together with a different sense of color about it. The central image is Jing in full color, but he's set off to the right. Your eyes get drawn to him before they do the actual central images of two of the women which are shaded entirely in green. The logo is definitely off-placed to the center right of the cover, but it's also done up in silver foil, adding a bit more of a visual catch. The back cover is quite busy, with lots of animation shots along two strips as well as some of it done up in a collage underneath. There's a simple premise summary and then a quick couple of lines about each of the episodes. The discs features and technical information is all nicely listed as well as the basic production information. The insert replicates the front cover but without the logo while the reverse side lists the discs extras set against some artwork of a desert canyon.
The main menu is a simple static piece that takes the Jing character artwork from the front cover and uses that as the focal point here with some of the cityscape artwork behind him. There's little to the disc along this menu outside of individual episode selection and the languages and extras section. Access times are nice and fast and menus load quick. The only downside is that since all the submenus use the same bit of music, if you make selections quickly you hear the same first couple of beats repeatedly.
The extras pretty much mimic the first volume, which is the textless opening and ending sequence and a video gallery of conceptual artwork that runs just over ninety seconds.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first fun volume of Jing I was curious to see if it'd keep up its strange settings and overall casual but fun plots and adventures. So far, so good.
The only downside to this release is there's only three episodes here and the entire disc is over far too quickly. The opening episode is a fantastic little standalone story that's centered around the Technicolor Town of Pompier where Jing and Kir find themselves stealing a young girl that's up for auction and won by the mayor of the town who is also an art lover. The entire town is something right out of a Seuss book with the layout of the town and the tipping of towers, but also in the amazing variety and vibrancy of all the colors, making this one of the most alive looking cities I've seen animated yet.
The story from there moves deeper into the search for the perfect colors as we learn Fino's story after she's rescued along with a bird her mother used to keep. Her father was an artist of world renown who used everything as his canvas, including animals and people. The mayor has long been collecting as much of his artwork as possible while wanting the mysterious unfinished last piece that was supposed to be his best ever. Naturally, Jing's on the lookout for it too and ends up crossing paths with him. This episode is just so visually enticing and stunning at times, especially the blue snow sequences, that it's left quite the impression.
The second and third episode is a two-part story that starts off with a crowning ceremony of a one year old who gets his first crown to truly become a prince as the king goes through the list of things that must be done for everything to be all nice and official. In an amusing turn, you get Jing and Kir swooping in, performing all of them while trying to escape with a treasure, yet still managing to toss a little octopus toy into the young lads hands. It's the kind of introductory sequence to an episode that plays out just beautifully.
The focus of the two-parter itself is a bit bigger, as we catch up with the two leads resting outside along a tree during a beautiful afternoon. Their rest is interrupted by an attractive young woman named Vermouth who tells them that she knows the secret answer to the question of long life. Kir's naturally suspect (though intrigued by her cuteness) but Jing has heard stories before of the ancient city of Ravaiva, a city where nobody has died in a long time.
This is a natural spot in the show where Postino suddenly arrives out of nowhere and provides a great useful piece of information, smiles and rides on. Depending on which language track you're listening to though, you'll get a different opening impression of Ravaiva. In the sub, we learn that no mail has come or gone from there in a long time. In the dub, we learn that he takes mail there on occasion but never any obituaries. It's when I hit changes like this that I cringe and continue to avoid watching dubs as a regular idea.
This two part storyline is pretty decent, but I think the single episode tales work better since they're able to take one concept and work it over quickly without having to really worry about the long term dynamics. The addition of Vermouth to the group during these two episodes is amusing at times but I still find myself enjoying the synergy between Kir and Jing when they work alone on their own.
All the elements that made the first volume so engaging and fun for me continue here. The smoothness of the designs, the casual feel created by the music and the well done script all create an enjoyable experience. There's just something about this show that makes it feel different from a lot of the other shows I'm watching and that usually gets my attention. If you liked the first volume like I did, get ready for more fun, particularly the first episode here.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation
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: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: King of Bandit Jing