Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Vol. #2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 07, 2003
What They Say
Now that Kurumi and Saki are in the 21st century, aren't they forgetting something? That's right! Believing the Steel Angels are the only ones who can save the human race from destruction, the Practitioners have awakened their sassy younger sister, Karinka, to capture them.
Meanwhile, the spoiled Uruka is as scheming and jealous as ever. This time, she's determined to prevent Nako from getting first prize in the Junior Cello Competition so she won't win a chance to study abroad. More than the future of Earth hangs in the balance. Humanity's last hope may rest on who can ultimately find their way into Kurumi's Mark II heart.
The second and concluding half to the short follow-up series goes by pretty fast here but proves to be more fluff than expected.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a pretty decent stereo mix that has some slightly noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage, but for the bulk of it, it’s just action sequences that utilize the entire area as opposed to really making things directional. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback.
Continuing to look much better than the original series, the second series avoids the biggest problems by minimizing the rampant cross coloration that plagued it. There’s still some noticeable moments here, which tied to some minor aliasing, are the only real issues here. This does become noticeable and slightly distracting but not a show stopper. Colors look gorgeous, lush and vibrant throughout the show, without any noticeable over saturation.
The central image of this cover, with its nicely colored blue background, is Saki and Karinka together. What you don’t realize at first, unless you bought the first volume, is that this cover with them in their battle uniforms is actually a laminate that’s on top of the cover that you can remove. When you remove it, you get the two of them in their intimates. To make it even more amusing, there’s another laminate included in the keepcase that you can put on there that has school uniforms for them. This is the best way to provide the racy covers as well as keeping it clean enough for retail and I hope to see more of these for similarly designed series. The back cover provides the usual array of items, such as a brief summary, some nice shots from the show and a good listing of the discs extras and technical features. This cover isn’t reversible but it is dual sided in the clear keepcase, with the reverse side featuring Uruka being embraced by Saki under the sheets on a bed. All around, this is a great little package.
The theme is similar to the menus used in the first TV series with the gears moving in the background, but while those were almost somber and eerie, these are bright and cheerful with fun bouncy music playing along as it all moves about. Selections are quick and easy to navigate and with no transitional animations, submenus load quickly and without issue. I like that some continuity is kept with the originals but that it’s different enough to stand nicely on its own, especially since they could have gone the quick and cheap way of just reusing the same menus again.
There’s a couple of nice extras included here, though things are again a bit lighter than the first series. We get the fun opening and closing sequences here in textless form, once again allowing for a better look at the usually very detailed and fluid sequences. The extended episode previews make another appearance and there’s also a small but enjoyable character artwork gallery that has various designs from the show as well as some promotional artwork and original DVD cover artwork.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the second volume of the series, we get six more of the mini episodes that brings the series to its conclusion, though some of the packaging would give the impression of a sizeable event occurring that will shape the story to something bigger than it is.
That’s not the case here though as things continue on much as they did in the second volume while replicating parts of the original series. With two of the Steel Angel’s running around, those who want to keep them secure and unused until some mythical time in the future when they’ll be needed (according to some book they have) start their plans to retrieve them. What that involves is 135 priest monks who will use their spiritual abilities to re-awaken Karinka, whom they intend to control.
Karinka’s arrival on the scene is balanced out by a change in Nako. Nako has decided that something she wants to do and really try for is a cello competition. Inspired by how Kurumi is always being so confident and forward with what she wants, Nako intends to go for something like she never has before. This involves countless hours of special classes with her music teacher. That of course opens a can of worms with Uruka, who can only envision the naughty things that could happen in such a situation. She gets so worked up that even Kurumi gets concerned.
Karinka ends up playing a lot among all of this, allowing for the fact that Nako isn’t around all that much. She’s much like she was when she awakened in the first series, so we get a series of quick and intense little battles as she belittles both Kurumi and Saki. Of course, everyone is overcome by Kurumi’s pureness of heart, so it’s little surprise when Karinka changes sides. But it all keeps coming back to Uruka and her feelings towards Nako, which mostly stem now from the fact she can’t understand why Nako continues to keep changing due to Kurumi.
The best part of it was the great little Project A-Ko homage that continues with this character and her father.
One of the themes of the series is the heart and what love can do for someone, as we focus on the Angel Hearts. This is the really weak area of the show as it’s quite hard to find any real connection to Nako like we’re supposed to. We’re sympathetic to Kurumi since we’ve seen the first series and watched all of her growth there with her former master, but here it’s all just far too rushed and too fluffy to really be believed. I enjoyed some of the differences with the move to the near future, but I think a whole lot of the charm was lost by moving away from the Taisho period and the other cast members that we got to know there. Combined with the short nature of this series and it all combines to provide something that doesn’t feel as right as the first series.
There’s still plenty of fun spots throughout the episodes and the show is just as bright and colorful as before. It’s interesting to see where they tried to take a “next generation” approach to the show but it also reminds why it won’t always work. For fans of the show, this release comes across great and will definitely please. For those hoping for something as warm as the first series turned into, you may be disappointed.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character gallery,Extended Episode Previews,Clean opening and closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Steel Angel Kurumi