Heat Guy J Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, January 30, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, February 03, 2004

What They Say
Angels and Outlaws! Clair Leonelli moves to seize power first by distracting J and Daisuke with fire and then by hiring mercenaries to destroy J! Shun and Kyoko, the hidden back-up in the City Safety Management Agency, display their hidden talents to prevent total disaster, but no one can save Daisuke and J from the chaos created by a princes visiting from a wild country that has abandoned technology. Then, a sniper's bullet changes everything...

The Review!
The smaller story arcs start becoming more solid throughout these episodes and a good number of changes propel things forward smoothly.

We listened to this show in its original language of Japanese since that’s our language of choice. The show is done up in a pretty standard stereo mix but with just enough depth and directionality to service an action oriented series like this. Dialogue is nice and clear and the action sequences provide some good movements. We didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in late 2002 and on into 2003, Heat Guy J is another series that’s using the latest technologies and methods to mesh the anime and CG world together and manages to produce an impressive piece of work. The transfer here is very clean looking, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback. Colors are rich and deep and the blacks and grays are very detailed. Cross coloration and aliasing are both pretty much non-existent, which means that there was basically nothing to complain about while watching this show.

Though he’s not really in this volume, the front cover features the fun transforming wolf mutant character in the foreground with his blade extended while Vampire’s face is masked in the darkness behind him. The usage of the foil works well here also as it brings more light to the flame areas. The back cover uses the foil more with the backgrounds and provides a decent summary of the shows premise and a quick listing of the features. With no volume numbering anywhere, the episode titles and numbers on the back cover is the only way to tell what volume you have. The insert starts off with the chapter listings for all four episodes with screenshots for all of them. It opens up to a two-panel spread that has the front cover artwork but without the foil or logos while the back of the insert just has a piece of sketch work of Vampire. The reverse cover, visible here through the clear keepcase, is basically all red outside of the couple of outline sketches done in white of Vampire.

The main menu provides a fun menu layout done up in the way that J sees everything through his optical sensors. With small menus floating around and animation playing in the background along with some fast moving music, it’s a slick little piece that reminds me again why I like Nightjar so much. The menus load quickly and access fast without any annoying transitional animations.

The only extra included is the new ending sequence, which is presented in an interesting way. Since the ending is a filmstrip with the same image displayed on it, they’ve provided a close-up version of the animation itself so you can see it much more clearly. After that plays through, you get the original Japanese version with their credit roll on it. While it is and isn’t a textless version, it’s great to get a close up version of the filmstrip animation in clean format.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With each new volume, Heat Guy J only gets more and more intriguing. This volume takes the build-up of the Celestials visit in the previous volume, where they’ve come for their eighteen year check-up to tweak the water purification systems and others for the next eighteen years, as well as looking to see the condition of the city’s populace, whether they’re well enough to continue on or whether they’re atrophying into despair.

The concluding episode to this story proves to be very interesting in the revelations it brings about with regards to Daisuke and his brother Shun. There’ve been hints at their being a bit different than other people since the beginning, but the way their background is slowly revealed and then the casual nature of it makes me wonder how much that’s going to play into the future. Is it something that’s just there to be different from everyone else or does it play a larger role towards the end?

The backdrop for the remaining episodes has Shun trying to get Daisuke to head to Offshore, a place where the naturalists live, to find someone who knows something about an unsolved case. The unsolved case is one of particular importance to the brothers since it details the murder of their father some years ago. So over the three episodes, Daisuske keeps working towards actually going Offshore but things stop him from getting there. Initially, it’s on the drive there with J when a young woman from one of the villages out there has come seeking her grandfather. The woman only allows herself to be called Princess, which is what she is of the village. Her grandfather came to Judoh some time earlier to seek revenge against a group of men who killed her parents, then the rulers of the village. Through Princess and her bluntness, we learn a lot about how the Offshore world works, or at least this particular village, as Daisuke takes her in to help her find her grandfather.

The one area I really got excited about wit this volume is the return of Vampire to the game. After the events with the Celestials, which has left his main office building under repairs for a few months, he’s moved his main command office to the casino area and its more intimate surroundings. Deciding that it’s time for revenge, he brings in some out of town muscle to take J out completely and have them bring Daisuke in for some fun and torture. Vampire starts going more over the top again, something which was becoming problematic during the Celestials debacle, which brings members of the Family in from other areas to start dealing with his antics. A bit of set up on their part and Vampire finds himself suddenly without a Family and on the run, with only his most trusted guards with him.

There is just so much going on between these last two episodes here in how it’s all laid out and the way the Family matters begin to evolve that it’s very engaging. With a lot of the secondary characters populating the show now, there are more links made between events through them that help bring things more to life as they happen. There’s a great mix of action and mystery moving through most of these episodes and a good undercurrent of the larger storyline moving along that you end up paying closer attention to all the details you can.

In Summary:
Heat Guy J is yet another series that I’m glad I completely ignored people’s advice on as it’s been a very fun series to watch. This volume is no different than the past other than things slowly becoming less episodic and more of an arc. The animation continues to be great and there are a lot of really neat ideas floating around in this that separate it from so many of the more “common” shows that use the same themes repeatedly. This series can’t be released fast enough to suit my tastes.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Ending #2

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Heat Guy J