Heat Guy J Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, June 11, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2004

What They Say
Money laundering, murder, arson and corruption- the police and the Special Unit cross paths with Judoh?s underworld seeking evidence to uncover the identity of the new Vampire and the mysterious Serge Echigo who?s rumored to control the underworld! However, results come with a painful price when Edmundo?s partner is killed, Edmundo loses his job and Monica?s photo shop is burned to the ground. As they come to the Special Unit for protection, a new family forms?

The Review!
Getting closer to the end of the show, Heat Guy J really builds upon the events of past episodes and the show only gets better and better.

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.

The foil effect works really well with this particular cover especially since the green flavor given by it really reflects parts of the show itself when it rains there. While the backdrop of the city nightscape in green against black works well it also provides a good shot of J leaping down from the clouds and just looking good. 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 Edmundo. The reverse cover, visible here through the clear keepcase, is basically all red outside of the couple of outline sketches done in white of Edmundo.

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 usual art galleries are dropped for this release in favor of a few of the TV commercials used to promote the show ? in the US. These are pretty similar to the Japanese ones and come across pretty nicely.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The closer we get to the end the more frustrating the show gets because we get dropped down to three episodes and three episodes just isn't enough. Heat Guy J continues to get more and more engaging as we go along and these last episodes only highlight the things we really enjoy about it.

The larger arc that's covering the series, though it's been hard to figure at times, continues to have its impact on these episodes as the person behind Noriega, the current Vampire of Judoh, has more and more revealed about him as it goes along. Noriega's being Vampire only pushes his mental status into the extremes, from feeling very vulnerable to any threat all the way to abusing other public servants based on their position in society. But he continues to be manipulated himself by someone else while giving into the needs of a cyberspace organization known only as the Laundromat. Obviously they're involved in being the money men of the mafia world.

The high end part of the story only touches the bulk of the show in a few places to help direct it along, even at this late stage, but we do get some surprising (or not so surprising depending on your mental acuity) revelations that bring a lot of what's going on down to a more personal level for the cast. Before that happens we get some good tales that help solidify the cast nicely. While Edmundo has had some solid screen time to himself before, he gets another episode here where he deals with the murder of a partner of his in the police who was ordered killed just before his being transferred out and starting a new married life. The murder itself is a decent enough tale, but it weaves in and out with pieces from Edmundo's interactions with the man, helping to flesh him out more.

Another character that gets fleshed out more is Monica. After her studio gets torched, she has to find a new place to live and ends up getting taken in by Daisuke after he stops her and her donkey from robbing a bank. Though it doesn't go over too well at first, she and her donkey are allowed to stay at the special unit's office in exchange for her doing office work for the group. Monica's take on life ends up being a cause for much discussion and argument, mostly between Edmundo and Monica, since he's in the camp of there being more to life than money while all she's known is that she needs money to survive. A good look at what Monica's like really comes through when she convinces J to become her father for an evening and the two hit the town.

What continues to be very well done about this series is how since Daisuke gained control of the special unity from his brother is how he's built up the group around him. While obviously retaining J and bringing Antoinette into service, he's managed to give Edmundo a real reason to continue on and to get Monica to be of use as well. And as he draws each of them in he gives them exactly what they need to feel needed and to be useful. And he certainly takes advantage of the skills they do have and pursues the missions he gets involved in. The way all these characters that were seemingly at odds at one time or another are now all working for a common good is great.

Another area that continues to impress is the visuals of this show and the high quality of the designs. With the bulk of the show being set in the city, we get plenty of variety in terms of city designs both interior and exterior. But when the show hits outside of the city, that's where it becomes even more striking. There's a scene at the end of the first episode on this disc with the cast outdoors in a park as the wind blows the clouds away and you get the blue skies. It looks great and is very well animated. But when the group heads out to the South Ocean on board a ship, we get these gorgeous lengthy pans and other shots of the multicolored skylines and a real sense of openness that you obviously can't get within the city. The feel of the designs is just quite striking at times and an important part of this series.

In Summary:
I love this show. It's got great mood, interesting characters, plenty of solid action and a number of intriguing mysteries that could carry on for some time. This is the kind of show that I wish could carry a couple of seasons at the same quality level. This volume is no different in those respects while it builds the larger storyline for its conclusion in the next and final volume. While a lot of people continue to pass this over based on the opinions of a few who saw it during its original broadcast, those that have gotten into the show know what kind of gem they've found. Heat Guy J is one of my favorite releases of the past year and I can't get enough of it.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,US TV Commercials

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: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Heat Guy J