Cyber City Vol. #2: The Decoy (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, May 16, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2004



What They Say
Goggles is a convict turned cop working off several terms of lifetime imprisonment. Obedience is ensured by the time bomb collared around his neck, but no one is sure of his loyalties. When an investigation of stolen body parts leads him to his ex-partner in crime, Goggles is faced with a stark choice. Will he risk death to return to the ruthless criminal life? Or will redemption finally catch up with him in a deathmatch with the military's ultimate killing machine?

The Review!
The second of three OVAs, Cyber City takes a turn in highlighting another of their members in this standalone OVA.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This was actually difficult to do the last time since there was a bad mix and you could hear the English track underneath it. The CPM release corrects this problem with a much better sounding pure Japanese stereo mix. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no troubles otherwise with it. We listened to the English track in a few places and noted no issues with it either.

Video:
Originally released in 1990, the transfers here look quite good with lots of solid colors, no cross coloration and only some minor breakup during some of the hazy blue night time skyline sequences. Mad House was on a roll around this time with their OVA quality releases and this one shows it nicely with broad strokes and very distinct style and look. Like most other CPM releases, the opening and endings are unaltered wit the original Japanese text which is then followed-up by the English translation.

Packaging:
Much like the first volume, there's an element of age showing in the cover here from the character designs to the cut and paste feel of the various pieces that are actually available for use. Since it's a Goggles heavy episode, he gets the primary shot while the standard copy car shows up and the hint of an attractive woman is added as well. The back cover continues the trend that's on the front with the "From the X of X". There's a single animation shot here that shows the trio of the series and a brief summary of the premise. The rest of the cover is given over to the various technical elements. The reverse cover, which once again has artwork that would have worked better in color and on the front, has a shot of the trip together underneath the chapter selections. The other panel provides bilingual cast information and a rundown of the basic production credits.

Menu:
The menu layout here uses the typical SF-feeling borders to provide one half of the menu as a series of clips while the other half is split into three boxes where varying clips play, all to the vocal song from the series. The selections menu, over the smaller boxes, is the typical selections that once more have the problem of selecting a language equating starting the program. Other than that, the menus are decently done and have good access times.

Extras:
The extras here are unsurprisingly weak, with just a trailer for the show and just over two minutes worth of a video gallery that has mostly stills from the show and a few pieces of artwork. You'll even forget that there's another extra here since the commentary track by Kawajira is located in the audio selection section. We didn't get an opportunity to listen to this, but have enjoyed Kawajira's talks in the past.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Continuing the release of the three part OVA series in standalone format, Cyber City hits its second episode that takes the focus on Goggles, the rougher and more hacker oriented member of the trio that's been hauled out of prison to serve as cops in the city of Oedo. As explained previously, each of them has a few hundred years of prison time to do but they can whittle it away with each cyber criminal that they capture. And since they're really still just inmates on a work release program, they all continue to wear their collars that have timers and triggers for exploding and killing their wearer.

In fact, the show kicks off by having Goggles watch his latest prey, a fellow criminal whose also wearing a collar, trying to take his off by going through all the fuses. The criminal had just swiped some critical information and leaked it out to his buyer for fifty million and is now trying to ensure he lives to enjoy the money. From what clues that they gather initially, Sengoku and Benten end up making their way towards sneaking into a military installation where they can find out more about the material stole and the buyer as well as dealing with another case about stolen body parts that may be related. Goggles sets himself to take a bit of time off and just relax in his comfortable mobile van. But as things go, his rest time is pretty minimal.

An old partner of his, a woman on the run from the military police and ends up coming across his van and takes refuge in there. Goggles fools the cops into thinking he's clean, especially since he's got some status as an actual cop himself, but manages to just hold them off for a bit. As it turns out, she's stolen some highly classified material that she didn't realize was as secret as it was and the military is after her with all its effort now. Goggles manages to break down the information and finds out some plans that will eliminate not only the need for him but for cops in general in the city, something that his boss is highly interested in. This sets things into motion for a game of cat and mouse as Goggles is set up to deal with this new threat and to basically save the future of the city.

This episode of Cyber City plays out pretty well for its running time, basically taking the feel of an hour long action/drama episode. Everything in it is nicely self-contained so you can pick up any volume and really not get lost. This one makes out a bit better than the first episode in that that episode had to deal with a few minutes worth of introduction and exposition of the premise. This one just goes right into the storyline and does a decent job of weaving three different incidents together into one plot that has the trio working together in their own way. Kawajiri doesn't spend much time with fluff in these kinds of stories so it's telling exactly what you need to know for the show.

If there's a real downside to the show, it's that it's part of an older genre of dubs. Listening to that while writing the review, I'd forgotten just how profanity laced it is. The language alone must have raised this from a 13 to a 16 rating. Thankfully dubs these days tend to avoid this problem, though it does still show up from time to time.

In Summary:
Cyber City continues to provide some good solid SF OVA material that's reflective of its time with the character designs and the simplicity in the plots and formula. This is some of the good stuff from the early 90's with great looking Mad House animation and the usual solid visual style you get from a Kawajiri directed piece. The only downside continues to be the poor value of the release itself with it being released separately, even at the lower price point of twenty bucks. This should have been released together in one release, not as singles and not as a collected box set at the end.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Director's Commentary by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Art Gallery, Sketch Gallery

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: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 45
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cyber City