Assemble Insert (Re-Release) (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 26, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, December 09, 2003
What They Say
From Masami Yuuki (the creator of PATLABOR), with Designs by Yutaka Izubuchi (LODOSS WARS), and Design Assist by Takehiko Ito (creator of OUTLAW STAR), comes an unabashed parody of everything Japanese including super-hero anime, idol singers, sentai shows, and even those silly commercials for super powered sport drinks! Absolutely nothing is safe!
Let?s say that a group of hooded, power-suit-wearing ninjas lead by a crazy old man in a cloak is tearing up your city. Every time you try to fight them, your team is totally humiliated, entire city blocks end up demolished, and the city?s citizens just keep getting angrier. What can you possibly do? If you're anything like Chief Hattori, you hold a pop idol contest! ...No, seriously!
Chief Hattori and his "special" task force are searching for that special someone who can really kick butt, and yet be so adorable that the public will instantly love her. Unfortunately, they don?t seem to be having too much luck - until high schooler Maron Namikaze takes the stage. She?s cute, she?s sweet, and she just happens to be able to crush steel with her bare hands! Now Maron?s going to get her chance to be the idol she?s always wanted to be ? all she has to do is stop a gang of ruthless thieves, and look good doing it!
Parody and pop songs equal a nice way to kill a lazy hour at home. Assemble Insert is a cute but short parody show that is oddly topical despite its age.
My primary viewing session consisted of listening to the Japanese audio track. Given the age of the show, the audio was very clear and contained no noticeable dropouts or distortions. The music for the show is upbeat and very catchy; while the action sequences will not blow you away, you will find the music starting to stick in your head.
The English dub was given a spot check; it was up to par with the Japanese track and featured some decent voice acting. The actress for Maron did a fabulous job, but the male cast members felt a bit flat throughout the show. None of the songs were translated into English, so be sure to flip subtitles on when the songs begin. Overall, this is one dub track that I would recommend listening to.
The video has also held up well despite its age; for a show produced in 1989/1990, it has a bit of grain and dust on the print, but it will not distract you much during your viewing. The colors are a bit soft, but they seem on par with most other series released in that time period. Right Stuf provided a great transfer given the source material.
Right Stuf has given their idol title a makeover; instead of a close-up of Maron, the front cover features a collage of Maron, Chief Hattori, Professor Shimokawabe, Dr. Demon, and two Demon henchmen. They are all set against a purple background just above the logo for the show. The back cover features the requisite synopsis, feature list, and screenshots. Inside is a colorful insert containing the liner notes.
The previous front cover shot makes its return as the main menu image. Maron cheerfully smiles as she listens to her headphones. The main menu items are laid out in a circle giving the impression of a vinyl record. The show's catchy music plays in the background of each menu. They are simple, functional, and capture the idol spirit of the show.
The disc itself has only one extra which is the live-action commercial that appears in the middle of each episode. The rest of the "bonus" section consists of DVD and English credits. Also included is a colorful booklet that contains the liner notes; it is printed on heavy paper stock giving it a sturdy, almost cardboard feel. It contains some explanations for the various in-jokes as well as full song translations. More liner notes should look this good.
Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Assemble Insert revolves around a group of policemen in charge of bringing down the power-suited Demon Seed gang. In reality, these officers are being forced into retirement and only want to watch films and collect their bonuses. After their chief Hattori has a drunken proposal green-lighted, they must band together and find a pop idol that can do battle against the Demon Seed.
Enter high school senior Namikaze Maron, a shy and untalented girl. Pressed into the idol competition by her mother and sister, Maron wins the role of super crime-fighting idol by the fact that she is cute and incredibly strong. With the aid of a power suit from the demented Professor Shimokawabe, Maron easily defeats the Demon Seed and causes billions of yen in property damage. The second half of the show sees the Demon Seed gang nowhere to be found. So, Hattori focuses on making Maron the debut idol singer of the year.
With a little help from the Professor's twisted sense of justice, the Demon Seed gang rises again and forces Maron into deciding between life as a pop star or life as a crime fighter. The heart of this show is pure parody as it pokes fun at the pop industry, the anime industry, and even the creators themselves. Every character is fairly inept leading to many funny bits throughout. One of my favorite gags has the boss of the Demon Seed mistakenly phoning in his threats to a noodle shop.
The show is kept moving by a very catchy soundtrack, as Maron does her best to fulfill the idol dreams of her male co-workers. She is not particularly talented or heroic; she just does her best in every situation. Her best usually consists of an insane amount of property damage leading to a lot of headaches for Hattori. Overall, the show is cute and funny but is not overly remarkable.
However, it struck a chord with me, as it is quite relevant given the reality television craze these days. With legions of people tuning in to see if someone can become the next "American Idol" and similar inane concepts, Hattori's drunken proposal does not seem so implausible. As the final credits rolled, I found myself wishing that the creators would revisit the topic and give the current idol mania an updated tweak of the nose.
In the end, Assemble Insert is a cute, mildly entertaining parody show featuring a catchy soundtrack. It does not come near the level of other great parodies like Project A-ko, but something about Maron's honest, straightforward character gives it a unique quality. It will not blow you away, but it will provide you with a short and sweet hour of entertainment.
Released back in 1989/1990, Assemble Insert seems oddly topical in today's reality-based TV craze. It is an overlooked gem featuring an upbeat plot with matching upbeat music and manages to be funny to boot. It is not the sort of title one would rave about, but it is a title that can easily find a permanent spot on a fan's shelf.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Live Action Parody Commercial, Special Liner Note Booklet
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Assemble Insert