Angel Tales Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 29, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 08, 2004
What They Say
Once upon a time, there was one very unlucky young man. No job, no girlfriend, no sense of direction. But no matter how unlucky he might be, he never lost his love for animals. There's a special place in his heart for each and every single pet he had during his childhood. But one day, just after failing another job interview, a street fortune teller informs him his luck will soon change.
Accustomed to his unlucky life, he doesn't believe a word she says, but soon enough, he finds her words echoing true! What single guy would object to having three pretty girls arrive in his room unexpectedly?
One of the unluckiest guys around is being helped by a goddess by having twelve young women come into his life to help him. Would you consider that lucky?
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. For the most part, the show is fairly quiet on the dialogue front but picks up as it goes along. The early episodes sounded good and you can hear the distinctness of the audio placement more easily than in later episodes where there's so much more talking and yelling going on that ends up filling up the entire soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the music sounds solid during regular playback. We only spot checked the English audio track and had no issues there.
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for the first four episodes of this twelve episode series looks very good. With as many characters as there are in here with the varying uniforms, the color palette is richly filled and there's a great depth and solidity to them. Cross coloration is very minimal, creeping into only a few areas and aliasing is minimal in general. There isn't a lot of action in the show and mostly just mildly moving characters so the transfer doesn't run into many issues with the encoding. Backgrounds look great and maintain a very solid look and avoid pixelating.
The front cover goes right for the good stuff with a shot of the three lead girls we're introduced to in the series in good sized character shots. It's a bland background but it lets the colors of the characters really shine here as well as letting the floating angel feathers be a bit more noticeable. The cover pretty much just yells girls and fanservice, so it achieves the shows goal. The back cover has only one small area of shots from the show but manages to squeeze in half a dozen images. The back cover is pretty full with a two paragraph summary and a large section of small print production credits. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed though (along with volume numbering on the spine and front cover) and the discs extras and basic features are prominently listed. The insert replicates the artwork from the front cover and opens to a two-panel image in the same style but with a mix of some of the characters from the front cover and from later episodes. The back of the insert has a surprisingly clean and open spaced listing of the main staff of the show and a bilingual cast list with full English credits for the actors.
The menu layout is very simple with just a shot of Ran to one side with selections in a bubble to the right while some fish tank oxygen animation plays in the background to some instrumental piece from the show. Selections are quick and easy to navigate with immediate episode jumping and fast access times.
There are only a couple of extras on this volume. The first is character profiles for the six angels that appear in this volume. There's a screens worth of basic data and then a few screens that talk about how they met their master. The other extra is a brief five minute video piece that does some super-deformed comedy looks at how the series starts out and some musical numbers to it. Unfortunately, the extra isn't dubbed and is in Japanese only with soft subtitles. It's a mildly amusing piece but nothing terribly critical to the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Angel Tales, a harem style show whose original title translates to Angel Tails but was changed for some strange reason, is a mildly cute show that in the first four episodes manages to take a truly unlucky young man and introduce a series of women into his life in an attempt to have them correct his luck and bring him good fortune. While they all have their problems in doing this, they end up being distracted from doing him much good.
Goro Mutsumi just has never had good luck. Since graduating and getting out on his own, he managed to get into the company of his dreams only to have it go bankrupt shortly thereafter. He's failed every job interview since then. And whenever he doesn't have an umbrella, it rains. But the minute he picks one up the sky turns great. No matter what he does it always seems like things are going against him. And even though he's never even dated a girl or had much go his way, he's still a fairly happy guy. Sometimes it gets him down, as we see here in the opening episode, but he still plugs away at things.
Everything starts to change when he comes across a fortune teller in the rain and she rattles off his problems. He doesn't deny any of it but doesn't really believe her when she says his fortunes are going to change. She does a little bit of magic and his phone undergoes a change with the addition of a new menu, a circle with twelve colored circles within it. Little does he know that it's through the special song that plays on this phone that the Goddess above will use his phone to send a series of angels to him to help him. In fact, the first three that are sent to him arrive while he's in the bathtub unwinding, so he's fairly shocked when he gets out of the tub and there are three cute young girls sitting in his meager apartment.
Each of these angels, as they explain, has been sent to him to help change his life. They're all very interested in doing so though they're somewhat cutting in their remarks about him and how uncute Goro is. As they go on, they all have a goal of finding their real master while helping out this poor fellow. Goro doesn't believe any of this when they go on about their job but he takes it in stride. What the twist turns out to be with this series is that these angels are all reincarnations in human form of animals from past lives. For example, Ran was a goldfish in her past life and died when her master was on a vacation and the oxygen pump stopped. Kurumi was a hamster who got out of her cage and got lost and died from starvation. They all died before they could properly thank their master for taking care of them and giving him a proper goodbye, so they hope to find him while doing their job.
Of course, it's not a leap to figure out that Goro was their master since it's laid out very plainly. When Goro realizes this, it changes how he feels about them and their goal of trying to help him out. Where it gets into the ridiculous part is when they keep introducing more and more of the angels to come down and help him since each of them has their own plans to make Goro their own. The first three end up not doing much good in general and just take care of the place and his basic needs but haven't helped his life much. When Tamami, formerly a cat, arrives on the scene she takes over completely and forces the others to the side, which only starts more bickering. That forces the Goddess to speed up her plans and send down more and more?
And each of these new angels are former animals that died under Goro's care with his bad luck. That's the truly creepy part is when you realize just how many animals he's killed over the years through his bad luck, from cats to dogs and from rabbits to foxes. You'd think after the first couple he'd avoid having any kind of pet or interacting with animals in general! And even though in some way he's responsible for their deaths, they're all hugely devoted to him in this new form and only want to spend their time completely with him and nobody else. But they also each have their own phobias from their past lives that affect the present. Since Kurumi died from starvation she eats constantly. Ran's afraid of water and Tamami is afraid of crossing the street. So there's an element of Goro helping them conquer their fears as well as their helping him.
Angel Tales is overall a pretty mild series in how it plays out. Goro is essentially just an even-tempered person, rarely raising his voice once things get going or getting too quiet. He's just sort of almost always there but is often ignored as the various girls fight and argue over him. As it gets up to six of them in his apartment, it really gets into the crowding phase as they're all vying for his time and trying to come up with ways that everyone can be happy, though they still try to sabotage each other. The girls all have their personalities and energy but it's just mismatched to Goro's blandness. It's not hard to understand why they all have a fixation on him since they were just animals before and he was kind to them, but with this many of them it just feels too much.
The design and look of the show is great however. Each of the girls is very well designed and unique in their way, richly colored as well. Each of them wears a different schoolgirl uniform so you get to see most of the standards used in a wide variety of shows and that in and of itself is just very amusing to see. Another interesting style used is that much of the early episodes are presented partially as a flashback from Ran's perspective, so things like the visual presentation is done in an old film style with lines through the print and a hazy look to it. This alternates between her talking of it as if in the past and then the shots of reality as it happens, so you get the old style shift to the more richly colored present day style.
Angel Tales in this first volume comes across as very harmless show that takes the harem genre and applies generously the addition of new girls in each episode to help the lead character. The lead character is unfortunately somewhat bland and uninteresting, so it's up to the girls in general to carry the show. But with so many of them there's not enough time for them to really get time to shine until we get a ways into things. The series looks to be competently done and it has a cute hook with the girls origins, but it feels like a by the numbers project that was done on a dare of someone upping the number of girls they could squeeze into it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Illustration Gallery,Venomous Tails Extra Clips
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: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angel Tales