Angel Tales Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, August 22, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2004



What They Say
Just when Goro thought it was all just a dream, the Angels return with even more surprises! The guardian angels are ready to serve him with everything they've got, but living with 12 girls can be pretty tough! Goro now has to work harder than ever in order to support everyone and with the pet/girls learning the facts of life, funny things are bound to happen!

Find out how Akane and Midori transform themselves and how the "Tiny Trio" deals with boys their age!

The Review!
Enduring more trials to prove their love and duty to Goro is true, the angels find themselves dealing with some unpleasant situations.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Similar to the first cover in more than a couple of ways, this volume has three more of the angels getting some time on the cover with some nice clean and simple artwork set against a pale blue backdrop. The character designs are pretty decent and likely catch a few eyes if it's sideways. 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 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.

Menu:
The menu layout is very simple with just a shot of Tsubasa and Kurumi together on one side with selections in using halo icons, all of which is set against a blue background and to some instrumental piece from the show. Selections are quick and easy to navigate with immediate episode jumping and fast access times. The disc properly read our players language presets as well.

Extras:
There are only a couple of extras on this volume. The first is another set of character profiles for the newer 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 as it's basically the four panel comics done to minimal animation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Angel Tales continues to be a show that on some levels is really creepy. Ok, on several level it almost hits that really creepy level but there's just something about a guy who ends up losing so many pets over the years that he still keeps getting pets. PETA would be all over him if they knew about him. The other creepy level is that all of these girls, who had good experiences with him, are still fixated on him in one way or another since they died, sometimes related to how he dealt with them.

Their fixation as evidenced in the last volume lead to a massive recall of these guardians back to the spirit world so that the head goddess could properly chastise them for their behavior. Goro is left without any of them there and the cel phone that he has that was used to bring them in is cracked. Separated by worlds essentially now, each of them wants to get back to the others but the girls haven't really earned their right to be there considering how they fought against each other about who loved him the best or who was his favorite. And now, even though they claim that they're able to work together and not fight, the goddess still can't send them back since they can no longer transmigrate.

The end result is that when everyone is back together, because it wouldn't be a series without them together, the group has been enlarged by a few more goddesses, this time three in training ones that are the size of grade school kids. These three aren't as overly fond of Goro as the others are and they're interested in playing games and doing things other than fawning over his every wish so they provide something of a break from the overly loving nature of the older angels. But they also end up bringing in a lot of childish things such as wanting to go to school, dealing with bullies and in general just dealing with being you. It becomes all very After School Special oriented fairly quickly with these three girls and their inclusion really weighs down heavily on the show, even with a number of the angels in Doll mode for awhile and out of everyone else's hair.

A fair amount of time is spent dealing with the new angels so it's not too much of a surprise but I really didn't care for the three young ones at all. The older one barely made a dent in my memory, which says plenty right there. These four episodes have less of a focus on the "darker" side of their past lives and how they died than the first volume, especially since the three young angels turn the focus elsewhere and on wanting to do things, but there's just something that feels really odd about this show that I can't place my finger on. The cast is too big, even when they shift out at least four of the angels per episode, and Goro continues to be a fairly uninteresting character. Their attachment to his is obvious to understand and that doesn't bother me, but I still can't see how any of them are doing him any good. I found myself checking the countdown timer on this volume more than anything else in recent memory.

In Summary:
Angel Tales struggles to get past the events they set themselves up for in the first volume right from the start and then goes into the usual growth issues. The volume is overall much lighter in tone and less focused on the animal-pasts of each of them but more on the present, but still with just themselves and less with Goro and what they really need to do to help him out in his life. There are some good moments throughout, particularly the "fox and hound" noodles stuff and just trying to cope with dealing with humanity, but the bulk of it just really seems to fall flat to me without much life or energy to it. It's just too laid back even for me.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Illustration Gallery,Venomous Tails Extra Clips

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C-
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
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angel Tales