Najica Blitz Tactics Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Release Date: Monday, April 19, 2004



What They Say
CRI Super Agent Najica Hiragi and her partner Lila are back to save the world, again! This time the fun starts when they must race against time to stop the madman Ricardo Kidel who plans to (gasp!) use a intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile to stage a coup.

Then the Humaritt version of Pandora's Box isiopened when a Humaritt combat model gets activated without orders or a master. The Humaritt escapes and Najica with the CRI team in pursuit have to find this android before disaster ensues! Furthermore, while Lila recovers from her injuries, Najica must work solo to help teenage math prodigy Swaney and her guardian Daniela from being re-captured by the repressive government of Kirnovf.

And if that were not enough, the rogue Humaritt Toni takes Azusa Katsuragi hostage to prevent the destruction of a stolen jet fighter. Najica and Lila must recover both while going up against Toni's master, the weapons dealer Rasse Pwent!

All in a day's work for Najica Blitz Tactics!

The Review!
The panty count decreases, but not by much, as we get more girls with guns with white panties fighting.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself was quite lively and immersive, and I really enjoyed the voice work from Yumi Touma as Najica and Juri Ihata as Lila; they seemed to have a great rapport. The English language track is presented in 5.1, and it sounded excellent from some spot-checking while writing the review. This disc holds up very well in the audio department, and I look forward to revisiting it in the future to listen to the English dub all the way through.

Video:
The masters for Najica are obviously in great condition, as the transfer is extremely fresh and clean, looking great. I noticed no artifacts or aliasing during regular playback, though there was a bit of shimmering on a few panning sequences. This disc just showcases again how well some of ADV's recent UK releases have turned out in terms of video. Subtitles are the usual ADV UK small and yellow font.

Packaging:
The packaging is particularly striking once again. Packaged in a white keepcase, the cover has a white background and a sparse look, with a nice image of Najica posing with her gun. The series logo is off to the left and the volume clearly numbered. The white space really helps this cover standout, and fits the tone of the show well. The back cover contains the volume synopsis with three screenshots. Extras and languages are clearly labelled, with the runtime and episode numbers listed clearly in the standard ADV UK information bars. The insert is a single sheet with different artwork of Najica to the cover on one side, and a brief disc breakdown on the other. ADV continue to do a great job of matching the US release's packaging nowadays.

Menu:
The main menu is split almost halfway, with the left hand side looping video of some of the more panty-filled scenes from the show playing to the opening theme, with easy episode selection on the right, and the submenu links below it. The submenus are static but cleanly presented with fast access times, all looping various instrumentals from the soundtrack. The only oddity on this release, as with several other ADV series, is the lack of chapter selection. While some may think it's unnecessary, it's a very basic option and while I appreciate being able to jump to individual episodes with one click, scene selection would be nice.

Extras:
It's more of the same in the extras department, but that's by no means a bad thing. We have another appearance from the textless opening and ending, and another production gallery. We also get some great Japanese TV spots, which sell the show quite aptly as "Beautiful Spy Action Animation", and are always nice to have.

Another commentary is here, this time with Andy McAvin (Gento) and Mike Kleinhenz (Majima). While not the out and out hilarity of the first disc's commentary track, the two men do a fine job of providing entertainment, with some amusing moments thrown in there. There are a few blander spots, but it's definitely worth a listen in general.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the middle set of episodes, Najica slows down a little in terms of story, with things becoming even more episodic, but despite this the action-packed adventures continue to be a lot of fun for the most part.

In this volume the search for the Humaritts continue, as Najica is sent on four different missions and is either retrieving or fighting one in each. The first mission sees Najica and Lila go up against a man called Kidel who has recently bought some firearms, and plans to use missiles on the homeland he was banished from in order to lead a revolution. Of course, Najica and Lila have to thwart his plans, but they also have to retrieve an elusive Humaritt that Kidel is using.

A little bit of comedy ensues on their next mission (though it is relatively unintentional), as the girls' mission involves stopping a rogue Humaritt that has gone out of control. It's problem? It has no orders and no master, so it's wreaking havoc, and even worse is that it's pushing its limits far past normal tolerance levels, so the usual weapons and even another Humaritt like Lila have huge problems trying to stop it.

It's not all pairs, though, as Najica is also forced out on a solo mission to protect a prodigal young mathematician called Swaney, and her guardian Daniella. But the government of the country they fled wants Swaney back at all costs. Back together again, Najica and Lila then are doing a spot of business, garnering some press attention while watching out for a Humaritt. Typically, things go awry as it takes a hostage, and our heroines must bring both back.

The continuing adventures of Najica and Lila are quite a lot of fun, though even the individual stories are a little light on plot a lot of the time. At this stage of the series, Najica has slid into a typical formula of sending the women on missions to retrieve Humaritts, while trying to throw a little bit of extra story around them so they don't all seem the same. It doesn't exactly work brilliantly, since it does get a little repetitive, even though they mix it up here with a solo mission for Najica. But while it doesn't work amazingly well in terms of story, that's not to say there isn't a lot of fun to be had here.

The action continues to be great and plentiful, with lots of girls running around in typically skimpy outfits with guns blazing. It's somewhat amusing that only the men seem to be shown to bleed the red stuff (the only other blood I recall is from the Humaritts, which is pink), but nevertheless the action works well. Najica and Lila are both cool in their own ways, and that helps somewhat. Saying that, I do admit that on occasions the action does get a little cringe-worthy in terms of the women fighting. I'm not that squeamish, but the sound effects really can be totally brutal and I can't help but feel that it all sounds a little harsh. Of course, despite the harshness, there's always plenty of room for some creative angles during the fights to get some panties into shot.

But the true highlight of the disc for me, and one that made it worth the watch, was the growing relationship between Najica and Lila, which is coming along really nicely. Najica's constantly warming to Lila and getting more used to her presence as they spend more time together, and she really has taken Lila under her wing in helping her develop. But it was nice to see Najica thinking about how badly Lila was hurt during the events of the disc when they weren't together, and have Najica worrying over her. The way the two play off each other is great and seeing their relationship develop (possibly even into something more) is a highlight of the show.

The animation remains pretty steady, though the number of still panning shots seems to have increased somewhat. Even the action scenes sometimes don't have much movement, though it's no worse than with most TV shows. The music continues to be a big highlight, even if the opening does sound a little porn-theme-style (which was probably the intention anyway), with it fitting the scenes pretty well overall.

In Summary:
The light-hearted nature of Najica Blitz Tactics continues in this second volume. The middle of the story isn't particularly deep or meaningful, but it continues to be amusing with the panty-shots and some pretty good action. It's quite charming in its execution and is surprisingly addictive, with some interesting characters and development that proves to be the main attraction of the series. There's not much time to squeeze it in, but I'm still hoping for a good conclusion in the final four episodes that will develop the characters further and bring closure to the story that has developed. If you liked the first volume, this is more of the same, and for those that haven't seen it, it's worth checking out if you're looking for something a bit different. With great presentation from ADV, you might just warm to the charm of the panties.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing,Production Sketches,Commentary by Andy McAvin (Gento) & Mike Kleinhenz (Majima),Japanese TV Spots,Lila's On Call Mission Announcement

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Najica Blitz Tactics