Cyberteam In Akihabara Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, January 07, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2005
What They Say
A fourth member joins the Cyber Team, and she somehow knows a lot about what's going on in Akihabara. Meanwhile, the battle against the Black Prince's well-endowed henchwomen intensifies. Do these busty ladies ever give up? And why do they continually refer to the Cyber Team's Pata-Pi as "Divas?"
With a second installment of five episodes, the cast expands and the girls compare and complain about their figures even more. But will they find true love or real happiness along the way?
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a very simple mix to it that's listed as stereo but is more of a full feeling soundtrack than anything else. There's a fair amount of action and sound effects throughout the show but there isn't much in the way of real depth or directionality to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 1998, the transfer for this series is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. Done in the traditional animation style and avoiding most of the obvious bad digital animation that was cropping up at that time, the transfer here looks good for the most part with a clean set of materials to work with. The main problem that some will see throughout will be the aliasing during some of the action sequences but otherwise it's fairly problem free. Cross coloration is very minimal with only some slight sight of it in a few scenes. Colors look good and maintain a solid feel throughout and you can see a good amount of detail in the animation when it's there.
Using some bright and vibrant artwork of Suzume and Tsugumi together with their Pata-pi's, the cover here is definitely an eye-catching piece that showcases cute girls in their brightly colored school uniforms with lots of pastel colors around her. The style of the artwork mixed with the sleek logo gives it a really current feel and overall looks pretty sharp. The back cover has only a couple of very small animation shots and is instead filled with lots of pastel colors that hold the sizeable summary and the large section of production information. The discs technical features and extras listings are easy to find and are all accurate. The insert goes for a simple look with a listing of the episode numbers and titles and most of the technical information on one side with some Pata-pi artwork while the other side has just boxart advertisements.
The menu layout continues to use the same design and colors as other parts of the release with a static background of a Pata-pi lined across it several times that changes color as it goes along to the music. On top of that there are the usual selections and a cute image of a Pata-pi being picked up with a claw arm game. While not the most amazing menu, it's nicely in theme and gets the job done without slowing you down in getting to the sections you want. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players' language presets without issue.
The extras for this volume are up over the first volume, though we have some of the same and lose some. The production sketches for this volume are gone, but we retain the clean opening and closing sequences. Also included is a series of dub outtakes which includes a number of repeated sequences, one of them going for as many ways to say going to the bathroom as possible. A commentary track is also included for episode seven that has Luci Christian, Tiffany Grant and the ADR director Joe Grisaffe talking about the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a very underwhelming first volume, so much to the point where it took several days to actually get through it, we found much the same happening with the second volume and each episode turned out to be a fair bit of effort to watch and to pay enough attention to instead of just watching the runtime clock count down.
Much of what made the first volume difficult to get through is still present here. The characters continue to grate on my nerves, the archaic speech pattern of Suzume in particular is something that just really doesn't work well in this show and just makes her more unlikable – though they do a decent job of not using all of it in the dub. Hibari tends to still just be a fluff piece character that's got little going on in her head and is constantly pulled in different directions by everyone else, making her reactionary more than anything else. Tsugumi continues to fair the best but as she tries to hide her idol fanaticism that gets used against her at certain points and ends up putting her in the same boat as the others.
Out of the five episodes here, very little is actually memorable in my mind and that's after just finishing it. The big changes that occur during this volume is that there are two new people that are introduced to the series. Early on, a transfer student arrives in Akihabara and rattles off every detail about the Cyber Team trio's personal lives, some of it to their shame when they get to breast sizes (always a plus, breast size jokes about junior high girls) but she even goes so far as to reveal that she knows about their name as the Cyber Team which means she knows about what special abilities they can do. Introducing herself as Komome and proving that she's better than all of them in just about every way, she eventually turns into the newest (and smarmiest) member of the team when she reveals that she can transform her Pata-pi as well.
Another memorable moment is that another woman, initially mistaken for a princely man, has shown up at school and has fallen in love with Hibari. Uzura is all over her and just goes over the top with her proclamations of desire for her that it completely freaks the others out. Suzume decides to come up with a plan that will get Hibari out of it. Dressing Tsugumi up as a boy, complete with chest wrap to hide her breasts, she takes on a male role and interrupts Uzura trying to get on with Hibari and takes Hibari on a date to prove that she's really a he and that Hibari really has a boyfriend. It's not a complicated plot but there are a few amusing moments when, of course, nakedness and breasts are once again involved in things.
Though there isn't a lot of material in these five episodes that work towards the larger plot until the last one, there is an episode that gives the three women working for Rosenkreuz some time to shine without being distracted by the young girls. It does, of course, involve a hot spring where all three of them inadvertently end up going to and realizing that they've all got a past tied to it. The episode does a nice job of showing how they all got to where they are now and giving them more screen time to actually have characters instead of caricatures as the main players of the series are really kept off screen for the bulk of the episode. I don't think any of the three really come out ahead of the others because I can't really find any of them likable, but they at least get some time to shine.
In the end, much of what bothered me with the first volume is still pretty evident here. The mixture of those problems and the overly soft look of the show that doesn't help the look of the characters has just kept me from finding anything really interesting here. While it didn't take quite as many days to watch as the first volume, it wasn't something I could get through in one sitting like I do pretty much every other release. This volume goes for building more familiarity with the characters and their personalities but all I really got out of it was more breast jokes and some pretty annoying dialogue mixed in with some big fanservice oriented action sequences.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Commentary Track,Dub Outtakes
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 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: D+
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: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cyberteam in Akihabara