Angel Blade Vol. #1 (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 04, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 08, 2005
What They Say
The adventures of the amazingly voluptuous superheroine! No criminal has ever withstood the incredible sexiness of the amazing Angel Blade. But now the jiggling juggernaut of justice is targeted by a criminal organization with only one initiative: the complete domination of Angel Blade! Contains episodes 1-2.
Masami Obari returns to the genre he performs best in as beautiful women go after world domination, but only if they can put an end to Angel Blade first.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is a bit better than your average adult fare as there is much more story and more action involved here than those so the mix exerts itself a bit more and the stereo channels have more flowing through them. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in 2001 and 2002, the transfer for the first two OVAs are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. Part of the Vanilla Series, the animation here is one that looks like it had its budget tripled over the normal releases and it shows through here in the visual quality. From the backgrounds to the character designs, everything here looks alive and vibrant as well as pretty much problem free. Some of the backgrounds show some very light blocking in a few high motion sequences but otherwise it's a good looking transfer that avoids problems such as cross coloration or the more recent gradient issues that are getting more common. This is an easy show to watch and just enjoy the transfer of.
Going right with a full on shot of the lead character, Angel Blade is here in her full outfit, or lack thereof, as she touches herself and looks all innocent. The background is pretty bland with nothing to it but the logo more than makes up for it, one of the better ones from CPM as of late. With this kind of cover you know exactly what you're getting and it works well. The back cover provides another shot of the character in the outfit while to the right is all the usual information. The summary is amazingly small, the discs features are clearly listed and the bottom portion fills out all the basic technical and production information in small type. The reverse side of the cover has Nailkaizer taking up one entire panel in a black and white shot while the other panel has the chapter listings and cast list. Only the English actors were listed as the Japanese cast wasn't provided, not uncommon with hentai releases. The rest is filled out with production information from both sides of the project.
The menu layout is fairly simple in that it uses the cover artwork of Angel Blade and throws it against a different lightly animated background and puts some music to it and strings the navigation points along the bottom. It's a decent looking menu when everything is combined but nothing that really stands out much, though it does have English dialogue playing across part of it. Access times are nice and fast and submenus load quickly. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.
Not surprisingly, there isn't a lot in the way of extras provided here and the only real set of trailers is the art gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Angel Blade is a series long sought after by fans in the US since when Obari dips into the actual adult anime genre, he manages to bring a good budget with him as well as a crew that's able to produce something that's much richer looking than your average adult show. Angel Blade keeps up with his usual traditions of skimpy skintight piecemeal outfits as well as large breasts but it cloaks all of it in an intriguing storyline and setting that actually takes some time to tell before it really gets down to the hardcore sex.
Set in some distant future where the world has changed greatly and there are now nintety-nine Grand Cities left in the world that I believe are all above the clouds, humanity survives and thrives in these massive complexes where practically everything they want is all around them. In the Aquatokyo complex, a huge amount of space is given over to a university that's world renowned for its achievements. Within the campus grounds it's like a world within a world and everything is at every students reach, right down to lingerie shops. It does appear to be an all women's campus though but going by how the student body looks it doesn't really matter if there are men around or not.
Deep beneath the clouds where nobody knows what's going on down there, this is where Dark Mother has her own plans afoot for presumably world domination. Using her minions to achieve her goals, she's setting her plans in motion but is stymied by the continual interference of Angel Blade. After numerous encounters, they figure that her central point of operations must be the Aquatokyo complex, she sends Nailkaizer there to the campus where one of her minions is the Dean and she is instructed to go through as much of the student body as possible to find out who Angel Blade is. The Dean is only too quick to help in supplying candidates with similar body types and having his way with them along the way, but Nailkaizer has a better idea who it may be when she sees the student body president, Hasumi.
Hasumi's the ultra popular girl, brilliant and athletic as well as gorgeous and she has the look of Angel Blade. So Nailkaizer begins her search for her within the campus and trying to tease her out of her hidden identity, a storyline that runs in parallel with a few others that eventually all merge together. One has a pair of female police detectives that are on the trail of Angel Blade as well but more for the purpose of helping since one of them is a legendary Guardian, someone who extra abilities and strength to help defend against the Dark Mother. Another subplot follows a younger woman on campus named Moena who looks up to and admires Hasumi and wishes she was like her but she's so much smaller in so many ways that she feels she never could. Of course, this is who Angel Blade really is but she's never aware of it when she transforms. From her we get into the nitty gritty history of what's going on in this grand battle and those who are fighting it, using Angel Blade as their weapon against evil.
While there is plenty of plot here, it's also filled with a lot of great sex scenes. With the cast being all women, they deal with some of the missing elements by bringing in fun things like tails, wings, tentacles and women with not one, not two but three penis' that come out from within on command. Those working for the Dark Mother have that demonic look to them but it's the sexy kind, not the ugly critter type unless you're dealing with one of their mutants that are out and about. Though there are plenty of large breasted women in this show, they don't feel as over the top as some other recent shows we've seen (adult and mainstream alike), rather they fit in the universe that Obari builds around his characters and there isn't a massive fascination just with the breasts. With three lead female characters on the good guys side, there's some good variety to be had here, plus great costume design and plenty of interesting settings for all the action.
As of this writing, we don't know the status of the third and final OVA. A movie version exists which just runs all three episodes together with one opening and ending and there's also a new Angel Blade series that's underway. Lack of completeness isn't an impediment for most hentai releases but with this one being so plot heavy, a long wait for the ending will be frustrating.
Angel Blade is one of those shows that you can just tell it's something more than your standard adult release. It's got a bit more style, a bit more substance and it avoids a number of the usual clichés while embracing others stronger than normal. With an interesting story setting that would hold up under any regular series setting, great looking characters and designs and a straightforward story to tell, Angel Blade just digs in and leaps instead of running towards its goal. This is good stuff and hopefully we'll see the end of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Art Gallery
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: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Anime 18
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angel Blade