E's Otherwise Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2005
What They Say
Enter a world where every thought wields terrifying energy, and any life can be viciously wasted in the pursuit of power! When one of Ashurum's prized psychic agents goes missing, no cost is too high to return him to their dark fold — whether that means sending in a cyborg assassin, reprogramming one of his friends, or enlisting two newer, even more powerful psychics into the company.
Continuing with Kai's discovery of what Gald is like, we get to see just how the city works and survives against the corporations.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix for this track is rather solid and has a very full presence to it. The forward soundstage is well used for a number of directional moments in both dialogue and action effects but it's the music that almost seems to overwhelm it at times with how strong it is across the entirety of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.
Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this release is an improvement over the first volume. The show is very recent and being done by Pierrot it has a great color palette used for it. The character animation in particular really stands out here and looks great with lots of white used, lots of clean lines and some good detailed areas. The problems with the skyline in the Ashurum based segments are minimized mostly by having very little happen there so we had more normal scenes that were well done. The character cross coloration material also seemed to diminish for the most part. The color gradient issue wasn't much of one with this though you can see a few edges here and there but nowhere near as bad as some other series.
Avoiding the Japanese release artwork, the cover for this release is a decent shot that brings in the main trio of these episodes and the one man from the previous arc that holds some influence set against a bluish/green background that works well with the white keepcase. The character artwork isn't terribly detailed but it looks decent here. The back cover provides a large shot of one of the leads while providing a filmstrip along the side with a number of shots from the show. The summary is pretty basic across a couple of paragraphs while the remainder of the cover is made up of the production and technical information. No insert is included with this release.
The main menu is a decent piece that's got a bit of minor animation to it but feels more lively than most of the menus ADV's done in recent months. With the main shot being of the white haired vixen in her bright purple outfit along the right, the left of the menu has a rotating circle with the menu selections inside it, including individual episode access. The layout works nicely though the bit of the opening song that plays cuts out too short but that's almost a standard problem with ADV releases in that there isn't a good flow between the end and the start. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy and intuitive. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The included extras are pretty straightforward and standard fare. The opening and closing are presented in a clean form and there's a round of production. New to this release is a couple of static screens where they do "PSI Records" of the English voice actors as mini-bio's that have some cute bits and gags along with their info.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second volume of the series keeps things moving right along as it provides another five episodes and brings us to episode ten, which is useful because otherwise you might get the wrong idea about what the series is about. The first volume provided an interesting setup with the characters and the makeup of this near-future world that's radically different but then they decided to take a nice detour and have the lead characters become a rogue of some sort.
Kai unfortunately really doesn't have much of a personality to him and when he's working with someone like Yuuki who is full of character and pretty much the kind of scoundrel most people like to watch, Kai makes out even worse. Placing Kai in a setting where he's living with Yuuki and Asuka while learning what the outside world is like since he's pretty much spent most of his life either in hospitals or under watch because of his powers means that he's got plenty to learn and he's generally pretty na´ve about things. What becomes a problem though is that they spend too many episodes dealing with this and showcasing things that might be relevant later but right now feel like a ton of filler. Out of the five episodes here, only the last episode would really be considered part of the main arc after grabbing a few minutes here and there from the other four episodes.
Each of the four episodes does something different to show how Gald works or different kinds of things in this modern world. For example, when Yuuki takes a job to find someone with the stipulation of not being seen by him, they of course end up being seen but it causes him to realize that the thug they thought they were looking for is really a Branded, which is to say someone whose given over their mind and body to massive cybernetic transplants and lives to perform missions while killing anyone who sees it or gets in its way. It's essentially a modern day zombie and they spend an episode dealing with it while Kai deals with the moral and ethical problems of fighting such a creature. I can see this coming back later on in the series but right now, alongside three other episodes that don't seem to really forward things, it was almost painful.
One reason I thought the show was really in trouble this early on is that they repeated a major gag already. One of the best parts of the first volume was the episode that had Kai dressing up as a woman – and a highly attractive one at that – and doing some casino gig with Yuuki. Apparently during that encounter there was someone there that say Kai and really wants to date her. Since it's a job and it pays moment, Kai gets suckered into it by Yuuki and ends up on a date with a really lonely guy who has never dated anyone before but is secretly a gun broker. This leads into a story about how the city is cracking down on these kinds of operations as both Kai in a dress and his date end up on the run and Kai gets to protect him along the way. It's cute and amusing – Kai certainly dresses up well – but it seemed really bad form to have such a gag surface again so quickly.
When the last episode rolls around and we avoid the Kai/Yuuki area completely other than a brief bookend piece, we finally get to see some events rolling around in the Ashurum realm as Shen-Li has finally awoken after her accident and her mind has been overwritten with the latest that Sagimaya wanted her to be like. The changes confound Shen-Long as he tries to figure it out while at the same time both of them have been transferred to a new team under a much stricter leader named Maxim. It's good to see the brother/sister team back into the show but since their setting has changed just as radically as Kai's, it's not really a homecoming to a familiar setting but just more confusing material in some ways.
E's Otherwise had some potential since it reminded me of various other shows and old comic books but the way it diverged in its story so early is still something that's affecting it here since the "world building" episodes that show you how things are here really feel like filler. When you feel like you have filler for more than half of the first ten episodes you know you've got a problem. There's little bits of larger plots scattered throughout those four episodes but it's almost like watching two different shows going on and the connections, which are obvious, just fail to really gel. E's Otherwise basically suffers from being mediocre and not having a tight enough plot or series structure to carry it through the difficult first section of the series.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Production sketches,PSI Profiles
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: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 14 & 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: E's Otherwise