Sister Princess Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, July 29, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2005
What They Say
Wataru's life on Promised Island with thirteen sisters is certainly never dull, but things are about to get really exciting. In an effort to make her Bro's life easier, Rin Rin decides to build Wataru her greatest invention yet! Then, when a thief is on the loose in the Welcome House, Wataru must rely on the keen crime solving skills of his sister, Yotsuba, to catch the fiend.
And, after living with his sisters for almost a year, Wataru is about to receive his first visitor Tokyo, but will that really be a good thing?
While we get a few more tales of the girls and their attempts to get close to Wataru, revelations are poised to unfurl with the arrival of Akio on the island.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a solid stereo mix that makes good use of the range of character voices as they're often spread well across the forward soundstage. There isn't a lot to the show outside of the music and the character dialogue since it's a very much dialogue driven show but it's a good mix that was free of distortions and dropouts during regular playback. We listened to parts of the English track which got a 5.1 mix to it but it's essentially the same just a bit sharper and more distinct in placement.
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame format. The show is filled with a lot of vibrant colors and clean lines so it stands out with the bright levels but also in the way that there is so much space given over to areas that it feels expansive yet almost empty at times. The colors for the show are fairly rich at times with lots of very vibrant colors, particularly the reds, mixed in with other colors. The island town isn't a typical town so there are lots of non-standard colors used for roads and buildings but they're mostly pastel in nature. The transfer manages to avoid just about all the usual problems so there's no noticeable cross coloration or much in the way of aliasing going on. There was some light blocking going on during some of the all-black sequences but it was very minimal.
Continuing what I think is a really good design; the sixth volume of this series changes up a few of the colors but keeps to the same layout. The top half provides us with a great full color piece of Sakuya and Marie together with a pencil sketch of Wataru next to them. Below the light purple strip we get another full length shot of the other ten girls and it all just comes together very well. The back cover is laid out in much the same way but with photographs taking the place of the strip and production information along the bottom. The top half has a small character shot of Rin Rin and Marie alongside the summary paragraphs. The discs extras and technical information is all nice and clearly listed. Some of the extras listed aren't actual on-disc extras though but rather packaging pieces. For example, the reversible cover has a full image shot of Marie and is what I believe to be the Japanese rental cover as it also has the original Japanese text for the logo. The back cover version of this though has biography/profile data for Marie and Rin Rin, things that you would expect to be on the disc based on the extras listing. The insert for this release uses the English language logo for the series and looks like a postcard. It opens up to a two panel spread where it's a letter from Marie to Wataru about her dreams and feelings towards him. I'll say it again, it's just a little bit creepy. The back of the insert showcases twelve of the girls.
The menu layout is surprisingly simple with a static image of Marie and Rin Rin outside of the house so that there's a view of the mountain and sky where the menu selections are lined over. Episode access is nice and quick and the navigation is simple and easy to use. There are some brief transitional animations to the submenus, such as a postcard taking up most of the static image when going to the extras menu, but they're very fast and without problem. As a continual plus with ADV release, our players' language presets were correctly read when the disc started up.
Though not terribly filled with extras, there's some good material here. The standards are ever present with the new clean opening sequence and the ending sequence but there's no new portfolio of production sketches this time. The new inclusion this time is a Behind the Scenes piece that talks with the English voice actors, Nancy Novotny and Sasha Paysinger, where they share some of their past roles and talk about their impressions of the show and what it all means.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The penultimate volume of the series really doesn't feel much like that until we get to the last episode that's here. The first two episodes essentially carry on with much of the same as what's come before, though with characters I don't care for as much, before presenting a number of small revelations that will hopefully reveal just what the intent of this series is all about.
Rin Rin gets more focus in this volume as she's being somewhat more forward looking, at least openly, compared to some of the other girls. Thinking to the time when she won't be there to do anything for Wataru, and after listing off a lengthy piece of the things that Wataru is bad at, she's decided that she has to create something that will ensure that he's well taken care of. With a bit of help, she's been working madly to create a robotic version of herself that looks identical and can do all of the things he's incapable of… like dishes, laundry, waking up on time and so forth. Nicknamed Rin Rin 2 (or R2), she's designed to be the safeguard that Rin Rin herself doesn't believe she'll have the chance to be. Of course, her designs are always more ambitious than she can pull off, especially in a short amount of time, so there's a bit of chaos with the power going out and Rin Rin trying to work frantically to fix it as fast as she can while still doing more upgrades. It's a strange episode since all it really does is tear down Wataru even more to a milksop and in the end leave him with nothing new.
The second episode fares a bit better since it's lighter in comedy and focuses around Yotsuba again as she takes up the role of detective. Initially it's to figure out what's happened to a deck of cards that got stolen from Chikage, who is very ticked off by this, but then it moves into a series of events about a faked investigation into who broke the present the girls received from Wataru for Christmas. Initially we see Mami break it and cover it up by putting it back in place but it gets broken again later on by someone else and Yotsuba offers to help by taking it in to get fixed, which will take a few days, and then covering up that disappearance with the thief problem that's already ongoing until they can return the box to its proper place. Yotsuba's cute in her full on detective mode and there isn't much to this other than the simple comedy and fun angle but it doesn't really do anything new or really give you a girl to get to know much better.
The main change that occurs at the end here is that we get the revelation that Akio, long time email friend of Wataru from his old school, has finally decided to come for a visit. It's been practically a year since Wataru first came here and spent time with these new sisters of his but now things are starting to change. Things on the island are moving forward as well as more people are now seen and they're talking about the year being up and finishing up the construction of a rather sizeable amusement park on a hidden side of the island. When Wataru talks about the arrival of Akio with the old man at the dock, he starts to panic a bit about it. Akio's arrival isn't a planned occurrence it seems.
When Akio does arrive, it's not quite the experience that most of them thought it would be. He's a friendly and attractive enough blue haired guy who handles all the women with ease and is definitely at ease with Wataru, but at the same time it's plainly obvious he has things he wants to do while there. Wataru was ready to have each of the girls show him a different part of the island but he wants to spend time with Mami first. The revelation that she's the one that infiltrated the island at Akio's request, due to her being his sister, is surprising and puts a new spin on her. Akio's plans aren't covered a lot but are referred to enough to realize that he's wanted Wataru off the island and that Mami has failed completely at achieving this. With all that's talked about between the two and with others later, there's still no real clear picture of exactly what's going on unfortunately, which makes the start of the finale really feel weak.
Just the fact that with all of the possibilities to go with for this episode that they focused on having Wataru and the other girls end up at the new amusement park and have them praising Wataru for his new confidence over using the rides feels very forced. The character has certainly grown over the series but in their efforts to show it they fail to do just that without once again making him seem like a milksop.
After the surprisingly enjoyable fifth volume, this installment swings back to the kind of material that just doesn't work well for me with this series. The opening episodes focus on the less interesting characters and half of that was with a pointless plot followed by essentially a filler storyline, something that really has little place at this point in the series. The revelations in the last episode open up the possibilities for what's to come but there's so little real emphasis on where it's going to go it's hard to get interested or excited by the revelations.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes interviews with Nancy Novotny and Sasha Paysinger,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sister Princess