Jubei Chan 2 Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, August 27, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2005
What They Say
"You Imposter... I am the true Yagyu Jubei the Second!"Jubei vs. Jubei!? The spirit of a legendary samurai, Yagyu Jubei, is resurrected in two teenage girls. One is in Jiyu Nanohana, an ordinary junior high student who unwillingly channels the power of the great swordsman through her "Lovely Eye Patch." Then there's Freesia Yagyu, who claims to be the daughter and the rightful successor of Yagyu Jubei herself... A showdown 300 years in the making is about to begin.
With barely just half of the third episode on this volume, Akitaroh Daichi manages to outshine practically every swordplay series released in the last year or two.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is one you'd initially think of as a mixed piece with some big action pieces that would sound great and then lots of dialogue for the regular moments. But with the way Jubei's life is like, there are tons of active forward soundstage moments throughout the entire show with all the characters running around and being active. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Keeping to the same style as the previous series, the materials here look essentially flawless on our setup with lots of great looking solid colors that aren't terribly vibrant but have a good depth to them. The transfer avoids pretty much all the usual kinds of problems that crop up so it's free of aliasing and cross coloration and overall looks very clean and sharp. The background colors maintain a good solid feel without any noticeable blocking. Some areas look a little soft on occasion but it's something that's likely intentional than anything else based on the style of the show.
Using similar artwork to the Japanese release but with a better and more straightforward coloring style, this volume has a really good counterpoint to the first volume with Freesia in transformed mode looking just as dark and deadly as Jubei did while using a blue background. The back cover provides a lot of shots from the show set below the listing of the episode numbers and titles. The discs features and technical information is sort of in a grid but it's just below center instead of the bottom but it does keep things close together unlike some other past releases. The insert uses a lot of shots from the show on its top page along with the episode titles and listing of extras and opens up to a full color action shot of Jubei and a panel that has Jubei and Freesia together laughing. The back of the insert lists the dates for all the volumes and the soundtrack as well as the basic contact information. The reverse cover is another shot of Freesia in transformed mode as used on one of the Japanese releases.
The menu layout is nicely done by the folks at Nightjar where a strip of animation plays through the center and each window is filtered in either blues or purples as some of the good paced action music plays along. Selections are lined along the bottom and it's overall a very vibrant piece that's eye-catching in how it uses the action scenes to draw you in. Doing the top and bottom parts in black only draws the eyes in even more to what's in the center. The layout is easy to navigate and problem free. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras are fairly amusing and interesting in this volume. There's a new art gallery and a new gallery showcasing the artwork from the Japanese DVD releases – and I am amused that they're using the "JP" phrasing now for things. The really interesting extra here for me is the Shinkage Sword Lesson piece. This is a twenty-three minute video that has Yui Horie going to a couple of sword masters to be taught some of the basics that the Yagyu's are famous for. Horie's been fun to watch in other extras before and she's simply cute as she goes through this in the way that these kinds of videos seem to do. It's not exactly hugely informative, but you really do get to see how much like Noh dancing it is and the theatrics of the style that are used.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting back into the Jubei-chan series with the previous volume after the five year hiatus took a bit of getting used to since there was some amount of needing to get familiar again with the characters as well as the way things were simply different after the conclusion of the original storyline. With that feeling now behind us and the new storyline underway, this volume felt much smoother and played out incredibly well.
With the relative shortness of the series, Daichi's skilled at getting right to the point and moving the plot along while having the secondary material work just as smoothly. There's no real drop in what we get here such as some series that take the middle set of episodes to just do weird stuff or seemingly filler like material. Instead, Daichi just pushes forward with the plot. Jiyu's resistance to becoming Jubei again is beautifully illustrated right from the start when her adult hands are almost wrapping around Ayunosuke's tiny cartoonish hand that's holding the eye patch and she tells him to never see her again, to never bring that eye patch near her. She's wanting desperately to put that part of her life behind her since it's caused so much pain and suffering.
Instead she wants to focus on her "fake" family and the way they've managed to come together somehow and form something that's working. With her father supposedly working on the great romance story (but afraid that Mikage knows the truth) and Mikage acting as his editor and a pseudo mother for Jiyu, Jiyu and Freesia are able to really play up the sisterly role and just be happy and carefree about things. At least on the outside which is what they're stressing since so much is going on underneath. Freesia's own plans are being forwarded now by the rest of the Siberia clan. This actually leads to something very surprising when they decide to take action themselves and 'kidnap' Freesia right in front of Jiyu and demand she transform so they can fight.
Jiyu's refusal to do so gives her some kind of adrenaline rush as she climbs up the castle walls to try and rescue her friend. What's really fascinating about this is that as she takes on that serious look and just does what she needs to do, you can see how much older she's become since the first series and just how much she truly is growing into the body that Jubei-chan exhibits after transformation. Her skills must be transferring slowly to Jiyu as she does the scaling of the wall and other moves. It's a fascinating change in the character that previously would have either run away or just stared at what was happening dumbfounded.
Events that happen later on provide Freesia with the opportunity to press her advantage and to finally challenge Jiyu openly for possession of the Lovely Eye Patch. This comes on the heels of Mikage learning that those of the Siberia clan suffer much like Mikage and the others did in the first series in that they're not really connected properly with reality and Jubei-chan's blade is the only thing that can free them from this. Mikage does her best along with Ayunosuke to try and impart this knowledge on Jiyu when she's threatened by Freesia since it could help her as well, but she's simply too surprised by this and reverts to her old self and stares at the situation.
When Freesia threatens Ayunosuke's life though and one of the Siberia warriors finds himself being horrendously cut up by Freesia, Jiyu launches into action to save Ayunosuke and what we saw before of her growing skill and powers in Jiyu form was barely a sample. The first half of the third episode has some of the most amazing swordplay sequences I can remember from the last year or two in anime. The choreography and animation is just jaw dropping as Jiyu and Freesia go back and forth while floating down an impossibly high cliffside. Just the way she was running down it to save Ayunosuke at first was breathtaking.
Ayunosuke himself is something that's been interesting to watch. I really wasn't sure how I felt about the character in the first volume but as he's become more key in this set of episodes he's proven to be very interesting to watch. They wisely didn't make him a copy of Koinosuke or a complete opposite of him either, but with his pure dedication to Jiyu and the eye patch combined with the way he's able to flit about and be at the right place at the right time, he brings something new to the show that helps elevate it up above its predecessor a bit more.
Almost from the start of this volume, I found myself sitting up and almost on the edge of my seat in watching this. Not exactly a relaxed viewing, but I was so drawn to what was going on in the show that I was compelled to sit up and be much more focused. With a lot of shows it's easy to reflect on them afterwards and realize that there were some very neat things you didn't realize during the viewing but with Jubei-Chan I found myself sitting there and just thinking "ohmygodthisisbloodyamazingImusthavemorenow." Daichi's style of action and comedy certainly doesn't suit everyone but I'm glad that I've been drawn to it since the first time I saw his work. This series is just so wonderfully fun and engaging that it's the kind of show that reinvigorates you about anime in general. Very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Shinkage Sword Lesson,JP DVD Covers,Art Gallery
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: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jubei-Chan 2