Akane Maniax Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

Review Date: Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Release Date: Thursday, November 25, 2004

What They Say
After heartbreak over recent events, Akane Suzumiya is moving on with her life at Hakuryo High. That is, until transfer student Jouji Gouda comes to her school and falls madly in love with her. His passion gets the better of him on numerous occasions, but Akane repeatedly refuses his advances. Can this hot-blooded stranger reach Akane's heart with his crazy and daydreaming ways? This is a story of love and the eternity you desire for two people in a comical atmosphere.

The Review!
The only audio track available is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese track encoded at 448 kbps, and it sounds excellent. Stereo separation is nice and ambient sounds in the outdoor scenes come through nice and clear. Dialogue is easily understandable and Jouji is pumped up whenever he speaks, befitting his character. The opening and ending songs are 'poppy' and aren't terribly memorable, but they sound good.

Like its predecessor Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Akane Maniax is presented in a full frame aspect ratio. It's a shame that it couldn't be taken widescreen like many newer shows, especially considering the larger budget, but it's hardly an issue. There are plenty of bright and vibrant colors splashed across the many daytime and outdoor scenes, and little to no bleeding or banding is visible. A few instances of blocking are seen during fast action sequences, but these are few and far between.

The front cover art features an illustration of Akane putting on her shoe by character designer Satoshi Isono, which is also used on the disc, main menu, and booklet. The back cover has screenshots and episode summaries to go with a staff and cast listing. First edition bonuses included a reversible DVD cover illustrated by the game's CG artist, Baka Ouji Persia, a Rumbling Angel collectible game card, and a cute mini figurine of Akane in a swimsuit.

The main menu is the only menu, and features the illustration from the DVD cover along with a karaoke version of the opening song and no animation or transitions to speak of. Simple and effective, but a bit more pizzazz would have been nice considering the hefty price tag for one episode.

Barely worth mentioning, the only on-disc extras are a bunch of Media Factory trailers for other shows being released on DVD.

Content: (may contain spoilers)
After Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ended, fans wondered if there would be more adventures featuring the memorable characters. Working from already-existing source material, a three-part OVA was announced based on the relatively obscure game Akane Maniax (full title: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien side story, Gouda's legendary shooting star). One of the more exciting tidbits was that Tomokazu Seki would be back to reprise his role as the hotheaded lead.

Starting out, we're introduced to Jouji Gouda as he beats up a lot of his new classmates and is told that he won't be able to compete on the baseball team since it's his final year in school. Transferring in without realizing this sets up his character as thickheaded, and with his hairstyle and bandanna he greatly resembles Domon from G Gundam, another Tomokazu Seki role. As the class is befuddled over this strange newcomer, Akane Suzumiya introduces herself and lightning strikes as Jouji falls for her.

She's still upset over previous events, and we see a flashback of her calling Takayuki to tell him that her sister had recovered and was out of the hospital. As KgNE ended however, he chose a life with Mitsuki and made a clean break with Haruka, telling Akane that he wouldn't see her sister. After going through all the pain and heartbreak by Haruka's side, Akane takes this seriously and is hurting inside. She's got a determined suitor in Jouji though, and he confesses his love for her in front of the entire class. Telling him that saying you love someone shouldn't come so easily, it's clear that Akane still has issues and isn't ready for a relationship.

Moving right along with the character introductions, we meet one of the teachers, Dr. Kozuki, who dresses somewhat inappropriately and is actually the sister of the doctor that took care of Haruka. Helping Jouji out a bit, she suggests Akane show him around the school. His fantasies take flight, and he dreams of Akane falling in love with him. Strangely enough, he also imagines finding a mech suit under the school and piloting it. Snapping back to reality, he finds Akane's tour is over and desperately looks for something to prolong it. Seeing a hill with a tree on it, he asks Akane about it and surprisingly she asks him if he wants to go there.

Seeming very sad, she puts her hand on the tree and tells Jouji that it's said that if two people expressed their feelings under it then they would have a bright future together. Previously, Takayuki and Haruka got together under the tree, but Akane remembers that it didn't turn out so well in the end. Not knowing this, Jouji takes it to mean that Akane brought him there so they could fall in love, and launches into another one of his hot-blooded fantasies in which he pilots the mech, saves the day, and gets the girl.

Along the way, we also meet Chizuru, Akane's friend, and Ms. Jinguuji, another teacher who seems to be rivals with Dr. Kozuki. After being told he can't be on the school's cultural festival committee, Jouji crashes the meeting anyway and proposes changing it to the Akane Festival, complete with a fanservice-laden dream sequence with Akane as a scantily-clad showgirl. He's brought back by a meaty punch from Chizuru, and the episode ends with Akane calling him an idiot.

In Summary:
Coming into the show after Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, this had a markedly different tone. Whereas its predecessor played heavily on unspoken motivations and the quiet moments, Akane Maniax is loud and over the top, seemingly pulled along by Jouji's passion. His brashness and act first, think later attitude are fun to watch, and it's a nice change to have a male lead that knows what he wants, even if he's going about it in the wrong way. The changes don't end there, as there is a new character designer on board, making everyone angular and rail-thin. The visual changes take a bit to get used to, and in the overall scheme of things, the game this OVA was based on was short and served to tie KgNE and the semi-followup MuvLuv together. You won't be thinking much, but if you want to see crazy comedy and panties then this side story might be worth checking out.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Media Factory trailers

Review Equipment
Sony KLV-23M1 23" LCD HDTV, Toshiba SD-4900 progressive region-free player via Acoustic Research component cables, Sony STR-DE897/S receiver, Sony SA-VE367T 7.1 channel speaker system.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: D
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Media Factory
MSRP: �5800
Running time: 29
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Akane Maniax