Legend of the Blue Wolves (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, October 24, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2005



What They Say
Jonathon Tiberius is a young robot pilot who is falling for his bunkmate, the tall blonde Leonard Schteinberg. However, their grotesque unit commander has his eye on Jonathon himself. Leonard manages to save Jonathon from their commander's clutches, but at a great cost. Leonard is being shipped out to the front lines, and he and Jonathon only have one night together. Will it make up for an eternity of separation?

The Review!
As humanity fights against incredible odds in space, two pilots find themselves looking for the little pleasures to deal with the pressures.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Similar to other yaoi-themed shows, now English language adaptation was done other than the included full subtitle track. The mix for this show is a decent stereo mix that is like most other shows of the genre with dialogue being primarily center channel based. The music and effects track uses the stereo channels but it's fairly minimal overall considering both the age and the content.

Video:
Originally released in 1996, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this show is definitely showing its age as the colors feel somewhat washed out and the blacks are more gray than anything else at times. The budget for the OVA isn't terribly high to begin with but the overall quality is decent but it does have some of the problems of a show this age. There is a bit of minimal aliasing throughout during some of the busier movement and panning sequences and some light cross coloration that may be more visible as a general fuzziness around the edge of characters. Nothing is terribly distracting and a lot of it is simply just due to the age of the print and the source material itself.

Packaging:
The cover art for this release is rather nicely done and has a good mix of elements to it that's really helped by a good stars filled background combined with a new sleek looking logo. It's always interesting how an up to date new logo can change the feel of a series. The character artwork mixes in a piece of the science fiction element with the main character walking in his suit across the desert as well as one of the robots they pilot but we also get plenty of the male/male goodness with an intimate shot of the two leads together. The back cover keeps up with the black science fiction and star filled feel with a good summary of the premise and a strip of very intimate pictures. The bottom half is filled out with the discs features and production information while the bottom has an accurate listing of the discs technical information. No insert is included in this release.

Menu:
The menu layout feels a lot like the back cover and provides a big star filled background with a shot of Tiberius in the testing chair with a face shot in the center. The selections are lined to the left of it while the logo is below and the vocal song for the show is playing along with it all. It's a very simple but slick looking menu that just evokes a great feeling to it. Access times are nice and fast and with no language selection here we get to ignore our player presets once more.

Extras:
Much to my surprise there's a good little bit of extras here when you'd expect none. There are three trailers from when this first came out so you can see how it was promoted. An image gallery is also included but the last piece is a full length rendition of the song set to clips from the show, essentially being a music video.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This year is definitely a good year for fans of yaoi across the board but it's surprising to see as much anime come out for it as there has been. More recent shows have been upping the level in explicitness so I wasn't expecting too much out of a show that's about ten years old. To my surprise, it's more explicit than I thought but it's not quite up to current standards of what you'd expect.

Unlike some of the other shows we've seen in recent months that deal with the male love of males, this one doesn't provide a simple backdrop and then go right into the action before moving onto the next story. Instead, it starts off by appearing to be the first installment of a larger series that never happened, so this OVA is all there is. In addition to that, there's a rather detailed layered story that everything is set against that the various scenes all take place in. The characters are given a good deal of motivation and background that does more than just string sex scenes together, it gives them actual meaning.

Taking place in 2199, humanity has spread across the solar system and has essentially conquered the system. At the point at which they were about to move beyond and into the larger realm of space beyond, an alien race they called Apocalypse arrived and starting making inroads into the solar system destroying everything left and right. They absorbed the people they came across and used them to build out their component parts with them. The aliens are pretty much secondary to things here though as the show moves its focus to one of the training bases where a group of soldiers have applied to become the pilots of some high powered robot suits that will be able to make a dent against Apocalypse.

This is where we're introduced to Jonathon Tiberius and Leonard Schteinberg. Tiberius is the young and cocky type while Leonard is a bit older and wiser but also a bit world weary having lost his brother a few years prior. The two find themselves to be bunkmates during the training after first coming across each other on the practice field where Tiberius got slapped for being foolish. The two end up falling for each other relatively quickly once they spend time together but what really solidifies their relationship is the base commander, a disgusting overweight man who uses his position to intimidate and dominate attractive male pilot candidates so that he can have sex with them. The two men end up in bad positions and situations because of this as the commander has a fancy for Tiberius and Leonard can stop himself from acting against this for only so long.

The animation for the show is definitely a lot of what you got from OVAs of the time with these being rugged men and being built, no wimpy beanpoles to be found here. The designs are strong in their nature and they look good and definitely fit within the genre. The animation itself is pretty good though it isn't a very fluid or active show at a lot of times, instead choosing to use shadows and various angles to imply more animation. The sex scenes themselves are explicit to a level, though it's not very explicit in terms of penetration but there's plenty of oral stuff going on here and lots of intimacy, at least in terms of the two guys who are wanting to be involved. The material with the base commander, well, sorry, not my cup of tea.

In Summary:
If not for the lack of a dub, this is a really good release that takes an interesting story and tells it through the yaoi genre of men who love men. Even men love men in uniform! The animation is good for its time, the designs are solid and attractive in that strong male look and it has a good enough story to carry it through as opposed to feeling like it was done just to string together some sex scenes. With a forty-five minute run time it allows for several sex scenes and room for plot and has enough going for it that at the end you wish there was more since they do manage to pique your curiosity with it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Trailers,Gallery,Theme Song

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 45
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Legend of the Blue Wolves