Arisa Vol. #2 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 05, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, November 16, 2005
What They Say
Based on the popular game by Mixwill this episode sees Arisa working at the café where Morisaki Shinichirou and his childhood friend Kotomi work. However, the military force, who is trying to capture and examine Arisa, have sent Yuri to spy on her. Yuri is a caring older sister who does not like to cause trouble, but will do anything she is ordered to do by the military, because they still have hold of her sister, Nagasi. As the tangled sex web is weaved we learn Arisa’s mood can be easily changed depending on the mood of her master. Watch how her moods affect how she performs!
Arisa comes to a conclusion with the second volume, actually ending the story instead of just cutting itself short, and mixes in plenty of sex and action.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Like every other release from this studio to date, there is no English language track. The series has a fairly standard stereo mix so that outside of a few minor action sequences and the music track, the dialogue is basically focused around the center channel with some mild directionality to it. It's essentially what you see in most adult series so it's quite serviceable here. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 2004, Arisa marks the arrival of the first anime series encoded in HD for North American distribution. Two discs are included in the release; the HD disc which most players won't read (such as our Zenith) or it will just churn through the menus if the player can recognize a data disc (such as our Ilo DVD Recorder). Playing this disc back on our Dell XPS system gave us some great looking results but our monitor isn't calibrated for movie/film playback but rather gaming so there was some fuzziness in the backgrounds but the character animation looked fantastic. The package also includes the SD disc which is the same as their other releases and reads fine in all our players. The transfer for this release is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Green Bunny hasn't done many of these as they don't have a new opening sequence for them and instead windowbox their original logo sequence. The quality of the transfer is solid overall with the exception of some minor grain and shiftiness during the first opening scene taking place in the dark clouds. Once it settles into the show proper, the character animation is vibrant and smooth, aliasing is non-existent and cross coloration simply doesn't happen. It's a great looking transfer overall.
The keepcase for this release is the single style that has a spot on each side of the interior for the discs to snap into place so there is no flippy hinge holding things together here. The front cover for this installment lets Saya take the center stage as her kimono is being torn away from her, exposing her breasts as she tries to get away. The cover is reversible though and the "clean" side has a simple black bra on her to cover up the nudity. The back cover is similar to the first volume with the summary covering the basics of the plot and the discs features. The standard layout and listings we've seen on numerous releases from this studio is done once again here. The covers look good here and while I wish they'd use the non-nude cover on the front, I know that these are being sent more to adult stories and via online only than showing up in regular retailers so it makes sense to show the goods. No insert is included in this release.
The menu for this volume is very different from the first as it doesn't have any real character animation to it but rather a background of the amusement park from this episode. The menu selection is along the left while next to it there are falling gears that show clips from the show inside. This is a pretty slick looking menu and trumps a lot of mainstream bland menus that are becoming more common these days. Another new addition to this release is an extra chapter selection menu called "Straight to Sex" which will take you to the sex scenes instantly and without the character plot buildup. The layout is straightforward and easy to navigate and with only one language and set of subtitles our players' presets were essentially a non-issue.
The extras are again decent if amusing in their own way. The only real extra in a sense is the photo gallery showcasing shots from the show but they include another Bonus Video similar to what we've seen on other releases and it's again one of those clips that looks like it was made using MS Paint. Maybe in realizing how bad these actually are, no subtitles were included for it so it's simply raw Japanese.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Arisa series comes to a surprisingly quick conclusion considering how many episode the show that it's paying, um, homage to ran for quite a bit longer than that. This show has had a stronger focus on the plot, gaping holes and all at times, almost at the expense of the sex sometimes and this volume manages to do more of the same while also repeating some of it.
With Arisa's arrival in the first volume, things didn't go as planned for Yuuri as she tried to secure the Fire Bee for retrieval and instead ended up thinking that it was Kotomi who was the Fire Bee. This led to an amusing and nicely erotic lesbian scene as Yuuri tried her best to set off the Fire Bee. With Yuuri being taken back into military custody now, Kotomi is left with just memories of what's happened and she replays them in her head as she tries to pleasure herself. While she's in the midst of a good kind of pleasure, Yuuri has found herself in the hands of the disturbing Daimo who has her hooked up to a setup that's reminiscent of some of the Nazi material from the Urotsukidoji series. Her failures certainly haven't pleased him and he's not intent on pleasing her with what he does to her.
Everything comes to a head quickly after that when Yuuri is sent out to try and capture the Fire Bee again. Everything at the restaurant has been going well enough that Shinichiro has decided to take everyone out to an amusement park after being subtly beaten into the idea and there's a bit of good fun that everyone gets to have before young Saya finds herself being held hostage by the military goons in order to get the Fire Bee to turn herself in. There's a bit of minor twistiness to all of this as the plans do go quite as planned but it sets the stage for everyone to get involved in trying to rescue their friends and for Arisa to finally reveal herself to everyone and just go and kick ass across the board.
With so much of this very loosely based on Steel Angel Kurumi, it's not hard to see how this plays out and what to expect from the ending in the second episode. There is still a strong focus on the storyline for the show and it feels like it's coming at the expense of the sex scenes themselves. This wouldn't be too bad as the first volume was still decent enough but the second episode here has some repeated sex scene material from the first episode as we have Kotomi doing fond remembrances of her being taken by Yuuri. This always feels like a weak move in order to stretch out the time and save some money and doesn't really add too much here. When there's already a smaller amount of sex than what feels like average, doing some of it via repeat simply doesn't help. What we do get though is rather fun and while it's not standout material it's definitely something that you can enjoy, particularly if you're a fan of the show that this is paying homage to.
Arisa is the kind of series that seems like it has big potential to it but ends up being a fairly average show in the end. The series release is well done across the board however and it's earned itself a slot in the history books by being the first North American HD release. With it only being two episodes and being a complete storyline it has a lot more accessibility to it and with it being based on a mainstream property it will have plenty of appeal there. Its weakened nature in terms of the sex scenes probably works in its favor for bringing over more casual fans as well so while this may not be big to the hardcore crowd, it certainly has a wider appeal. It's definitely worth checking out for a number of reasons though that will appeal to different people.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Adult Source Media
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2