Angel Blade Returns (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2006



What They Say
The jiggling juggernaut of justice is back to deal her special brand of bouncing, buxom punishment to the evildoers who have kidnapped her best friend. As the helpless coed writhes in the clutches of her sadistic captors, only one thing is certain: Our topless heroine will need all her cunning and physical prowess to bring her enemies to heel! Includes Episode 3 and an Angel Blade recap.

The Review!
Angel Blade comes back to finish out the original OVA series as more justice must be meted upon she-male evil that is out there.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is a bit better than your average adult fare as there is much more story and more action involved here than those so the mix exerts itself a bit more and the stereo channels have more flowing through them. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2002, the transfer for the final OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Part of the Vanilla Series, the animation here is one that looks like it had its budget tripled over the normal releases and it shows through here in the visual quality. From the backgrounds to the character designs, everything here looks alive and vibrant as well as pretty much problem free. Some of the backgrounds show some very light blocking in a few high motion sequences but otherwise it's a good looking transfer that avoids problems such as cross coloration or the more recent gradient issues that are getting more common. This is an easy show to watch and just enjoy the transfer of.

Packaging:
The cover art for this release in the series is pretty good with a fairly dark blue background that lets all the skin from the character in the foreground attract the attention as she does a have twist to show off all of her assets. The Angel Blade outfit is definitely skimpy so it works well to show off the sexier side of the show as well as the good looking character designs. The back cover provides another shot of the character in the outfit while to the right is all the usual information. The summary is amazingly small, the discs features are clearly listed and the bottom portion fills out all the basic technical and production information in small type. The reverse side of the cover gives over one panel in a black and white shot of the lesbian love scene while the other panel has the chapter listings and cast list. Only the English actors were listed as the Japanese cast wasn't provided, not uncommon with hentai releases. The rest is filled out with production information from both sides of the project.

Menu:
The menu layout is fairly simple in that it uses the Angel Blade Returns logo and a large shot of the moon with some buildings rising against it while putting some music to it and stringing the navigation points along the bottom. It's a decent looking menu when everything is combined but nothing that really stands out much. Access times are nice and fast and submenus load quickly. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras are increased a bit over the first volume as we get a new sketch gallery as well as storyboard sequences for both the episodes in the first volume and the third episode that's on this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Just under a year since the release of the first volume which had the first two of three episodes in the original OVA run, Angel Blade returns to finish out the storyline. Since it has been so long since we saw the show, a nice new original recap has been created that does the first two episodes in the space of one, in English only of course, and then leads into the final episode so you can remember exactly what was going on. Unless of course you're just here for the sex in which case you can just go right to the new episode.

With just the final episode being the only truly new piece here, it's a rather quick experience if you don't watch the recap with it which is the downside to putting out split releases like this. The episode kicks off where we left off in that it had Seiru captured by those working for Nailkaizer and used as bait to draw out the real Angel Blade since it was once thought she was it. Giving chase to the duo doing all of this, Angel Blade finds that she's not alone out there in the world as Angel Ender is briefly introduced and there's an amusing battle sequence throughout the city at night where people see the women in their truly skimpy outfits. It's comical to watch the battle ensue as the women basically shoot massive power loads of energy from their she-male parts at Angel Blade, often able to strike her down at over two hundred paces. It'd take a super woman to withstand such intensity in the normal method of delivery.

Everything of course revolves around getting back to those under Nailkaizer that are really running the operators and the headmaster finds himself the center of attention in his demonic form after he interrupts a rather pleasant lesbian sequence between Moena and Seiru that firms up their relationship a bit. It turns nasty as the demonic headmaster uses his appendages to eliminate Angel Blade once and for all though and it goes through a series of ups and downs as the struggle to survive is strong. The show has a fair amount of sex to it, much like the first two episodes, but the pacing found here in the third and final OVA is more geared towards pushing towards the plot resolution and getting the last couple of encounters out of the way. The pair chasing Angel Blade at first is fun but it really serves just to get the women into their more tender moments. The final battle is all but a given even in a show like this but it's still enjoyable to watch.

In Summary:
If this had been released either with the first two episodes or far sooner than almost a year later than it probably would have made more of an impact. Even with so many companies putting out single episodes these days, they come at such a close range more often than not that the space between them isn't so much of an issue and it's expected from the start. Since this is all part of one storyline having that gap is more of a problem though I'm glad that they went to the extra effort here to create a good recap episode that helps to minimize the effect. Obari's work here is definitely worth checking out and the ending is a good conclusion to the series. Very few companies put out such glossy story oriented adult shows like this and that's something that Obari should be working more on instead of hitting up the mainstream where he's got to hold back.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Engilsh Subtitles,Sketch Gallery, Storyboards

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Anime 18
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angel Blade