Maburaho Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, February 10, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
What They Say
Kazuki Shikimori is having a tough time dealing with life as a teenage ghost. But leave it to a group of girls to run to his rescue... Yuna, Kuriko, Rin and Chihaya are determined to give him that one thing he’s been missing – a body! A class trip to a hot springs makes the teens of Aoi Academy sizzle! Kazuki better watch out for things that may pop up -- Shino the ghost catcher still has her own agenda, and she could be around any corner! In the end, Kazuki winds up as Kuriko’s date at the Cinderella Ball. Will Kazuki finally fall under her spell? Beware the mysterious moonlight, Kazuki!
Maburaho gets closer to the finale and some of the mystery behind his remaining in ghost form comes to light.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly standard stereo mix that's used in a show where there's plenty of explosions and other high school escapades. With characters flying about, explosions going across entire sections of walls and windows and numerous other directional bits, the forward soundstage conveys this nicely and without any problems. Dialogue is nice and clean throughout it as well as getting some good placement such as when the cast is flying. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language.
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series looks to be one that has some high production values and exceptionally good coloring used on it that gives it very fresh and very animated feel. The transfer manages to capture a lot of this really well as the colors look great and vivid without any oversaturation or excessive bleeding. The colors maintain a very solid feel throughout and while there's a touch of macroblocking here and there in some wide color fields, they're essentially really good looking. Some cross coloration does seep through in the very edges of a couple of the characters hair and shows up sporadically but it's nowhere near on the level of distraction. An occasional panning or two causes some light aliasing but that's fairly typical. Overall, this is quite good looking and easy on the eyes.
The art style for the covers continues and it's one of the best selling points for the release with some fantastic looking artwork and designs, this time for a scantily clad Rin as her outfit falls apart on her. The back cover has one of the more controlling women from Kazuki's class posing alone along side several shots done as photos. The summary gives the basics of the premise and is followed up with the shows extras and a series of photographs from scenes from the show. The shows production information is clearly listed and the technical grid covers everything else in an easy to read format. An insert is included with this release that is done as a school newspaper with the front showcasing a lead story related to the episodes in this volume. Inside there's some gag stories about the school, tidbits about the characters and some four panel strips.
The menu layout is a cute piece where it has Yuna chasing Kazuki as she flies behind him and he runs "around the world" in a sense. It's done with very light and comical animation as a bit of funky little music plays along for a brief loop. Access times are nice and fast and with the basic navigation it's easy to move about. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which continues to be a nice plus.
The extras continue to be the standard pieces we've seen for most of the series. The art section showcase various pieces of production artwork set to a video gallery format and it has some nice pieces to it. The opening and ending sequences are also presented in their clean versions which continue to be one of the best standard extras since DVDs arrival.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Maburaho gets closer to its conclusion, some parts of it are becoming clearer and the motivations of various characters start to crystallize as their plans start falling into place. On the downside, they decided that some amount of recap was needed in this set of three episodes which slows things down at the absolute wrong time.
The school trip storyline draws to a close with the first episode here and this provides some of the most crucial movement we've had since Kazuki went into ghost mode. The time on the trip has been awkward for him since he can't touch anything or do anything but for everyone else it's been a hoot. The bath scene in particular is a bit of good simple fun as the girls start talking up breasts as we're sure all women do when in these situations and Yuna starts to get concerned that hers aren't quite up to spec in comparison with everyone else's, especially when Rin reveals just how stacked she really is underneath all those layers of clothing. This leads to some fun as Yuna tries to sample everyone's breasts to get a good feel for them and the guys are in the bath right next door paying very close attention.
There's a lot of fluff mixed into here but the interesting part comes when Shino once again decides to make her play for Kazuki and bring him to full ghost level so he can become part of her collection. She needs to get him alone or with just one of the girls but this proves difficult as the four of them have decided to take turns with Kazuki on their last free day so they all follow each other which makes it difficult. Yamase makes it the most interesting though as she ends up kidnapping him so she can spend some quality time with him but it ends up giving Shino the opening she needs. Of course, nothing goes according to plan but the danger that Kazuki gets placed in is so strong that when Yamase and Yuna try to rescue him, their strong emotional bond for him ends up restoring some of his physical nature as apparently when his ashes spread, they spread into them and others.
This puts Kazuki back on the table as a potential gene candidate again if he's able to get all of his ashes back somehow. In a way, it's both good and bad that they do some minor recaps here that show how far all the girls have come since their introduction to Kazuki and his status as someone who will spawn some seriously powerful magic users. All of the girls have grown in some way and Kazuki himself is certainly not the milksop he once was either. The area that becomes interest across this though is seeing the dorm manager, Hisoka, take a stroll through the school to return a lunch and see just how much influence she has on things and what possible secrets she may harbor. She's definitely been the character who has the least revealed about her and her nature in general keeps her quite mysterious.
As serious as the show tries to get at times, it does keep to its core nature of being a sexual comedy and there's plenty of good material throughout the volume. One of the episodes has a light feature on a series of trading cards made up of all the girls of the school and the chase cards that are brought into it are priceless – and actually desirable. The Cinderella story that plays out in the last episode is pretty predictable but it also continues to showcase the changes that some of the girls have gone through, changes that are mostly visible when they're not around each other. Some people simply are completely different animals when in groups and these girls when together just end up being competitive to the point of losing their good personality traits.
Maburaho's having fun with the story of Kazuki in ghost form a bit more now that some of the why and how behind it is becoming apparent and those who have plans within plans that nobody else know about are finding it working for and against them at different times. Though these plans are the kinds of background plots that end up being used more in the manga than in the anime itself, it does show some interesting larger elements that give the property a place to go when the initial storyline is over. While I've heard a lot of people really didn't like the series once Kazuki made his shift to being a ghost, it's been interesting to see where it's gone though some of it has definitely been weak. The upswing side that we're on now is one of the pluses though and with only a few more episodes left I'm curious to see how they're going to resolve much of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Art of Maburaho,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
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: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2