Burst Angel Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Release Date: Monday, March 13, 2006



What They Say
Say what you will about Meg...but the girl's got guts. Meg walks straight into the fire going undercover at an elite girl's school to investigate the bizarre case of a young student's descent into madness. But this Academy is a place where even the bravest angels should fear to tread.

A secret society's conjured up the spirit of an ancient demon and they mean to set it loose on Meg. And if that's not enough, a dangerous giant bird preys on young girls and snatches up Meg right before Jo's very eyes! A secret weapon injected into Kyo raises the stakes for Sei and a deal to save Meg leaves Jo hanging in the balance.

With RAPT lurking behind every corner will Jo be able to save Meg this time? Or will the Crow Monster take Meg and Kyo down with him?

Episodes comprise:

5. Mansion Where Lurks The Demon
6. Wash This Garden With Blood!
7. Black Sky
8. The Wounded Outlaw

The Review!
The second volume of Burst Angel continues in much the same way as the first, providing plenty of eye candy and a healthy dose of entertainment to go with it.

Audio:
I opted to listen to the Japanese 5.1 track for this review. The track sounded really good when the action kicked in with the sound effects making nice use of the channels. Music and dialogue sounded crisp and clear as well, and I didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

I briefly sampled the English dub, produced by FUNimation, and it sounded well cast with all the girls seeming to slide into their roles quite well.

Video:
Being a fairly new show from GONZO, we get a really nice anamorphic widescreen transfer for this series. I noticed no compression problems, no anti-aliasing and colours came out really vibrant and life-like. The series has quite an interesting look to it with its blend of a Western and sci-fi vibe, and it just looks really nice and helps you focus on the show itself.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and are a good, clear size. I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors that stood out throughout the episodes.

My only issue with this disc is that, unlike the US release, for some reason Madman (who author the discs) or MVM decided not to include alternate angles. I find this a little annoying as it means we only get the "English" angle with translated credits for the opening and ending, but more annoying is we get the English episode titles (although the Japanese ones appear in the subtitles as they're spoken in previews and the like). This frustrates me as I hate how FUNimation change something as simple as episode titles when they "reversion" a lot of their shows.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
The menus are all static, with the main menu featuring an image of Mg this time in a skimpy cowgirl outfit with her gun. On the right hand side we have the individual episode selection and the "Setup" and "Extras" options. The show's logo and volume title are just above them, with the funky opening theme playing over it. The two sub-menus are also static, with just text on the menu background. While they're definitely functional, they're also somewhat dull.

Extras:
This volume we get another nice selection of episodes, including the dub commentary for episode 8, which is great to have since the first volume was missing its equivalent commentary, even though one was on the US release. We also get more radio dramas that appeared on the Japanese releases, presented here with subtitles as super-deformed images of the cast appear on screen. We get the lengthier "On Air Selection 4", with two shorter bonus tracks as well. They're a lot of fun since we don't get to see these sorts of extras often, and it's great to hear the cast having a bit of fun! We also get the textless opening and endings (both the English and Japanese versions) again.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a fun first volume I was quite interested to see how Burst Angel would develop. Not surprisingly, it really continues in much the same way, with a consistent formula of two-episode stories in which Meg will somehow be put in danger and Jo will have to go save her. The second story on this volume does do a bit more as well, introducing some much-needed conflict within the team of girls, but there's still not a great deal of character progression nor much of a story developing. There is one key ingredient though: enjoyment.

The first two episodes give us the first story on the disc, which opens with Meg attending a private school for the first time. She's posing as a transfer student, and is introduced to some of the upperclassmen who seem to run the school. A girl called Angelique seems to be running their show, and prances around like she owns the place, inviting Meg to come to their room at some point. When Meg speaks to the other girls we realise she's gone undercover to try and find out why a girl mysteriously died at the school. That night another girl tries to commit suicide, but doesn't really know why. It would seem that the group of older girls is up to something, and has some sort of control over the other students. But the more Meg digs, the more she is in danger and naturally, she gets herself into a sticky situation that only Jo can help her out of.

Though it was a little predictable, in terms of the group of girls being up to something and the identity of the girl behind everything, I quite enjoyed this story, especially for the first episode. I was quite curious as the end of the first episode was coming as to how they could stretch the story into another episode, but they managed it quite well and had me interested for both episodes. It is a little annoying that Meg always seems to be the one going gung-ho and getting captured/assaulted/put in danger in some way, but it does allow Jo to get a bit more involved, and I quite liked how most of the group were separated and we got to focus on a couple of characters for the first episode especially.

There isn't a great deal of character progression in these two episodes, but then you probably wouldn't expect that from Burst Angel anyway. Meg does show how quick she can be to trust people, especially when she thinks they need help in some way. Of course, it doesn't help her because it just puts her in more danger, but she's not exactly the brightest girl anyway. Jo is her usual tough self as always, out to protect Meg, while Sei, Amy and Kyohei are all pretty much sidelined (though Kyohei does end up getting dressed up in girls clothes at one point which is amusing).

The second pair of episodes takes things in a slightly different direction. Kyohei is walking with a female friend when she's abducted... by a giant crow. Absurd though that sounds, Kyohei manages to convince Jo, who goes with him to investigate. Jo tells Meg and the others to stay behind, but when they arrive on the scene Meg is there after all, and to no one's surprise, she is captured by the crow. While Jo wants to run to Meg's rescue straight away, Sei sends her on their latest job to protect someone, while she and Amy search for Meg.

As it turns out, the man Jo is protecting is carrying an experimental nanobot, which is exactly what the crow is after. To stop the crow getting it, the man injects the nanobot into Kyohei before the crow grabs his briefcase. With Meg still captured, war breaks out between Jo and Sei. Sei wants to protect the nanobot, while Jo only has rescuing Meg on her mind. Sei has all her "people" on it (it would seem she is part of a much larger organisation herself), and almost dares Jo to defy her, and that's exactly what Jo does. She grabs Kyohei and the pair go on the run to try and rescue Meg before Kyohei kicks the bucket, because if the nanobot isn't out within six hours, that's exactly what'll happen.

Despite falling into the usual failings in terms of story, I still really liked these episodes, primarily because of the interesting dynamic they introduced. Here we see that Sei is actually a part of a larger organisation and is deeply rooted within it, while Jo is firmly a bounty hunter and I'd guess she must have some sort of tie with Meg to always feel so strongly about her safety. And the difference in loyalties leads to some much welcomed conflict within the group. Though I wouldn't have expected it to be quite so drastic (it does seem a bit sudden that Sei is telling her people to capture Jo and Kyohei at any cost), it brought an interesting slant to things.

It also allowed for a little bit of development for Jo, as she starts to warm to Kyohei and see a different side to him. You can tell that she looks at him in a new light when she asks his name for the first time, and later says that he wouldn't have wanted her to punch Sei. It's not a great change but it did provide a little bit of character development. These two episodes also produced a couple of funny lines. The first, assuming the translation is accurate, that made me laugh was Kyohei saying to the girl at the start of episode seven, "you really can eat anything that's edible"... which is clearly one of the most stupidly obvious lines you'll ever hear. But the best was the writers at least laughing at the formula themselves by having Meg say something along the lines of it's not like she's ever captured, when of course she always is.

One final notable point was the drop in animation quality that was quite noticeable as the disc drew on. Unfortunately this tends to happen a lot in the middle episodes of GONZO shows, and sadly the characters at times go quite off-model and look a bit weird especially in the last episode of the disc. It's not terrible, but it is noticeable and it's a shame because otherwise the show generally looks rather good with some nice character designs.

In Summary:
It's still not going to set the world alight, but it's not really meant to. Burst Angel is the kind of show that you can just sit back, enjoy and not think too much about, in terms of overall plot or indeed any plot holes. It's a bit hard to believe at times, especially when the likes of Meg get captured all the time, but the cast of characters is generally interesting and make the show fun. It still has pacing issues, but there's just enough to keep you hooked, and for entertainment value alone I'd give it a cautious recommendation. Don't expect too much and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Features
Japanese Language (5.1),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Commentary with the English Voice Actors for The Wounded Outlaw,Radio Drama,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Burst Angel