Viewtiful Joe Vol. #06 (Mania.com)

By:Brett Barkley
Review Date: Thursday, December 07, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2006



What They Say
A legendary flower called the "Fairy-Tale Flower" is a girl who protects the sapling of the flower from anyone who tries to snatch it. Joe camps in the field to witness the flower bloom, but ends up guarding it from Jadow instead. Captain Blue is also back to fight against an octopus monster!

In fact, this is a set-up by Joe and his archrival Alastor in an effort to cheer up a sick boy. Can they carry out this mission without Jadow's interference? Viewtiful Joe eats Joe's cheeseburger in front of his very own eyes! Finally, weird events start to unravel after Joe accidentally washes his V-Watch with his T-shirt.

The Review!
No Sylvia, but no matter.

Audio:

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 6 is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English only (though it does provide English closed captions). The English track is nicely done, making ample use of the rear channels. It was easy to make note, while watching, of just how immersive the sound is. Considering the action-packed feel of the series, the audio is equally fast and furious, coming at the viewer from all speakers.

Video:

Originally airing throughout 2004 and 2005 in Japan, Viewtiful Joe is presented here in its native standard Full Screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. I thought the transfer looked absolutely great and detected next to no issues of aliasing or blurriness. I also thought the colors reproduced very nicely. Considering how the series relies so heavily on highly saturated colors, I was pleased to find the coloration remained consistent and really infused the animation with a life all its own.


Packaging:

Geneon's Viewtiful Joe Vol. 6 features a large image of Joe and Sylvia set against a largely pink background that appears to be pulsating with explosive energy. The title and volume number are clearly displayed along the lower edge of the cover. The cover is simple and the design itself is rather standard. However, the contrast of Joe's costume, and Sylvia's aqua green outfit stands out nicely and directs the eye to the logo.

The reverse of the disk case is very similar to those that have come before, carrying over the background color from the cover, and prominently features stills from the episodes in a film cell design, with episode titles to the upper right, and a brief summary of the disk below that. DVD Extras are found on the lower left side of the cover. A larger image of Joe is found in the center-right side of the case. The information found on the reverse, much like the front cover, is easy to find and read. Viewtiful Joe Vol. 6 is bound with a single page insert featuring the cover image. The reverse is an advertisement for other titles in Geneon's Viewtiful Joe library.

Menu:

The main menu loads after a brief clip of Joe transforming to his Viewtiful Joe alter ego and opens against a solid pink background. An image of Viewtiful Joe loads on the left of the screen, with the menu, volume number, and title on the right. The Viewtiful Joe image periodically darts across the screen, providing an almost animated feel to an otherwise very static menu. The menu options are listed as: Play, Setup, Scene Selection, and Extras. These are in descending order, and are easily navigable. A brief audio clip plays throughout.


Extras:

Falling to a new low in the Extras, Viewtiful Joe vol. 6 features only a single Trailer. Running at just under a minute, the trailer features voice-over narration or a number of scenes from the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Viewtiful Joe the anime is based on the very popular Capcom video game series, initially released in 2003, of the same name. The series of 51 episodes aired in Japan from October 2004 to September 2005. Both the video game and this series seem to have drawn a great deal of inspiration from the plot of the American film, The Last Action Hero, and combine this with a very healthy dose of Henshin-style superheroics. As such, the series features a number of the genre trademarks, from villainous organizations, a helmeted and costume-clad superhero, martial arts-inspired monster and robot fighting, to the transformation sequences initiated by speaking the magic phrase; in this case, "Henshin a go-go, baby!"

Episode sixteen, "A Fairy's Tale" opens with Charles III working on some secret concoction to get him back in the good graces of the Jadow organization. In order to complete his project, however, he must find a rare and must sought-after flower that never blooms, "The Fairytale Flower". Coincidentally, this is the same flower Joe and Captain Blue Jr. are searching for as well, but simply in the hopes of watching it bloom. Soon in to their journey, the two run afoul of a mysterious young girl who has the power to control the forest and cast illusions. They discover the flower in question, but soon realize the girl is the protector of the flower, using her powers to scare away any who come near. However, as is often the case, Joe does not act according to plan. As Joe and Captain Blue Jr. set up camp nearby to await the blooming of the flower, Alisa, the flower's protector, sets out trying to make their lives miserable. Realizing her two unwanted guests won't likely leave any time soon, Alisa slowly begins to warm to Joe and Captain Blue Jr. After Charles arrives on the scene to take the flower for his secret potion, it is only through the valiant efforts of Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr. that Charles III and his minions are foiled, and the secret of the Alisa and the flower are revealed.

Episode seventeen, "Captain Blue vs. The Squid of Inescapable Doom" is a hilarious homage to the beautiful Amazing Spider-Man #248 (if you get a chance, definitely check it out, as it's one of my all-time favorites). The episode opens with the apparent return of Captain Blue, who wears a goatee surprisingly similar to Viewtiful Joe. As "Captain Blue" faces down the Squid of Inescapable Doom, it appears this will be a battle of colossal proportions, until "Captain Blue" slips on a banana peel. Attempting to somehow rescue the situation and still make it look as if "Captain Blue" has won, the Squid of Inescapable Doom flees the scene. It is soon revealed, however, Joe and Alastor have staged the return of Captain Blue. A flashback reveals the reason for this bizarre pairing to be Joe's noble intentions to restore the faith of a hospitalized young boy. In order to get Tommy, the sick little boy, to regain his faith in Captain Blue and to get better, Alastor calls a truce on the boy's behalf. Returning to the present, and as a means of trying to get their harebrained scheme to work this time, Alastor (again in the guise of the Squid of Inescapable Doom) actually kidnaps Tommy, taking him to the top of the hospital. When "Captain Blue" comes to the boy's rescue, things quickly go wrong all over again (and, yes, a banana peel is once again involved). Eventually, a confusing battle ensues, in which Tommy has to be rescued from the staged fight gone awry, it's revealed Alastor and Viewtiful Joe are probably better enemies than friends, and that Alastor may be a better hero than villain.

Episode eighteen, "V-Watch Out!" is the final episode on the disk. Episode eighteen opens on Joe and Captain Blue Jr. as they explore a futuristic society. All appears fine, until a familiar red-clad figure bursts on to the scene. Joe and Captain Blue Jr. are shocked as they stare at they stare at Viewtiful Joe as he stands in their midst. The problem, of course, is that it's impossible for Joe and Junior to be staring, wide-eyed at Viewtiful Joe, as that is Joe's alter-ego. Largely unfazed by this most recent development, Joe instead chooses to take advantage of the robotic laundry machines around the city, and has his clothes washed. Unfortunately, the robot washes his V-watch in the process, and when Hulk Davidson shows up on the scene, the V-watch malfunctions in some embarrassing and dangerous ways. Stuck in Mach Speed, Viewtiful Joe manages to actually travel through time. On his journey, Joe makes stops in the prehistoric era, feudal Japan, and then again at the beginning of the episode. At this point, Joes is beginning to understand what is happening. When he collapses from the sheer exhaustion of his journeys, Hulk Davidson again catches up to the "heroically fleeing" duo, equipping a new battle axe to take down Viewtiful Joe. With the ever-watchful Biankies (the diminutive villainous henchmen) continually equipping him, Hulk believes he has the full advantage and won't suffer the same fate from their first battle. But, even having learned a thing or two from their first battle, the two still manage to send Hulk Davidson off in to space by the episode's end.


In Summary:

As is the standard, Viewtiful Joe Vol. 6 features only three episodes but fills them nicely with some fairly consistent humor. While these episodes do little to advance the main plot of the series (I don't recall even seeing Sylvia a single time during the course of the three episodes on this disk), they are certainly entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous departure from Joe's quest to rescue Sylvia, and the exploration of secondary, background characters. Perhaps the most enjoyment I've gotten from this series thus far was found in episode seventeen, as Alastor is forced in to the role of hero, and does such a good job, actually managing to eclipse Captain Blue as little Tommy's hero.

If you haven't yet seen this series, I definitely recommend it. Viewtiful Joe is consistently well written, maintaining its rich and humorous characterization throughout the episodes, while featuring some great battles that never feel like re-hashes of previous scenes. I also believe this series will have a wider appeal to a much larger demographic, offering something for a range of age groups and interests. It certainly didn't take long for Viewtiful Joe to win me over. I believe, if given a chance, its charming and humorous characterization and underlying exploration of the concept of the hero would appeal to most viewers.

Features
English 5.1 Language

Review Equipment
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Viewtiful Joe