E's Otherwise Complete Collection (Thinpak) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What They Say
In the near future, the planet is run by a federation of twelve powerful corporations. Amid the general populous, are psychics—metahumans capable of converting thought into energy. People with these mutant abilities are known as “E’s?, outcasts with the power to control the world, or to save it. Kai awakes in Ashurum, a military contractor that has put together an elite special forces team of E’s called AESES to bring about law and order. But when Kai is sent to wipe out an anti-corporate guerilla outfit from the slum town Gald, he discovers not all is as it seems.

The Review!
This is a show that holds so much promise and potential…

We watched this series primarily in English and sporadically in Japanese. The show features a very solid English 5.1 stereo mix that makes good use of the left/right channels for dialogue. We noted no distortions or dropouts on either track. Sound effects and music really didn’t stand out as anything overtly impressive.

Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this release gets better as you progress through the disks. The show uses a vibrant color palette and the character animation is top notch as there is a lot of white, good use of clean lines, and greatly detailed backgrounds. There are some blocking issues that appear in the earlier episodes, but clear up as the series progresses. The encoding definitely improves as the series progresses, especially after the first few episodes.

As with most ADV thinpacks, this collection uses the thinpack DVD cases that are housed in a chipboard box. The box is colored in a glossy black that has the title E’s appearing over it in an offset concrete/gray color. Kai appears on one side and Yuuki on the other. The spine of the box displays the title along with a thumbnail image of Auska. There were originally 6 single releases for this collection. Each thinpack case cover corresponds with the individual releases cases, with exception of the sixth.

The main menu is rather basic and has no animation. A snippet of the opening theme for the show loops in the background. The background image for each disc contains an image of the prominent characters seen in the show. The layout works nicely, but the opening song cuts out too short. It doesn’t flow very well between the end and the start. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy and intuitive.

As is the case with most ADV collections the only supplemental material on this release is a batch of previews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Originally airing in 2003, E's Otherwise is an anime based on the manga series "E's" by Satoru Yuiga. In the aftermath of a series of wars, the world’s governments were unable to bring order. As a result, twelve massive corporations surfaced to create a new world order. Many world governmental functions have been supplanted by these corporations. Some areas have become completely controlled by the corporations where gleaming cities and technological wonders exist. Other areas of the world don’t fare as well. These areas tend to be desolate where massive crumbling buildings and old battle fields exist.

One of the largest corporations, Ashurum, is collecting young people that possess psychic abilities, called E's, to form a an elite military fighting group. Ashurum’s latest acquisition is Kai, a reserved and kind hearted young man who is a pacifist at heart. Kai was selected to be in Ashurum special force AESES where he underwent intensive training in different areas, such as combat, hacking, and psychic training.

Kai’s only living family member is his younger sister, Hikaru, who is extremely ill and bedridden. Kai often visits Hikaru at the hospital where he is always assured that she is receiving the best care. The AESES program takes care of its personnel and rewards them handsomely, including the best treatment facilities. It is interesting to note that Eiji, the AESES commander, is with Hiakru at the hospital just about as much as Kai. Hikaru is believed to have great pyshic capabilities within her, but is unable to harness them because of her sickness. Kai soon discovers that Eiji is using Hikaru’s situation as means to help awaken the psychic powers lying dormant within him. Eiji’s kindness towards Hikaru and Kai is but a subtle ploy to achieve the secretive goals of the Ashurum. To make things worse, Kai has a rival, Shen-lon, within the AESES team. Shen-lon can’t stand the fact that Kai is an E’s prodigy and that his twin sister has a hidden crush on Kai. These events lead Kai to develop a jaded perception of Ashurum and his role in AESES.

The frustration for Kai continues to build as he reluctantly participates in a mission to Gald city with Shen-lon and the ASES team. Here, the AESES are to infiltrate a hideout of guerillas that are said to be using E’s against their will. During the operation, some civilians get caught in the middle of the battle. While attempting to save the civilians, Kai witnesses the death of his partner at the hands of a terrified civilian. Shen-lon discovers what has happened and angrily unleashes a psychic blast that decimates half of the city leaving Kai caught up in the blast left for dead.

In the aftermath of the explosion, Kai is found by a girl named Asuka, who lives with her brother Yuuki. Yuuki is a soldier of fortune, a gun for hire that does odd jobs for the Gald city underground network. Asuka helps nurse Kai back to health and soon discovers that he cannot use his psychic abilities. Yuuki informs Kai that his psychic powers will continue to diminish unless he goes back to Ashurum. Disgusted with his experience in Ashurum, Kai ultimately decides to stay with Asuka and Yuuki while he begins to rediscover himself and think for himself.

The premise of E’s Otherwise is very interesting and the first two volumes appeared to do a decent job of setting up the pace for this story. However, the story arcs do not transition well. Over half of the first ten episodes feel like filler as they really don’t have much to do with the story arc that is mentioned above. Most of these episodes focus on Yuuki and his work with the occasional gag jokes and shenanigans of dragging Kai and Asuka along. Sometimes it feels like Yuuki is the main character of the series more so than Kai. The episodes with Kai dressing up in drag are pretty good. There are little bits of larger plots scattered throughout the beginning episodes, but it's almost like watching two different shows going on.

The next ten episodes do a better job of bringing the viewer back into the primary story arc. However, there is really little development in the characters that were introduced earlier. It even appears that Kai almost appears to forget about his sister being in the hands of Eiji and Ashurum. New characters and episodic stories are added, which further confuse the situation. This causes the viewer to lose focus on what was revealed in the beginning as the content shifts away from the original story arc.

The final three volumes make a decent attempt to reconnect the story arc that was told in the beginning. Here the true intentions of Eiji and Ashurum are slowly unraveled. The motives behind Gald and its church run state are revealed as we soon discover that both groups are searching for the Sacrament of Calvaria. In essence, the sacrament, used in the wrong hands could lead to the destruction of all humans or all psychics. The story culminates in Kai being able to stop Ashurum and Gald from destroying one another.

Reflecting on this series is a challenge because of the massive amount of whiplash that this viewer experienced from all of the plots and subplots. There was so much going for this show in the beginning. It definitely had the elements of becoming a great story. Unfortunately, E’s Otherwise became one of the most challenging series for this reviewer to critique. Changing the elements of danger to smaller issues encourages viewer disconnection with the story. The anime series planning for E's Otherwise was its own worst enemy in that it felt like the plot(s) were shotgunned and splattered all over the place, leaving the viewer to clean up the mess. One may want to consider reading the manga before stepping into this one.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 Component HDAV Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

Mania Grade: D+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 59.98
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: E's Otherwise