Coyote Ragtime Show Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2007



What They Say
Insurrection will not be tolerated! To prove that point, the government has set a big, bad bomb to blast the planet Graceland right out of the sky. To make matters worse, The king is dead. However, before the Pirate King Bruce died, he hid billions in stolen loot on the doomed planet. Now, the galaxies most infamous criminal - a mystery man known only as "Mister" - has busted out of the slammer to get his hands on the booty before it's too late!

Along with King Bruce's daughter and his misfit band of "Coyotes," Mister sidesteps government goons, dodges a hotty investigator on his tail and fends off a dozen Gothic Lolita androids programmed to kill, kill, KILL!

Contains episodes 1-4.

The Review!
The world of Graceland is about to be bombed into nothingness and that gives a group of pirates only a few days to get their hidden treasure out of there.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The Japanese mix for this is a solid sounding 5.1 mix at 448kbps that really does a good job of keeping the overall level of immersion in the show. Though the rears don't get a ton of work, there's some good fun to be had there during the big action sequences as well as with the subwoofer channel. Dialogue is well placed throughout all of this with a good level of clarity and distinction. The English 5.1 mix is essentially identical and does a very good job as well. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials for the show are obviously in good shape so we have no problems with that in this release and the actual encoding itself looks to have come across well. Colors have a good solid look to them, backgrounds avoid looking like they're alive for the most part and typical problems of cross coloration and aliasing aren't here at all. The style of the show sometimes looks a little problematic, particularly scenes that seem to revolve around Angelica, as they look a little brighter than they should be which means a slight loss of detail. This overblown look seems to be intentional though as most other scenes are consistently solid.

Packaging:
Not many covers from ADV Films tend to have silver foil on them so it's fairly noteworthy when they do go this route. Coyote Ragtime Show runs with an orange background but one with the series logo wrapped around it continuously in silver. Overlaid on that is a good shot of Mister with Franca in one hand and a gun in the other while giving a wicked smile. It's a very eye-catching piece and though a bit gaudy in some ways it works rather well in making you look at it a couple of time to take it all in. The back cover uses the angled style that the front cover background does and mixes in more of the silver foil with some of the taglines as well as adorning the numerous shots from the series. The summary is rather lengthy but it covers a lot of the basics while still giving plenty of space to the production information. A rather nice change-up is that the technical grid is through the center and at an angle but still manages to cover everything in a clean and readable manner. No insert or reverse side artwork is available with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is very minimal which is a shame since there are a number of creative options they could have gone for. While it's not a static menu, the only thing that's here is a big area of red for the background and a close-up of a gun from the side that bobs up and down ever so slightly as some fast paced instrumental music plays along. The navigation strip of episode selection along with the series title is through the center and the extras and languages are down at the bottom. There are some good minimal menus out there that fit the theme of the show well but this one just feels weak. Access times are solid and the disc gets a plus just for the continual fact that their releases read our player presets.

Extras:
The extras are fairly standard here as there's a selection of production artwork in a gallery as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Coyote Ragtime Show is the latest to play in the realm of space pirates and general adventure and in these first four episodes manages to carry it off fairly well. Though there are plenty of aspects to this worldview that aren't explored or explained yet, the series has a sense of wanting to play it fast and loose in order to do one thing: entertain.

The series revolves around a group of pirates, called coyotes for some reason, that have a very limited amount of time to pull off a particular heist. Being discussed in the background, we learn early on that the planet called Graceland is due to have an outlawed photon bomb dropped on it in a weeks time in order to deal with the problems that are going on there. This is causing plenty of discussion and criticism throughout the known worlds and is often cropping up in the background through broadcasts and other means. These areas provide the backdrop for the timeline that's happening while the cast of characters are making their plans.

In the known worlds, there's a coyote who is considered one of the best there is. He's known by a number of aliases and those jobs are fairly famous but the connection between them all is known only be a few. Known only as Mister, he's been missing for the past year. The Federation's special operative Angelica has a good idea where he is though and has headed to a prison on the planet Sandvil in order to retrieve him. She's not the only one though as his former teammates are intent on getting him out of there as well as a group working for Madame Macriano, one of the most influential members of the Criminal Guild. All of this is happening very fast and all of them want Mister for different angles on the same reason. And all of it is happening as soon as the plans for Graceland's bombing became public.

As it turns out, Mister is a long time friend and confident of Bruce, a true master thief who had managed to score one of the biggest heists of them all. It's the kind of heist where if it was known what was happen to the public at large, much of the Federation would start to collapse in its infrastructure. Bruce managed to hide the goods away but ended up dying before he could properly do anything with it, leaving behind a young daughter named Franca. Mister ended up taking her in and gave up his coyote ways in order to run a bar and to be there for her. Franca of course has the only lead there is to getting the goods from the heist so there's some conflict there about Mister's true intentions.

The first four of the twelve episodes of the series which encompass this disc deal with getting Mister out of prison and putting together the team he needs to secure Bruce's legacy. Mister himself is an interesting lead character since he's older and a bit craggier in some ways, which is perfect for Akio Ohstuka's style as he really does feel like an older and more laid back Batou from Ghost in the Shell. Pirates in general tend to have some standard character types and that's no exception here so the group that he surrounds himself with, while quirky, isn't unexpected. The start of the series seems like it's going to be a show that focuses on Angelica as the lead though, but it quickly turns into more of an ensemble cast series as it progresses through the rest of the volume.

They do want to hit up a wide audience though and a lot of how the show is designed is aimed at appealing to many people. The biggest aspect of this in my mind is the Twelve Sisters that operate under Madame Marciano's instructions. A group of twelve young women with different kinds of international styled outfits that are named after months of the year are her main weapon in securing Mister so she can acquire the goods and they're definitely meant to draw in more of the male audience. Most of them unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, don't get much real exposure in these episodes beyond being basic stereotypes. With so many of them and so little time, they aren't going to get more in the way of detailed character development. They do provide a bit of cuteness or sexiness depending on the character and because of their origins they're also quite disposable. Not that this series shies away from bloodshed as the opening episode has plenty of people getting killed quite easily.

The animation quality for the show is pretty solid throughout which is good. There isn't any noticeable drop in quality overall during these four episodes, which leaves it with a very polished feel. The design of the show takes in a lot from different areas so it's not Japanese or even Asian centric. The Twelve Sisters make this even more obvious, particularly the one which is done up in a very British manner. The character designs are fairly standard though it's again a nice change of pace from many other shows out now in that most of the cast is older and not school aged. The series keeps to mostly standard kinds of things you see in these types of science fiction adventure series and it does it all well. There isn't anything that really stands out from it though that sets it apart from others beyond having Mister being the older type that he is.

In Summary:
Coyote Ragtime Show has an interesting title that's surely going to get discussion just from there but inside is a fun little pirate show with a standard but interesting cast of characters. With it being more of an ensemble show and one with a seemingly single plot to carry it through the twelve episode run, it looks to be a bit more defined in what it wants to do and won't have quite so many sidetracking stories. It's filled with big action moments, plenty of complexly designed heists that are improbably for anyone to actually implement and a number of attractive if somewhat empty character designs. The first four episodes do a solid job of laying out what the show wants to be and it does it very well. Though the characters may be a bit shallow overall, due to the number of them and the length of the series, they're a fun bunch to watch and I'm curious to see how well the entire gig plays out. With it taking place in the span of a week or so and there being a definite timeline for them to operate under, it has a quick pace and is quite fun to watch.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production Gallery,Clean Opening,Clean Closings

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Coyote Ragtime Show