Michel Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, December 31, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 09, 2007
What They Say
Kim, Michel and Poyo continue their quest to rescue the fairies from the Black Hammer Gang so the Tree of Life can be fully restored. Salome persists in transforming fairies into monsters to aid her in carrying out her evil schemes. The Black Hammers attempt to steal a golden feather, a priceless crystal statue, a family crest and even time itself! Will our tireless heroes be able to keep up with Salome and the nefarious Suspense Brothers?
Contains episodes 19-22.
Michel continues on in a pretty straightforward way with no real surprises but not really strong episodes either.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. Originally released in a stereo mix in Korean, the show in both tracks is solid but doesn't have too much exceptional to it. The show has some good moments of minor directionality to it across the forward soundstage but this is for the most part a pretty basic show that's using the center channel with a full sounding mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.
The transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this transfer are quite a mix and really surprised me since I hadn't seen anything like this in some time. The opening and ending sequences depending on your display look like a couple generations removed VHS transfer. On our main display, the opening and endings had a lot of noise to them, heavy aliasing and jaggies and a soft look not complimented well by the cross coloration that is in it. On our smaller 23" display it wasn't quite as pronounced but still very visible. When it comes to the main show itself, the colors look great, very solid and vibrant while free of just about all of the problems listed above.
The cover designs for the series continue to be decent with this one going the usual route of having the two leads in action poses while the villains and various fairies are arrayed around them. The show does have a good set of designs and it comes across well here. The only part that makes me cringe is how it's labeled as "eco-friendly" in terms of being an adventure tale. It probably works but it feels like it's a tag that's aiming at the lowest common denominator, parents that will see that and figure it's good for their kids on that alone. The back cover is a bit more traditional and a touch darker as it uses deep blue skies and clouds while providing for a shot of the Phoenix and some other creatures from the show. The summary uses some of the dialogue from the show and covers the basics along as the episode numbers and titles, production info and basic technical information. No insert is included with this release.
The menu layout is typical of the "ADV Kids" line-up where it's just a string of episode numbers through the middle for navigation and a language subsection while the background is a piece of the background which has the various fairies popping into the screen with a bit of music. While in some ways it may not feel much different than some of their other basic releases, there's just something about how it's done with the Kids releases that makes it feel even more basic. Access times are nice and fast though and the disc defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles which isn't a surprise due to there not being any Japanese as our player is set to pick up.
Mirroring the third volume we get clean versions of the opening and ending sequences as extras but that's all.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As this series has moved closer to the end, I had wondered whether it would start introducing an endgame plot to it or whether it would just go on with hopes of being picked up for more. This volume doesn't show an indication of Michel and Kim getting any closer to their goal other than a few more fairies freed from Salome's grasp so the next volume will be where that final determination comes in.
The mix of episodes for this volume are essentially more of the same as we've seen from the show, and others like it, in how the structure works. Though there isn't always a blunt and over the head kind of message to it, the general feelings are there and it continues to be a pretty positive show about doing the right thing. The world that these characters inhabit is pretty odd at times with its mix of cultural bits and technology, not terribly unlike the real world, but it's all fairly close together geographically which makes it feel weird. Having a rain worshipping culture a few episodes over from someone who is building a time machine just doesn't click that well together.
The fun in the show typically comes from the villains in the Black Hammer gang. Salome has a good sense of humor about things and is played well in both languages. Having her talk about how great of a marathon runner she is because she's spent so much time running from the cops is a cute gag that works well for the target audience. Much of the humor and general levity comes from them, especially when the rest of the gang members start trying to figure things out for themselves. The only one I don't care for much is Biam but that's partially because he just doesn't fit in that well with how he's animated. Plus, he reminds me of Meowth from Pokemon too much and that cat just rubs me the wrong way.
When all is said and done with this volume, it basically feels like each of the previous ones in terms of structure but with new fairies introduced. Some of it fun to watch, such as the rain god messengers being the Black Hammer gang or the way they pretend to be from the future to try and steal a time machine. When it comes to Kim and Michel though, they just feel too goody goody for my tastes. It's hard to really harp on that though since every time this show goes on for my kids and their friends, they're glued to the screen and rooting for them the entire time. Parents looking for something for their kids that share some of the basic themes in a lot of anime will like this, but more so for the lack of merchandising power behind it. Once you have the discs, that's it.
Korean 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV Y7FV
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2