Ari Doll (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Release Date: Friday, October 27, 2006



What They Say
Momoka secretly falls for student Nao. Nao has no girlfriend right now. Strong and brave, she always takes care of Nao's life in cold winter day. And the it is too freezing cold, Momoka decides to take a hot bath and wait for Nao's arrival. Nao returns home as usual. Not knowing why, Momoka suddenly has a reverie for him. She takes action... Nao sees this, still hesitates. Eventually they both...

The Review!


Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Or at least, we tried to. The Japanese language track on this is in very bad shape for the first episode because apparently only the music and effects portion of it got transferred. What that means is there is no dialogue actually spoken throughout the show, even though it's fully subtitled (in selectable English or Chinese). I guess you could say this is a karaoke version of the show but it's really a major screw-up and essentially makes half of the release completely useless. That said, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions on the music and effects track during regular playback nor any problems with the second episode that does have dialogue.

Video:
Originally released in 2005, the transfer for this two episode OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar to another Japanese company that has released shows in North America, there is a persistent company logo bug in the upper right corner that says "FAIRY max entertainment" in pink. As I've said in those other reviews, I consider this to be an altered piece of footage because it's there the entire time and it is highly distracting to me, which is why the video grade has resulted in. What little red there is in the show also shows off a bit of chroma noise. The transfer itself otherwise is decent but has some of the usual problems some digital shows exhibit, noticeably the amount of shimmering that goes on in panning sequences. Colors do look decent for the most part and maintain a solid feel without any noticeable major blocking.

Packaging:
Presumably the same as the Japanese release, the front cover features an illustration of two girls that are definitely appealing to the younger set, one in a towel while the other is in something fairly skimpy, set against a bland background. It's almost a rough sketch in some ways but it looks decent and has some good detail to it. The back cover is set up into two blocks that talk about each of the episodes with screenshots and a summary of it while the bottom has the very basic technical information and various logos. The summary is highly amusing as it's written in very stilted and poor English that basically describes the basics of the episode. The screenshots are all explicit and the summaries do a decent job of covering the basics of the show. No insert is included nor is there reversible cover artwork.

Menu:
The menu layout is very basics as it brings in the character artwork from the cover and a bland purple-hued background. Set to a bit of instrumental music, it has the standard navigation strip along the right and is certainly functional but it only gives you something like ten seconds of being on it before it starts the show. When you select the menu from within the show, it consistently takes you to the episode selection menu. The design of the menu is otherwise decent but nothing here really stands out beyond being functional. Due to there being only one language, the audio options were not an issue and the disc picked up our subtitle settings easily enough.

Extras:
The only extra included in the release is a series of stills from the show itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ari Doll, also listed as Alice Doll within the show itself, is the first release from FAIRY that we've seen and it's basically got its fair share of problems on the technical side. These problems also make it a bit difficult to get into the show itself since without the dialogue it all takes on a bit more of a comical tone and it's surprisingly easy to be distracted.

The release contains both of the OVAs from the series and each of them focuses on a specific set of characters. The first episode revolves around a relationship between Momoka and Nao, two school students who have fallen for each other. Nao has a difficult time getting Momoka to really get anywhere and wonders if she's just completely frigid because of how she is. It takes some effort to get her to finally go all the way and even to like what's going on when they do, but his patience pays off in the long run. With a bit of help from his friend, Nao's able to finally win her over.

The second episode is a bit more interesting, at least at first, as it revolves around a teacher named Kanai who becomes a private tutor for a young man named Toshi. Toshi happens to be the son of a very wealthy family and his mindset about things is like a lot of kids that grow up around wealth. Toshi wants to understand women the most and he manages to convince Kanai that in order to do so she must strip for him and teach him how women really are. Toshi uses an amusing method in order to do this by talking about the medical aspect and wanting to understand a woman's urethra that he's read about online. Kanai goes along with it, but that's not surprising considering the outfit she wears on her tutoring exercise.

Neither of these episodes were terribly engaging and the animation quality for them barely hits average. The first episode in particular felt weak because of the character designs which were just too childish in some ways as well as simply unappealing. The animation for the sex scenes fares even worse as it really isn't all that engaging nor good looking. The show feels closer in its animation style to some of those bonus episodes that we see on the Adult Source Media releases that look like they came from the Windows Paint application. These aren't as bad as that but the way the characters move and the repetition in the animation is very reminiscent of that.

The subtitles also leave a lot to be desire. While not written as badly as the back cover summary paragraphs, a number of the sentences feel too short and somewhat stilted in their delivery. Add in several mistakes in spelling as well and it only serves to help make this feel like a really cheap release.

In Summary:
Ari Doll was a title I had very low expectations for since I figured it would be similar to how Amorz released their first couple of titles. The on screen bug certainly wasn't a surprise but I was surprised at the overall low quality package that this release is. From the horrible summaries on the back to the poor menu design, it was bad enough. But to not even have the actual language track for the first episode just turns the release into a joke. There's obviously no way I could recommend this, but even if all the technical and packaging issues went away I doubt I would either as the two episodes simply don't have anything going for them.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Photo Gallery

Review Equipment
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: D
Audio Rating: F
Video Rating: F
Packaging Rating: D
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Fairy
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ari Doll