Desert Punk Vol. #3 (Viridian Collection) (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 06, 2007
What They Say
The Great Kanto Desert is a place of extremes, and those who manage to thrive and survive at times seem harsher than the climate. Yet even these remnants of humanity have a softer side.
When Junko shows up with a shady job and a shadier benefactor, Desert Punk wants nothing to do with either. Finally convinced by the well-endowed reward, they set off in search of treasure. Sure that Junko is up to no good, Kosuna keeps her eye on the desert vixen. But with a secretive and possibly deranged employer and her mentor distracted, Kosuna better use both eyes!
A bizarre turn of events leaves Junko their captive, and Desert Punk decides to show mercy. Taking a few days to "deal with" the traitor, our amorous hero is convinced that his day has finally come. But be careful Desert Punk, for what goes around, comes around...
Contains episodes 9-12:
All that Glitters
A Little Bit of Wisdom
A Change of Heart
Taking a stroll down a multi-episode storyline, Desert Punk has a stronger feel to its storyline than the somewhat disjointed standalone pieces.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the series is nicely expansive as it makes good use of directionality throughout the program both for action and dialogue effects. The mix is rather active in general since the characters tend to be moving all over a lot or there are several on the screen at the same time talking so the directionality aspect is well used. The music in particular works well with the opening song and incidental effects are well done also. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.
Originally airing back in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the show having very distinct colors due to it taking place almost entirely in the desert and within aged decaying buildings, the animation doesn't exactly have many really bright or vibrant moments as we're used to seeing but the colors here are very solid and the look overall very good. With so many standard colors in large areas there's a chance for more break-up but even the numerous gray and sandy backgrounds and uniforms maintain a good looking solid feel to them. Even better, there's really no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration going on which leaves us with a very smooth and clean looking presentation.
A bit less dark and grimy than the first couple of covers, the earthy nature still shows through here as it provides a set of character shots of the three main people that these episodes deal with while bringing in some more vibrant colors to offset it all. There's some good design and colors used here and plenty of detail to bring it all together nicely. The back cover conveys the dark nature as well and only hints at some of the comedy in a couple of the minor screenshots that are here. A lot of space is given over to the summary of the premise and a listing of the discs episode numbers and titles. The features and technical information is all clearly listed and easy to locate. As is common now, no insert is included with this release.
The menu layout is rather simple with a static image that has a head shot of Junko on the right with plenty of vibrant colors while the left side has the series logo followed by the basic navigation pieces below it set to a brief loop of mildly creepy instrumental music. The layout is decent but the image leaves a bit to be desired overall. The menu is easy to navigate though and language selection is easy. Due to the way they author the discs, even though they no longer seem to provide close captioned/dubtitled scripts as a subtitle track, they tracks themselves are unlabeled so players' who have their presets used still don't get to work right when it comes to the subtitles. The language track is picked up fine however.
Keeping in tune with the previous volumes, there is a good selection of extras here though why they put the original Japanese extras in their own section is still beyond me. The solid standards are here such as the textless songs for the opening and closing sequence and a new round of the alternate covers that parody movies. The Life in the Desert section profiles a couple of the women who make appearances in the series so far while a brand new actor commentary is included from the English cast. An amusing extra in the Japanese section is the survival course piece that has the actress from previous specials and others from the show going to a survival gear store. Watching them outfit her throughout it as she asks questions is quite amusing. Also included in this section is a side story for Desert Punk which appears to just take a short manga story and does pans and close-ups of it in video form while providing soft subtitles to translate the text. I
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Desert Punk at times still feels like it's a series that's just shy of turning into an actual adult hentai production with the way Kanta is such a horny lecherous creep at times. Or most of the time as the case may be depending on the episode and the way the wind is blowing. Sometimes it just feels like it's a bit too much but when you have characters like Junko walking around, how can Kanta help it?
This set of episodes has a bit of a different flavor to it than the past two volumes as there's a bit of a lengthy tale to be told across the first two episodes that spills over into a surprisingly amusing yet disturbing third episode before it all goes back to normal with a standalone piece at the end. We get to understand how this part of the world works a bit more as a rather famous treasure hunter hires up Kanta and Kosuna through Junko in order to go back to a skeleton city that he and some others had discovered ten years prior. Kurioa had managed to escape with his life from there but the treasure he came away with made him a fortune as he was able to re-introduce the game of Life from the dark lost ages into modern desert society. Now that he has a fortune he's intent on going back and getting more treasures.
Kanta isn't exactly up for all of this at first with the limited information that Junko gives him but between the enticement of her massive breasts and the ten million he's promised in cash he's able to rouse himself to do just about anything. The introduction of Kosuna to Junko is a rather priceless moment as Kanta describes which way she should think about her and the two have a very uneasy relationship throughout the adventure. A good part of the first episode is just the travel section towards the city as we get to know the old rich guy and seeing the ways that Kanta lusts and plots after acquiring Junko in the long run, even with the possibility of losing out on his future proofing plan by raising Kosuna to be his ideal woman someday.
The second half is more of an action/comedy piece that does bring in some sexual twists on occasion but it's more focused on dealing with the guardian of this lost city as Kanta and Junko do their best to get inside where the big treasure trove of goodies could be. It's actually a surprising episode as we get deeper into it and learn more of the old guy's motivations as they aren't exactly what we expected them to be. What really threw me with this set of episodes is the third installment where it's like an epilogue to the storyline as Kanta escorts Junko to his secret base where she's his prisoner. Kanta keeps her in a sealed room where he then watches her from secret while manipulating the temperature in the room, at first to get her to strip and then to bathe as well as to remove other clothes she puts on. It's actually rather ingenious in a creepy way and Kanta takes it over the top as he watches and makesā€¦ strange sounds. They do manage to keep this gag running for an entire episode which I didn't think they could pull off but they did.
With plenty of sexual innuendo and outright lust and fondling combined with some nicely done action pieces and general comedy, Desert Punk can feel unbalanced at times but it shows through some creative moments that you wish they'd spend more time on. Similar to the first two volumes, there's a lot of things that I'm enjoying about the show but there's a focus that seems to be missing that would raise it above being fairly average otherwise. With so many lead characters in recent years either being altruistic youths or grim faced older men, it's a nice change of pace to have a very lecherous self-interested lead but he's definitely needed the balance that Kosuna brings to the show. She continues to change the nature of the show and to smooth out some of its rough edges as it progresses. I'm still unsure of where the show is going but the journey is getting better the further it goes.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Desert Parody,Character Profiles,
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 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: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Desert Punk