Cat's Eye Vol. #7 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, December 28, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2007



What They Say
Rui, Hitomi and Ai are three beautiful sisters who spend their days running their cute cafe - but when night falls, the claws come out! The trio transforms into Cat's Eye, the super and sexy art thieves! But there's more than meets the eye: stealing artwork is their only chance to find their missing father. When Hitomi's unaware boyfriend is assigned to investigate Cat's Eye, will their secret be let out of the bag?

The Review!
The dangers pick up a bit more as people beyond the police are now looking for the girls and will do what it takes to bring them down.

Audio:
Unsurprising considering its age, Cat's Eye is presented in its original language of Japanese in a mono format. The 128 kbps encoding isn't one that will wow anyone but it's serviceable enough for the material and is essentially problem free during playback. Cat's Eye features a number of action sequences, car chases and other such moments and they do feel like they lack any real impact here but it's representing the source materials fairly well, particularly for what people actually heard at the time. It is a touch low at times but it's in good condition and certainly comes across rather clean and clear during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 1983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series received a remaster and box set release in Japan back in 2001 which has certainly helped to clean up the elements here. Beyond some minor speckling here and there, the print is in surprisingly good condition. Part of the first wave of releases from Imaginasian, this one feels like it's right in the middle of those two in terms of video quality. The show doesn't have as much noise to the backgrounds but it's still there. The opening sequence where it "lights up" at first shows a good bit of chroma noise in it, and similar problems can be found throughout in the dark blue sequences. Some of the black scenes come across with heavy blocking as well. Colors themselves look good without any noticeable bleeding or oversaturation but they have a hard time maintaining a solid feel due to the noise. In watching this across different sets after our first full viewing, it's continually apparent that the smaller the screen size the better this will look. The problems we had were less on our 50" than our 70" and less still when we shifted down to a 34" CRT.

Cat's Eye is one of the anime titles to be released under the TitleMatch program in which all the authoring is done as normal but instead of replication it's done through burning to DVD-R, giving smaller publishing houses a chance to do some Print On Demand DVDs. Containing some copy protection, it's essentially the same as a regular release except in how it's actually put to disc. We popped this disc in a few of our players to see if we'd have any compatibility issues and it worked in just about everything except for our Toshiba TV/DVD combo unit.

Packaging:
None.

Menu:
The menu design is simple but fits nicely with the show though that TMS Classics logo is a bit bigger than I care for. The static background is an illustration that has the character artwork of all three sisters in their uniforms alongside Toshio as a bit of music plays along to it. All the logos and the navigation strip, which is simple considering how little is really here, are along the right side in order to give the character artwork some room to breath. Access times are good and fast and everything loads without a problem.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The seventh installment of the first season of Cat's Eye brings another four episodes, this time up through episode thirty two. Not unlike the majority of the show, we're treated to standalone stories that defy both modern day believability but also that of the time it took place in. When you have a show where fingerprinting seems to be non-existent yet you have people whipping up holograms or computer generated face recognition programs based off of handheld radiation devices, you can only chuckle at the absurdity and enjoy it for the mindless entertainment that it is.

There is certainly plenty to like here as the noose seemingly gets closer to the girls. The opening episode has the trio planning to retrieve a necklace that a particular designer is using to showcase in her one and only show in Japan. Hitomi tries the method of replacing the model that will wear it herself which will give them easy and unfettered access to it. Of course, the police are oblivious to this last minute swap and don't perform any real checks on "Lisa", but Detective Asatani is keenly aware of what may be going on and even calls Hitomi out by name. It's amusing how easily everyone is fooled by Hitomi but it's also amusing in how poorly Asatani handles getting to the truth of it. It does provide a very cute little cat fight between her and Hitomi and that sort of makes up for some of the absurdity.

Another episode that puts the girls in danger is when an underground art dealer that's quite wealthy gets discovered by them. Using a bit of simple cunning to get in on the goods, the heist goes poorly as Ai gets shot in the shoulder and falls out of the car. Well, she gets grazed along the top of the shoulder and then seemingly pushes herself out of the car, leaving Rui there wondering what just happened. It's these kinds of moments that just take me out of the show and wonder how weak the writing is. The art dealer is creative in how he draws the other sisters back into things as he sends them a video tape of Ai being drained of her blood, commenting that she should last around another hour or so. All they have to do is return everything that they've ever stolen, which he can then sell. At least this guy thinks big, even if he does go for the obvious and is taken down very easily.

My favorite episode on this volume is the last one in which an older opponent is brought back in to play. In the year since Cat's Eye hit him and took away one of the paintings that he had and lusted over, he's been planning his revenge. Using a technogeek, the two have come up with a brand spanking new museum that is really little more than a death trap for the girls. The lure is easy enough when they open with a new Heinz item and the girls are instantly attracted to it. Rui actually shows some caution about it when it's discovered that the new museum has absolutely no security in it. Ai and Hitomi can't figure out why this is an issue for Rui and comment that she should be glad that it's going to be so easy. It's moments like this again that really make you want to smack everyone, both the characters and the scriptwriters. That said, the show is fun because it has people actively trying to take them down and doing so more effectively than the police have ever been. Some of the gimmicks are cheap and it's predictable but I like the overall idea of it.

In Summary:
Cat's Eye continues to have the same problems that I've found in the previous six volumes but they're admittedly things that are just indicative of the time it was created. Some of them are quaint, others bother me more than I should let them, but in total it's still a fun little show. This volume also introduces a potential new rival into the mix when "Slim Suspense," a debonair thief, makes his appearance in Japan to nab something the girls want but also ends up nabbing Hitomi for awhile. This adds some nice spice to the mix and puts both Hitomi and Toshio on their toes while also playing up their strong hidden feelings for each other. Hitomi continues to be a very high maintenance girlfriend and you have to respect Toshio for what he puts into it, as well as wanting to smack him for sticking it out. In a way, that's how Cat's Eye feels as well.

Features
Japanese 1.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: C
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
MSRP: 9.99
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cat's Eye