Saber Marionette J Collection 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Friday, February 09, 2001
Wow, talk about a fun collection dual-disc set. I thought it was pretty scary when I got Outlaw Star and watched it 3 or 4 times in the first week; I got Saber Marionette J on Wednesday, and watched it once completely through, all 9 episodes, then immediately watched the first 3 again. And the next day, I watched it completely through twice. THAT is how hooked I am on SMJ now.
To get the "bad" out of the way (and there's not much bad here, really), the video is a little shaky. It's not too bad colorwise, but the picture is jumpy when you really look at it. Not a big deal though, and it's from 1996 or so, so it's a negligible problem. There's not much rainbowing at all though, and colors aren't bad, so it's not a major problem really. In fact, maybe I shouldn't even have mentioned it. But, ah well.
The audio is fairly good here, no noticeable problems. One thing that might please some people is that there's a Spanish dub track, so all you Spanish-speaking fans can watch in Spanish. But, since I don't speak Spanish, I'm not particularly a good person to ask on its quality. So, just suffice it to say there's one there if that's your thing.
The English dubbing on SMJ isn't too bad, either. Bandai tapped some of the Gundam Wing folks from Ocean again, yielding Brad Swaille (Quatre Winner) as Otaru, and Saffron Henderson (Lucrezia Noin) as Lime. Of course, Megumi purists probably won't like the job (I think it's in their modus operandi :) ), but if you ask me, she does a pretty good job portraying the bubbliness that is Lime. Overall it's a good job, easily one of the better ones.
The menus are pretty cool, but plain. The image used (of the weird computer thingy) is pretty good quality though, and the menus are fast, and some have nice music in the background. So hey, works for me.
The extras are also VERY nice for one reason in particular. First, it has some profiles for Lime, Otaru and one of the "bad guy" ladies. Whee! It's done in an interesting way with a slideshow of pictures as you read through each page of the biography though, so it's pretty nice. The best extra, though, is a full-length music video set to the SMJ opening theme, "Successful Mission", with all sorts of scenes of Lime and some others, mainly some of her interactions with Otaru. The video is put together very nicely by Richard Kekahuna, with some cool timing to the beat of the song. It's definitely worth watching at least a dozen times or so, and is one of the more enjoyable extras to be put on a disc lately.
The packaging isn't too bad, with a nice pic of Lime on the cover. A small nit would be that maybe it coulda been called "Program 1" instead of "Collection 1" since in the show, the marionettes are referred to as programs, but eh, nothing major. ;) The back is pretty chock-full of info and about a half-dozen pics. One amusing note is that in the "Special Features" box, it lists the three languages, animated menus, and "Extras!" Yay! There's extras! Unfortunately they don't elaborate on what said extras ARE, unlike the Outlaw Star collection cases. It would've been nice to get some more attention to the music video. Ah well.
Anyways, you can't really go wrong with this collection, and if the first collection of 9 episodes is an indicator, the whole series is worth it too. These 9 episodes introduce us to Otaru Mamiya, a typically scrubby-looking kid working to make ends meet and pay his rent. Terra 2, his home, is oddly devoid of women, except for androids called marionettes...weird, huh?
Well anyways, to make a long story short, Otaru goes bopping around on his merry way and finds a marionette named Lime, who instantly falls in love with him and considers him her master. Otaru has some fun-n-dandy adventures with her, at least for an episode or two, and then finds another one, a little cutie named Cherry (an ironic name considering--well, anyways...). To make things even more fun, he then finds a third marionette (hording these things, isn't he?) named Bloodberry.
Well anyways, I'm not going to go into much plot because, well, I dunno it yet. The episodes so far are mostly fun episodes giving background info and introducing you to all the characters...so far I have absolutely no idea what the central point is (well, episode 9 starts to show it) but I don't care. SMJ is fun and enjoyable, and that's really all that matters.
So, without further ado. Buy this. Now. It's worth every penny. I've already gone and preordered collections 2 and 3. You should too. I'm doing it, he's doing it, wouldn't you like to watch SMJ too? You know you do.
Good. I thought so.
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer Elite DV-C36 DVD Changer, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 225
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saber Marionette J