Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #2 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Here we are with the second volume. At the end of the first volume, Dr. Ayanokoji had been captured by the enemy. It is now up to the team of Dr. Amagi, Nakahito, Saki, and Kurumi to search out for his secret lab to find out any secrets they can use to help learn about themselves, and anything they can use to help rescue Dr. Ayanokoji.
The stereo mix is pretty simple. Little directionality in the show is used, especially in voice direction. I was noting scenes where character walked in from the right side of the screen, yet you can hear the voice actresses? immediately from both speakers. I compared the sound levels for the Japanese and English tracks and discovered the English track is quieter than Japanese track. This affects both the voices and the effects track. The opening and ending sound levels are fine though.
The amount of line shimmering continues on this DVD. It?s hard to find a scene that doesn?t have any. This might be nitpicking though, as the video quality of the picture is excellent. I never saw any compression artifacts. Again, the bright colors used in the series stand out very well.
An angelic Saki is featured on the cover of the second volume with her arms partially over her breasts. The image is slightly centered more to the left of the cover, allowing her left wing to take up a large portion of the cover. The US Logo is placed over her chest with the small subtitle for the DVD placed just below the logo. A volume number is placed on the spine. The back cover covers the name of the enemy organization, something I don?t recall hearing during the episodes I?ve watched so far. The ?hottest actresses in the year?s sexiest roles? is a selling point that ADV uses, and works well with one of the extras used on the DVD.
Another Onmyou prayer is recited and displayed on screen as the DVD starts up. The menu features Saki with the same image as the cover, with gears silhouetted and spinning in the background. I really enjoyed this menu image. Of course, it helps that Saki is my favorite Angel. The menu images all feature Saki, except for the language menu where we have both Saki and Kurumi. Not fair! Kurumi had all of DVD 1 to herself. . One note I should make is I found the menus very slow in response after selecting an item.
This DVD is packed with extras. Another featurette is here, the Steel Angel Photo Shoot featuring the voice actresses for the three angels and Nakahito(he?s voice by a girl). The actresses are all dressed up in Yukatas and the shoot is being filmed. This is apparently part one of two, and it was twenty minutes. Since I don?t ever remember seeing any promotional material for Kurumi feature shots from this, I assumed this was really made for the DVD. Another great extra is the original cover artwork from Japan for the DVD, LD, and VHS versions, and even the manga covers! Production sketches, the original US teaser trailer, translator notes, extended episode previews, and the Saki Fortune Teller are also included. The fortune teller is a game that you can either print from an Adobe Acrobat file included on the DVD, or by using the insert included with the DVD. I wish I knew the name of it, but it a small paper toy that was popular when I was in elementary school with eight flaps that are used to select a fortune. I thought it was a very neat extra.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
We?ve set up our group in the first DVD, so it?s finally time to do something with them. Dr. Ayanokoji?s lab will be a good place for the Angels to hide and perhaps to find some answers. The journey will be by rail, and the Angels of course are sure to be stopped along the way.
Our first episode seems like filler, as Nakahito gets ill during the train ride so that the group has to get off to find a doctor. We are introduced more closely to the two agents sent by the General to keep tabs on the groups. Kohaganei, who likes watching young boys so is all too happy to keep an eye on Nakahito. Kichijoji, on the other hand, is interested in Dr. Amagi. We are introduced to another angel in the episode, Kaori, who seems bent on investigating Kurumi.
The second episode deals with the gang again being stopped on their train ride, this time by a giant boulder on the train tracks. While the army deals with removing the boulder, our group stops at a nearby inn. Our focus this time is on Dr. Amagi, as we learn a bit about her motivations, not that they weren?t already painfully obvious. Our two angels eventually have to help the army move the boulder and they are observed by another angel, Tsunami.
Firework watching! Another staple of anime rears its head here, as the group takes another small break on their journey. I?m amazed if they are ever going to reach Dr. Ayakonoji?s lab, but again, its not filler, as the group is being stalked by a third angel, Kaga. Kaga captures Nakahito in order to lead Kurumi into a trap by the angels who have been stalking them. Kurumi doesn?t want to hurt them so she?s beaten up quite badly until Nakahito gets hurt during the fight. The true power of the Angel Heart Mark II is shown as Kurumi then defeats the three angels in a single blow!
While resting up from their wounds, Saki and Kurumi start to have problems as Kurumi gets jealous whenever Saki tries to help Nakahito. Kurumi tries to figure out why she?s acting the way she is, and they eventually make up. But when Saki goes to do something really nice for Kurumi, she gets ambushed by Karinka, another Steel Angel which the Academy has revived using 2 regular angel hearts. Karinka easily overpowers Saki and takes her to use as bait for Kurumi. Oh no, my angel!
With our characters introduced now, the anime writers use these episodes to start developing their characters. I?d amazed even the side characters, like Kohaganei get a little fleshing out. Her fleshing out provides fun doujinshi discovering moments. The dream sequences that Saki and Kurumi have are always a blast to watch. While there are decidedly action moments on this DVD, it?s used more as an element to drive the story in this volume.
I do want to make one note here in regards to the ADR script. One thing I like to do occasionally is turn on the subtitles while the English audio plays. When ?Master, you?re an idiot? in Japanese, becomes ?You?re right, that is enough? in English, I really feel the director has taken too much liberty in the script. Also, Saki refers to Kurumi as Onei-chan(?big sister?), while the ADR director substitutes it with Kurumi. While yes, I do know that it is hard to translate the meaning of a term like that, I wish the ADR director had tried something else.
This volume provided a lot more entertainment value for me that the first one. The story is picking up, we are learning about the bad guys, and the rhythm just seems right. I can?t wait to see what the third volume holds.
Toshiba 3109 player, Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Steel Angel Kurumi