Coyote Ragtime Show: Complete Collection (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, January 12, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

With ten billion space bucks at stake, a group of Coyote’s do what it takes to get it before the planet it’s on is blown to smithereens.

What They Say:

Insurrection will not be tolerated! And to prove the point, the government has set a big, bad bomb to blast Graceland right out of the sky! To make matters worse, The King is dead. However, before Pirate King Bruce died, he hid billions in stolen loot on the doomed planet. Now, the galaxy's most infamous criminal - a mystery man known only as "Mister" - has busted out of the slammer to get his hands on the booty before it's too late!

Along with King Bruce's daughter and his band of misfit "Coyotes," Mister sidesteps government goons, dodges a hottie investigator who's on his trail and fends off a dozen android Lolitas who are programmed to kill, kill, KILL!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:

Audio:
The bilingual presentation for Coyote Ragtime Show is the kind that you wish most anime TV series would have. The Japanese mix for this is a solid sounding 5.1 mix at 448kbps that really does a good job of keeping the overall level of immersion in the show. Though the rears don't get a ton of work, there's some good fun to be had there during the big action sequences as well as with the subwoofer channel. Dialogue is well placed throughout all of this with a good level of clarity and distinction. The English 5.1 mix is essentially identical and does a very good job as well. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The ADV releases, both singles and collected form, were done across three discs with four episodes per disc. FUNimation’s edition is done as a 6/6 format across two discs with no real noticeable change in the video quality of the release, which is certainly a good thing. The release is really the same as we saw from ADV Films in that it has the same translated credits and even retains the same subtitle font, resulting in a direct port from the previous release to this with just a different episode configuration.

The source materials for the show are obviously in good shape so we have no problems with that in this release and the actual encoding itself looks to have come across well. Colors have a good solid look to them, backgrounds avoid looking like they're alive for the most part and typical problems of cross coloration and aliasing aren't here at all. The style of the show sometimes looks a little problematic, particularly scenes that seem to revolve around Angelica early on in the series, as they look a little brighter than they should be which means a slight loss of detail. This overblown look seems to be intentional though as most other scenes are consistently solid.

Packaging:
The original release for the series was one that was met with some resistance since it used the foil effect in a way that drew a lot of negative attention to it. In a way, I rather liked it because it was unconventional and it stood out on the shelf. This thinpak collection will please those that hated that release as the cover artwork and box design is simply wonderful. The heavy chipboard box holds the three thinpak cases and it’s done with lots of character artwork, a space backdrop and explosions. The character artwork on the main panels is very appealing as it’s filled with the women outside of a shot of Mister and they all have some good detail to them. The colors aren’t overly vibrant but they have plenty of depth and a certain darkness that really fits the show.

The individual keepcase play up this style quite well as they use similar black starry backdrops for the various characters. Each volume has a single volume number in the center which is done in explosions while it’s surrounded or overlaid with character artwork. The feeling is very much like the box artwork itself but with lots more characters and a very rich if busy feeling. The back covers are interesting in that the artwork is lined down one side of it with shots from the show while the right side is done at a 90 degree angle and it has all the production information and the technical grid. No summaries are included here which makes sense and the layout is decent overall as it utilizes the space while not overwhelming it. No inserts are included nor is there artwork on the reverse side of the keepcases.

Menu:
The menus for this edition are similar to what ADV Films did with their previous editions but with a few little differences. Instead of the lightly bouncing gun we had before, this edition is a static piece done in a 9 square grid. The middle and top middle piece has the logo and a small piece of artwork while the surrounding blocks list the individual episode selection sections. The bottom of each menu features the language submenu as well as the on-disc extras that are available. The menu still uses the same kind of red background that ADV Films used but it’s got a bit more style to it here. With these menus being credited to Amusement Park Media, it looks like this edition was in the works from ADV Films after they put out their basic thinpak collection as a way of getting it back into the market again and FUNimation is simply using what they had with the addition of a few licensed by changes and some different trailers. The fact that the FBI warning is the one ADV Films uses and not FUNimation is telling enough.

Extras:
The extras are identical to what was on the original releases which isn’t always the case for an ADV Films collection. Each of the volumes feature a series of production stills done in a video gallery as well as the main clean opening and closing sequences. The third volume adds a bit more with the on-air previews for the series which weren’t included within the episodes themselves.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Coyote Ragtime Show was first released, it received a fair amount of grief from a lot of people I know because the show wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. Opening up with a big action sequence and lots of girls, it instead spent more of its time hanging out with four older guys and one young girl as they race about in search of treasure. I found myself enjoying the general lack of the Twelve Sisters that were introduced as the series progressed and really liked the way the leads weren’t your standard teenager fare that could do anything and everything. It felt like it was aimed more at my age range and those who were tired of what’s become so sadly commonplace.

The series revolves around a group of pirates, called coyotes for some reason, that have a very limited amount of time to pull off a particular heist. Being discussed in the background, we learn early on that the planet called Graceland is due to have an outlawed photon bomb dropped on it in a weeks’ time in order to deal with the problems that are going on there. This is causing plenty of discussion and criticism throughout the known worlds and is often cropping up in the background through broadcasts and other means. These areas provide the backdrop for the timeline that's happening while the cast of characters are making their plans.

In the known worlds, there's a coyote who is considered one of the best there is. He's known by a number of aliases and those jobs are fairly famous but the connection between them all is known only be a few. Known only as Mister, he's been missing for the past year. The Federation's special operative Angelica has a good idea where he is though and has headed to a prison on the planet Sandvil in order to retrieve him. She's not the only one though as his former teammates are intent on getting him out of there as well as a group working for Madame Macriano, one of the most influential members of the Criminal Guild. All of this is happening very fast and all of them want Mister for different angles on the same reason. And all of it is happening as soon as the plans for Graceland's bombing became public.

As it turns out, Mister is a long time friend and confident of Bruce, a true master thief who had managed to score one of the biggest heists of them all. It's the kind of heist where if it was known what was happen to the public at large, much of the Federation would start to collapse in its infrastructure. Bruce managed to hide the goods away but ended up dying before he could properly do anything with it, leaving behind a young daughter named Franca. Mister ended up taking her in and gave up his coyote ways in order to run a bar and to be there for her. Franca of course has the only lead there is to getting the goods from the heist so there's some conflict there about Mister's true intentions.

Coyote Ragtime Show runs through a lot of the basics of a caper/heist series as it moves past the first volume and into the next two. There are close calls to be had along the way and other characters get drawn into it. Bruce’s right hand man in the form of Swamp is brought back in since he knows where things really are and the other members of Mister’s crew work alongside them all as they go up against Marciano and her attempts to re-invent the Guild as a true criminal syndicate. While Marciano uses Mister to get to the treasure and to settle an old score of her own, the Federation is doing the same in the form of Angelica, a Federal investigator who has made it her mission to find him. All of these characters help to balance the show into a good ensemble cast piece, but very few of them get any sort of real detail to their background. Only Angelica gets much in the way of a real origin episode outside of Franca and Bruce simply because she ends up providing a good bit of emotional connection towards the end.

The creators want to appeal to a wide audience and a lot of how the show is designed is aimed at going after them. The biggest aspect of this in my mind is the Twelve Sisters that operate under Madame Marciano's instructions. A group of twelve young women with different kinds of international styled outfits that are named after months of the year are her main weapon in securing Mister so she can acquire the goods and they're definitely meant to draw in more of the male audience. Most of them unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, don't get much real exposure in the series beyond being basic stereotypes. With so many of them and so little time, they aren't going to get more in the way of detailed character development. They do provide a bit of cuteness or sexiness depending on the character and because of their origins they're also quite disposable. Not that this series shies away from bloodshed as the opening episode has plenty of people getting killed quite easily.

The animation quality for the show is pretty solid throughout which is good. There isn't any noticeable drop in quality overall during the twelve episodes, which leaves it with a very polished feel. The design of the show takes in a lot from different areas so it's not Japanese or even Asian centric. The Twelve Sisters make this even more obvious, particularly the one which is done up in a very British manner. The character designs are fairly standard though it's again a nice change of pace from many other shows out now in that most of the cast is older and not school aged. The series keeps to mostly standard kinds of things you see in these types of science fiction adventure series and it does it all well. There isn't anything that really stands out from it though that sets it apart from others beyond having Mister being the older type that he is.

In Summary:
When I originally watched this in single volume form, I found myself enjoying the show as if it was a series of three mini movies. Each of them covers a respective arc in a standard movie formula and they all covered it quite competently and in a rather exciting fashion. The show gave me a big fun caper movie in a science fiction setting with likeable characters, very good production values and an audio mix that brought it all together wonderfully. While it’s not a deep show, nor one that has a lot of real in-depth character material, it entertained me greatly and is the kind of series that feels custom designed for western audiences. Which is why some railed against it, I’m sure, but it left me happy and wanting to see more of their adventures. Good stuff and this is definitely a very solid release that is extremely easy to recommend across the board.

Features:

Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Production Gallery Video, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16+
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Coyote Ragtime Show