Cyberteam in Akihabara Box Set (Thinpak) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cyberteam in Akihabara

Cyberteam in Akihabara Box Set (Thinpak)

By Lori Lancaster     April 08, 2009
Release Date: July 04, 2006


Cyberteam in Akihabara Box Set (Thinpak)
© ADV Films

While one girl dreams of meeting her prince, a secret organization formed centuries ago plots to bring about a world-wide revolution. Who exactly is her mysterious prince, and why are so many people now after her and her electronic pet Pata-Pi?

What They Say
Like all girls her age, Hibari Hanakoganei covets the latest fashion in mechanical pets " a Pata-Pi to call her own! But when a strange White Prince provides one, she becomes the target of an equally mysterious Black Prince who plots to steal the prized pet. It's Pata-Pi Densuke to the rescue, however, transforming into a powerful Diva who bears a striking resemblance to Hibari herself! With astonishing battle agility, Densuke proves to be no ordinary child's toy! But Hibari is not the only one with a Pata-Pi of extraordinary powers, and despite an unlikely friendship, she joins forces with others to form the Cyber Team! Together they will solve the riddle of the Black Prince -- or will his flock of nefarious cohorts put an end to the dynamic divas of Akihabara?


The Review!
Audio:
For the purposes of this review, the English audio track was used.  The dialogue was very easy to hear.  The background music was nice.   There was nice usage of the front left and right speakers for sound effects, and they blended in well with the background music.

Video:
This is a transfer of an older anime series.  There are instances on a few of the episodes on volume 1 where some sections do go out of focus.  The color saturation was mostly ok on the first volume.  It was however plagued with occasional darkening of the video.  This in turned caused the colors to appear somewhat muted.  Thankfully this only happened in the beginning episodes.  These video problems were highlighted with the usage of the Pata-pi scene transitions.  These scene transitions were a bit disruptive and dropped later on in the series.  Having seen the actual animation cels for this series up close, it is difficult to understand why they could not have captured more of that color.  At the very least, the transfer should have been on par with other series released around that time.

Packaging:
The whole 5 disk series is housed in a thick thin-pack art box.  The art box itself is very sturdy and mostly dark except for a character picture on each side, and the logo.  The front is graced by one of the Divas looking toward the distance. On the other side is a winged Diva, who looks like she is poised for flight. The spine features a picture of Tsubame infolded within the wings of a Diva. Each one of the thin-pack cases featured one of the team members, starting off with Hibari.  The first four Cyberteam members have side profile shots with an airbrushed image of their Divas in the background.  The last cover features Tsubame looking off towards the distance in a partial front view. The back of the cases all feature a faint image of a circuit board.  On top of this, are the corresponding episode titles for that volume.  These are accompanied by one screen cap a piece.

Menu:
The menus on these were very simple.  They featured episode selection along the top.  Separate menus for languages, previews, and dvd credits were also included on the first disk.  This varied on later volumes as only the language menu was included.  The menu picture was static and continued with the same character theme set by the cover art for the corresponding volume.  The background music featured a soothing piano piece from the series.

Extras:
Typical of an ADV thin-pack release, there were no extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Are Pata-pi more than just the cute and interactive toys they seem to be? A high stakes game of 'chess' has begun, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

It was a bit hard to get into the story line at first due to the aforementioned video problems.  This series took place in the not so distant future. The main character was a girl named Hibari who had just recently entered into Jr. High.  She was a cute and loveable girl who was doted upon by her parents.  Her best friend was a girl named Suzume.  One of Hibari's biggest wishes was to have a 'Pata-Pi' of her very own. Pata-Pi are part of a recent trend in their world.  They are diminutive and fully interactive creature-toys that are one part pet and one part tamagatchi. A variety of changes could be made to them by the purchasing of modification kits.  Though why anyone would develop a mini weapons system for their pet remains a mystery.  Hibari's prayers would be answered in the form of her 'Prince.'  Right away he charged her with the keeping of a very special little pata-pi named "Densuke."  Unfortunately for her this seemed to bring out all sorts of odd people who only want one thing, to get their hands on her pata-pi.

As is typical of Magical-girl anime, she was soon joined by other girls who had special pata-pi of their own.  When faced with extraordinary circumstances, these pata-pi would transform into 'Divas.'  These Divas were goddesses reborn in the flesh.  Together they fought against the villainesses that were trying to capture Densuke and his compatriots.  These villainesses acted under the leadership of a young man named "Master Shooting Star." He in turn served a higher power, which seemed to be pulling the strings on both sides of the chessboard.  This man's ultimate goal was to summon the Metatron through the forced awakening of the Anima Muni.  This unfortunately led to a series of very formulaic episodes. One of the villainesses would typically show up in a particular alleyway in the city of Akihabara.  They'd then proceed to turn their minions named homunculi, upon the girls in an effort to capture the pata-pis.  This only lasted a few episodes until the series started taking greater shape.  It stopped around the time that the characters of Blood Falcon, Death Crow, and Dark Pigeon were introduced more thoroughly.  

In a rather odd twist, it was easier to sympathize with the villainesses in this series than the heroines. More of their screen time is devoted towards establishing their character and motivation.  Yes, they did wear outrageous outfits and were out against the heroines.   However they did seem more human while doing it.  The main characters themselves feel a bit two dimensional.  They fail to endear themselves to the audience early on by the way they act and failing to show more of their motivations until well into the series. With the evil trio it was different.  Early on they established the characters and what their motivations were. By the time they came to more of their back-story, it only served to endure them more.  The hot springs anniversary episode was key to this.  They became more human and easier to empathize with. They did this by showing the state each lady had been in before they had encountered Master Shooting Star. Through his caring for them, he gained their unwavering allegiance.

There is an interesting back story here that stretches all the way back to Medieval Europe. Its roots are in the studies of Alchemy and a man named Rozenkreutz.  Several times in this series there are flashbacks to this time as well as the early 1900s. As things begin to get clearer, the line between evil and good blurs as there seems to be a puppet master who is manipulating everything behind the scenes.  Not only are these scenes interesting looks into the past of these characters but they are stylistically well done as well.  The cels are done in a grayscale color pallet so that they appear to be black and white.

Rife with mythological and religious references, this was created during an era that spawned many "Magical Girl" style series. The animation style varied from the typical look most anime series cultivated at the time. The art style had a lot of angles.  The faces of the characters themselves were heart-shaped with particularly pointed chins. There were several rough spots early on in the series where there was a great deal of repetitiveness.  A clear example of this could be seen during several episodes in the first volume.  The scenario would have Hibari traveling down the same alley only to be attacked several times. This would in turn be followed by a battle which she or her friends would ultimately win. A large portion of the series also consisted of 'get that Pata-Pi' episodes. This was a stark contrast to the monochromatic flashback episodes that were filled with interesting tidbits.  The intensity the series showed towards the end was a large saving grace. This was mostly noticeable in the last volume.  As mentioned previously, this series did interject a great deal of mythological Greek characters, alchemic lore, and intrigue.  The Principal and his colleague were the main vehicles for this. The last episode seemed to make quite a jump. A few facts that were previously taken for granted were suddenly changed. The end result was that a few questions were left unanswered.  The series did have a decent ending, while also leaving the door opened for more possibilities.

In Summary:
This had been a series that I had been curious about for a very long time. There was a great story line underneath everything.  It shined through on the last volume were the story was very tight and compelling.  Unfortunately on previous volumes, it was easily lost in between all the various 'get that Pata-Pi' episodes. The villains were very nicely done and seemed very human.  It was easily seen why the trio of villainesses were so devoted to their Master Shooting Star. With all the manipulations going on in the background, it was a wonder that the principal was not a grand chess master.  The art style took a bit to get used to in the beginning.  While the heroines may not be the most sympathetic of characters at the start, they do grow a bit on the viewer as the series continues.  Fans of the magical girl genre might find this as an enjoyable rental.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
106" 16x9 DaLite HC Screen, Panasonic PT-AX100U LCD Projector 720p native, AMD 64 x2 4200, Windows x64, NVidia PureVideo, FFDShow, CoreAVC, AC3Filter and Various Media Players DVD Upconversion handled by NVidia software, Sony STR-DE835 500W Receiver DD/DTS,  Klipsch Reference System (RB-61, CS-52 and RS-42) speakers, Sony SA-WMS5 100 Watt powered subwoofer, DVI to HDMI (PC to Projector),  Digital Coaxial Cable (PC to Receiver).

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