Desert Punk Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Desert Punk

Desert Punk Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 01, 2006
Release Date: April 25, 2006

Desert Punk Vol. #2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
The Great Kanto Desert is a place of extremes; an arid stretch of sand without moisture or mercy. In the struggle to survive, it's each for his own and water holds a higher price than life.

With his reputation on the rise, Desert Punk finds himself the honored guest of a village in need of protection. True to his nature, he wears out his welcome by abusing both their hospitality and their women, turning the villagers against him. But Desert Punk's not finished playing yet...

From double-crossed to double whammy, our hero finds himself with an annoying apprentice who quickly puts him back into debt and a cursed job no one else will dare attempt. Convinced that the young Kosuna will grow up - and fill out - to become the first stunningly gorgeous member of his future harem, Desert Punk accepts both challenges. Will his raging hormones actually prove to be his salvation?

Contians episodes 5-8:
The Price of Water
Wandering Lust
Age Before Beauty
A Dog in Heat

The Review!
Kanta's adventures continue as he takes on a variety of jobs while also trying to get as close as he can to as many women as possible.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the series is nicely expansive as it makes good use of directionality throughout the program both for action and dialogue effects. The mix is rather active in general since the characters tend to be moving all over a lot or there are several on the screen at the same time talking so the directionality aspect is well used. The music in particular works well with the opening song and incidental effects are well done also. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

Originally airing back in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the show having very distinct colors due to it taking place almost entirely in the desert and within aged decaying buildings, the animation doesn't exactly have many really bright or vibrant moments as we're used to seeing but the colors here are very solid and the look overall very good. With so many standard colors in large areas there's a chance for more break-up but even the numerous gray and sandy backgrounds and uniforms maintain a good looking solid feel to them. Even better, there's really no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration going on which leaves us with a very smooth and clean looking presentation.

The choice to go with the darker and more action oriented covers may not be the best for selling the show inside but the covers look great and this one is no exception as it has Kanto and another in a similar outfit moving across a sandstorm. There's some good design and colors used here and plenty of detail to bring it all together nicely. The back cover conveys the dark nature as well and only hints at some of the comedy in a couple of the minor screenshots that are here. A lot of space is given over to the summary of the premise and a listing of the discs episode numbers and titles. The features and technical information is all clearly listed and easy to locate. As is common now, no insert is included with this release.

The menu layout is rather simple with a static image that has a fanservice heavy view of a beautiful-sexy-skilled handyman on the right with plenty of vibrant colors while the left side has the series logo followed by the basic navigation pieces below it set to a brief loop of mildly creepy instrumental music. The layout is decent but the image leaves a bit to be desired overall. The menu is easy to navigate though and language selection is easy. Due to the way they author the discs, even though they no longer seem to provide close captioned/dubtitled scripts as a subtitle track, they tracks themselves are unlabeled so players' who have their presets used still don't get to work right when it comes to the subtitles. The language track is picked up fine however.

Similar to the first volume, there's a good selection of extras here though why they put the original Japanese extras in their own section is still beyond me. There's a good selection of the standards here such as the textless songs for the opening and closing sequence and a new round of the alternate covers that parody movies. I particularly loved the Saving Private Ryan one since the color scheme and elements worked so perfectly. The Life in the Desert section profiles a couple of the women who make appearances in the series so far while the Campaign Caravan piece is a trip into the bizarre as you see how they sold the show to various audiences, such as NewType. If you don't believe the Japanese use sex to sell anime, this extra should convince you. The other big extra is the Internet Studio Show where they do a Sunabozu piece with a pair of the actors and we get to see the video that goes along with it. These kinds of pieces are hit or miss really depending on how into the show and its characters you are and how much the actors play up to the cameras..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Desert Punk in its first installment took some time to really get me interested in it and even then it turned into being interested in a few areas of it. The show's premise is one that's certainly not new but it's nicely executed so far in what little we've seen of this post-apocalyptic world where water is the most valuable thing. It's got some great designs and it even plays up the generally bad thing of having characters faces obscured by helmets. At the same time, it's given us a lead character that's typically relegated to secondary status in other series because as entertaining as they are, they aren't exactly the kinds of characters that can carry a show or easily connect with an audience.

This continues to be the main problem I run into with the show as it plays out because while I laugh at Kanta's exploits and what he gets into, I'm not laughing with him but laughing at him. Lecherous characters can certainly be pulled off in the form of leads, such as Ataru from Urusei Yatsura, but even there it's such an ensemble cast that it can be diluted down easily enough. With Desert Punk, Kanta gets so into his lecherous ways along the journey with a truly goofy looking and drool that I'm finding myself rolling my eyes. But even beyond that he's not an entirely good character to connect with. In the two part episode here where he takes on the role of a bodyguard for a village that's about to strike it big with a well, he's so over the top in his demands for money and water and even in making deals with the chief's daughter that you want to root for the villagers who want to get rid of him. He's so unappealing here in his mannerisms that you wouldn't want to associate with him " except for the fact that he typically gets what he wants and you'd want to be along for that.

The two episode story actually puts him in a bad position along the way which I'm sure there's some potential for slightly reforming him but as bad as it gets, once he's underway again and dealing with others his personality is one that doesn't change much at all. The two episodes that follow manage to help the show become more enjoyable if only because Kanta isn't the only main character for a lot of it, leaving plenty of time for it to be enjoyable when he's not around. Having suffered at Kanta's hands before, Kosuna returns to the picture as she wants to become his apprentice now so that she can one day grow up into a beautifully sexy and skilled handyman herself. She figures he's one of the best out there because he defeated her previous master so it makes sense to try and work under him so she can achieve her goal.

Kanta of course refuses at first until he realizes he can take advantage of her and make money off of her while raising her to become a beautiful and dutiful attractive adult based on how her mother looks. So he signs up for a lot of crap jobs for her introduction to being a handyman which she grudgingly does but not without complaining about it. The two have an amusing relationship with each other and Kosuna provides a positive anchor for Kanta which helps to lighten the mood a touch and move away from it being so completely lecherous on his part. Well, when he's not drooling over the prospect of what Kosuna may turn out to be like. She ends up on an actual mission with him in another episode here, one tied to a curse that puts a lot of bad mojo on everyone, and the pairing works even more beautifully. As much as Kosuna talks, she's still not a skilled fighter so she provides some comic relief in the same form that Kanta does but when she's all dressed up like him it's almost like she's mocking him in a way. And Kanta is very easy to mock.

In Summary:
The first half of the show I was less interested in but as it progressed into the second half and the potential for what it could be like changed the more I found myself into what was going on. Kosuna provides an anchor of sorts that's needed to keep the show from tilting too much in Kanta's favor, something that's great for an episode or two of a series but not for the lead character to do on a regular basis. There's still a good bit of action to be found amid all of this and a lot of those that showed up in the first volume make snarky appearances here as well. Add in the breast ogling from Kanta and the fanservice level is up there as well. This show is still a mixed bag and I'm not sure what to really think of a lot of it but it has its moments. Whether they're enough or not is hard to tell.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Desert Parody,Character Profiles,Internet Radio Show,Campaign Caravan

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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