Disgaea Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Disgaea

Disgaea Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     February 23, 2007
Release Date: January 09, 2007

Disgaea Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The King of the Netherworld has died and various demons are now building their own empires in an effort to take control. However, the late King's son has arrived and is out to reclaim his rightful place as ruler of the Netherworld! Along to help him is his vassal; Etna with her Prinny squad, and Flonne, an angel-in-training originally sent to assassinate the king only to find that he has already died.
Join our three intrepid, and somewhat eccentric, heroes as they initiate their plan to conquer the Netherworld, Heaven and Earth!

The Review!
In her attempt to assassinate the demon Overlord, Flonne ends up targeting his son instead. But instead of assassinating him, she's intent on teaching him the way of wuv.

Geneon has gone the traditional route with this release as both language tracks are done in a standard stereo mix. We listened to this show in both mixes and neither of them stand out a lot in any real way but they are decent sounding and cover the basic range required. There isn't anything really noticeable in terms of directionality but it has a solid forward soundstage that works well for the material. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in early 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Using a range of vibrant colors and very clean artwork, Disgaea is the kind of show that intends to look bright and silly but still retaining some of the aesthetics that most anime fans expect when it comes to details and backgrounds. The source material for this is in pristine shape which means no actual issues with what we have here but the authoring leaves something to be desired. The opening and closing sequences, presumably done by PCB Productions as they're the dub folks behind this, it's filled with a lot of very noticeable mosquito noise. The more action there is in a scene the worse it looks. Within the show itself this isn't quite as noticeable as the bold colors and carefully orchestrated movements don't result in a lot of busy scenes. There are areas though where it looks just as bad though. When brought down to a 23" monitor it was still pretty noticeable. Colors in general do look quite good though and maintain a mostly solid feel without much in the way of general background noise and there isn't anything to note in regards to cross coloration.

Giving hint to its mixture of comedy and darkness, the front cover is a great piece that features the three leads all closely knit together. Laharl has a great evil grin to his face while Flonne looks clueless and Etna is simply biding her time. Add in the way there's a Prinny in the background against the moon like Batman and it's just priceless. The back cover uses the same kind of dark motif of the netherworld setting and has a busy but decent layout. The summary covers the basics while a couple of shots from the show are provided below it. The episode numbers and titles are included as is a decent breakdown of the discs features. The production credits are the standard material and a technical grid that's a rarity on Geneon releases makes an appearance. The insert features a cute shot of Flonne and Etna in reversed roles and opens up to a two panel spread of the trio and their band of Prinnies. The cover for this release is reversible and it has both panels featuring covers from the Japanese release with the original logo, something I wish we saw more of once again.

The menus, designed by 342media, have a small but annoying lead-in piece of animation that eventually lands you in a decent looking animated main menu. It uses the character artwork from the front cover and the overall design idea and adds in some clips form the show and a bit of movement on some of it to give it an active feel, particularly with the choral music tied to it. The lead-in animation isn't the only thing though I can't say I mind that there are transitional animations as it's done with Prinnies and they are just adorable. 342media is one of the companies that has this preference for putting the language selections in with the extras and then making it so you can't do English with full subtitles from the menu, so it forces you to do it on the fly instead. Access times are decent with the transitional animations and everything works without any problem. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets.

A couple of extras are included with this opening volume though one of them I'm not keen on including in this. Game trailers tend to feel more like advertisements than anything else but at least there's a reason for it being here and that it's actually available domestically. A clean version of the opening sequence from the series is also included. The really valuable extra in this release is the "special talk" section from the Japanese release which has the voice actor for Laharl questioning the original creator about the project. It's very relaxed in its atmosphere but the audio level is off and it has a fair bit of distortions during some of the interviewers "higher notes" in her voice.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As seems to be something of a commonality when it comes to shows like this, you can never quite be sure what you'll get when you deal with a game becoming an anime. The two do go hand in hand in Japan pretty well but the results, just like with manga to anime adaptations, can really go a number of ways. Disgaea in its original form managed to hit western shores as well so there is something of a built in audience there that other games don't have. While I didn't play it myself, I have a few friends who did and they all swore by how enjoyable the game was.

Thankfully, the anime itself comes across as quite enjoyable too. I have no idea if playing the game will expand on what's here but there is something of a classic feel to the humor and style of Disgaea. The show opens with a simple premise of our following an angel in training named Flonne as she makes her way into a crypt in the netherworld. She doesn't realize it's a crypt as she thinks it's a castle and proceeds to bust open the casket inside so she can get to the gentleman in there. To her surprise though, it's not the demon overlord she's there to assassinate but rather his son Laharl.

Flonne isn't the epitome of a ditz but she's working her way hard towards being one. She's a good kind-hearted angel in training who sees the goodness in everyone. When confronted with someone like Laharl, she sees the same things in him and is determined to have him understand that. Her mission suddenly becomes one of not assassinating the overlord anymore (since he's been dead for two years they find out) but rather to make him realize the true meaning of love. So instead of heading back to Celestia, she starts following him as he tries to figure out how he can assume the title of overlord of the netherworld. The two are essentially the odd couple personified and as traveling partners they're quite comical.

While the two of them together would make for an interesting enough show, the pair get a couple of friends along the way. Since the show takes place in the netherworld to start, another demon makes her appearance named Etna. She's there to help out Laharl as he gets back into the swing of things but she's secretly planting wanted posters around the place with his picture on it so she can get him knocked off. Etna's a proper demon like Laharl though she's able to not be quite so short tempered, at least with other people. Where she does get to be completely demonic is with the band of "mercenaries" she's hired to work for her. It's made up of a race called Prinnies which are basically oversized penguins that are completely inept and append every sentence with the word "dood."

With twelve episodes to the series, the first four here don't exactly have much in the way of a lot of meat to them. It's essentially a road show as the location changes each time and a different situation occurs that causes them to get into trouble. Be it the arrival of a vain demon that ends up with Flonne's pendant that lets her survive of the treasure hall museum where Flonne and Etna switch personalities, it all moves along nicely but it doesn't feel all that filling. What it does do however is entertain quite a lot. Both casts do a decent job though I think the English cast is weaker. Where the English version excels is in the Prinnies as they essentially steal the show every time they talk.

In Summary:
I didn't have much in the way of anticipation for Disgaea but this first volume managed to be quite entertaining with its humor. In a lot of how this is presented it reminded me of shows from the early nineties from its design to its humor. There isn't anything deep here and even though it's tied to a game it doesn't require familiarity. The show itself was surprisingly fun and has me laughing a good bit but the disc itself left me wishing it had been done better. A show like this with such clean artwork and designs should look far better and without the problems of mosquito noise that was so prevalent.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening Animation,Disgaea2 Game Trailer

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> 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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