Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 39.99
- Running time: 300
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Eat-Man 98
Eat-Man 98 Collected
By Justin Coole
February 16, 2002
Release Date: April 04, 2000
To be perfectly honest, when I heard AnimeVillage was about to start pushing out DVDs, two titles immediately came to mind: Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star.
While I enjoy both of the above, I wanted to see one of my favorite shows on DVD: Eat-Man '98. You can imagine my shock when the first wave of discs were announced and Eat-Man '98 was on it! Months have passed, and it's finally in my hands, and here's what I have to say about it.
The packaging is in what is like a double Amaray case, pretty sturdy and snaps together nicely. The discs themselves are with a green background, the Region code (1), and the Eat-Man '98 logo printed at the top. I was hoping for some nifty artwork, but that's simply a nitpick. The cover of the set itself is similar to the ones used in Newtype magazine during the promotion and runtime of the series, with Bolt reforming what is probably a large weapon out of his right hand, while Aimie and Naomi are below him, and various scenes from Episodes 1 & 2 melded into the background. Really nice picture, and in general much nicer than the covers used on the import LDs and domestic VHS. The back is awash with pictures and information, mainly with the Japanese credits and English adaptation credits. The region is clearly printed at the bottom left beside the Dolby logo. There's a big yellow sticker that tells about the features (All 12 episodes in one 2-disc set, bilingual, etc) and in small text below this is a blurb about only episodes 1 and 2 featuring an English dub.
Putting it in my player, it pops up with a Bandai Entertainment logo and Dolby Digital logo. From there it takes you to the menu. The menu is quick and functional, with various themes from the soundtrack playing in the background, and some cool still pictures of Bolt and various other characters. No animated stuff, like the insanity that is the Cowboy Bebop DVD, however. The main choices in the menu are "Play," which immediately starts at the first episode of the disc and just goes.
"Scene Selection" which brings you to a sub-menu for the first 6 episodes (Bye Bye Aimie Parts I and II, The World's Greatest Mercenary, Bodyguard, and Ambrosian Days Parts I and II).
When you access one of the episodes, you are just taken straight to the opening credits, and you can't select one of the 6 sections available in the episode (Opening, Title, Part A, Part B, Ending, Preview), you have to go to them manually while watching. No big deal to me, but some may not like that. Then there's "Languages," only available on Disc 1. You can either select English or Japanese here. It leaves a transparent little 'bolt' cursor on the language selected, so you can make sure which one you picked. "Subtitles" is an obvious one; it's either English subs on or off.
Then we have "Trailers," giving trailers for various other Bandai shows (not all on DVD yet, or even announced) such as Bebop, Outlaw Star, Haunted Junction, Silent Mobius and others. Interestingly, if you move down to the "Bandai Entertainment" option, it takes you to the trailer menu also. The last option is "DVD credits," apparently this disc was produced by Cinram/Pop DVD Center, a place I hadn't heard of. Still, so far things look good.
The Video quality throughout both discs is astoundingly good, thanks to this show having run very recently (I think you can figure out when...if you can't read the title of this review). The DVD-9 discs are used to great effect with the quality, as I can't see any breakup in the dark colors or in any other places. No rainbow effects are apparent, if they exist at all. The colors are usually either reminiscent of deserts, or sometimes dark in the technological metropolis where Bolt sometimes finds himself in. I thought the VHS quality was already great, but the DVD is superior to it now.
The Audio is a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix in both English and Japanese, no distortion at all. I'll talk about the dub here, as it is only 2 episodes. The dubbing was produced by The Ocean Group (the people that do Viz dubs for Ranma, etc). The dubbing is good in some places, but in some places it's pretty low.
(Minor spoiler) One scene where Aimie is crying out Naomi's name in Episode 2 in the Japanese version, is replaced in the dub by a sort of choked moan. Ugh. Also, much to my irritation, the dub translates "Boukenya" (Bolt Crank's "title") as "Explorer." The subtitles say "Mercenary," which I feel fits his job description much more effectively. Why didn't they just use that in the dub? Minor quibble, really. I'd have to grade this dub as a B-.
I was worried somewhat that the subtitles would be hard-matted onto the Japanese only episodes, and thankfully this is not the case. The subtitles are very bold and readable, using yellow as it's main color with a slightly thicker than usual black border. No qualms here, as the subs are timed perfectly everywhere. However, I have some issues about some of the translations used.
In the Opening song, there are 2 places where the song is improperly romanized or even translated completely wrong. "Asa no za" should actually be "Asaneta." Also, the final lyric for the song is translated as "Futari wa yuku," meaning "We'll be together." The actual lyric is "Futari Burning Blue," which is the title of the song (Burning Blue). So the translation is a bit off there, and I was hoping that Bandai might address this issue, though I doubt many will actually notice the problem. That's for those sick die-hard Eat-Man fans like me to find. :)
The content on this disc is 12 episodes of a late-night running series(1:45am-2:15am) based on the comics by Akihito Yoshitomi. Eat-Man is considered as a cult hero kind of comic, not really a consistent plot moving along most of the time.
Some may find it interesting to note that Jim Lee (of Gen 13 and WILDCATS fame in the US) is a big fan of this manga/anime, and has done some art for Yoshitomi in the past, something I find really neat. 6 of these 12 episodes (Bye Bye Aimie I and II, Body Guard, World's Greatest Mercenary, and Mega Mix [Disc 2])are based on stories from the manga, while the other 6(Ambrosian Days Parts I-IV, and The Farcicial Dream Parts I and II) are exclusive stories to the anime.
In general, the stories based from the manga are overall cooler, but the original episodes are also really intriguing as well. What sets this series apart from its predecessor EAT-MAN is the higher budget and the fact that Yoshitomi himself worked on storyboards and had an active input on the direction of the series. The original EAT-MAN TV series was extremely low budget and lacking in actual watching value, however despite it's shortcomings managed to get a good audience and warrant this follow-up. It could be argued that the first 2 episodes of Eat-Man '98 have more animation than the whole of EAT-MAN's 12 episode run. It's that scary. EAT-MAN didn't even have an opening animation, just credits rolling by put to one of the craziest songs in recent memory. Same goes for the Ending credits.
I highly recommend this set to any fan of Akihito Yoshitomi's Eat-Man,
or to anyone who wants something unique and different. I've read some reviews on this that say this could have been another Trigun if it had tried, but I feel if it tried to be that, it wouldn't be nearly as unique as it is now.
I guess the only real fault of the whole set is the lack of an English dub for the whole thing. But after watching the dub, and comparing it to the star-studded cast of the Japanese version, which has characters voices like Gendo Ikari and Asuka from Evangelion, along with Suzuoki Hirotaka of Rurouni Kenshin fame (as Saitou Hajime) playing Bolt's rival Hard, along with the Japanese seiyuu for Zechs in Gundam Wing and Tate from Nazca playing Marco in MegaMix, it may be for the best they didn't continue the dub.
Another fault is the real lack of extras. That was a bit of a letdown, but since this title wasn't really a hot seller (or so I imagine) to begin with, Bandai probably just wanted to get this title out there. Lack of extras isn't a terrible thing, but it would have been nice to have some cel art or concept sketches...maybe even pictures by Jim Lee!
In Japan, '98 was released with 2 episodes per DVD up until episode 6, and from there, 1 episode per disc up until 12. Each disc ran at least $50. But with the entirety of the series in Region 1 selling for only $39.99, WITH subtitles, the sheer value of this disc is amazing. The Japanese fans are probably furious with us (believe me, I've chatted with some after I told them about this set) for getting such a deal.
I'm truly proud to have this set in my collection of DVDs.
Toshiba 27'' TV, Toshiba SD2200 DVD Player with Monster S-Video Cables