El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: El-Hazard

El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     August 10, 1999
Release Date: August 10, 1999


El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
First Night:
The Disappearance of the Priestess of Water

Second Night:
The Door to the Future Opens

Third Night:
Two Celestial Maidens Descended from the Heavens

Fourth Night:
The Sweet, White Trap Closes In

During the coronation of the New Priestess of Water, Qawoor Towles, Makato and friends are transported to an alternate world by a mysterious entity named Arjah, who claims to be the ruler of the universe. Makato, Nanami and Qawoor find themselves in the Kingdom of Creteria, where Qawoor and Nanami are mistaken for ancient sky goddesses, while Jinnai, Katsuo, and Shayla-Shayla come upon the alternate world’s version of the Bugrom, and Mr. Fujisawa, Miz and Afura Mann have their heads literally in the clouds.

The Review!
Let's jump right into the good stuff here. Other than the very opening section, where the map jiggers somewhat (line noise created due to how the art was done? I'm not sure...), this is an absolutely gorgeous disc. Vibrant colors abound. The images were very sharp, never soft, and color was dead on perfect. This is very important considering the gorgeous backgrounds and outfits worn by the characters.
The audio was also very well done for a TV stereo mix. No issues here, everything sounded good and clear and directional when required. Of course, there were some liberties taken with the dub that made me cringe (notably the opening of the second episode when Fatora climbs into Alielle's bed) but I'm trying to get used to the "new" Pioneer dubbing style. Really I am.

The packaging, in an amaray keepcase, is very eye-catching with Makoto, Qawoor and Ifurita standing prominently, and then with the almost hidden Jinnai at the bottom. Very appropriate.

Menu's are definitely better looking than some of the Tenchi in Tokyo ones have been. Since it fit in the water theme, it looks pretty good and is very easy to maneuver.

As for the show itself? Er, well, umm... ok ok, I loved. But you have to understand my position. Back when Pioneer started releasing their anime here in the U.S., El-Hazard was one of their early early titles, I think the third one. Back then, this show, while still considered a slight knockoff of Tenchi, never really seemed that way to me. The characters have definite antagonists (Jinnai & the Bugrom), secondary characters get attracted to people other than the main character and the gorgeous set designs of the world of El-Hazard.

Frankly, I was hooked a long time ago. I even, get ready for this, consider the dub of the first OVA series to be the best dubbing I've ever heard in anime. There, I've said. I like a dub. Hoo hah! I started picking up the first TV series, the Wanderers, on laserdisc, but never got the time to watch anything beyond the first one. Yeah, I've got the next 7, sealed, in the special box Pioneer put out with it.

Hey, Pioneer... maybe you should try that again sometime? Offer a box with the first one? How about trying it with Trigun? Please?

Anyway. After that, Pioneer released the second OVA series, a direct follow-up to the first OVA series, but only on VHS. I did not buy. Many fans considered it to be below their expectations. But I have not seen it yet, so I can't say.

This new release, a 13 episode TV series, follows the OVA series. So, unlike some people, I'm not as confused as they are, but I'm still missing a few things here and there. But I don't care at all. This show is just so much fun. It's like returning to very familiar characters after a long withdrawal.

Makoto seems to have more confidence this time around, which is a nice change of pace from the indecisive Tenchi. Mr. Fujisawa (one of my favorite characters of all time) has tied the knot with Miz, the Priestess of Water whose retiring (hence the setup of this disc). Jinnai's ambitions of ruling El-Hazard, the alternate world that all the kids from Shinonome High have been transported to way back in the first OVA series, have fallen before him as the Bugrom empire is in shambles. Will he help Queen Diva create more eggs? Oh boy...

So yeah, there's lots to jump into. The way I look at it, for newer fans, if you found any small portion of this interesting, pick up the rest of the series and talk with fans about it. But definitely pick up the first OVA box set that'll be out towards the end of 1999. It'll answer any missing questions you may have and fill in the blanks for the most part. Think of it as an mystery, where you have to work backwards to get everything. This series is among my most favorite of all anime, and once the OVA's are out, will definitely be earning a place in the Essential Anime Collection.

Features
English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language,Credit less opening & ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.

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