eX-Driver Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: eX-Driver

eX-Driver Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     August 05, 2002
Release Date: July 30, 2002

eX-Driver Vol. #1
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The cars are hot but the girls are hotter! Pull over, highway patrol. Lorna
Endou and Lisa Sakakino have eX-Driver licenses, assigned only to the best
of the best. They are authorized to drive fast, drive recklessly, and hunt
down malfunctioning AI-controlled cars that endanger the populace. With
tricked-out cars and tricked-out moves, Lorna and Lisa rule the road!

The Review!
Based off of designs and settings by Fujishima, eX-Driver provides a simple little show for car fans that doesn?t challenge the viewer much, but provides them with an enjoyable way to pass the time.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though the show sports only a basic stereo mix, it definitely sounds good with all the new sounds that were recorded for it, giving it a bit more of a life than most others where you know you?ve heard that particular sound before. Dialogue is nice and clear, there?s plenty of forward soundstage directionality with the cars and there were no noticeable problems with either language track.

Originally released in late 2000, this OVA series sports some really nice production values and you can for the most part see the budget in the show itself. The transfer for it is pretty much spotless with only some minor aliasing being a problem. Colors are nice and vibrant without any bleeding, cross coloration is non-existent and things just look nice and smooth here. It?s not as much of a stand out in visuals as some other recent OVA series, but it looks much like they intended it to be.

The cover for this volume looks great with an image of Lisa leaning against her car with Lorna behind her and their images reflecting in the car. It?s a very vibrant and sexy looking cover with the characters and just really catches my eye. The back cover provides several animation shots and a brief summary of the show. The discs features and technical information are all nicely listed as well. The insert provides a listing of the chapter stops for each episode while the reverse side is just adverts. My only qualm is that it lists the running time as 90 minutes, which is typical for OVA?s, but these OVA?s are 25 minutes each. The extras do get it close to the full 90 minutes, but some people won?t like how it?s written out here.

The main menu has a great looking image of Lisa and Lorna?s new partner while animation plays in his goggles along with a really bass heavy version of the opening song playing. The menu selections are listed with single letters in a manual stick section, which will surely confuse some people but I thought worked well and was easy to figure out. Access times are nice and fast and the layout in general works well with the show.

There?s a healthy selection of extras here that shows the distance the creators went to get this show to sound and look just right. The crew interview section runs a few minutes long and talks with the main overseers of the production and their goals. The sound FX production segment shows the team out getting new recordings of each of the cars that gets show in the series and the bonus clip provides an amusing segment of the voice actors on one of the amateur minikart courses. Also included is a textless opening for the OVA?s.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
eX-Driver takes place sometime in the relative near future, far enough along that certain things have changed but much remains the same. The main change is that people no longer really drive their own cars. Everything is set so that it?s fairly automatic and guided by central computers and the like, monitored by people. This is show as a family gets into one of the cars, indicates they?re looking for restaurants and the car provides a selection of places and then takes them to their choice. Everyone travels at good speeds, nobody hits each other since there are multiple sensors on each car and in general, it seems like a good system.

Of course, there are times when the system within each car just goes nuts and does whatever it wants, essentially going wild. With the monitoring system in place, all other cars can get stopped and moved out of the way, making it easy for the out of control car to avoid causing too much damage. This also lets the eX team come into play. There?s two drivers for this team, Lisa and Lorna. Both of them have really good souped up cars that are completely manually driven, letting them take things beyond the limits of all other vehicles, except for those out of control. Their job is to force the problem vehicle over without trouble, which means shooting out its sensors so it thinks it?s completely surrounded and shuts down.

They?re both quite good at their job and both love the rush of the high speed chase. Each has their own set of skills and driving style, but they also compliment each other. Their team works well together until a new member is introduced, the young Souichi. Newly arrived from England, he?s an absolute thorn in Lisa?s side as she views him as pure competition to her abilities. The three of them play off of each other well, and each has a varying level of love with their vehicles, giving them their own approach to how they deal with things.

Though this is based on the manga by Fujishima, who?s more famous for his Ah! My Goddess You?re Under Arrest pieces, it?s not quite as accurately translated into anime. The designs retain some of the basic premise of his but are a bit smoother looking and less detailed, but still quite attractive. What does make it through is his love of mechanical things like cars, a theme that shows up in many of his manga series. This OVA series essentially plays up the episodic nature of things and leaves the real story to the relationship between the characters and how they interact.

eX-Driver was a fun way to pass the evening. It?s not a life changer, but it?s a fun little diversion that gives me hopes of seeing the DTS movie that?s just been announced. Fun characters, great looking designs and excellent car models, it reminds me of some of the early 90?s OVA?s in the fun factor. Worth checking out if you?re looking for something a little different and something that?s short and safe.s

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Crew Interview,Sound FX Production,Bonus Clip,Textless Opening

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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