eX-Driver Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • 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. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 10, 2002
Release Date: October 29, 2002


eX-Driver Vol. #2
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Lorna and Lisa ride again!

In the near future, automated cars are standard, and most citizens don't even know how to drive. The éX-Drivers were created to stop malfunctioning AI cars, but their latest threat is something new. An unknown terrorist is controlling cars by remote, trashing the city and seriously injuring Lisa! Will the other éX-Drivers be able to defeat the mysterious driver without her?

The Review!
The second half of the OVA series introduces some new characters, who are also technically old in that the represent some prior eX-Driver teams. This helps to flesh things out nicely, though it does start to crowd the feel and our leads get shorted a bit.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The cover for this volume looks great with an image of Lorna leaning against Lisa’s care while Lisa stands in front of it. 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.

Menu:
The main menu has a great looking image of Lisa and Lorna’s partner Soichi 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.

Extras:
Much like the first volume, there’s some good extras presented here from the Japanese release. The original extra done by Media Blasters is several minutes worth of dub outtakes, some amusing and some just the standard goof-ups. The Japanese extras have a solid set of interviews with the voice actors talking about their characters, a kart race with the main cast of the show, an RC racing version of the cast using those kinds of cars and finally a three segment clean ending sequence (which unfortunately leads in with the English dub). eX-Driver has made out quite good in bringing over a number, if not all, of the Japanese extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After enjoying the first volume as a fairly light and well done set of OVA’s, my expectations were pretty much the same of this volume. For the most part, I did get that, but not in quite the way I had hoped.

As seems to be the norm for a lot of six episode OVA series, not that you can find a whole lot of new ones anymore, the first four episodes play out as introductions and near-filler style material. The final two episodes often have the main plot itself, or the most dramatic of moments, causing a cliffhanger or something that will get you to really want to finish out buying or seeing the series. This series is no different in that respect.

The fourth episode in particular was quite a lot of fun. Lisa’s life goes into a tailspin when we get introduced to Rei, an eX-Rider. That’s right, a Rider. Apparently there’s an even more elite group of drivers who have motorcycles, something which most people just haven’t seen in ages. Soichi instantly falls in love with both the woman and her machine, which sets up several very amusing segments, especially since Rei is very nonchalant about her body. Young Soichi really puts a crimp into the budget for red ink with this episode as he’s blushing almost constantly.

This plays off nicely against the way he and Rei work together on the motorcycle, giving him some new experience he needs. To give him more experience, the two go riding off together so he can feel the rush of what it is to ride a motorcycle. But as always, duty calls and there’s rogue AI cars on the road. This allows the setup for some slight twists, such as having multiple cars going offline at once (a rarity/never happened before moment apparently) and for letting Rei and Soichi really show off their skills. There’s some really good dialogue in this episode and the tension is pleasantly done.

The final two episodes present a nice extended story that starts off with some very upset women, as Lorna and Lisa are trying to get to the beach for some time off, only to have a rogue car go zipping right by them. While they handle it easily, there’s more than meets the eye as the car itself has no driver, just automatics and a camera that allow it to be drive from afar. Someone was setting them up for this, to gauge their abilities and see what they can do. We get to check them out fairly quickly, with the exception of their mysterious leader. It turns out that these group has been through many cities in recent times and have been scouring them for the best of the best of the eX-Drivers to challenge.

With this city though, there’s a personal edge to it that we learn, and while it is fairly predictable once it moves along, it’s executed very well as we start to learn more of the pasts of the various secondary characters of the team. At the end of the OVA series, we’ve got some rather nicely fleshed out characters that told some fun little stories and entertained me for two evenings. I don’t think there’s enough here to hold up an entire TV series, though I really hope these sold well enough that Media Blasters will go after the recently released theatrical movie.

For fans of the author, it’s really easy to recommend this light series. For those who are on the edge, I’d almost recommend waiting until a slightly repriced double disc set gets announced down the line, or at the least give it a rental run first.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes,Voice Actor Interview,eX-D Cup,Textless Closings (3),RC Racers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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