Ghost Sweeper Mikami Feature - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost Sweeper Mikami

Ghost Sweeper Mikami Feature

By Chris Beveridge     September 02, 2002
Release Date: June 25, 2002


Ghost Sweeper Mikami Feature
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Meet Mikami - the sexy leader of one of Japan's most successful independent ghost-busting agencies. Together with her eclectic team of exorcists, she's prepared to do battle with any supernatural adversary - but only for the right price! When an ancient spirit enlists her aid to deal with a re-incarnated foe, Mikami gets more than she bargained for. As the wicked Nosferatu - a vampire lord able to absorb the very life essence of his victims - begins to turn the city's inhabitants into mindless zombies, Mikami's team must race against time to save the world from a second Dark Age. Watch the ultimate Vampire Slayer in this fast, fun and furious supernatural action-adventure!

The Review!
Ghost Sweeper Mikami is one of those shows that’s just slightly ahead of its time yet owes more to what came before it, proving that all things are cyclical in some ways. While you can see the homages to things like Ghostbusters, it feels like it owes more to Buffy and other similar shows that came afterwards.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This track is presented in its original mono format and sounds decent, but is pretty much what you’d expect from a mono soundtrack. Dialogue is clear and undistorted but without any directionality. The English tracks sounded decent as well, with the 5.1 track essentially providing some more clarity and increased volume.

Video:
Originally released in 1994, the transfer provided is non-anamorphic widescreen and in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. While the animation doesn’t hold up terribly well even against OVA’s released at that time, it is a smoother and overall better looking version of the TV series. There’s little real issue with the transfer itself, with the problems being more source material related, such as the flashback sequences that are done intentionally grainy end up looking rather poor here. But that’s not an authoring issue so much as the intent of the creative staff. Cross coloration is basically non existent here and there was little aliasing. Colors are somewhat soft in a lot of areas but are reflective of the style intended.

Packaging:
Using a few different shots from the movie itself, the front cover is a collage that has an odd choice of characters set against the background of Tokyo at night with the main villain’s eyes just above them. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the movie against the same night time sky as on the front cover. There’s a decent summary of the movie as well as a good listing of the discs features and a couple of the main production credits. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while the reverse side has some new artwork and also has the chapter listings.

Menu:
The main menu has a simple border ringing around it with some character artwork coming into view next to the menu selections while the background pans over a still shot of the Tokyo area at night. The menu also plays music, but I believe it’s from the new music created to go into the English track of this feature. Access times are good and moving around is straightforward, though the language selection menus leave a lot to be desired.

Extras:
There’s a small amount of extras included on this release. The main one is nine pages of character bios, split into first string and second string exorcists (though playing one will lead you to the other, so there was little reason to split it). There’s also about ten or so images in an image gallery that appear to be just from the show itself and not from other sources.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This release just seemed destined to annoy me to no end, hence my not even picking it up until a few months after its initial release. Let’s talk about the show first though.

Ghost Sweeper Mikami is an anime based on a popular and fairly lengthy manga series, that was done up in a fifty-ish episode TV run in the early 90’s. This movie essentially serves as a follow-up to the series, but doesn’t do anything like provide some finality to it, as I believe the manga was still running then. Mikami bears some very striking resemblances to another series, the four part OVA show Phantom Quest Corp. So much so that I believe a cease and desist order was brought about against them (which is unfortunate, I enjoyed that series more than what I’ve seen of Mikami a number of years ago).

Ghost Sweeper Mikami is about the powerful exorcist named Mikami, an attractive, voluptuous and money hungry young woman who takes advantage of the influx of demons and other nasties to make money and keep up her lifestyle. Well, she’s designed to be attractive but I’ve never liked the character design for her at all, though the others in the show are pretty standard and decent. Mikami and her friends generally find themselves involved in some situation where their various abilities are needed, such as the priest with some interesting powers, or the half breed vampire who lacks self-confidence or the bait, a non-powered person named Yokoshima. There’s also Okinu, an ex-ghost who helps out in the power department. It’s a good cast all told, and they do get some decent screentime here, but without the series history to back it up, they fall a bit flat and under developed.

The story for this movie is pretty simple, as it tells the tale of a resurrected Nosferatu come back to conquer Japan and then the world. We see his defeat several hundred years ago after his excommunication from the Vatican as he takes over the body of Nobunaga Oda who summarily becomes one of the more reviled figures in the Warring States era of Japanese history. Though an exorcist of that time defeats him, he reveals to the exorcist that he’ll be back one day in the future and will be unstoppable. Realizing the truth to this, the exorcist sends his powerful lance into the future for those who will need it. This, of course, turns out to be Mikami.

Mikami’s more taken by the sheer value of the lance than its mystical properties, though the long dead exorcist shows up to explain the situation of Nosferatu to her and convince her to take the job. After getting her price, she and the others head off to deal with Nosferatu before he becomes a problem, but they only serve to actually revive the villain instead as well as having to deal with his assistant, a spider in human form named Ranmaru. Nosferatu brushes off his battle with them, instead requiring some time to regain strength and abilities, and he commands Ranmaru to seek out exorcists of this time, as their blood is truly delicious and helps to restore him quickly.

This allows our heroes to spend time in the hospital recuperating. While Shinjuku once again goes to hell, as it gets taken over by zombies. This time period allows the second string exorcists to get their moment of glory, which is fairly meaningless for those who haven’t seen the series and know nothing of these characters who come along, do a little bit, and then move offscreen. That’s all just setup for the final third of the film, which is one long battle between the hero and the villain.

Mikami isn’t a bad movie, it’s fairly average and likely enjoyable to fans of the series. But for newcomers to it, there’s little to really get attached to throughout it, especially as there’s no known plans for the TV series to come out anytime soon.

This release does however smack of laziness. The first is that it appears to be mostly dubtitled, but not entirely. There are sections when listening to it in Japanese that there is dialogue but no subtitles. Listening in English, the majority of the time the dialogue is identical, though with some slight rearranging at times, giving the feeling that they took the dub script and used that, and then made changes during the actual recording. There are also instances in the subtitle track where they’re on the screen for less time than you can read them, like a split second. There’s also some very slight mistiming going on in a few areas.

For reasons that have not been made clear (as I believe multiple reasons have been given at conventions), parts of, if not all of, the music is different in the English version. This starts right from the beginning. In the Japanese, you have a minute of just dialogue and no music, but the English has music playing. And not the same music as the Japanese eventually starts playing. The ending song in the English is just an instrumental piece as opposed to the full lyrical piece in the Japanese. What strikes as extremely lazy and pretty much almost insulting is that the Japanese singer is not credited at all in the credits. In fact, there’s no mention of an end song at all, since the credits are mostly English based. The original music director is credited however, but naturally the three people involved in the new English soundtrack get more prominent credits.

And finally, I have to wonder why they bother being so lazy with the credits. I realize that a dub VHS was released of this (god knows why as everyone is dropping VHS like crazy – last year), and they don’t want to make more work for themselves, but just provide bilingual credits in the main credits listing and stop with these alternate pieces at the end. So what if it shows on the VHS, list them separately or together, but placing it in a separate piece afterwords just smacks of laziness and feels like a slap in the face to those who watch the feature in its original language and original cast.

A lot of these complaints stem from the fact that Manga just hasn’t caught up to doing what every other company is doing out there, and with it now four years after DVDs introduction, it’s becoming grating. I’ll give ground on catalog titles, but Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a new title and this is just ridiculous. Fans of this show may not be terribly happy with it, especially if the dub script is vastly different from the subtitle script, something I can’t tell. But with no Mikami available on DVD in Japan, this is all there is at the moment.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Image Gallery

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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