Ghost Sweeper Mikami - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+/C-
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ghost Sweeper Mikami

Ghost Sweeper Mikami

By Dani Moure     August 24, 2004
Release Date: August 16, 2004


Ghost Sweeper Mikami
© Manga UK


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!

The Review!
Without a whisper from the TV series, Manga release the final animated instalment of Ghost Sweeper Mikami with mixed results.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese track for my main viewing, because I knew in advance that the English language dub had been altered. The Japanese stereo track is a nice and solid stereo mix, with not too much directionality. I noticed no dropouts or distortions with the track, and enjoyed the performances of many of the actors, especially the voices behind Mikami and Nosferatu.

As mentioned, I didn't listen to the English track because it has changed music. The dub was produced a couple of years ago, but at the time I recall Manga saying that they felt the quiet moments on the track were "too quiet", so they added music into them. The dub doesn't seem too badly acted, but it's not something I was interested in watching simply because of the changes to the music.

Video:
The video makes out somewhat worse than the audio. The movie is from the early 90s, and it doesn't look like Manga got any good materials. The colours look washed out throughout, and there's a softness in the transfer too. Not to mention there are frequent nicks and scratches, and some pixellation in a few high action scenes. It's far from the worst DVD I've seen, but it's certainly not up to the standards I'd usually expect.

Sadly, the subtitles don't make out well either. They're in a decent sized white font, but sadly they seem to be mostly dubtitles. I first noticed when it became a little distracting, as characters were talking but no subtitles were displayed. The timing seemed off throughout. On spot-checking the English track, the subtitles matched the dub almost to the word in all the areas I looked at. This is definitely not a good thing, and I've no idea how loosely the movie was translated.

Another knock against this release is the lack of credits for any of the Japanese voice cast. This is something I can't stand, and I don't particularly like the prioritising of the English language credits, either.

Packaging:
Packaged in a slipcase, the outer sleeve features an image of Nosferatu in his final form grabbing Mikami, with the movie logo at the top. It's not a bad image although it's quite low quality. The back of the slipcase has three screenshots from the film, along with a summary of the show and mention that it's the conclusion to the TV series. The keepcase features a different shot of Mikami fighting Nosferatu, with the same back cover except for the screenshots being different. Inside the case is a poster which unfortunately looks terrible as it's quality is even lower than on the slipcase.

Menu:
The menus are quite simple, but also a little annoying. While a bit of music plays, we get clips from the dub as the accompanying video plays faded in the background. The bottom of the menu features the show logo and the four selections. There are short transition videos between each of the other submenus, all of which are static with a piece of accompanying artwork. They're functional and pretty quick to access, but the dub clips on the main menu are a little annoying.

Extras:
The special features aren't great, but one useful piece is the character profiles (dubbed "meet your exorcists"), which outlines a but more of the characters and what they are about, helpful for those like me who have no prior knowledge of the characters or their relationships. There's also a screencap photo gallery (which I always find a little pointless), and the Manga created trailer. Not a particularly good selection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a strange release. Based on a manga serialised in Weekly Shonen Sunday, a 46 episode TV series was spawned, to some success. This movie is the final chapter to the series, and as such it's a bit difficult to judge. Taken on its own, it's not that hard to follow (certainly in terms of plot), but the backstory to all the characters and their relationships is completely missing. So watching this movie is a bit like jumping in on the last ten minutes of a movie in that sense. Despite this problem though, it actually turns out to be quite a fun little piece.

The story revolves around the titular Mikami, a "ghost sweeper" (a fancy name for an exorcist) who revels in making money from her work, and has a nice team of exorcists working along with her. While they're all in her office one day, a mysterious old spirit, a man called Mitsuhide, sends a divine stone lance to her. She's more interested in the price she can sell it for, but he informs her that the lance has chosen her for a mission to prevent the resurrection of Nosferatu.

As it turns out, she and the gang use the lance to find Nosferatu's location, but Mikami's blood ends up resurrecting him, and he wreaks havoc on the city. Another sweeper, Emi Ogasawara, arrives on the scene (apparently she and Mikami have some history) saying that she will get rid of Nosferatu and one-up Mikami, embarrassing her since she caused his return.

Nosferatu and his minions prove to be quite formidable though, and when he wants sacrifices to make him more powerful, they are tasked with capturing Emi and the rest of the gang to get the most powerful one, Mikami herself.

It might not be the most original plot, and it certainly plays out in a pretty straightforward way, but it's still quite a lot of fun even not knowing the characters in very much depth. The plot comes to the resolution you always knew it would, but it does it quite well and the story has enough detours and twists on the way to the finale to keep the story captivating for the whole hour. It wraps itself up nicely, while leaving the wider story, the adventures of Mikami, open for even more, though it would seem that this was actually the last animated Mikami there was.

The characters and their relationships aren't really all that hard to figure out, but they keep things interesting. Mikami is quite hilarious, with her obsession with how much things are worth and her comedic approach to a lot of things. Despite this, she can really turn things up when needed, and does so when facing off against Nosferatu. Her relationship with Yokoshima is quite amusing, though it's that typical anime relationship where the lecherous man is after the beautiful heroine, and doesn't get very far (instead, he gets beat up at almost every opportunity). Still, it is quite funny to watch the pair just because of how much of a beating Mikami tends to inflict on him.

The other characters aren't really explored too much. You have Emi, the rival sweeper, who wants to better Mikami. She provides a few laughs and it's a bit of a shame because I'm sure their relationship is actually hilarious if you've seen the full backstory there. Also present is Karasu the priest, always ready to fight, much like Peat, another exorcist who is also apparently a half-vampire himself. There's also the ex-ghost Okinu, Dr. Chaos and his robot Maria and Meiko, the younger, more childish member of the group.

The main area where the characters suffer is simply in not getting enough screen time. The movie naturally assumes you're familiar with everyone and their nuances already, and since the film is part comedy, sometimes it falls a bit flat because it feels like an in-joke you've somehow missed, and of course you have because fans of the series will get it straight away. Thankfully there's not too much of that feeling and it's not overwhelming, and much of the comedy holds up well.

Mikami also has a fair amount of action sprawled through it, and it's pretty good to watch, from the opening sequence to the final showdowns with Ranmaru and Nosferatu. It's quite well animated, as you'd expect since I'm sure this movie had a decent budget attached to it, and has some pretty nice music. It's just unfortunate that there are technical problems marring the disc, as mentioned in the audio and video sections above.

In Summary:
Ghost Sweeper Mikami isn't the sort of movie that will change anyone's world, but it's fun to watch even without prior knowledge of the series. The characters are quite quirky and enjoyable to watch, and the story plays out nicely if predictably. The biggest flaw in the release is in the production, a shoddy subtitling job, poor video and changed English audio. It's disappointing because it could've been a lot better. As it stands, it's hard to recommend Mikami outside its core audience, but it's certainly a fun comedy with a supernatural story that's enjoyable to watch.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound

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