Heartwork - Mania.com

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Kitty Media
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Heartwork


By Chris Beveridge     April 19, 2006
Release Date: April 18, 2006

© Kitty Media

What They Say
Yuu Asakura was a mild- mannered university student until he found a mysterious duffel bag with a gun and orders for an assassination. He was terrified at first, but when he held the smooth metal of the pistol in his hand, he started to become someone else. Capable of anything, Yuu takes the assassination job and enters a world of nonstop sex, blood and guns. When he returns to school with his newfound abilities, he finds it no trouble at all to get any girl he wants. The syndicate and the police want a piece of the new guy but the one Yuu has to worry about is the gun's original owner.

The Review!
When Yuu ends up acquiring a gun that seems to change his mental state, he becomes a vicious killer with little hesitation.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. The mix for both it and the included Japanese track are basic stereo mixes which sound decent but unexceptional. Even for an adult show this is a fairly flat presentation overall with the music being the only area that you might call a highlight just because it has a bit of variety to it. There's little in terms of real directionality across the forward soundstage but there aren't any actual problems with either language track. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. While the transfer is in good shape and the source is conveyed accurately, this is definitely a budget flick or at least one that took a lot of shortcuts. The most visible problem is that the character animation itself basically looks to be several frames short of being even in the ballpark of being called fluid. When charactesr move you can basically see the skipped frames as they all move in a bit of a jagged way. This doesn't help how the show looks at all but at least in a technical sense there aren't any real problems with the authoring of it.

Due to this being a checkdisc, we did not have any packaging to review.

The menu uses the artwork from the cover of the female cop in her unmentionables from an unflattering point of view. The background is done up in a very mechanical manner with pipes and the like but also the killer gun with a red glow around it. The look and design of it is okay in a sense but it doesn't provide for an appealing piece of artwork. Access time are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate for what little is here and it also does correctly read our players' language presets.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Heartwork is a two part OVA that I was leery about right from seeing the cover artwork for the title. That's been deceptive in the past so there's always a chance but once it started playing out and the actual animation became visible for what it was with the low frame counts, the low quality nature of the show becomes readily apparent. Combine that with weak but accurate voice acting, poor sex scenes and an eye-rolling plot and the show isn't the only thing that will need Heartwork.

The premise is pretty simple in that through the efforts of a hard nose police woman, we know that a gun used in some nasty killings that was thought to have been junked back into sheet metal was actually lost and is back out on the streets causing problems. What she doesn't know is that the person who starts off with the guns ownership with this release is a rather good contract killer who takes jobs given to him over videocassette. He's a rather cruel type in that if there's a woman involved, even just as a bystander, he'll mess with her a bit by either forcing her to pleasure him or just getting to the point where they'll start and he'll kill them since there can be no witnesses.

Things go badly for this particular killer when he bumps into a university student who just happens to be carrying the same kind of red leather briefcase and the two end up switching cases without realizing it at first. While this would just put our young student in a bit of a trouble, it turns out that when Yuu actually handles the gun inside the case it starts to corrupt and control him. The change is quite visible and when he plays a videotape inside the case that instructs him on his next target, he finds himself unable to resist it and meets up with a woman who is apparently his partner for the time being, an attractive blonde named Angel who will screw him silly for as long as they're working together.

And work together they do as they deal with the first hit and all the blood and sex that flows from it, all while the police are on their heels trying to track them down as well as the other assassin who wants his weapon and materials back. The show doesn't take any truly weird turns or anything, at least as far as material like this goes, and it brings things a bit closer to home for Yuu as his sister gets involved and the trap that needs to be sprung around him gets closer. There's a greater school element in the second episode as we see him in his, uh, university role, and he has to deal with situations there.

With the low frame count for the show, the animation just doesn't look good at all since it's got a ghost like appearance to it in how many of them move. The character designs themselves border on average to below average with very few, if any really, are attractive. The sex is pretty mediocre at best, which is a really bad offense in an adult title, and the action aspect of the show simply isn't there either. You can see how the creators may have visualized a much slicker product when they were in the conceptual phase but the end result we have here just doesn't work that well on so many levels that it's practically a chore to get through.

In Summary:
Heartwork has its fans and is probably another of the shows based on a computer game so there's some crossover appeal there but for general adult anime fans here this is a weak release with little to really win people over with. While things do pick up slightly in the second and third episodes, the overall release is something that's easily forgotten. It's not a bottom of the barrel budget production but it's one that's certainly cut its corners and at times has that feel.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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