Heat Guy J 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: A-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Heat Guy J

Heat Guy J Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     October 17, 2003
Release Date: October 14, 2003


Heat Guy J Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The mafia strikes back! Claire, the leader of Judoh’s crime syndicates, first tries to destroy J through a child and the city’s own corruption, and then he tricks Daisuke’s into a plot to make the mafia a fortune on tomato futures. Will Claire succeed in destroying them both? From Judoh’s underground slums to its gleaming concert halls, after the bullets stop flying J and Daisuke still rise from the steam!

The Review!
After the first volume surprised us, we were pleased to find that the second set of episodes continues on just right and entertained a lot.

Audio:
We listened to this show in its original language of Japanese since that’s our language of choice. The show is done up in a pretty standard stereo mix but with just enough depth and directionality to service an action oriented series like this. Dialogue is nice and clear and the action sequences provide some good movements. We didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2002 and on into 2003, Heat Guy J is another series that’s using the latest technologies and methods to mesh the anime and CG world together and manages to produce an impressive piece of work. The transfer here is very clean looking, presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback. Colors are rich and deep and the blacks and grays are very detailed. Cross coloration and aliasing are both pretty much non-existent, which means that there was basically nothing to complain about while watching this show.

Packaging:
Pioneer’s gone to the clear keepcase well again but didn’t do a reversible cover exactly. The front cover continues with the foil material and comes across much better than the first volue as you have the image of J coming out through the flames and his body a mix of the human skin covering and the machine he is underneath. The foil works well in accentuating the flames and the cover as a whole avoids the poor cartoony look of the first volume. The back cover uses the foil more with the backgrounds and provides a decent summary of the shows premise and a quick listing of the features. With no volume numbering anywhere, the episode titles and numbers on the back cover is the only way to tell what volume you have. The insert starts off with the chapter listings for all four episodes with screenshots for all of them. It opens up to a two panel spread that has the front cover artwork but without the foil or logos while the back of the insert just has a piece of sketch work of Daisuke. The reverse cover, visible here through the clear keepcase, is basically all red outside of the couple of outline sketches done in white of Daisuke.

Menu:
The main menu provides a fun menu layout done up in the way that J sees everything through his optical sensors. With small menus floating around and animation playing in the background along with some fast moving music, it’s a slick little piece that reminds me again why I like Nightjar so much. The menus load quickly and access fast without any annoying transitional animations.

Extras:
The only included extra in the second volume is a series of production sketches related to the episodes at hand. With a second box and disc of extra due later on, it’s not surprising that the individual volumes will be weak in regards to extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While we went into the first volume surrounded by people commenting on how bad it was and then we ended up enjoying it immensely, the second volume had itself a bit more to live up to as we now had some first hand experience with the title and knew what to expect in general. Now the deal is whether it can build up what it started and continue to entertain or not.

With four more episodes here, we were most definitely entertained. The four stories contained within are again pretty much standalone pieces, but they’re rather nicely fleshing out the city state of Judoh and the inhabitants of it. Time is spent in giving the secondary cast growing roles and time to be themselves by themselves as opposed with the leads. This works out well in watching Aurora when he’s not with Daisuke as well as getting a greater feel for Vampire.

The opening episode of “Doll” provides a greater look at the relationship J has not only with Daisuke but with Antonia as well as the city in general. J’s initially somewhat off balance in his personality though his systems all appear to be functioning okay. When out during a stroll with Daisuke, he loses some of his perceptions and then detects another machine, he bolts off to where he hears it singing. Surprisingly, the machine this time around turns out to be in the form of a small male child that looks adorable. But it’s still very much a powerful machine like J, and the two end up trying to come to blows. This doesn’t look good to anyone who comes across the scene though, and while the child machine slips through his fingers, the city officials have a firm grasp on J.

They temporarily repeal the ordinance and J’s out of use, but this is where the really interesting things start to come into play. Daisuke finds himself being rather closely aligned with his partner and defending his use to his brother, since he’s the one that can try and fight back against the other city representatives who are on an anti-machine crusade now. Aurora still dislikes the way that Daisuke works and continues to believe that he doesn’t really comprehend what his special bureau is supposed to accomplish. Antonia comes out rather nicely here as well as while she works on J during his down time, we get more of a glimpse into her past and her times with J. Even Vampire gets some good time to deal with the past, as we learn early about his involvement with the child machine.

One of the more amusing episodes centers around the stock and commodities markets. Vampire is out to make a killing in the market by going with the premise that as long as you quit before you hit the cliff, you’ll come out fantastically wealthy. The key, he instructs his aids, is that knowing where the cliff is will be what makes this so much fun. He starts in on working the commodities market for tomatoes by setting up a plan where they’ll skyrocket in price due to an artificial emergency, such as setting a bomb to explode on one of the agrarian islands, and then selling fast before it’s revealed to be a hoax. That will cause it to plummet even further, allowing him to play the market even more.

An action show using the markets is amusing in a number of ways, especially when they have the characters explaining things in very basic terms. You almost want one of them to turn and say, “Have you ever seen Trading Places with Eddie Murphy?” That alone will clue in most people. What I really liked about this particular episode was seeing how the food situation is handled for this massive city state with the various agriculture islands that they have. And the small bit about someone bigger than Vampire making his presence known was also nicely placed here, much more appropriate than in any of the earlier episodes and done with enough mystery.

With the agriculture islands being so interesting, the episode titled “Circulation” was even more intriguing. After Daisuke gets his rear handed to him in a hand to hand moment with one of the wolf men from earlier who is trying to claim revenge for his brothers, he loses his pendant down into the sewers when J comes to save the day. The pendant has strong sentimental value to him, so after a bit of inquiring with the emperor, J and Daisuke head into the underworld, a world that’s very far down below.

Remnants of what look like a prior city are there, but it’s hazy and murky in its definition. A lot of people still live down here though, moving through the foul smelling waters where some places look like a poor mans Venice. Daisuke ends up hiring a couple of kids who know exactly where the pendant would have landed and they head off to find it. The nasty part comes when we learn that the vengeance seeking wolf man has also come underground to get some altering done to his body so that he can be strong enough to take down J. Naturally, both parties come together again but we also get Boma thrown into the mix. The real appeal continues to be seeing the way this dank underground city is laid out though and the varying personalities who inhabit it. The purple haired gay guy was much too over the top though.

After all is said and done, this was a really fun set of episodes and we thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I continue to enjoy the way Akane works his episodes as well as the visual representation of this landscape. One thing that continues to strike me in regards to this show is that presentation continues to be important in how it’s viewed. While it looks good when I check it out on other systems, watching it on an actual widescreen set and utilizing the extra resolution that you get just really changes how it feels.

Heat Guy J has definitely been a surprise for us and quite enjoyable. The initial cringing over what it’d be like after first seeing the first volume cover is now gone and we’re anticipating each subsequent release. Great stuff.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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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