JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Super Techno Arts
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     September 18, 2005
Release Date: May 31, 2005


JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vol. #4
© Super Techno Arts


What They Say
Voyaging through the Middle East, Jotaro and his companions finally reach Egypt. There, they are met by a helicopter sent by the Speed Wagon Foundation to deliver a new addition to their group--the mysterious Iggi "The Fool." When the helicopter crashes a short time later under bizarre circumstances, the group investigates, only to find themselves pitted against another of Dio's assassins - N'Dool and his deadly Stand, "God Geb."

The Review!
A blind man in the desert with the ability to control water becomes possibly the deadliest of Stand users the group has yet to face.

Audio:
When it came to the audio on this disc, it's definitely been a labor of love. With four options, either Japanese or English and then either 5.1 or stereo, you get a good selection right from there. Having it all mixed by the folks at Skywalker Sound is an even more neat aspect to it all. We listened to the Japanese 5.1 mix and enjoyed it rather much, though there's very little actually going to the rear speakers. When compared against the stereo mix, there's definitely a greater clarity and warmth to the mix though, so it's definitely a good mix. Throughout that track, we had no issues with distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released back in 1993, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The two episodes here look great overall with their more traditional animation style. Aliasing issues that were evident in the first volume continue to be gone here, resulting in a smooth and very attractive transfer. Colors are nice and rich and fully saturated without bleeding, cross coloration appears to be very minimal to almost non-existent while the blacks look nice and solid without any macroblocking.

Packaging:
Keeping to the dark feel with lots of black for the background, this is a really nicely laid out and executed cover where the background mixes in the shadowed design of N'Dool with the moon and sky while the foreground has Jojo and the others spread out in the desert. With a lot of dark colors to it and the usual surprised looks of the characters it comes together in a good looking piece. The back cover provides a number of screenshots from the show and a brief summary of each of the two episodes, listing them by name and number. The spine also provides the volume numbering, the only place you'll find it. The discs production and technical information is all nice and clear, though considering the effort that went into the 5.1 remix it's surprising that such a selling point continues to not be listed here. There's no insert for this release, but rather two tarot cards representative of the series.

Menu:
The menus are a nice mix of either still shots or some form of animation playing as well as some light instrumental fare. The language submenu is particularly nicely done, if you select Japanese, it moves subtitles and other items over to the same category, but you can also change things individually. There's no transitional animations leaving areas, but going into some of them there are. And these tend to be a bit longer than I care for and I don't care for transitional animations in general. The only one that's really bad is going into the extras, which takes several seconds to run before it even starts dropping in the selections you'll want to access.

Extras:
Similar to past volumes, the extras section is pretty stacked depending on how you look at it. Episode eight is done up here with a storyboard feature for the entire 30 minute runtime. Selecting it from this menu gives you a small window in the right corner that shows the storyboards set against the animation itself. The image gallery has a set of still images of conceptual artwork for various characters and locations that you can step through. The Jojo History Timeline continues with part four, with a runtime of just under three minutes done to pencil sketches that the camera pans over. For English language fans, there's a production report in this volume that covers the dubbing of the show which is fairly standard stuff but is also followed by the translation notes for the two episodes on this volume. And of course, there's a teaser trailer for the third volume of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the fourth volume of the series, we go back to what was the original OVA series released in 1993 which means something of a new opening, slightly different character personalities and a few other very minor oddities that don't really detract from the show. It also helps that it's been about a year since volume three came out so it's not like the series is terribly fresh in our minds either.

The odd release/production history of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure makes for interesting viewing in that the newer production was done as a prequel but when coming out here it made sense to release it in story order as opposed to production order. These OVAs look good and the design similarities are very strong but there are some noticeable differences in overall animation style just the way the digital to traditional comes across. Some other shows I think would be hurt worse by this transition but again, between the time between releases and the raw look of the series it's far less problematic here. I didn't even remember at first that this was the older show until the opening sequence was something "new" and not the same repeated bit from when Dio took Joestar's father's body.

The difference in writers and directors as well as my own changing tastes in these kinds of shows has me curious to go back and revisit the first half though since the two episodes here were far more enjoyable than I thought the entire first six episodes were. Picking up on their journey across the desert, the group finds themselves being re-supplied by the Speed Wagon organization so that they can continue on. The news from home is grim as Holley has about two weeks left to live and it's just not looking good at all. With this new information, the group is much more focused in finding where Dio is and getting this taken care of once and for all.

There's also one major change to the group that happens here as "backup" has come on the helicopter. This really surprised me as the person that's come to provide some Stand support is a character named Iggi, a little bulldog type of dog who has the ability to control sand. He's a ferocious little mongrel who is sated with coffee flavored gum. Nobody knows where he really came from but he's seemingly adopted New York City as his hometown. His introduction is of course made all the more amusing by Polnareff as he can't believe a dog will be of help. Iggi's other skills apparently include eating the hair on your head while farting in your face.

Suffice to say, I did not like Iggi when he first appeared.

As their journey resumes though, it's thrown off course fairly quick by the attacks launched by this volumes single villain, a blind man named N'Dool who has hidden himself off behind a rockface a good distance away so he can't be found easily. His ability to control water and use it in a deadly manner combined with a hyper sense of hearing has him causing all sorts of violence and trickery on the group as he stalks them across the desert floor, from messing up their truck and causing it to flip over and then on to tracking where all the wreckage went and destroying it piece by piece while he hunts them down. It's a very well executed series of attacks as Jojo and the others frantically try to figure out both where he is and then how to deal with him all while being extremely silent.

Over the course of an hour we see the variety of fights in this cat and mouse game as each side tries to take down the other. I can't explain why but it just feels like this is much better played than the previous fights I'd seen and the characters, while not terribly different from the prequel series, just seem to connect better. And try as I might to hate Iggi, by the time all is said and done with this volume I really like the guy. I was all set to declare the show completely lost and beyond repair when they introduced a Stand wielding dog but they actually managed to pull it off. Of course, the dog has more personality than most of the villains here. And even better, he's far less annoying than Polnareff is. How characters like this manage to stay in groups is beyond me. The rest of the group should want to kill him off by now for making their trip even worse.

In Summary:
The prequel series in the first three volumes had me either mildly interested, absolutely hating it or finding something decent but not really intriguing about it. With this volume though and the complete shift that it seemingly undertakes while still keeping the overall tone of the prequel " something I'm sure the prequel writers tried to accomplish which may have hampered their own material " I'm finding a much tighter show with a much more interesting villain as well as an interesting addition to the "Good Guys" side. It feels a bit more raw and unpolished but it also flows better and proved to be quite enjoyable for the hour that it ran.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Storyboarded Episode,Production Report,Image Gallery,Jojo History Timeline

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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