King of Bandit Jing Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: King of Bandit Jing

King of Bandit Jing Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     July 12, 2003
Release Date: July 22, 2003


King of Bandit Jing Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
Hide your coin pouches! No priceless bauble or exquisite jewel is safe from the leering eyes and stealthy hands of Jing, the King of Bandits. With a heart of gold and a wisecracking, girl-crazy bird sidekick, Jing steals his way through one exciting adventure after another!

"The Capital of Thieves"
We meet our intrepid heroes in the notorious Capital of Thieves, home of the fabled Double Mermaids, a treasure under guard by the city's evil mayor! Jing will do anything to retrieve the prize, but this jewel isn't quite what everyone expects!

"The Ghost Ship of Blue Hawaii"
Jing and Kir arrive in Blue Hawaii, a harbor town terrorized by a ghost ship. With the help of a local cop named Rose, whose father has fallen prey to the spell, Jing and Kir infiltrate the ship and expose it for what it really is in this parable of human greed.

"The Adonis Capital of Time" (Parts 1 & 2)
Join Jing and Kir on a quest to steal the grapes of time! Or will they get embroiled in a plot to liberate the people from the tyranny of the wicked Master Gear? Can they restore peace in a town cursed by the Demon of Time or will the clock run out for them all?

The Review!
The King of Thieves arrives in one of the more awkward to say titles in recent memory.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that does a rather good job at times of creating a sense of depth and directionality, particularly for some of the background characters and noises. Dialogue throughout the show is nice and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Jing's transfer is extremely clean looking. With a vibrant color palette used mixed with some really dark and rough colors, the bright points really stand out strongly here. The backgrounds are also creatively used to provide a sense of depth but thankfully manage to avoid creating any problems with aliasing. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent, leaving this to be a great looking release.

Packaging:
For a show it seems like nobody has heard of, ADV has given this some extra love. The front cover is a very nice piece that mixes various pieces of artwork together at varying levels of opacity, while at the bottom center is the solid image of Jing and Kir. The logo is definitely off-placed to the center right of the cover, but it's also done up in silver foil, adding a bit more of a visual catch. Other than the logo placement, this cover is pretty much the spitting image of the Japanese release. The back cover is quite busy, with lots of animation shots along two strips as well as some of it done up in a collage underneath. There's a simple premise summary and then a quick couple of lines about each of the episodes. The discs features and technical information is all nicely listed as well as the basic production information. The insert replicates the front cover but without the logo while the reverse side lists thediscs extras set against some artwork of one of the cityscapes.

And again, for such a little known show, I was surprised to see ADV created a separate box+disc release for it, especially since it's also just a thirteen episode series. The box is done up in dark browns and oranges, with the side panels showing the image of Jing and Kir, each of the two side panels using different artwork. The spine has the logo along the top of it while one of the side panels creeps onto it for the artwork. The logos on the box are done in silver like the cover and are raised up a bit, giving things a nice feel. The box itself is pretty nice, but it's not a hard solid box, but rather the fold-up type " but not the bad thin kind as this has some thickness to it.

Menu:
The main menu is a simple static piece that takes the Jing character artwork from the front cover and uses that as the focal point here with some of the cityscape artwork behind him. There's little to the disc along this menu outside of individual episode selection and the languages and extras section. Access times are nice and fast and menus load quick. The only downside is that since all the submenus use the same bit of music, if you make selections quickly you hear the same first couple of beats repeatedly.

Extras:
A few extras are included with the opening volume, such as a nice albeit brief video gallery of conceptual artwork. The customary textless opening and ending sequences are also included here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Although an oddly named show, King of Bandit Jing may prove to be one of the more surprising shows to come out this year. There's been practically little buzz on this show, even though both the anime and the manga are coming out this year. Those who see it though may become instant fanatics and risk contaminating the main flock of fandom.

The series is quirky as hell, but not to an extreme. It's main premise seems to be to have a lot of fun with things. Any show that opens by following a character riding along only to have him say, "I have nothing to do with this show!" and subsequently gets punted off screen is all right in my book.

The focus is of course on Jing, a young looking man with a good natured smile and calm personality. He's the type of person who watches things closely but you wouldn't really figure that out by how he acts. Through the years, he's apparently been labeled the King of Thieves due to his ability to steal anything from anyone without any problem. Along with his traveling companion, a talking bird named Kir who is pretty hard up and trying to pick up as many girls as he can, Jing travels from place to place to engage in his favorite pastime.

The opening episode is a perfect example. In one of the tall walled cities that are scattered across the landscape, we see the "ruler" of it in his high tower, feverishly searching through a telescope about those who are entering into his fair city. He knows that Jing is coming to steal his Double Mermaid, a most valuable treasure, and he intends to foil him. His entire city is filled top to bottom by thieves, but not a one has managed to best him yet. When he actually comes across Jing through the telescope, he writes him off as just a brat traveling through.

Jing's time in the city is well spent. He gets his pocket picked pretty much right off the bat, and while an onlooker laughs at him about it, Jing whips out his sharp blade and slices down an immense statue, causing it to smash the thief properly. It's a beautiful overreaction to a simple event, but it also brings out some of Jing's qualities. His quick actions, his weapons and his insistence that nobody will take one particular emerald gem from his possession.

After dealing with an old woman who seems to know what's going on in this city, Jing heads off to a bar where he starts dealing with a veteran bandit by the name of Vodka. He ends up besting Vodka (quite easily at that) and sort of joins the group while laying out his intent to steal the Double Mermaid. They all get a good laugh, but then all start workings towards the goal after much drinking. The way it plays out, with the gang not listening to Jing's plans and failing horribly, and then watching Jing perform what they thought was the impossible and achieve the goal, is priceless.

One very amusing aspect to Jing is his relationship to Kir. The two appear to be partners of sorts, but it turns out that Kir is also his weapon. Usually started by grasping the birds next, Kir then starts to transform by having his wings jut out and then his body elongate to the length of Jing's arm, which then has numerous legs "sprout" and clamp onto him. Jing is then able to use Kir as a non-talking weapon that shoots powerful green balls of energy.

King of Bandit Jing has it's own sense of style. The first two episodes here are self contained while the final two are a nice two-parter that deals with a city that grows time on a tree. This is the kind of show that sets itself in its world, wherever that may be, and doesn't conform to basic elements. A lot of shows these days tend to stay within most if not all the laws of physics, but Jing takes some interesting approaches in the two-parter. Seeing little balls of time, complete with minute and hour hands, growing on trees is just delightfully different from so many other shows.

The series also sports one great little soundtrack. If after the first couple of songs you don't immediately want the soundtrack I'll be amazed. With songs in both Japanese and English, it just draws you in nicely, especially in the action scenes. The only downside is that one of the full English songs, playing during the first episode, isn't subtitled as it should be.

Jing is a hard show to describe, since it's style and feel is one of the bigger draws, but there's some good fun stories being told here as well. The shows quirks are well done without taking them too far and there are hints of something bigger in the storyline to come. There's something very intriguing about it almost from the start. I especially liked the style of the multi layered backgrounds the move left and right as the camera zooms in on the characters moving through them, allowing the show to feel a bit more theatrical in nature and to let it stand apart from other shows.

Jing will likely develop something of a cult following around it with people wondering why nobody else is raving about how much fun this is. Great animation, engaging stories and a unique personality to the show. Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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