Kirameki Project Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kirameki Project

Kirameki Project Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     October 25, 2006
Release Date: October 31, 2006


Kirameki Project Vol. #1
© Media Blasters


What They Say
On the Mediterranean Sea, there lies the beautiful kingdom of Genes. It is ruled by three lovely, mostly innocent princesses and the power of technology. The surrounding kingdoms all fall one by one to a mysterious Giant Robot (TM). Worse yet, the Robot is under the control of several decidedly unattractive Old Guys. When they set their sights on Genes, the Fate of the World (also TM), rests on the maid-outfit clad shoulders of Kana, the second princess. Born with a special knack for robot technology, Kana and her android companion Rincle are the last line of defense for Genes.

The Review!
When Big O type giant robots collide with magical girl styled giant robots, sparks should fly. Should.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Even though it's only a six episode series, Media Blasters decided not to dub it and has gone with just including the Japanese language track with subtitles. The mix is a solid sounding stereo mix that does a good job of dialogue placement when required but more so in giving the robots and their action sequences a bit more depth and spread across the forward soundstage. That said, there isn't anything terribly outstanding about it but it does serve the material well. We didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2005, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. While some of the visuals in this seem to be inherently soft by design, the transfer looks great overall. It has a great mixture of colors and they look very solid and manage to avoid much in the way of noticeable noise or posterization. There is some color banding here and there which isn't too much of a surprise with any digitally painted show, but it's kept pretty minimal and looks good. The most impressive areas tend to be around the giant robots which are done in a cel shaded CG style, and the Junerin robot in particular really stands out in comparison to the rest. There's a touch of noise with some of the mid range shots but again, nothing too surprising when it comes to the mixing of the CG robots with the rest of the animation.

Packaging:
Filled with lots of pinks and bright colors for the most part, the cover artwork for this release is pretty cute but still keeps to the giant robot genre from which it belongs. This volume is focused around Princess Kana and two of her robot creations, one of which is fighting against the Big O like enemy robot. They did a nice job with the logo in making it both cute and "future-tech" while managing to bring in the more girlish colors for it. The back cover is much heavier on the pinks as there aren't any darker shades to offset it but it still looks good. There's a mixture of shots from the show with the layout and a decent summary of the premise. The cute factor is fairly well pushed here but also the robot angle. The discs production and technical information rounds out the bottom section and is clean and very easy to read.

Menu:
The main menu is similar to the shading used on the back cover with lots of light shades of pink and purple but without any of the darkness to it. It uses several pieces of character artwork form the cover, again centered around Kana, with a bit of the vocal song playing along to it. It's not a standout design but it's certainly good for the show and it gets the job done. The layout is very easy to navigate and due to there being only one language here, our player presets weren't really an issue.

Extras:
There are a couple of good extras to be had in this release. The first is a brief couple of minute voice actor introduction by the woman who plays Kana talking about the show and her role. The other more interesting one is a twenty-two minute behind the scenes featurette that deals a lot with the CG behind the show but some of the production aspects as well. The disc is well rounded out by the inclusion of the clean opening and closing segments as well as a character art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kirameki Project is the latest series to come to the US from Studio Fantasia. Five episodes long, the show has a lot of love for the giant robot genre but one where the main intent is to have fun and look stylish while doing it. It has something of a mixture of Dai-guard in that there is an economic and office oriented angle to the storyline but it also has a really strong Big O angle in the design of the giant robots. Outside of the magical girl one that is.

The series has a rather good flow to it as we get to focus on two completely opposite teams, each of which in some ways have their pluses and negatives. The villain as I suppose you could call them comes in the form of a giant robot named Super Great that is rampaging throughout the world and defeating other giant robots that various nations have created. Giant robot technology is the big thing and a growing market but it isn't completely widespread yet. It's mostly in the hands of governments for defense but even then there are only a handful. We see an attack by Super Great early on where it takes down a German team rather easily and even rips the coat of arms off of its opponents chest and places it on the interior of its own along with a number of other trophies. The machine is definitely impressive and is rather feared now by other giant robot pilots.

Interestingly, it's piloted by a small crew of three or four, one of which is basically a middle manager who is keeping the entire project running. Their goal is apparently to prove the superiority of their robot and then for their corporate bosses in Japan be able to market variants of it and make a ton of money. There's some amusing office politics that come into play as the team's immediate boss is something of a scoundrel and not a terribly good manager. The board that he reports to is often uninterested in what he's got planned and there's a strange if slightly comical disconnect between the two. He's also a world class perv that's restraining himself, but he does let loose his hands on the woman who is his secretary.

Things start to go less than spectacular for the Super Great team though when they decide on their next target of the country of Genes. This little country has some giant robots in their employ but what's different about them is the government of the country. It's made up of three princesses, all who have different fathers apparently, and are currently in charge while their mother the queen is simply not about. The eldest princess, Krone, is the ostensible leader of the country and she's the cool and intelligent type with the appropriate character design for it that keeps it all under control. Next down the list is Nene, a very outgoing blonde who wears skimpy outfits and is all bluster. And just past her is Kana, whose father was Japanese and whose heritage she values so much that she eats differently than the rest and keeps to a very Japanese style for things. She's very intelligent but withdrawn and a fair bit quirky in her ways. They're all relatively close in age so it's not like we're dealing with a teenager and then down to a young child.

Kana is the primary focus of the series though she's extremely difficult to connect with. She's built herself a spunky and very personable friend in a robot named Rincle which is human sized but able to transform into most anything and do just about anything. Kana's latest project is building a giant robot though, an younger sister for Rincle, which is named Junerin. This giant robot is done in bright pinks and basically looks like a maid from any number of harem shows. It is however very well designed and the CG cel shaded animation for it really lets it stand out. So when the Super Great makes their next attack into the European countries and hits upon Genes, it finds itself facing a serious challenge for once, a challenge that keeps resonating back at the company that's secretly financing its expedition.

The design of the series is really good overall but not quite the same as what we've seen in some Studio Fantasia shows that have come over. This is more in line with their Stratos 4 style more so than Najica Blitz Tactics, not that one is better than the other. The animation itself is quite good and solid throughout with a lot of really good looking scenes and some great action pieces. The opening combat sequence between the Super Great and the two European robots was really well done and the CG flows great. It does stand out but it's never to a level where it annoys or stands out too much against things. The character designs are decent as well, though we get some basic obvious archetypes in the princesses and even the corporate side of the cast.

In Summary:
In looking back at the first three of the five episodes of the series, it's a show where I'm having a hard time really finding anything to say about it " positive or negative. It sort of just lays itself all out there and has some really neat points to it but it also suffers from what a lot of OVAs do in that it's not terribly well executed in explaining what the plot is. With so little time to really do much in just five episodes, it doesn't exactly feel rushed but rather meandering around trying to figure itself out. I've liked the corporate aspect in other series and its has potential here but it's introduced too poorly. The princesses have plenty to offer but they're more just set pieces for Kana's work as a brilliant robot designer with a tendency for the pink girly robots. Kirameki Project has a lot of potential and it doesn't exactly squander it, but it doesn't really engage you either. The lack of a dub will hurt it only further as it'll be picked up likely by those who must see all giant robot shows or those that believe it's something else because of all the pink.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,VA Introduction,Behind the Scenes Featurette,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Character Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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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