Lost Universe Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lost Universe

Lost Universe Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     September 12, 2000
Release Date: September 12, 2000

Lost Universe Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
When intergalactic private eye Millie Nocturne ends up on the block at a shady auction, her troubles are only beginning! Unwillingly partnered with Kain Blueriver, the cape-obsessed, psi-blade-bearing master of the Lost Ship Swordbreaker, and his lovely sidekick Canal, the saucy holographic image of his ship's master computer, Millie finds herself stuck taking on any assignment that will keep the bill collectors at bay. Unfortunately, since most of the team's assignments come from the mysterious Rail Claymore of the Universal Guardians, the crew of the Swordbreaker usually get stuck with the jobs so dirty that nobody else is willing to take them!

The Review!
Lost Universe is the latest TV series to get the DVD treatment from ADV, and it's always welcome to in my mind to get more diverse series out into the marketplace. Lost Universe is largely known because of the involvement of many of the Slayers TV creators. It's often referenced as Slayers in Space for obvious reasons as well.

On the audio side of this release, ADV's got a typical bilingual release, so no Spanish this time around. Both language tracks are solid. We spot checked the English track on our main theater and didn't detect anything out of the ordinary. We did listen through to the English track while writing the review though, and on our mono TV it sounded decent enough, though Millie's voice actress seems just a tad too high for my liking.

Lost Universe earns a reputation as being the first ADV title to undergo treatment by the POP/Cinram authoring studios. The style and animation of the TV series is pretty standard, so it's not a breakout hit like Bubblegum Crisis in how it looks, but it's definitely a solid presentation. There's some pixellation here and there and in some of the more tightly drawn building scenes, there's some line noise. One thing Lost Universe has that a several shows have in the past couple of years is some computer animation mixed into it. The majority of it focuses in the early episodes on the ship that the crew flies. While it's nowhere near as bad looking as Queen Emeraldas' CG, it's pretty glaring and doesn't mix well when you go from standard TV animation to crystal clear CG animation. The animation itself (not the authoring) also has some stuttering when it pans over it which doesn't reflect well on it. Again, this is the source itself and not the encoding of it. Otherwise, this is a pretty good looking transfer. There's a bit of grain in some scenes, but things look pretty solid overall.

The packaging is the same as the VHS cover of the same volume, though it doesn't feel as cramped as that version did. The front cover has some nice bright colors and eye-catching artwork, though I'm sure many people will at first mistake male lead Kain as Lina from Slayers. The back cover gives a brief series synopsis as well as several pieces of animation and a screenshot from the discs main menu. The insert provides two different pieces of artwork, with one side being a variant on the front cover and the other showing Kain with his blade. Below that one is a listing of the front end trailers and each episode and its respective chapter marks. The disc itself is the etched type, so nothing too noteworthy there.

The menus are pretty simple, with only one level of depth to it beyond the main menu. Selections are accessed quickly and accurately. I did however have a problem with it, though it doesn't seem to be detrimental to playing the disc. On my Pioneer 414 model, when the main menu starts up, the screen starts black, and then the menu slides from off screen left to the right. When it's close to the right, it stutters, artifacts briefly, then finishes its slide over. I brought the disc over to my Apex player, and it does the same, but in about half as much time. Popping it into my old Sony 3000 player, it doesn't even blink at this. So your mileage will vary on how it affects you, but the menu loaded fully on each and every player.

There are no extras on this disc beyond the trailers, and the trailers are all for shows that have been released or previously seen on other discs. There's at least an access point for them though on the main menu unlike Bubblegum Crisis 2040.

Since hearing that this title was going to be released, the most I had really heard about it was the line of if you like Slayers, you'll like Lost Universe. My experience to Slayers is limited to the movie ADV put out, so I went into this fairly blind though knowing the general gist of it.

The show focuses on the crew of the Lost Ship Swordbreaker. The captain is Kain Blueriver, a trouble contractor which is similar to a mercenary. The highly advance ship from an ancient civilization has a very cute holographic presence in the form of Canal. Canal shows up in many forms since she's a holograph, but also just as a vocal presence from the ship itself.

The ship ends up acquiring another member through some amusing antics in the form of Millie Nocturne, a woman who intends to be the universes Best Something so she can become famous and write a best selling biography someday. Kain ends up causing Millie to lose her job as a detective, so she ends up worming her way into the crew.

The episodes included on this disc are fairly amusing and have their moments. There's some small homage's to more mainstream science fiction films (such as Millie's name being short for Millennium). The plots don't slow down horribly along the way and the characters are fairly likable overall.

There's little general storyline presented this early in the series, though the end of episode brings in what looks like someone who will bring more to the storyline in the future. The opening episodes do good at what they set out to do in terms of introducing the characters and setting as well as providing some fun laughs.

One thing that Kain routinely seems to get beaten up about is his cape. Heck, he even wore it over a spacesuit. It's unfortunate that he gets grief about it. Good cloaks and capes are cool and should be part of every day life again!

A point to note: I rarely make mention of fansubs when I do reviews, but it warrants making mention here. A bit of a flare up occurred when the VHS volume of this was released and people claimed the fourth episode was supposed to be further down the line, something like episode eleven. Naturally there were some interesting comments to be made, but what was found out was that the fansubbers had the episodes in the wrong order. The ADV release has the episodes in their proper order.

Lost Universe looks to be a fun series, though whether it gets better and more involved along the way remains to be seen.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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