Maburaho Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Maburaho

Maburaho Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 07, 2005
Release Date: June 14, 2005



What They Say
Of the eight magic spells Kazuki had, only five remain. But while Yuna, Kuriko and Rin scramble to outdo each other and grab a piece of the Shikimori action, an old childhood friend of Kazuki’s arrives! Is she a new rival? Can Kazuki control the urge to use magic and allow his genes to live on for another day? Will fate intervene before the girls have their way with him?


The Review!
Kazuki finds himself getting closer to the three girls as they continue to vie for either his genes or his love.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The has a fairly standard stereo mix that's used in a show where there's plenty of explosions and other high school escapades. With characters flying about, explosions going across entire sections of walls and windows and numerous other directional bits, the forward soundstage conveys this nicely and without any problems. Dialogue is nice and clean throughout it as well as getting some good placement such as when the cast is flying. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series looks to be one that has some high production values and exceptionally good coloring used on it that gives it very fresh and very animated feel. The transfer manages to capture a lot of this really well as the colors look great and vivid without any oversaturation or excessive bleeding. The colors maintain a very solid feel throughout and while there's a touch of macroblocking here and there in some wide color fields, they're essentially really good looking. Some cross coloration does seep through in the very edges of a couple of the characters hair and shows up sporadically but it's nowhere near on the level of distraction. An occasional panning or two causes some light aliasing but that's fairly typical. Overall, this is quite good looking and easy on the eyes.

Packaging:
The covers for this series make out good in that they managed to get the Japanese artwork but it's unfortunate that they couldn't use reversible covers since there's so many more volumes in that release. In a similar style to the first cover, the illustration here is a really cute shot of Yuna in her school uniform turning backwards and holding a tiny Kazuki in a heart shaped barrier in her hand. While Yuna looks more Lolita like here than in the show, it is just far too adorable and cute with how she looks. I'm actually surprised that they didn't have to extend the length of her skirt on this but it looks just like the Japanese cover, sans several other people of course. The back cover gives Yuna some time alone along side several shots done as photos. The summary gives the basics of the premise and pushes the hottie factor a bit while listing the discs extras. The shows production information is clearly listed and the technical grid covers everything else in an easy to read format. An insert is included with this release that is done as a school newspaper with the front showcasing a lead story related to one of the episodes in this volume. Inside there's some gag stories about the school, tidbits about the characters and some four panel strips.

Menu:
The menu layout is a cute piece where it has Yuna chasing Kazuki as she flies behind him and he runs "around the world" in a sense. It's done with very light and comical animation as a bit of funky little music plays along for a brief loop. Surprisingly, there's an actual error in the menu which is rare to see as the extras section is labeled "exras". Spelling errors in the subtitles aren't uncommon but it's rare to see a menu have them. Access times are nice and fast and with the basic navigation it's easy to move about. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which continues to be a nice plus.

Extras:
The extras section has what's likely to be the standards across the release excepting one or two of them. The art section showcase various pieces of production artwork set to a video gallery format and has some nice pieces to it. The opening and ending sequences are also presented in their clean versions which continues to be one of the best standard extras since DVDs arrival. The voice actor commentary is done a bit differently than normal here this time and it's one I've seen on other releases but not often with an anime release. Done by Blake and Luci, the two of them appear on camera in a small window at the lower right of the screen. It's a done with a bit of low bitrate/quality so you can see some artifacts in it, but it's fun to see them actually talk and express emotions about it. Then again, being as much of a Luci fan as I am, getting to see her on screen for any amount of time is a plus.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening episodes of Maburaho, while filled with some of the standards of fan service, had some neat little things to it wherein the magic of the world was something that had a nice hook to it with the power level being equated to how many spells you can cast and that determines your social status. Kazuki as the lead is still your fairly typical spineless male lead, but at least this time around the women have a very legitimate reason for wanting him and wanting him badly.

With this volume, we get four more episodes of the show and it goes forward with expanding on what was built in the first volume. The changes made there where the revelations were made about Kazuki's potential brought more women into his life which wasn't exactly what he wanted but he has to deal with it. With the change in the living quarters situation, the co-ed dorms now allow for much more regular kinds of comedy to ensue, especially with Yuna being the type that's playing up the wife to be role and doing as much for him as possible. Having the others in the building as well also lends itself to some amusing situations.

This is used pretty early here with an episode that strangely gives focus to Rin as we find that she's attracted to the biology club president and wants to do something for him before he transfers out of the school. As good as Rin is at a lot of things, one thing she's poor at is the entire domestic side of her life and the rest of the group gets to see this when they watch her trying to cook a meal to give to him. While they don't feel bad for her per se, they do want to help her out which means three very different people with different perceptions of what makes a good domesticated person is like. Tsubaki goes through the role of dressing her up as a proper schoolgirl with big thick glasses and always looking at her feet while Yuna helps her with her cooking. It's all mildly amusing and cute but what ends up hurting it is how it was a forced episode to have Kazuki use his powers again. Just about every instance has been like that and he's getting close to using them all up so early in the series that it at least hopefully means we'll see how it's going to affect him.

One episode that's fairly predictable but still a lot of fun focuses on Kazuki's parents who are going to come to the campus in a few days time. The girls overhear this information when he's on the phone with them and they all put into motion various plans to win them over when they meet them. Rin does her best to be as polite and practiced as possible and takes some video courses on how to smile and be friendly. Tsubaki uses her family's wealth to work on a meal using his parents favorite food, which means she has some specially bred massive eels that go under the knife from various cooks in order to create the best meal ever. For Yuna, she focuses all of her efforts on just making Kazuki happy and does everything a normal wife would do. They all go over the top throughout this and it's quite cute, especially the entire bit with the eels back at Tsubaki's house.

And as expected, there's a festival episode to be found here where each class room has to do their own thing during it. The Aoi Festival is no different than any other school so there aren't a lot of surprises here, though it's not an easy thing as each show always points out. This time around, the problem is that Kazuki's class hasn't decided on anything to do and the festival is but a few days away, so he takes up another class on their offer to do a joint play performance. Of course, his classmates reject the idea entirely so they end up in a weird split of who is doing what and Kazuki finds himself being drawn to various sides as he wants to make the girl in charge of the play happy and those who get involved but he also has the need to get his class doing something. There isn't too much that's really radically different here from most other festival episodes but it does have some fun.

In Summary:
All in all, this volume felt a bit less fun than the previous one. There's still regular use of magic and the overuse of Kazuki's magic but it just felt like it lost part of what made it interesting in the first volume that I can't quite put my finger on just yet. The characters are still cute, they're fun to watch but it seems like they all got too friendly with each other too quickly and some of the adversarial edge is lost as they're helping each other more often and their proximity is much closer. The look and feel of the show is definitely still what we got with the first volume and it's definitely pleasing to the eyes but these just felt a shade or two weaker than the opening volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production art gallery,"The Art of Maburaho",Commentary by Blake Shephard (Kazuki) and Luci Christian (Chihaya),Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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