Maburaho Vol. #7 - 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Maburaho

Maburaho Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     April 12, 2006
Release Date: April 11, 2006


Maburaho Vol. #7
© ADV Films


What They Say
Synopsis: Kazuki Shikimori has had to endure a lot this school year -- he became a ghost! Never fear though, some devoted hotties may have stumbled upon a cure for his predicament. Yuna, Kuriko and Rin believe they can restore Kazuki's body by collecting all his ashes. The girls think they've figured out just what to do. However, Shino delivers some shocking news that may derail their plans permanently. What's Dr. Akai's diagnosis? Does Shino still have her own agenda? Whose side is Chihaya on? What's with the veil, Miss Manager? And, most importantly, what will happen to Kazuki!?

The Review!
Kazuki's existence is on the line as is his past as the girls have been given the decision how to shape his future.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show 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 final cover is one that deals with the relationship that's only been hinted at with the pairing on the cover which looks fantastic. The designs continue to be a strong draw here and the detail for this style of artwork is just gorgeous. This final cover isn't necessarily the best way to cap off the series but it is a great looking cover. The back cover has a shot of Kazuki posing alone along side several shots done as photos. The summary gives the basics of the premise and is followed up with the shows extras and a series of photographs from scenes from the show. 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 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. 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 continue to be the standard pieces we've seen for most of the series. The art section showcase various pieces of production artwork set to a video gallery format and it has some nice pieces to it. The opening and ending sequences are also presented in their clean versions which continue to be one of the best standard extras since DVDs arrival.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With three episodes, Maburaho finally comes to a close and it brings to resolution a couple of minor story points as well as rounding up the big issue that's been making the show carry forward for the last few volumes, namely Kazuki being in ghost form. The girls have had good luck in bringing him back so far but now they find that the entire proposition may lead to something far worse.

Each of the girls have been going on dates with Kazuki for a bit now in order to find that emotional connection with him so that they can transfer the ashes that have settled with them. Once he's able to get the ashes from all four of them, in theory, it should allow him to shift from ghost form to human form again. All that's left is for him to find this connection with Rin and they'll be good to go. Rin's all set to go through with this but she's less certain about it when Shino takes her to the side and reveals to her that should they go through with restoring the ashes, Kazuki will lose his memory and have no recollection of anything before that moment. Essentially he'll just be reborn in a sense. This colors the entire date that they go on, which is of course monitored by Yuna and Kuriko and leads to enough comical situations, and she's unsure whether she can go through with it. Of course, her hesitance and unsure nature is something that just draws Kazuki closer to her and sets the stage for it all to happen.

To everyone's surprise, it puts Kazuki into a near comatose state of being in between being a human and being a ghost. As much as everyone has returned ashes to him, he's still short some which has led him to being in this state. With the help of the good Dr. Akai and a few others, the group which includes Yamase learns the secret about the restoration process that Rin knew. There comes now the decision, based on learning what's really going on by doing a magical trip into Kazuki's memories where we get to see just how male he truly is, whether to restore that final amount and potentially lose who he is but have him alive and healthy or to not restore it to him and let him retain his memories but remain in ghost form. The choice for all of this ends up resting on just two of the girls due to past connections we've seen hinted at in earlier episodes. There's a good deal of exploration into the past of several characters here and there are ties that become much clearer.

As happens with a lot of series that get pushed to the seven volume count, the last three episodes of the series feel a touch anticlimactic after all that's been said and done. With several of the dates occurring on the previous volume and the final one here pushing a dramatic problem all of a sudden, the tension level just doesn't quite rise as high as I think it would otherwise. Since it starts off by revealing the problem here with Rin learning about it, it grows a bit more slowly since you're in the mode of getting back into the show between the wait for the discs. It may play out a bit better in a marathon mode. I liked the entire concept of killing off the main character and putting him through all of this as it changed the dynamic a bit and put the girls in a position where they had to really work to try and get him back while dealing with him becoming despondent at times for good reason. But so many of the neat areas to the show ended up being shuffled off to the side, such as just how powerful of a spell caster he is, that it fell into standard harem comedy mode.

The show even provides a good epilogue with the last episode (running the end credits about eight minute early no less) where we get to see how things turn out but even there they miss the chance to really go into some detail or have fun with how powerful Kazuki is. A lot of the epilogue just felt like a wasted opportunity as it went and played with the standard clichés instead of really showing a good way to deal with the four women who are after him. There certainly are several areas worth laughing at throughout the volume and there are certainly plenty of serious moments that make things properly dramatic but in the end the show just had a hard time really taking advantage of the hook it had and keeping me interested.

In Summary:
Maburaho has some cute quirks to it, very nice character designs and it's a show that actually took a risk midway through the series by changing the nature of the lead character. While it has these good points, it didn't capitalize on them and instead worked hard towards keeping with a mediocre series of events and scripts. There have been plenty of highlights throughout the series but it's one that I can't imagine would play much better in marathon mode as it would just expose the clichés even more quickly. If you don't partake in harem style shows often you'll enjoy it more and get more out of it but if you're really looking for something new in the genre, this isn't it. It's a by the book piece with some flashes of creativity.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Art of Maburaho,Cean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 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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