Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 24.95
- Running time: 60
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Magic User's Club
Magic Users Club Vol. #1
By David Owens
February 16, 2002
Release Date: April 10, 2001
Magic Users Club (Mahou Tsukai Tai in the original Japanese) was a title I had been waiting for for at least a few months, namely because there's kawaii anime girlies in it. And I'll be darned if my kawaii anime girly fix has gotten a bit slim lately after quite a few assorted titles got delayed for a few weeks.
Now, MUC is here, and I'm still excited, but it's less than before. Which can be good! Really!
Anyways, the first thing anyone in their right mind would notice about Magic Users Club is the unique (and I do mean unique) packaging. MediaBlasters not only used a clear keepcase, they went a step further and even used a clear wraparound cover! WOO! Talk about different. The cover is an image of Sae Sawanoguchi in her club uniform, and it's on a cel-style wraparound so that it's transparent, and you can see the DVD inside. The rear cover has some images, and all the text is in a circle which neatly outlines the DVD inside the case.
Needless to say, this is a VERY unique packaging idea, and I thank the gang at MediaBlasters for doing something different, and in my eyes, very attractive. MUC now looks very unique on my shelf, and I've already done the "Hey, check this out!" thing to a couple friends, who thought the case was rather cool as well. As with many MB titles, there's no insert, which is helpful in this case, since it would have messed up the outer case. Besides, this DVD is so short it doesn't really need one. :(
Once you crack the case open and get the DVD out (it's in an upside-down-backwards Alpha, so have fun) and pop it in, you'll see one of the better menus MediaBlasters has done, and also one of the nicer menus in general if you ask me. It's nicely animated, quick to respond, and attractive as well. Yay! And for the record, it's Sae on the main menu again. Man, I can't wait till the third disc, with Akane....hee hee.
Magic Users Club includes a few extras on the disc which are standard fare these days, the best of which is the creditless opening sequence. I love this opening animation. The song is cute, the animation is goofy, it's everything I'd ever need! The best part, of course, has to be during the first verse, while Nanaka and Aburatsubo are playing with the little puppets of Takakura and Sae, and Akane pops up with their wands, raising them in time with the doo-wop girls in the song (well, whatever you want to call them. Doo-wop girls works for me, and you'll know it when you see it). For some reason I get a kick out of it, sue me. Anyways, this alone is enough to make the extras cool. :)
The audio on MUC is pretty normal, but as a fair warning: YES THE BEGINNINGS OF THE EPISODES ARE SILENT!!! I can't stress this enough. The menus had music and were fine, then I started the episodes and it got silent. I got worried that my speakers blew up, so I went up and started fiddling with them and the stereo, and cranked the volume. About the time my ear was conveniently in front, the sound wooshed out of nowhere, blowing me clear to Kentucky. Don't let this happen to you, and just be warned that it IS a silent beginning for both episodes! :)
The voice acting is decent, I guess. Sae's voice actress (Melissa Daniels I think it was?) is a average, and I don't like how some of her lines develop weird accents (like saying "gotta" as if she were from Brooklyn, or something). Takeo Takakura's actor, Jamie McGonnigal, is well-suited for his role though. Jamie also did Kosaku in Demon Fighter Kocho, and was fairly funny in that, particularly the perverted parts. And lo and behold, Takakura has perversions too! So it's a perfect fit, and I loved the whole "indecently exposed" part. Good job. Lisa Ortiz (or Ortis as it's spelled possibly to avoid trouble) does Nanaka Nakatomi, for any Lisa-fans out there, and does a good job also.
The video is actually where I'm fairly impressed. There's some rainbows here and there, but other than that, the video quality on MUC is very, very good. It might even rank as one of the best video-quality MB has done, as the colors are sharp and the lines are nice and defined. As I said, there's a few rainbows at some points where there's thing, close lines (as usual) but other than that it's pretty good quality. The rainbows aren't really distracting, from my recollection, either. Whew!
Anyway, as I mentioned above, I'm less excited about MUC than I was before it came out. Why? Well, because the two episodes presented on here just didn't hook me too much. It seemed like it thrust you right into the middle of things with little to no running knowledge of what the heck is going on. Sure, this big alien thing pops up and stops at stop lights. Oh boy! While there's some nice near-fanservice floating through (no, not fanservice like Tenamonya or Aika, just cleavage shots and butt shots) the story itself just didn't totally captivate me. I was hoping it'd have a Dual-like effect, but it hasn't so far. To be fair, this may be because there's only two episodes on here (cry!), but eh, whatever.
So the first episode introduces us to Takakura, the leader of the Magic Users Club. It also shows us Aburatsubo, a very gay member of the club with the hots for Takakura. Whee, fun already! Sae shoots into view shortly thereafter and we immediately learn she's a complete klutz. Soon after, Nanaka shows up, and then way later, Akane is introduced sort of. Okay, the gang's all here, now what?
Well, now they sorta learn to fly, we get a butt shot, and people float around on broomsticks while getting groped by tentacled cameras. Hmmm. Sae goes berserk, loses her ability to fly, and lands on a boat in the ocean, before being rescued by her friends. Hmmmmm.
The second episode is a bit more fun but still just sorta "eh" to me, as Sae has a mid-highschool crisis and decides to quit the club. That's cool to Nanaka, who only seemed to be in the club to get close to the gay guy anyways (gee, isn't that the way it always goes?), so they try and quit. However, the manga club's busty president, Miyama Mizuha, ends up fighting with Takakura about their encroachment on the magic users club's space (which was loaned to them by the manga club anyways, but that's not the point...).
To make a long story short (too late), the bad guys show up and try to capture a little buttercup that keeps sprouting from Miyama's head (don't ask). The girls rejoin the guy (and the gay) to fight off the bad guys, and Sae is overjoyed when she actually helps. It's heartwarming, it's fun, you'll cry and laugh.
I guess the episodes were enjoyable. They were. They just didn't hook me like some others did. I mean heck, I went through Saber Marionette withdrawals while a friend borrowed my copy of it...and Dual is another title I get and watch about 5 times in a row. MUC is good, but I haven't had an urge to marathon-watch it like I have with others, which is surprising and a bit disappointing since I was so eagerly waiting for it to come out.
On the other hand, it does mean I won't die of anxiety waiting for the second volume to come out. :) Bonus! At any rate, Magic Users Club seems like a good, fun series with lots of kawaii anime girlies, and that alone is enough to sell it to me in my books. The content of the first disc wouldn't necessarily make me a believer in it, but the characters would, as would the decent attention to the production that MediaBlasters took with it.
And to be honest, I'd buy the second and third discs even if only to show my appreciation for the unique packaging design. ;) Luckily, the second disc starts off with an episode centering on Akane, so it's bound to be more palatable to me. Oooo, Akane. :)
If you like stuff like Sailor Moon, then this would probably be something you might want to try out, since it seems to have a bit of a comparison to the magical girl animes (well, technically it IS about magical girls, so...). If you're into MD Geist or Genocyber, well...maybe something else will come along for you.
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