Magikano Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Magikano

Magikano Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 22, 2007
Release Date: December 04, 2007


Magikano Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
Haruo Yoshikawa was your run-of-the-mill middle school student: Great attendance record, no real plans for the future, and three adorable, loving sisters. Normal, right? Wrong. Haruo and his sisters are, by blood, magic-users. However, Haruo is seemingly unaware of his powers. So his three witch sisters-Maika, Chiaki, and Fuyono- keep him in the dark, in the hopes that he’ll live a normal life. And they have succeeded, until now! In the blink of an eye, Haruo’s “normal” life does a 180 degree turn into the insane with the appearance of another witch, Ayumi, who for some reason is very interested in turning him into a “real man”…as well as awakening his dormant powers!


The Review!
Cute girls with magic powers combined with one slightly dorky unaware guy equals predictable and simple fun that plays it safe.

Audio:
This bilingual presentation follows a fairly standard formula for an ADV Films show by having a stereo Japanese mix and an English 5.1 mix. The Japanese mix is done with a good 224 kbps encoding that gives it a fairly full feeling across the forward soundstage. The English 5.1 mix doesn't feel the same since it provides a more distinct sense of placement for the dialogue. It doesn't overwhelm in the same way which is good but also has it feeling more subdued. Dialogue on both tracks is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Though there are still plenty of full frame shows being made these days, it's still a bit of a surprise since we tend to see more widescreen shows, even when it comes to comedies, when they're brought over here. Magikano doesn't suffer from this though as the presentation is very solid with great looking colors that hold up very well. There's hardly any noise at all in the backgrounds which gives it all a very solid look. Colors aren't oversaturated and cross coloration is pretty much absent here along with line noise which is a surprise. Though this isn't a standout looking show in some regards, it's a very strong looking presentation when it comes to the video quality of it which helps to make it all the better.

Packaging:
Magikano doesn't use the original Japanese cover artwork, which is a bit of a shame because it's good simple material with the individual characters and some bright colorful backgrounds. What we do get is pretty good as it features a large character shot of Ayumi while the rest of the girls are all grouped together in the background. The colors are soft for the background itself with a decidedly peach flavor but it works well with the light framing that's used to tie it all together via the sigils. The back cover utilizes the same color scheme as it features four leaf clovers in which various shots from the show are presented. The summary is a bit lengthier than you'd think necessary for such a basic show but it covers everything while pushing that it's just funnier than you can imagine. The episode count is given a nod as are the extras. The bottom half of the cover has a good deal of technical and production information listed across it and is all cleanly and clearly listed. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is simple as it uses some of the same elements as the front cover but with new artwork. The light peach color is done here, though it's a touch darker than the cover art which gives it more of a pink look, and it has another group shot of the girls falling behind a larger image of Ayumi in her maid outfit, all of which is set to some light bouncy instrumental music. Top level episode selection is a regular feature here and submenu access time is nice and fast. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras included here are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the original manga by Takeaki Momose which started in 2003, Magikano is a thirteen episode series that quite simply plays it safe. Not only does the show itself play it safe but it feels like this is a token show of sorts for ADV Films, the kind that they needed to fill the gap left by Maburaho when it ended and other shows before that. This first volume covers more than a third of the series by providing five episodes and with the manga still ongoing you know that it's going to be fairly predictable.

The series revolves around the Yoshikawa family, a family that's made up of the eldest brother Haruo and his through younger sisters, Maiko, Chiaki and Fuyuno. The parents aren't really discussed here nor are they present in any real way but that's not the big secret. The big secret is that all three sisters are actually witches. Their beloved big brother Haruo is the odd member of the family in that he doesn't have any magic powers. Due to this, Maika decided at an early age to cast counter spells on him to keep him safe and they utilize memory erasure spells in order to keep the secret. This way he gets to live a normal life and everyone is nice and happy. That can go on for only so long though before something else stumbles into their lives.

And that something is a young woman named Ayumi, a witch herself who has come to the household and by order of the Department of Magic is now their maid. It's all very confusing at first but with a few well placed memory alteration spells, everything settles into place and Ayumi becomes something of a member of the household. The first few episodes deal with her arrival and how she fits into the scheme of things. Ayumi is the typical somewhat loud, outgoing and stubborn character who is only focused on her own goals. It's sort of understandable though since the reason she's there is to save her life by removing a curse she's on her since childhood. The involvement of Haruo in all of it isn't given more than a nod to ensure that there is a connection, but the end result is that she's intent on turning him into a proper man and getting his powers back on track so that her life is saved.

With four girls under one roof there is plenty of material to work with before you even introduce the magic side of things. That's not enough for Magikano though and we're introduced to student council president Yuri, a proper young woman intent on keeping the schools moral code intact. The discovery that Ayumi is living with Haruo sends her off on a tizzy because she too is interested in Haruo and cannot abide by this for numerous reasons. And yeah, she's a witch too. It's like they're falling out of the sky when you find out about this part of her life. Yuri is actually a nice addition to the show though since she falls in between Maika's brother complex and Ayumi's machinations. But even Yuri's not enough because they have to introduced another young woman later named Marin who is a witch hunter, something that shouldn't exist anymore due to how the magic using community reorganized awhile ago. Marin brings more tension to the show but also wacky comedy as her inept spells and accidental moments cause plenty of misery for everyone.

Magikano does have some nice moments to it even as it plays it safe. The stories are fairly standard, such as an episode where all the girls end up undergoing an age reversal process and promptly freak out about it. Another has an underwear thief stealing their items when Ayumi and the sisters are using the hot springs that they have secret access to within their house. More often than not we're dealing with the various jealousies that exist and how everyone seemingly has the hots for Haruo in different ways. The one episode that had some nice potential was a time tripping one that took several of them to the past to see why Maika is so much in love with her brother and so protective with him. Just the idea of a Time License being like a drivers license is fun. What really had me laughing out loud though was the dream episode in which we see everyone's desires. Ayumi tops the list by living out the scene from the Castle of Cagliostro where Lupin unfurls the string of flags for Clarice. Having Ayumi and Haruo in those roles and adapted so well visually just worked very well.

In Summary:
Magikano engages in the cardinal sin of being… average. While it has some good production values to it, there isn't anything here that separates it from many other series out there. The combination of magic users, high school girls and the harem motif combines well enough here but there isn't anything here that sets it apart. The character designs are good, the animation is nicely fluid as well as bright and colorful and the stories, while predictable, have a good flow to them with well timed humor. Perhaps it's just a rut that I'm in personally, but all of it comes together in a good way but it doesn't really accomplish anything. The situations change too quickly, especially when by the fourth episode we learn that three months have already passed. Magikano has potential based on what's here so I'm curious as to how the two remaining volumes will play out but I'm just expecting more light and silly fun with no real meat to it. Sometimes fluff can be enough though.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 480p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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