Mahoromatic Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mahoromatic

Mahoromatic Vol. #3

By Dani Moure     March 10, 2005
Release Date: February 21, 2004


Mahoromatic Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
For Mahoro Ando, knowing when she will die has given her an opportunity to live, and despite experiences that were painful or annoying at the time, Mahoro cherishes each and every memory. As Mahoro prepares for a final battle with Ryuga, one of Saint's top agents, she reflects upon her life and braces for a battle that may greatly accelerate her expiration. In situations as this, a year can literally feel like a lifetime!

Episodes comprise:

9. Limelight
10. The Fate As A Warrior
11. My Important Person
12. At the Scenery I Dreamed One Day

Based on the manga by writer Bunjuro Nakayama and artist Bow Ditama, Mahoro's adventures are brought to life by a talented team headed up by director Hiroyuki Yamaga (Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Wings of Honneamise) and character designer & animator Kazuhiro Takamura (Steel Angel Kurumi, FLCL). Additional character design is supplied by none other than Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cutey Honey)!

The Review!
And so we reach the end of the first season of Mahoromatic, and it proves to be quite enjoyable...

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track while watching this disc for my review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself is your standard fare for a TV series, with the music and dialogue coming across nicely. I enjoyed the performances from the actors, especially Ayako Kawasumi with her tender and heart-warming performance as Mahoro.

I spot-checked the English language stereo track, and I noticed no technical problems from the sample. The dub sounded really good, and it's definitely a disc I'd like to watch again in English.

Video:
The transfer is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and looks really nice. I noticed no aliasing or other problems during regular playback, so this was a disc I could just sit back and enjoy without having to worry about the video quality at all; it's as good as most recent ADV transfers.

Subtitles are yellow, but in the Geneon US style font, which is smaller and curvier than ADV's usual.

Packaging:
The front cover features Mahoro in the foreground with an image of Ryuga and his battlesuit looming in the background. The cover certainly matches the darker turn these episodes take, and it looks really nice. The show's logo is at the bottom of the case, with no volume numbering or titling on the front. The back cover features a description of the show (pushing the Gainax involvement), as well as some screenshots and the usual ADV information boxes that make it easy to see the disc's technical specs.

The four-page insert features artwork from the US cover of volume 2, and folds out into a mini-poster with some fanservice artwork of Mahoro.

Menu:
The menu is as simple as you'd expect. It's static, featuring an image of Mahoro on the left, and the show's logo and the options on the right, with some of the opening theme playing. Submenus are also static with artwork and a different piece of music playing. As I've come to expect from ADV, there's no scene selection from the menu system. It's not an exciting menu by any means, but access times are fast and it's functional.

Extras:
The sparse selection of extras continues, as we have an admittedly nice interview with the Japanese voice actresses (Ayako Kawasumi and Fujiko Takimoto), though it's rather frustratingly labelled "Voice actor commentary" giving the impression it is probably a commentary track you may have come to expect, whereas instead it's an interview just about six minutes in length. There's also a very short artwork galley (that consists of several screencaps as well as artwork) and some ADV previews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After my enjoyment of Mahoromatic increased exponentially in the last volume, I wondered just how this disc would fare under my watchful eye. After all, Gainax, the anime's producers, are well known for their interesting ability to go a bit crazy at the end of a series. And while some people think that's the case with this first season of Mahoro, I would be more than inclined to disagree. In fact, as the series has gone on and more plot has come to the fore, I've found myself enjoying the series a whole lot more.

With the way things had been going following the introduction of Ryuga in the last two episodes of the previous volume, there's only really one direction the series could have gone, especially given the challenge he posed to Mahoro. And so the fight is on. Not that you'd know from the beginning of the first episode. Instead, the first outing on this disc takes place before Mahoro leaves for her duel, and in fact (in a totally pleasing way in my eyes) she asks Suguru out on a date. A maid with a backbone? Surely not! Anyhow, off they go (after some typical fantasising from Suguru) in Mahoro's cool car... And Saori just happens to see them while she's getting supplies. Naturally the teacher isn't content, so as they visit the fairground she has a less than stellar experience as she follows them around to try to thwart their date. But nothing is getting in the way of the budding relationship with Mahoro and Suguru.

I liked this episode a lot, because it had an air of finality about the relationship between Mahoro and Suguru, as she took charge to spend a day with him for what could potentially be the last time. She showed a real backbone that you don't see much from a lot of anime females (especially in this kind of show), by being proactive in taking him out and trying to make it the best day possible. In that sense, you really got the feeling of how much more like a human Mahoro has become since she joined Suguru, and the whole situation showed how much she really cares for Mahoro. Likewise, it cemented how much Suguru cares for her, and enjoys having her in her life, setting up the bittersweet events we all know are coming. And Saori wasn't half as annoying in this episode as you might expect.

With these episodes taking place over the time span of just a couple of days (rather than the large time span previous episodes have offered us), we dive straight back in to the pre-duel build-up in the second episode, with Mahoro having rejoined the Vesper ranks. This episode drudges up part of her past as she remembers various parts of early missions, such as her first fight and the training she underwent in the past. But it's also a time for reflection for her, as she contemplates the meaning of everything that is going on and all that went before. She chats to her old acquaintances and friends (including some obligatory fanservice in a hot tub scene), finding out more about how things have gone since she joined Suguru, and there's a constant feeling of impending doom right through to her departure.

Another nice episode where you could just feel the impending struggle that was to come, the biggest negative you might find against it is that at times it's a bit too plodding, and smells a bit like padding the build-up to the final struggle. Nevertheless, it's good to see more glimpses from Mahoro's past and her interaction with Suguru's father, that led to her decision to be with Suguru, and also just to see her in her element with the rest of the Vesper personnel. Pretty much all of the other regulars are noticeable by their absence, but for story purposes the idea works really well, even if the execution is at times a bit lacking.

With Mahoro well on her way to duelling with Ryuga, we return to Suguru in the penultimate episode as he discovers that this android that came into his life not too long ago has now upped and left. Forcing Slash to break his secrecy, the two go to the scene of the fight, Suguru hoping to bring her back. But the duel wages on in spectacular fashion, with even Mahoro, the mightiest Vesper warrior, struggling for a breakthrough against the clinical Ryuga.

By the end of this episode, I was quite enthralled, as it's easily one of the series' strongest yet. It's well paced and plotted, with each scene leading to the next to both build up the dramatic tension and heighten emotions for what is about to come. The fight was very well choreographed, with plenty of variety during the frenetic action, and each of the duellists using different tactics. But seeing things from Suguru's point of view made use of the feelings that have been built up over the past several episodes, and by seeing how much he wants Mahoro back it really can get us behind him, so we're rooting for his success and a win from Mahoro.

Ending on a cliffhanger, the final episode focuses on both Mahoro's fight with Ryuga, and Suguru's involvement with Mahoro, but there can only be one winner.

To say pretty much anything about this episode would obviously be massive spoilers, but suffice it to say I thought this was a wholly enjoyable episode, with a fitting end that added an essence of closure but still left it wide open for the sequel series, Something More Beautiful to take over from. Aside from the closure, there's a lot of strong character play, this time with both Mahoro and Suguru, as Mahoro at one point thinks of the life she would like, while Suguru's search leads him to the battleground. While I never felt it reached a particularly great emotional level, the last episode was still good to watch.

There's plenty of opportunity throughout these episodes to see Mahoro reflecting on her life and how her decisions have brought her where she is at this stage. Her journey has been really enjoyable in that respect as it's rare to get such an introspective look at a character that's actually a combat android masquerading as a made. While it's her show, Suguru fairs very well too, having plenty of time for some reflection of his own, with chances aplenty to remember just why the void of no family is so aptly and charmingly filled as it is with Mahoro.

I was quite harsh and critical of Mahoromatic especially at the start, but as it's gone on and the plot has started to kick in I'm enjoying it a great deal more. It's still a bit of fluff in the end and rough around the edges, but there is a sweet little story in there that the creators just waited a bit too long to play. While it's not necessarily a show most people will get emotionally attached to, it has a nice pair of leads that are enjoyable to watch and have an interesting relationship that at times can be a bit different to your typical anime pairing. While there is a supporting cast in there, they suffer a great deal as there's barely any time focused on them at all, but it's clear that the point of the story is the examination of the feelings of Mahoro and Suguru, and on that level it works.

In Summary:
It won't blow most people away, but there's a lot of good action throughout the series, especially in the last two episodes, and there's a decent amount of character development as the series draws on, especially with Mahoro. There are still a lot of problems with it, like early pacing, needless fanservice and Saori being one of the most annoying anime characters ever, but even so as the series draws on it has an undeniable charm to it and even the most earnest naysayers might find it hard not to be overcome by it, even just a little. It's far from the greatest series I've seen, but for anyone looking for a bit of action and a sweet story, wrapped up in plenty of fanservice, I'd give it a recommendation. Everyone else may be harder to convince, but nonetheless, Mahoromatic is worth a try. I am certainly hoping ADV can get their hands on the second season, Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful, as I would quite like to see more of it.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Voice Actor Commentary,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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