Martian Successor Nadesico Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Martian Successor Nadesico

Martian Successor Nadesico Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 14, 2000
Release Date: November 14, 2000

Martian Successor Nadesico Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
The aliens have destroyed our base on Mars, wiped out our space fleets, and now, only one ship stands between Earth and total annihilation! Disgusted by the incompetence of Earth's military, the independent arms manufacturer Nergal has built its own space battle cruiser. But due to the shortage of trained soldiers, they've had to assemble the most unorthodox crew to ever launch into orbit. With a cook who's also a pilot and an Admirals's daughter in command, the new starship is the most formidable fighting vehicle ever conceived. But before it can see action against the Jovian invaders the crew must win their first victory against their own species as they fight off a ruthless attempt by Earth's military to seize the Nadesico! Get ready for the wildest space adventure ever in the amazing new series that was voted the 'Best Anime Show Of All Time' by Japanese animation fans, MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO!

The Review!
Martian Successor Nadesico brings yet another full length TV series to the DVD format at a time when ADV already has several running concurrently. Nadesico is also a fan favorite title that has quite a bit of controversy surrounding it.

There's the usual suspects on the audio side of things with both the English and Japanese tracks solidly checking in. Both tracks sound quite good with a nice bit of directionality and some actual oomph to the combat sequences.

The video itself looks pretty decent overall, but there are a few things worth noting, including the previously mentioned controversy. The first three of the four episodes look a bit soft throughout. Not terribly so, but combined with a bit of grain and pixellation, it doesn't look as sharp as some of the recent discs we've seen coming from ADV and the Cinram authoring house. That's not to say things look awful, just not as jaw dropping. It's pretty solid overall and a quick check on our 27" set showed it to look very good. One of the big controversies with this release is the shows abundant use of overlays.

Overlays, in case you haven't been reading our forum for the past several months, are digital painted pieces done by the US company, that cover an existing piece of animation and replaces it with something else. Nadesico has a lot of these in the form of computer screens which contain a lot of text and are pained over in white with black text translated. One of the reasons this is done is because of multiple things being subtitled at the same time which can cause a particular scene to be covered in nothing but subtitles. Overlays are nothing new to the domestic anime industry and have been going on at almost all studios for a number of years now, though the swing seems to be going in the other direction with the growing number of complaints.

Nadesico's overlays have been labeled as a prime example of all that's wrong with them since the shows VHS release. I've heard comments ranging from simply ugly to the point where people are unable to watch the show because of the jitter and shakiness of it all. Does DVD make it all better? Based on the few bits I'd seen on VHS awhile back, I'm tempted to say yes. While the overlays do exist here and they are exactly the same as the VHS release, they don't seem nearly as shaky as has been talked about. There are a few sequences on this first disc where they do shift a bit (or rather, the animation below it shifts and the overlay is static), but these are very minor. Has the extra resolution offered by DVD made these more palatable? Your mileage will definitely vary.

The opening volume of Nadesico contains the same cover artwork with a grim looking Akito raising his hand. The show so far isn't anywhere near as grim looking. I'd almost liken it to the Trigun covers and those discs content early on. The back cover contains a good synopsis of the show, a couple of menu screenshots and several show screenshots. The insert has two pieces of artwork, with the front showing all several of the female cast and Akito. The back lists the episodes and their respective chapters and a bit more artwork from the show.

The menus are pretty basic with some nice colorful backgrounds and quick and easy selections. Access times were pretty fast and everything went to where it was supposed to. The only real trouble I had was in the translation notes section. When you have the option to move between the pages, it's hard to tell what you've actually got selected. At first, I didn't even know there was more than one screen for a particular translation note!

And speaking of extras, ADV again went to the well and provided some solid ones that are going to have some fans drooling. There are translation notes provided for each episode (with some defending the translation of certain things) which to me add a lot to the disc. There's the textless opening and ending which is the original opening with the Japanese logo, not the ADV one and a section of character profiles. While the first one alone would be more than enough in my mind, the original textless op/ed really makes this section shine.

Watching these first four episodes of Nadesico is my first real focused foray into the series. I'd seen a smattering of it here and there before and own the movie on a region 2 DVD. After I had seen the trailer for it on earlier releases, I started to anticipate it as it looked like an interesting show.

The first four episodes set up the situation pretty well. A race of lizards from Jupiter (Jovians) have overrun Mars and the moon in 2195 and are now focused on attacking Earth. The United Forces have been doing poorly against this nearly unkillable enemy and continue to withdraw. We see early on an attack on Mars, where Akito watches in horror as those around him are killed. We catch up with him later on Earth, though he has no recollection of how he got there.

During all of this, the company Nergal Heavy Industries has begun construction on their own space battleship for their own mysterious purposes. Well, one of the purposes appears to have cute girls around. With their radical plan set, they begin to gather up those odd kind of folks who are the only ones who can really pull off this kind of stunt. So begins the introduction of the wacky yet fun and likeable cast.

Right from the get go, the ship is in trouble and not only are the Jovians after it, but the military sees it as a ship they must control. With the young captain Yurika at the helm at the ripe old age of twenty, the ship sets off from its launching base and quickly encounters the enemy. After they deal with that, her father, an admiral in the military, tries his best to capture the ship from her, though the backstory behind all of this is to determine a relationship between Akito and Yurika's past.

One of the more amusing aspects of these early episodes is on of the characters strong affection for a 100 year old anime, Gekiganger. This 39 episode anime series is shown to others by one of the pilot of one of the robots who pretends he's inside Gekiganger while piloting it. This series within a series became so popular that it merited its own spin-off, which is a rarity among anime. They did a wonderful job in Nadesico of recreating a 70's style feel to Gekiganger, right down to various pieces of animation being repeated over and over. Older anime fans will definitely love these sequences.

After finishing the four episodes, I'm pretty amused by what I've seen. There were a few laugh out loud moments throughout and plenty of smiles. So far the show seems to be working in an anti-Evangelion style in terms of storyline. There are similarities, but they branch in the opposite direction. The one thing that I've felt really suffers is the feeling that I've seen all of this before. Whether they're homages or not to previous series, so much feels like other shows. There are some flairs of originality throughout and during the third episode, they do a wonderful job of bring two very predictable storylines up and ending them in a non-traditional way. Both storylines are very common throughout anime, but very rarely are they in the same episode, never mind the same series. That provided surprise and disbelief to this somewhat jaded viewer.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Translation Notes,Textless Opening/Ending,Character Profiles,ADV Nadesico Trailer

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster gold plated component cables and Sony speakers.


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