Miami Guns Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AN Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Miami Guns

Miami Guns Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     July 01, 2004
Release Date: June 22, 2004


Miami Guns Vol. #1
© AN Entertainment


What They Say
Spoiled rich girl Yao Sakurakouji decides to join the Miami police force to enjoy car chases, gunfights and wanton destruction. The psychotic and not-too-bright Yao is partnered with Lu Amano, the soft-spoken and sharp-tongued daughter of the police chief. Together the dirty duo clean up the streets of Miami and take on a mysterious crime syndicate known only as 'The Organization'.

Slapstick comedy, risqu action, and outrageous parody ensue. The first Miami Guns DVD alone features side-splitting parodies of pop culture icons including Jean Reno's Leon: The Professional, Detective Conan, Speed Racer, Evangelion, Wacky Races, and a world famous extended homage to the hit anime series Initial D.

The Review!
Whenever anime comes to American settings, there's always humor to be found. Miami Guns settles nicely into providing an amusing and skewed Japanese view of America while having a lot of laughs along the way.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is nicely done with some well placed bits of directionality across the forward soundstage. This is also a loud show in that there are a lot of things going on during the program with plenty of music and action sound effects so it's a pretty active mix. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2000, Miami Guns is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for the show is excellent with a really great solid feel to it. The show is very brightly done with a lot of outdoor and bright light sequences and the transfer does a great job of showing solid colors with no breakup. Only a few areas, generally with some camera panning involved, had some aliasing going on around the edges of the characters. Cross coloration was pretty much non-existent and the overall feel of the show is a good mix of the transitional animation that was going on back in 2000. Some of the characters occasionally look a bit too layered on top of the backgrounds but this eases off as the series progresses.

Packaging:
There's nothing like a woman in uniform? Well, it sells to me so there must be some market for it and we get a nice layered image here of the two leads in their short tight uniforms set against the backdrop of their Miami police station and a grouping of their fellow offices. It's not the most eye-catching cover in the world with the various dark colors that are somewhat prominent but it does look good. Both the front cover and the spine provide the volume number while the back cover has a listing of the episode numbers and titles. There's a couple of small animation shots but a lot of space is given over to the summary and production information. The discs features and technical information is all nice and clearly listed though I'll make my usual push for my beloved grid format. The insert takes on the form of the translation and culture notes. We get four panels overall of notes and information mixed with shots from the back cover and a listing of the shows staff and voice cast.

Menu:
After the new opening animation for the AN Entertainment logo, we're dropped right into the menu as we like it. The menu is a very nice full screen static image of the leads in the foreground while other cast members line around them. With no animation or anything else outside of a brief looping of the music, the menu layout is simple and easy to navigate with fast access times. The only area that's problematic is the extras menu where they attempt to be cute but having the background image change slightly every time you move to a new selection. This introduces some lag in being able to move about as the image has to load which isn't always as fast as one would hope. During our initial playing of the disc, it read our player defaults for language and subtitle settings.

Extras:
The opening volume has some good basic extras included. The character profiles section is nicely done with some of the main cast members getting their quick bios plus a selection of production artwork related to them. There's also a full production art gallery included at the top level of the extras menu. The Japanese promo trailer shows how the show was pushed onto that market, but the best extra comes again in the form of the translation and cultural notes pages, which I believe replicates everything in the booklet. If you can do them in a booklet, you can do them on the disc itself. Usually each company does it different but generally just one way and not both. AN gets major kudos for providing them in both areas.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the more enjoyable parts of anime is when they decide to move outside of Japan for the locale of a show. When it comes to a show set in Japan, the viewer tends to take it with a grain of salt as to certain things being accurate as they're set in well known cities. When they go outside of the realm of the familiar though, the real fun begins. When they take on American cities or heck, American geography, well, you'd think they were educated in the US.

Miami Guns is set obviously in Miami. But if you're from Miami or even familiar with what the sunshine state is even like, you'll find plenty to be amused at by the way the show presents the city. From the start it's introduced as a "small town" by one of the criminals and at times it does feel just like a small town with the way it's laid out. For a city with a population of over 300,000 or so, the shows look and feel really doesn't push that. It also doesn't have the mountain range that's pretty prominent in the fourth episode here. But these are the kinds of things you find in most shows that deal with US cities or the country as a whole. Anyone who remembers the awkward path taken in Robotech to get from South America to Reflex Point will nod their heads vigorously at that.

So with that in mind, I tend to view it as unintentional comedic extras built into the show. But can Miami be used for a cop setting? According to a 2003 setting, it's obvious why CSI chose the place for their show and it looks like the creative team here was forward-looking when it came to picking their location: "Miami has the highest violent crime rate in our study, as well as one of the highest property crime rates. Making Miami even more stressful is the long commute time, a high unemployment rate, and a high rate of divorce. Despite these factors, Miami residents manage to maintain a positive mental attitude." Ouch.

Of course, this is anime so it's comedy violence and mayhem. The city is rife with crime and things going wrong but the cops aren't exactly all that much of a help either. Lead by an afro wearing Chief, he's a stressed out type who has a crew that isn't all that interested in justice but their own goals. For example, one of the two leads is Yao Sakurakouji, the daughter of an incredibly wealthy man who gives her whatever she wants to be happy. Her big thing in life, and the reason she joined the police, is car chase, guns, explosions and violence in general. When a bank gets held up in the first episode, she parachutes in from her personal helicopter and gets ready to shoot the perp inside even though he's got a 3 month old baby as a hostage. To facilitate things, she gets her father to buy the bank within minutes and encourages the entire department to unload their ammunition into it so that they can have fun and save the day.

The cops in this precinct definitely love their guns. They're loaded with them ? much like the citizenry! American's come across well with their love of the gun here in amusing ways as everyone and the dog seems to have one. Some of the cops on the team aren't as interested in shoot guns as cameras though and they fill in the pervert aspect as they try to get the naughty pictures of whoever they can. But their pervertedness is well used within the precinct, such as the shutterbug being used as a sniper since he's got great vision and precision eyesight. The other lead character that's definitely a character in herself is Lu Amano, the Chief's daughter. She's the calm exterior type with an almost dead(pan) delivery in everything she says. She's the smart type that spends her time doing research instead of leaping into the situation without thinking.

Of course, she and Yao are partners. And neither really seem to like the other much. There's probably some bit of respect they have for each other on some hidden level, but that's not really seen here during these opening episodes. There isn't outward hatred, but each of them dislikes how the other operates and often tries to show the other up. Yao tries to show Lu up in very outward ways such as storming the bank or giving herself over as the hostage while Lu spends her time looking for ways to outdo her by being subtle and simply finishing the job before Yao finishes with her rants about the job. It's not an unusual pairing and there are plenty of times where the two work together well.

Each of the four opening episodes stand by themselves in terms of plot but there's some small thread that's tying them together possibly in the form of a villainous overlord of some sort who is manipulating the smaller fish in the city to his own ends. Without that aspect, each of the episodes stands nicely on its own. The opening episode plays out a bank robbery gone horribly wrong as mentioned earlier. What's really creative is the second episode where Yao and Lu do a recap of the series. Yeah, in the second episode. What they do is recap the series as if we're coming in during the middle of something like the fourth season or something and we see how the characters originally met, what got them into the force and how the characters have changed over time. Most amusing was that the Chief was originally a black character who became less so when they made Lu his daughter and they "forgot to change the afro" for him. This is a really great way of giving the show a longer feel and filling in the blanks without giving an entire episode to how the leads came together and so forth. The poor professor though.

While the schoolgirl episode here is quite funny, the best episode on this disc is the last one where they parody Initial D right down to the CG car designs and the racing techniques. On the Miami Mountain Highway, people are being attacked by someone who is apparently dressed up like a bunny and leaving tofu on their bodies. It's quite nonsensical but parts of it play up to Initial D beautifully. Between all the in-jokes there's some surprisingly well done and fun chase sequences that feel like they were lifted directly out of the other show but with the fun of Miami Guns, such as rockets and oil slick launchers and a few other more comical designs. Yao's determination to find the bunny tofu villain is just right during this and her passion confuses everyone else. Of course, her obliviousness to a lot of things causes just as many problems but it's just Yao's style.

The layout of the shows presentation is just exactly how I love my anime to be done. The opening and ending sequences are left in their original Japanese form with all the text. At the end of the episode we get the next episode preview and then a black screen with the series logo where the fully translated credits for that episode play out. I love it.

In Summary:
Miami Guns is a fun show that definitely doesn't take itself seriously. While something of a larger plot sneaks in and out of these early episodes, the show works great on an episodic basis and just goes for the laughs along with plenty of fanservice in a number of directions. The show works well as an action comedy series; it's got plenty of its own jokes and it knows how to parody well. Add in some good looking character designs, some very over the top characters and good pacing and this was a fun way to spend the evening.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Character Guides, Production Sketches, Original Japanese TV spots,Translation & Cultural Notes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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