Michel Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV Y7FV
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Michel

Michel Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 18, 2006
Release Date: May 09, 2006

Michel Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
Underneath the dazzling Sun; far across the sparkling, blue ocean; and beyond lush forests, you will find a beautiful island called Sitel Island. On that mythical island stands the Tree of Life. This magnificent tree is the guardian of nature and has stood there since the Earth was created. On that island I saw him for the first time... The protector of nature and its fairies " Michel

The Review!
An interpretation of the Little Prince, Michel is cute and simple but executed smoothly enough to entice its target audience.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language adaptation. Originally released in a stereo mix in Korean, the show in both tracks is solid but doesn't have too much exceptional to it. The show has some good moments of minor directionality to it across the forward soundstage but this is for the most part a pretty basic show that's using the center channel with a full sounding mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

The transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this transfer are quite a mix and really surprised me since I hadn't seen anything like this in some time. The opening and ending sequences depending on your display look like a couple generations removed VHS transfer. On our main display, the opening and endings had a lot of noise to them, heavy aliasing and jaggies and a soft look not complimented well by the cross coloration that is in it. On our smaller 23" display it wasn't quite as pronounced but still very visible. When it comes to the main show itself, the colors look great, very solid and vibrant while free of just about all of the problems listed above.

The packaging for this is definitely bright and colorful with a design that should catch the eyes of kids providing that they're actually looking for it. It's got a full shot of Michel in his happy go lucky mode while several of the faeries are around him as well as Kim as she takes a shot while looking away at the Black Hammers. There's a lot of bright colors and simple designs here which are decent. The back cover is a bit more traditional and a touch darker as it uses deep blue skies and clouds while providing for a shot of the villainess and some other creatures from the show. The summary uses some of the dialogue from the show and covers the basics along as the episode numbers and titles, production info and basic technical information. No insert is included with this release.

The menu layout is typical of the "ADV Kids" line-up where it's just a string of episode numbers through the middle for navigation and a language subsection while the background is a piece of the background which has the various fairies popping into the screen with a bit of music. While in some ways it may not feel much different than some of their other basic releases, there's just something about how it's done with the Kids releases that makes it feel even more basic. Access times are nice and fast though and the disc defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles which isn't a surprise due to there not being any Japanese as our player is set to pick up.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the things I hadn't noticed about the release of Michel before it actually got into our hands was that this was an ADV Kids release. Though rather quietly announced at a convention and essentially ignored by most people, what little was said about it beforehand made it look like an ideal title for the younger set so it's not a surprise to see it under the Kids banner but it is almost like the kiss of death for most fans. Another strike against it in the minds of many I'm sure is that it's actually a Korean project, though the company is known for quite a lot of anime projects, but this is the first that they've done all themselves.

Unfortunately, that shows through at times. The summary on this release paints a slight connection to the much more famous property of The Little Prince and once you know that, and if you've seen that film or know of the actual written work, this series takes on a bit more of an interesting note for a few minutes at least. The series is very straightforward in its nature but has some definite eastern sensibilities to it that you won't normally see in western kids animation. The series introduces us to Kim, a young female pilot whose father was quite an inventor before he died recently. Unluckily for both of them, a woman named Salome had acquired much of his works " which are easily used as weapons and devices for evil " and is hellbent on becoming quite the villainess. She has a trio of complete idiots who work for her named Boogy, Woogy and Meggi and they provide a lot of the comedic effect for the show.

Kim's intent on stopping Salome when she arrives in her hometown and tries to steal a precious diamond. Kim's a fairly straight shooter though she has at least one useful weapon from her father with a gun that's rather powerful but even still she's outmatched by Salome's overall power and weaponry. The aerial chase that they engage in ends up taking them into the Devil's Coast, a series of clouds where supposedly nobody returns. It's actually a gateway to a place called the Sitel Island. This beautiful little island full of lush trees and plenty of nature is home to the Tree of Life from which all things grew. It's protected by a number of cute little curious fairies who prod and poke at Kim after she crashes there some distance from Salome and the others. It's here that she meets the young Michel who is oblivious that he's really the guardian of the Tree of Life. He's able to work with the fairies to do things such as combine them into different shapes or creatures and so forth.

Naturally, Salome sees a lot of potential from this place and from the Tree of Life itself but nothing works out quite as expected and the Tree is destroyed, leaving Michel and Kim to work through the efforts of re-establishing what it means as it's spread out among the world. They end up on a series of adventures leading them to different places where they interact with local creatures, fairies and others while dodging or thwarting Salome's plans. Once the setting and initial storyline is setup, the show moves into a pretty standard formula in each episode by providing mostly standalone tales against the larger background with plenty of environmentalism mixed into it. With it being aimed at kids, it's fairly non-threatening for the most part and is filled with a lot of cute and mysterious creatures. Michel is usually found alongside Poyo, a little yellow fairy hippo I guess you could call it and there are others from different elemental backgrounds that do their cute little things and make sounds. They're really no different than any sort of animal familiars seen in dozens of anime shows for the last couple of decades.

While the show is certainly competent at what it does, it left me feeling pretty bland about it but it certainly wowed its target audience. My six year old refused to watch this when I put it into the player because she wanted to watch more Pokemon episodes, but once it got past the Korean opening song, she was completely caught up in it. After all five episode were over, she was already wanting to watch parts of it again and proceeded not only to tell her younger sister all about it later that night but her mother as well. The shows where this happens is few and far between so it's certainly noteworthy in my mind. It doesn't change how I'm grading the title but for those in similar situations it's something worth knowing.

In Summary:
Michel is a cute and simple show and some of its nods towards the original source material is certainly amusing and entertaining but it's such a basic show at times that it will have a hard time keeping an adults attention for long. That said, it does wonderfully with its target audience that I've seen and that's more of where it counts when the title is released under the ADV Kids label so that's certainly an influence. Other than some of the technical issues to the video in the opening and ending, it's a solid enough release and for its price I'd almost recommend it completely if you've got target age kids in your house or that you know and would want to get familiar with anime outside of the Pokemon/Yugioh format. This is the kind of show that starts getting them hooked on it at a young age.

Korean 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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