Michel Vol. #3 - 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: B-
  • Age Rating: TV Y7
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Michel

Michel Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     September 05, 2006
Release Date: September 12, 2006

Michel Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Since the Tree of Life has begun to grow once more, it speaks to Kim and Michel to help them rescue the captured fairies. However, the Black Hammer Gang always seems to be one step ahead of them. Salome and her goons travel the world across desolate plains and thick fog in a never-ending search for treasure. Kim, Michel and Poyo stay close behind these thugs in an effort to thwart Salome's evil schemes and save the kidnapped fairies.When a misunderstanding threatens Kim's confidence in Poyo, will Kim and Michel still be able save more of the imprisoned fairies? Hang on for another wild ride in the next exciting volume of Michel!

The Review!
Keeping to the tone and style set, Michel hits a bit of a plateau here as it continues on in highlighting new fairy stories.

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 cover designs for the series continue to be good and this is one of the stronger ones so far as it has both the good guys and bad guys against a stormy cloud background. The show does have a good set of designs and it comes across well here, especially for the Black Hammer Gang. The only part that makes me cringe is how it's labeled as "eco-friendly" in terms of being an adventure tale. It probably works but it feels like it's a tag that's aiming at the lowest common denominator, parents that will see that and figure it's good for their kids on that alone. 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 Phoenix 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.

Unlike the first two volumes, with this one we finally get clean versions of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In its first ten episodes, Michel managed to present a fairly interesting story that had some nice hooks that could keep an adult watching it while the overall story is firmly aimed at kids. The design of the show is also rather nice in that there's some good creativity when it comes to the different fairies that come into it but also in the animation and the blend of computer animation that is surprisingly seamless for a show of this kind.

This volume isn't quite as good as the previous two as the series has hit sort of a plateau in the kinds of stories it wants to tell. The concept obviously isn't changing much in that we have Michel and Kim flying through the skies to find and rescue as many of the fairies as possible. They continue to run into places where it's noticeable that things aren't going quite as they usually do, such as a Castle of Fog that now has no fog or a widespread area of grasslands that's dried up completely. And of course the fairies that they need to deal with are ones that have been captured by Salome and the Black Hammer Gang and they're never far away. It does have some amusing turns here and there though, such as Salome opting to not go after the kids and just seek out what she's after. The show has plenty of Pokemon leanings to it but they do smooth out some of the bumps that that series had in its early days.

Morality plays are the dominant theme here and if you've watched any number of shows over the years then you know how much of each episode will play out when the basics are laid out. It's not badly done though which is something I keep coming back to with it and the rather good animation and scripting helps out a lot. It's unfortunate that a number of Korean specific shows that have come out in the last couple of years have not been all that good of quality but one like Michel is one where you can't really tell much of a difference for the age group its aimed at. It's not a show that I'd sit down and watch by myself and pay complete and total attention to, but it is one that I watch with my kids since they're entranced by it, laugh at the right jokes and make all kinds of excited sounds at the variety of fairies. For its target audience, Michel pleases in spades.

In Summary:
Michel obviously isn't high on my to-watch list but every time a new volume comes in I've got two very excited children wanting to watch it " repeatedly. For its target audience and those who enjoy shows like this it's a very solid production and it makes me wish some of the same care and effort went into their more mainstream releases in Korea. This release is essentially problem free but continues to have a few things that just make me cringe a bit or show a very minimal amount of effort going into it. It's certainly nothing that will affect the end result which is the show itself and that's definitely an area where mileage will vary. I know full well that my viewing experience of it with my kids influences my actual enjoyment of it..

Korean 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray 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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