Michel Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV Y7FV
  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 29, 2006
Release Date: November 14, 2006

Michel Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Tree of Life continues to grow. To really regain strength however, one of the season fairies must be recovered. Meanwhile, Salome searches for jewels, golden roses and other electrifying treasures. Kim, Michel, and Poyo will need help from fairies they've already rescued to save withered trees and frozen flowers and stop the Black Hammer Gang from their latest crooked schemes. How will Poyo face his biggest challenge yet? Can Salome create a monster so strong, even Michel and Kim won't be able to stop him? New friends are made, new adventures lie ahead, and the stakes are even higher in the next exciting volume of Michel!

The Review!
Another set of standalone tales brings us more tales of fairies that have made their way out into the world.

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 a decent one with the two leads looking head on while various fairies and other elements from the show float around them. The show does have a good set of designs and it comes across well here. 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.

Mirroring the third volume we get clean versions of the opening and ending sequences as extras but that's all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Michel moves through its second half fairly well here but like most series at this stage it is more intent on telling some comfortable tales that stand alone. The mix is similar to previous volumes with some decent and some pretty bland episodes but the appeal is still there. Nothing on here is all that scary, something that crept into a few earlier episodes, so it's very kid-friendly again.

The best episode was the first one though, which has a good dark bent to it as it introduces us to the seasonal fairy for the fall. Kim and Michel's continuing quest to find all the fairies has them hunting up this particular one so that they can fix a few more problems around the lands. They also want to find him since they need someone that's powerful from the seasonal group of fairies since Poyo can't really do much yet with transformations and the like. The fall fairy is an interesting one as he has a particular history with a country that has left him standing like a statue in their lands. Over the years, because of an un-kept promise with a princess, he's become rooted there and his power of making things grow old has infected all the trees. Nobody can get close or touch it without becoming decrepit or crumbling away outright.

The episode explores the tale nicely as we find a princess who had fallen in love with the fairy in its woodland knight form in the past but was unable to keep her promise to return the shield he had given her. The country was in a time of war, and the two having fallen for each other, he gave her the assistance she needed but her father intervened in the long run. It has a great fable quality to it that's a bit different than most European fables and it works out nicely into the present where the after effects are still felt. Even better, the resolution to it is something that's fairly big in how it plays out as it puts Poyo to the test and we get to see what he's truly made of.

Another decent episode, though a bit comical because of the fairy design, centers around Salome and the gang discovering that one of their captured fairies is half of a magnet. Its twin brother had been separated and lost but Salome, through a little help, realizes that the two will eventually find their way together again. Not only that, but with both of them able to attract massive quantities of metal, she can get rich quick by using them to acquire metallic wealth. Even if she doesn't realize when some things aren't made of metal. Naturally, everyone ends up in a town where the other fairy is and there's some conflict about a witch with some really nasty magnetic like powers there. The coincidences pile on high when an elderly woman talks about her long lost twin sister, but you can see how the episode will go from close to the start. It is a good bit of fun though and the two magnetic fairies are cute in how they play with each other.

In Summary:
The other episodes on the disc aren't quite so memorable, but they were certainly enjoyable to the target audience. My kids had enjoyed the show so much that they had absconded with my disc and hidden it away in their room, resulting in me taking a bit more time to actually get around to it. The show is simple, but the bright colorful designs, decent scripting and overall approach is very much a winner for them. I continue to find parts of it appealing but I also really like that it is a very laid back shown when compared to a lot of what's on TV today. It has its moments where it's busy and all, but it's much more balanced and character driven than you'd expect from a show of this nature.

Korean 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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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