Michel Vol. #6 - 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 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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     March 27, 2007
Release Date: March 13, 2007

Michel Vol. #6
© ADV Films

What They Say
Some time ago, we began a difficult pilgrimage to revive the tree of life. We are finally able to have some hope, but our journey is not yet over...Kim and Michel are close to achieving their goal. With Poyo's help, they've rescued many of the fairies abducted by the Black Hammer Gang. The Tree of Life can only return to its former glory if all the fairies are saved. The Black Hammer Gang isn't just hunting for treasure anymore. They're tired of losing to Kim and Michel, and Salome plans to put an end to their losing streak. And a new nemesis challenges Kim and Michel. They'll muster all their strength to fight him, but will that be enough? Can Michel and Kim finally defeat the Black Hammers and free the rest of the fairies? Will the Tree of Life be resurrected and restore the balance of nature? Don't miss a moment of the incredible final volume of Michel!

The Review!
The series draws to a close as only a few more fairies are left to be saved. It's a race against time though as Michel is weakening by the moment.

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 decent though this one changes things up ever so slightly. Two characters are paired off again but this time it's Michel and the spirit of the tree of life. Kim doesn't make it onto the final cover though several cute fairies do. 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)
Watching Michel has been a double-edged sword since the first volume. While the show doesn't appeal to me greatly and it's one that is plainly obvious in how it deals with its messages, it does strike a chord with its intended audience. Not being a part of that audience but living with them, I've tried to watch the show through their eyes as well as watching their reactions to it. Some episodes proved to be too scary, others had them giggling in delight. Each of them though had them excited to see which fairy would be highlighted.

With the last volume, my curiosity was more towards wondering if they'd actually have something resembling an ending to it. It was also to see if my kids would deal properly with the end of a series as most everything they watch is so episodic as well as still having new episodes made. Learning that this was the end wasn't something that they liked but as the show played out to its conclusion they were glad to see it end in such a way. And for myself, I was pleased to see that there was a sense of closure to but one tinged with a bit of sorrow even as the good parts play out.

The episodes leading up to the end are much the same as previous ones as Kim and Michel continue their hunt for Salome and the missing fairies. A trip across a desert land leads to some amusing cultural interpretations while another revolves around a fairy encouraging a young boy to achieve in order to save his sickly mother. Along the way, whatever they get involved in ends up crossing paths with Salome either over a treasure or a fairy. As the show gets closer to the end, we learn that there are only a couple of fairies left that need to be returned to the tree. The problem comes in that Michel himself has been away so long that he's getting weaker and weaker, particularly after all the things he's done.

One of the better parts of this series though is the last episode in how a few things play out. One area is watching the guys in the Black Hammer gang question whether they should retire or not after all that's happened. The other is how Biam is treated throughout it, both by the Black Hammer gang and Salome as well as with Michel and the other fairies. Not much has been made of it during the series for the most part but with Biam being a fairy himself he ends up being one of the last ones that needs to be returned. Getting him to be a bit more involved other than cackling over the latest plan is a nice touch to close things out with.

In Summary:
Michel's final volume is a rather good sendoff for the show and it worked well both for myself and for my kids. This has been a great show to watch with them since it gets them used to some of the basic storytelling techniques and cultural nods that are in many Asian shows. The eco-friendly side of it is patently obvious to adults but it doesn't play as condescending for the younger set which makes this work all the better. While this is certainly not a show I'd recommend to teens or adults, it is one that I recommend to parents of younger children. With apologies to voice actor Blake Shepard, the only thing I really want to see happen now is for ADV Films to get a costume made for Meggi and have Greg Ayres wear it cons. I swear the people behind this must have seen a picture of him for the basis of this character. Particularly when it comes to the end sequence!

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

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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