Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: C+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
- Released By: Dynamic Asia Multimedia
- MSRP: HK$ 235.00
- Running time: 300
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Najica Blitz Tactics
Najica Dengeki Sakusen
By Chris Beveridge
September 18, 2002
Release Date: August 07, 2002
What They SayThe Review!
Has your life seemed like it’s lacked something special? Something that just would make the entire world a better place? Panties no matter where the eye turns? If so, this release is probably custom made for you (and me).Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. It’s also the only audio track here, and done in a decent stereo mix. The show features some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage for both dialogue and effects, but it’s not huge selling point for the show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we noticed no dropouts or distortions.Video:
Originally airing in October of 2001, this show features some very slick looking animation throughout a lot of it. This translates into a rather solid transfer. With this being done by the same team that did Agent Aika, I was fearful of a lot of cross coloration showing up, but it was only present in a few areas throughout the twelve episodes here. Colors are solid and vibrant, though there are some areas where things are intentionally obscured through some visual trickery. Done at different times in various episodes, it’s like they took a huge lamp and had it on while it was being photographed, giving it an odd look, but one that works for the dialogue at the time. There’s a bit of aliasing in a few areas, more noticeable in some of the later episodes, but nothing that’s terribly distracting.Packaging:
The packaging is an area where this release really shines. Spread across four DVDs, the show comes in two slipcases. Each slipcase has a mini digipak inside that folds out to four panels and has two DVDs inside. There’s all sorts of character artwork and text around over the packaging, and they’re highly reminiscent of the cover artwork from the Japanese releases. Menus:
The menus try to replicate the feel of the covers to some extent, but with a higher set audio level and little to do other than to change subtitles or go to specific chapters, little time is really spent here. Access times are decent, though they’re slowed some by a transition piece of animation to each of the menus.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The folks at Studio Fantasia know a good thing when they produce it. After their fan favorite Agent Aika, they took two of the themes from there and crafted a new and longer series, something a bit more cohesive, around it. The two things of course being the post-disaster theme and tons and tons of panty shots.
The lead for the show is the title character, Najica Hiiragi. She’s a dashing young woman whose rather high up in the CRI company where they create perfumes. But that’s just one aspect of her life. The other is as an agent who takes on some of the most dangerous missions that can be given. And, being the kind of woman she is, she does them with extreme amounts of style and flair.
We’re introduced to her on a mission where she’s off to retrieve an item for a gentleman named Gento. The item is on board a well protected yacht, so we get an entertaining look at how Najica operates, with her non-lethal but highly effective style. She takes down most of the all-female guards very quickly, and finds the object of the extraction. Of course, she’s slightly confused as it appears to be a young woman kept in a box. The mad dash to escape commences, and then the answers start to flow.
The young woman in question is a Humalitt, a robot of sorts created by Dr. Ren. These creatures are the closest thing to the real thing ever imagined, but they’ve got some creative quirks. While they’re definitely stronger than most humans and much more agile, they’re bound to their masters and obey them without question. But they’re quite dangerous in general, since they seem to have fallen into the wrong hands. This rescued one becomes an agent, and is assigned to Najica for training and education in the ways of the world. While she initially refuses, she does overcome her problems about it and takes her in.
The Humalitt, Lira, becomes the second lead character of the show. Though there’s plenty of action and adventure throughout the twelve episodes, the real focus is the relationship between these two characters of Najica and Lira. Lira is initially almost a blank slate, with the soft voice of one who will do whatever she’s told. This grates on Najica, though she has little problem in giving her orders. Lira naturally takes to the life of an agent and her skills and strength come in handy during the missions. But there’s the underlying story of the two, as Najica bristles against someone being essentially a slave and Lira as she tries to understand and “grow up” into something more than she thinks she can be.
After the initial team-up of the two, we go through most of the series in doing Humalitt of the week adversaries. These are brought about in some believable and no so believable ways, but they’re done as such to provide a broader view of just what kind of evolving these things can undergo depending on their relationship to their master. Many are of course mean and evil, but there’s some good ones in there as well. The most intriguing to me proved to be one of the last ones who was very much in love with her master and one of the earlier ones who had not been bonded to any master, and was trying to find its own way while an army tries to capture her.
Looking at the show from an episode to episode perspective, there’s precious little growth in the series and it feels very much like a “critter of the week” show. Looking at it as a larger package at the end of the series, it’s definitely well scripted and plotted in their goal of providing a theme to explore. This does provide for some good episodic moments that you can revisit easily, but also for a full series re-watching to try and find all the little nuances of Lira’s evolution and how Najica tweaks her along the way.
This show is also very heavy on the fan service side. With the sheer number of panty shots, you can’t help but roll your eyes every now and then. But I can also envision this as a challenge to the animators and cinematographer in providing some very interesting angles from which to view the show. If done in real life, the cameramen would be laying on the ground to get some of these shots, but it does give the viewer something they don’t normally get and challenges the animators to view the characters from new areas.
This release from Dyanmic is quite good overall, but some time simply must be spent on the subtitling. While they’re not bootleg quality, they’re knocking on the door and looking inside. The sheer amount of inconsistencies is what I find more bothersome than the spelling errors. Within a single episode, Lira becomes Lila, Lia, Leila and Rira. They vary throughout other episodes as well, as does Najica’s named (Najlca, Najiica, etc) and the Humalitt. Various characters suffer problems as well. There’s a good amount of misspellings throughout each episode and subtitles are at times done so wide, they go off both sides of the screen. A sentence ends with a period but no space after it before the next sentence starts.
So I get told by a lot of people to just accept it, that’s how it’s done in Hong Kong for all their releases, be it anime or live action. And having watched a fair amount of import HK movies over the years, it’s definitely part of the trade. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it or that I can’t complain about it. This is the largest blemish on this release, and it does detract from the show when watching it. If the US distributors can provide error free French and Spanish subtitles, then HK distributors should be able to provide error free English subtitles.
But beyond that, this was a very enjoyable release for the price. Watching it all in one sitting will likely produce a panty overdose, but what a way to go. There’s few men throughout this series, but you know going into it that it’s all about the fan service, some simple espionage style plots and a whole lot of slick action sequences. Keep your brain turned on though, as there’s some good stuff under the surface here. Definitely worth checking out.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Chinese Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.