Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 24.95
- Running time: 60
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ninja Cadets
By Sean Broestl
February 16, 2002
Release Date: January 25, 2000
As one of the first new discs of 2000, I can already say this year is looking great. To prove this, Media Blasters' first new disc for this year, Ninja Cadets!
From beginning to end, the movie itself has a great video transfer. Very clear quality, no noticeable pixelation for the most part. There were a few darker scenes that I noticed some image degradation in the background. The only really poor part of the video that I noticed was a scene during the second episode when Sakura is fighting outside the scroll room of the castle, and you could notice some strange line noise in the characters mouths when they spoke. It's pretty easy to notice, despite how fast this scene was moving.
As far as subtitles go, the disc has Yellow subtitles with black borders. They are clear enough to see, although I still prefer white borders.
While the video is decent, the audio is a bit on the poor side. Here we have a DD mix, but the show really could have benefited from a 4.1 or 5.1 mix for some of the fantastic action scenes. It would have worked really well to have surround sound when you have Ninjas jumping everywhere around their enemies. Also, in some scenes, the audio level was too low to hear anything. It's most noticeable during the first episode. I had the volume way up, and some of the dialog was still too low to hear very well. Note that this was only on the dub track.
When I saw the exterior for this disc, I was in love. The cover art is really good looking. The back of the disc is very informative, and makes good use of the space available. For the exterior, this disc gets an A. I also gave the packaging a C, because there are NO liner notes at all. No chapter list, no art, nothing, just a black space. Not cool, Media Blasters.
The menu of the disc is decent. It's very quick loading, and has the different features easily accessible. I can't say I care for the audio cues at almost every click, though. At least the dub Sakura voice isn't too hard on the ears.
The chapter stops were done in an excellent manner for the show. Each episode has 3 chapter stops. For 30 minute episodes, it works really well. Each chapter selection has a picture of the scene next to it, which is something I really like on my discs. Not a complaint here.
There are a lot of little extras on this disc. Unfortunately, they aren't as well done as they could be. The first is an Outtakes section. There are about 10 outtakes, and they run straight through, no chapter stops. Here lies my major problem with the extras on this disc. On my ATI player, the clip would stutter, and then just stop. I tried Power DVD, and I saw why the player had so many problems. The end of each outtake causes the player to stop, almost like when changing chapters, after each outtake ends. The player would stutter as it started each clip again, and by the final outtake was pausing like crazy. Not sure if this is a physical problem with the disc or not.
The second extra is a large image gallery. Very nice, high quality images, but you can't view them at your leisure. Once again, there is no chapter stops for each image. It is just a 5 minute video clip, that plays the same vocal audio track twice in a row.
The third extra is some trailers for some other upcoming titles from Media Blasters. There are a total of ten, but no mention if they are coming to DVD though. Some of the clips seem to be of a lower video quality of the rest of the show, and suffer from the same stuttering problem, although to a much lesser degree.
Because of how short the show itself is, I'm not going spoil it with many plot details. The show's biggest downfall is probably the length. One more episode would have made it much better in terms of the plot. While everything is resolved, the story itself isn't all that deep, and in some cases, downright predictable. This is made up for by the fact that the characters are rather memorable and colorful, with their own unique personalities. Also, the animation is excellent and shows itself very well during the show's many fighting scenes.
While not the most perfect disc available so far this year, it is a solid offering. And for the price, it makes buying it a whole lot easier, especially after all the cash I spent right before the holidays. If you're a little unsure, I might recommend renting first. Otherwise, if you've got a little cash to throw away, this is a solid buy.
Homemade AMD K6-3 400 Mhz PC, ATI All-in-Wonder 128, Toshiba SD-M1202 DVD-ROM drive, Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live!, 17" Trinitron Monitor