Nurse Witch Komugi Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Nurse Witch Komugi

Nurse Witch Komugi Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     August 19, 2004
Release Date: August 17, 2004

Nurse Witch Komugi Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
The King of Viruses has escaped and is looking to spread his insidious infection. And Earth?s only chance for a hero is Komugi? a cosplayer?! If laughter is the best medicine, then get ready for an overdose stat!

The Review!
Spinning off from the dark series Soul Taker, Nurse Witch Komugi launches into a full on magical girl parody series.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. And proceeded to barely laugh at all. So we watched it all again in the English language mix and laughed considerably more. The Japanese stereo track comes across nice and strong and manages to compare well against the English 5.1 track but the 5.1 mix does manage to provide better directionality and clarity that it wins out in the end. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout all three episodes and we had no trouble with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released to video in 2002, the full frame transfer for this show looks just as striking as the series from which it came. Komugi is such a hugely vibrant and colorful show filled with a lot of action and animation that it really shines and manages to stand out as being OVA quality. The colors are rich and vibrant, maintaining a very solid feel without any noticeable breakup or blocking. Aliasing is practically non-existent and I couldn't see any cross coloration at all. During the second round of viewing it really became clear just how gorgeous this transfer is.

Using the same artwork as the first Japanese release, we get he hugely cute image of Komugi in her nurse uniform with the floppy ears and Mugimaru on her back set against a simple medical background. With all the white there it really brings out the characters colors a lot more and provides for a very eye-catching if busy cover. The back cover is a bit less busy with a few shots from the show and a couple of paragraphs of summary. The discs features and extras are all clearly listed as are the episode numbers and titles. The insert has a new piece of work that has the two leads and their mascots scrunched up together while the reverse side has a series of character introductions as done by Mugimaru.

The menu goes for both a subtle and overt feel with a cute shot of Komugi resting her head on her desk while in the background you've got Mugimaru bouncing behind the window. The overt part is the very upbeat and happy pulsating opening song that plays along all too briefly. Selections are lined down the left with individual episode selection. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very easy to navigate. The disc also properly read our players preset language selections properly.

Fans of both casts make out well with this release and there's a nice helping of extras. Some of the standards are brought out such as the clean opening and closing sequences as a series of production sketches in a gallery. A couple of the original Japanese TV spots are provided as well, fully subtitled, and some of these are just amusing in how they're presented. For the English language fans, there's a commentary track for one of the episodes with the director and the voice actress for Komugi which is fun to listen to. They talk about her role in the original Soul Taker series and the transition to this show, some of the differences between the two and they cover some of the jokes within the show itself. It's a light and enjoyable commentary track with a good mix of information and just shooting the breeze. For the fans of the Japanese creative team, there's a "How to Anime" special which, er, documents the making of anime by the staff by going through the studio and showing how it's all done. Thankfully, all of the peoples faces are blacked out to give them some cover. This is a comedic piece and while some of the gags have been done before, it still works well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's not too often that a series gets a spin-off these days so it was a surprise when a spin-off was announced for Soul Taker. Even more surprising was that out of that dark and very atmospheric series they were going to take the cute but deadly Komugi character and give her an OVA series of her own. When it became clear that it was going to be a comedy/parody series it all fell into place though and the end result is something of a mixed bag.

The opening premise to the show is surprisingly well done especially considering what they could have done. In the space of about two to three minutes, they cover the entire gamut of an evil virus that has escaped from its dimension down to Earth and a goddess who sends a little critter named Mugimaru there to help the humans fight it off. Through circumstances he ends up meeting Komugi who was cosplaying as a nurse and the two team up to fight the virus and its evil plans. They really cover what's essentially an entire episode or two of any other magical girl series, even the parody ones, so quickly and efficiently so that they can get on to other things that it was surprising.

Like any parody series, there's going to be gags people don't get and ones that they do. Komugi gets to play with things a little bit more in that since it's a spin-off, they're using most of the cast from Soul Taker in this newly realized world. It's got zero ties to the story or content of Soul Taker, but for people who liked that series, watching this is amusing since you get to see the characters in such a new light. Komugi is one of the performers in Kiri Pro, an entertainment company that manages various personalities. Komugi is making her way up the ranks and is currently a cosplay idol so she gets various shows to do from Comiket to signings and greetings and so forth. The company is run by Yui, a woman scorned in the past by her own career going down in flames. Her brother Shiro is the talent manager and does all the job bookings for Komugi and the other girls. The host of girls here is amusing, such as Megumi who is fighting to keep her centerfold career alive while Komugi's best friend and schoolmate Koyori makes use of her ample assets to gain more jobs.

Of course, once you mention that Koyori is Komugi's best friend you know that it means that she's being controlled by the evil virus and uses her as a split personality to cause mayhem. When she changes personalities, she goes through a magical transformation herself and each side has no recollection of the other. In her evil side, Koyori uses the virus to capture people and cause them to work for her cause in creating more viruses. During one instance she infuses the viruses into the works of a doujinshi artist so that each of his books will be infected by those who buy it. Her abilities give the artist great skill and speed so he's able to produce a great looking work and sell even more. When the time is right, or when Komugi tries to stop her, she transforms the books into the viruses themselves and uses it to boost her own power.

In a very basic way, each of the episodes here play out as a traditional magical girl episode does. The closest parody to this is really the Magical Girl Pretty Sammy series and there are a lot of similarities if only because they're both working over the same genre and use the same staples to poke fun at. Komugi ends up being much higher energy in its feel though thanks to the characters themselves and the shortness of the show. Komugi is also more willing to take on potential copyright violations by parodying a lot of Tatsunoko properties (of course, this was released by Tatsunoko) so there are some great moments, particularly an extended sequence where they completely parody and pay tribute to Gatchaman.

So with all these solid elements, both the expected and unexpected, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't laughing all that much. A few scenes got a small chuckle here and there but not what I had expected. I could see the parodies and the wit behind them, especially with how well animated it was. I liked the way it managed to take a few jabs in the eye of both anime itself and its fans. But it just wasn't clicking as a whole. When I realized that it was Scott McClennen that was the director for the dub, I switched over to that. He had managed to really wow me with his work on Goemon and that worked along similar principles. So I ended up watching the entire series dubbed.

Everything just seemed to click a hell of a lot better. And what's really strange about that is that the two scripts are really amazingly close together. The dub strays in a few places, likely more for flap than anything else, but the dub is very faithful to the original material. While I hadn't really listened to the dub in Soul Taker, I was surprised and pleased that they maintained some continuity by going out to the west coast to record Jocelyn Loewen for the lead role of Komugi and letting her reprise the role. Visually, the series is just fun to look at and watch it play out as there is a lot of animation going on here and not the usual stills and pans. There are some good shifts between the usual style of the show and something more serious in the "2.5" episode when the music video style stuff starts playing and you can see some great quality shining through there as well, even with as little time as they originally had to put that out. With much of the show really rooted in Soul Taker, the carry over of designs works well in this new setting and the new characters mesh with them very well.

In Summary:
In the end, Komugi baffles me somewhat as to why one version managed to work more over the other when both of the performances are good and the scripts are as close as they are. I'm starting to feel burned out on the number of parodies that have been coming out in recent years I think especially since even the normal magical girl shows are doing their own parodies within the series itself sometimes. Komugi does hit all the right notes and plays up both its fun and sexiness to great appeal but even when some of the best bits come on it feels like they've been done before already. This is an enjoyable romp particularly for those wanting another taste of the Soul Taker cast and for parody minded fans.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean open and ending animation, Production sketches, Japanese TV spots, How to Anime video,Commentary by English ADR director Scott McClennen and Komugi's English VA Jocelyn Loewen

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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