Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
- Released By: Odex Private Limited
- MSRP: S57.90
- Running time: 325
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Pretear
By Chris Beveridge
April 10, 2002
Release Date: April 01, 2002
What They SayThe Review!
© Odex Private Limited
Shin Shirayukihime Densetsu Pretear, or just Pretear as the Odex release lists it, is a rather surprisingly good thirteen episode series that takes the magical girl storyline and tells a solid good tale with it.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. And as that’s the only language included here, the choice was easy. Even though this is a very new show, it features only a basic stereo mix with nothing thrown to the rear speakers at all. The forward soundstage sounds good with some minor directionality, but otherwise it feels like a lot of other TV series. Dialogue was nice and clear and ambient sounds and music sounded great.Video:
With the thirteen episodes being done on just two DVDs, I had some concerns about how good the video would look. One slight advantage is that the shows are just slightly shorter, running about 22 minutes or so, which does give things some extra breathing space when you have six or seven episodes on a disc. After watching all thirteen episodes, the only thing I can find fault with is on the second disc, during the middle of one episode you get the layer change where a scene transition is, and it should be smooth, but instead staggers for maybe 2 seconds before continuing on like normal. The layer change on the first volume was flawless though. With this show finishing up its airing in Japan in mid-2001, the materials for the master are in pristine condition and it really shows here. Great colors, solid backgrounds, no cross coloration or shimmering during camera panning sequences. Just great looking video through and through, making this a real joy to watch.Packaging:
This double disc release comes in a single clear keepcase with a whitish interior swing to hold the second disc. The front cover features a nice soft image of several of the characters and a more classical looking font for the title while also presenting the original Japanese logo closer to the bottom. The back cover features some more shots as well as the discs production and technical information. And being a clear keepcase, you’ve got a great reversible cover that’s full color and has some good looking shots of the rest of the cast members.Menus:
The menu layout is identical on both discs and is pretty simple. The main page has selections along the bottom while a brief bit of animation and music plays in a small window above it. There’s some nice looking static pieces of animation surrounding all of it. Access times to submenus are nice and fast and everything is laid out logically. The only real downfall is in the chapter selection menu, which simply lets you select an episode but not individual chapters inside of them.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Pretear, which also goes by the subtitle of “New Legend of Snow White” in Chinese along the spine of the cover, was originally a manga done by Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse. Though he’s written this one, Seiko Sayama took in the directing duties for this thirteen episode series. And as far as I know, the manga is still running at this time, or has run past the end of the TV series. While this is generally something fans fear, these 13 episodes do a fantastic job of presenting a beginning, middle and ending that doesn’t feel like it crammed in too much or left many dangling subplots. Fans of the manga may feel differently, but if your only exposure is to the show, you’re going to be pleased.
The story is somewhat of a straightforward one and one that you’ll find similarities and resonance’s with elsewhere. In a place known as the Leafe Garden, we’re introduced to a beautiful area that’s lush with greenery and life. But within it, things are beginning to die off from some “red snow” that falls to the ground. We’re given introductions to seven male characters from the twenty something down to the single digit age. These are the Leafe Knights, otherwise known as Hayate the Knight of Wind, Sasame the Knight of Sound, Go the Knight of Fire, Kei the Knight of Light, Hajime the Knight of Water, Mannen the Knight of Ice, and Shin the Knight of Plants. Four are the older Knight’s while three are the younger ones. Going by looks alone, you know Hayate is the lead, but in one form or another, these are all definitely pretty boys.
With knowledge that the red snow is caused by the Disaster Queen and that it could have a terrible effect upon Earth, all seven head there to fight off what the snow causes as well as to search for the woman who can become the Pretear, the one that each of the seven knights can merge with to give her powers to fight the Queen. This makes things rather interesting since it causes a certain dependency on both sides as well as raises the not so subtle sexual aspects of it. How many women would refuse to merge with such good looking guys? These are definitely not the seven dwarves…
While they’re searching on Earth and fighting the monsters that get created by the snow and the “monster worms” that are borne from it, we’re introduced to a rather unique area in Japan and the main character. A somewhat fiery redhead, Himeno Awayuki is the daughter of a novelist who hasn’t written in quite some time, presumably since the loss of his soulmate of a wife. He has just recently married Natsue, who is the richest woman in the lands. Upon their marriage, anything in the town that bore her previous family name was changed to Awayuki instead. And considering that the “island” they all lived on was named after the family, practically everything in the town of Awayuki is renamed. Natsue’s loss of her soulmate has drawn her to her new husband and both are very lovey dovey and rather focused on each other, much as most newlyweds are, even those with teenagers. And Natsue has two of her own as well, the very brash and spoiled Mayune, a firebrand with pink hair, and Mawata, the somber and introspective shy green haired girl. Both despise what’s happened, the loss of their family name and the distancing of her mother to the new husband. Mayune reacts to everything by striking out in pranks and ploys against Himeno while Mawata simply ignores everyone and goes on alone.
Himeno tries to get along with everyone, but builds walls of her own. When Mayune begins turning all the other girls in school against her, she practically can’t take it anymore. It’s during one of her mad races to get to school in fact that her life changes considerably, as she ends up running flat into Hayate. When he begrudgingly helps her up, their touch causes a reaction that tells him she’s got the power to be the Pretear. Initially he finds himself not even liking her all that much, so much so that he hides the knowledge of the discovery from the other knights, but Sasame sees right through him, and they proceed to bring her into their plans.
On the lush grounds of the Awayuki residence is one of the best ways to cross over to the Leafe Garden, and it’s from there that the knights show up during a quiet moment of Himeno’s day and begin to explain things to her. In traditional anime style, a monster worm shows up and surprises everyone. Himeno runs as she’s told by Hayate, who still doesn’t think much of her. But with all that’s gone on in her life, she silently resolves to stop running from things and to make a stand. It’s this surge of confidence and resolve that really pushes her character forward into the series and gives her the strength to merge with Hayate for the first time, to go through the (naked) transformation into a battle costume with the powers Hayate has.
The series then does a natural progression of Himeno getting better at using her powers and merging with the other nights, fighting the various monster worms that show up throughout the city and trying to balance her home life and her crush on Hayate. It’s pretty typical stuff that would normally take up an entire season of most other shows, but is done very well here in skimming sequences over a couple of episodes. It’s just before the midway point of the series that we get introduced to the Disaster Queen fully and her plans of acquiring the Leafe so she can become even more powerful. And it’s here we learn some rather surprising secrets about her own past with the Leafe Knights and secrets among the Knights themselves.
The second half of the series really surprised me overall. And there was one moment where I was reminded of exactly why I love anime. While the Disaster Queen is going on about her love for Hayate in the past, we learn that one of the other Knights loved the Queen in secret and continues to have a deep love for her. Enough so that he abandons his comrades and takes up the mantle of her Dark Knight. And this isn’t just one of those momentary turns you find in some shows, this is something deep and profound that changes the way everything has gone before and carries through to the end of the series with some very heartrending consequences. It’s things like this that make anime stand out, in having a character follow his heart even though it brings him against his friends and casts him in the shadows of evil.
This is a very well written series overall and does a good job of mixing both the serious moments with the humorous ones. Early on as we get to learn of the ‘wicked family’ that Himeno lives with, we see mostly the outlandish pranks that Mayune plays on her and the abuse of the short bald driver Tanaka. Tanaka takes the brunt of the damage, but even he has a tale of love that’s snuck into things, giving his character a reason for taking the abuse. There’s plenty of little wild takes and big eyed moments of comedy, but it’s properly placed and I don’t believe ever showed up during the more serious moments of drama and battle. Most of the Knights get the short shrift in general just because there’s so many, but the two lead ones more than make up for it with well defined characters. And in the end, when everything comes together, you really get the feeling that each would act the way they do.
Another really good aspect of this show is the music. There’s some scattered into the show itself, but the opening song is extremely catchy and will definitely appeal to fans of the music that is prominent in Revolutionary Girl Utena. The opening music even goes through some changes during the final episodes as the storyline gravitates in a different direction and gives some of the possibilities with added animation and changed lyrics.
Odex’s release of Pretear is really solid overall. The main thing people will find problems with is in the English subtitles, which are probably 98% accurate. There’s a few odd turns of phrase, which we saw in Boy’s Be that may simply be cultural of English there, but there’s also some misspellings throughout. Yesterday becomes yesterdat. And a few other ones here and there, but these are very easy to overlook, and I only noticed one instance of a “yap!” for those that were amused by that line in Boy’s Be.
Frankly, if this is the quality level of future Odex releases, which is improved on what I thought was a great release in Boy’s Be, I’m definitely anxious to see what else they’re picking up, especially for series that the region 1 companies aren’t going to be looking at.
This release of Pretear was a lot of fun to watch and we really got into it with each subsequent episode. Having the entire run of the show in one set is something we really liked as well, as it made reviewing it much easier. I’d much rather give a series an overall grade for content than waffle between each volume and nitpick things. Pretear is a series for those who really like the magical girl shows and want to see something that’s a good halfway point in content between something like Sailor Moon and Utena. Great animation, solid plot, great villains with motivation and some really neat twists throughout. Highly recommended.
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.