Risky Safety Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AN Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 80
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Risky Safety

Risky Safety Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 27, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003


Risky Safety Vol. #1
© AN Entertainment


What They Say
Join young Moe, the devilish apprentice death spirit Risky, and the pure-hearted apprentice angel Safety in a funny and touching tale of fate, friendship, love, the cosmic balance of the universe, and even a few giant monsters!

Thinking that she can never see her boyfriend again, Moe's despair summons a spunky soul collecting apprentice spirit of death named Risky. Risky urges Moe to depart the mortal realm, leaving behind her precious soul until a glimmer of hope and a brief smile on Moe's face cause Risky to transform into Safety, a polite and proper apprentice angel who just happens to share a body with Risky. Accompanied by a feisty apprentice devil and a delicate apprentice angel, Moe's life suddenly becomes a humorous and touching trial of balancing her love life with protecting her schoolmates from Risky's devilish clutches. The best of Japanese animation combined with a charming universal story about the struggle between light and dark make Moe's adventure a contemporary fairy tale for all ages!

The Risky Safety DVDs will feature reversible covers giving fans their choice of a "Risky side" or a "Safety side" with matching English or Japanese logo.

The Review!
AN Entertainment’s first release comes after watching many studios go through the pains of entering the DVD world. Have they learned what it takes to make even the fanatical fan approve?

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, primarily because we’re such big Maaya Sakamoto fans. The show has a rather good stereo mix that’s very heavy on the bass in a number of musical moments that helps add a real sense of depth to the track. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout. We listened to chunks of the English track and had no issues with that either.

Video:
Originally airing in late 1999 as part of the Anime Complex II series of short shows, Risky Safety was part of a number of series that really rode the digital animation wave at the right time. The transfer here manages to showcase this series well with its very smooth camera panning, great colors that deal with scenes that shift from sharp to soft and all without any cross coloration. The most that I could come up with for issues with the transfer is that during some of the very closely drawn lines, such as Moe’s eyebrows, occasionally there’s some slight aliasing. This will be dependent on your setup though and how well calibrated everything is. It was quite noticeable on our “out of the box” 20” set but it was practically negligible on the HDTV.

Packaging:
Using a clear keepcase, AN went nicely creative here with a reversible cover. The primary side of it, done sideways, features the cute Safety floating up alongside some branches. The original logo is along the top corner and it shows both the volume number and a listing of all eight episodes titles. The back cover, also sideways, features a larger print version of the episode titles, several nice shots from the show itself and a good introduction summary. The discs features and production credits are all nicely placed and easily located. The spine is the only actual place where you’ll see the Risky Safety logo. The reverse side cover provides a great image of Risky sitting on one of the thicker branches and just giving off attitude left and right. The reverse back is identical to the original one. The included insert is top notch, featuring a smattering of artwork and animation shots throughout while providing some really good translation notes. The fourth page of the booklet provides the end song lyrics and a good sized production credit list as well as bilingual actor credits.

Menu:
The menu layout here is nicely designed. The central image is a great piece of the three lead characters that are ringed by the selections while music plays. Access times to each of the menus is nice and fast and they all load quickly and are free of transitional animations that can bog down some releases.

Extras:
For the first volume, there’s a solid set of extras included here. The best of which in my mind is that the entire set of translators notes available on the insert are also duplicated here. I think this is the first time that’s ever happened and boy am I grateful. Since I tend to watch shows but not have the case actually in hand at the time, I like reading all the notes afterwards. Also included is a brief 40 second bit of dub outtakes with a couple of good ones in there. The end credit sequence is provided in both clean and original Japanese form and there’s a small but good image gallery provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this being AN’s first release, I’ll get into some of the technical observations before digging into the content of the show itself. As mentioned above, there’s been a lot of fun watching various companies old and new get into the DVD game. Problems were abound on practically every release with very few near flawless first time entries. When each new studio announced their intentions, the fans would sit there and wonder if they would get it right, to look at what’s gone on in the past and make sure to avoid the obvious gaffes.

AN has seemingly managed to do just that. There’s precious little here that I can quibble with. When it came down to the end of the volume, the only thing I could really bring myself to complain about is that they use a credit roll instead of fade in/out method, which causes some slight blurriness since it’s in blue with white edging.

Beyond that, the only other thing that I had wished a bit more attention was paid to was the soft subtitles for various sign translations. There’s enough of them throughout that I thought worth subtitling, but I then found out that they were actually just about all mentioned inside the translators notes. That’s one way to do it, but when I see a giant weekly comic magazine on the show, a quick subtitle of its title would be appreciated. But that quibble really is quite small when you watch the show as opposed to hearing me complain about it. I know it’s nit picky. But it’s the only nit there really is to pick. AN has definitely learned as evidenced by this release what a lot of fans I know want out of an anime DVD.

Originally part of the Anime Complex II series, Risky Safety is another of the many shows that were released in 1999 and 2000 that adopted the 10 minute episode format and tried to tell various stories that way. Unlike a lot of other ones, Risky Safety manages to start off without lurching around trying to find its feet through the timing and instead tells a series of short but highly enjoyable stories. There is plenty of continuity from episode to episode, but they also feel nicely self contained for the most part.

We’re introduced initially to a young girl named Moe. Like a lot of kids her age, she’s in her room and crying her eyes out over an injustice done to her by her boyfriend, the year younger lad named Yuya. Her despair leads her to wishing she was dead and that sets off a small series of events that eventually brings something new into Moe’s life. That turns out to be the pint sized Risky, a devilish looking little woman (who looks an awful lot like a male in these episodes) in black with a big hat and a scythe who has come to take Moe to the other side.

Risky, we learn, is the one who guides and purifies the souls of those after their deaths and takes them on their journey to Hell. She’s a “shinigami”, which is translated as a Japanese spirit of death. Risky’s take on all of this, with her being an apprentice with zero points to his name, is quite noble. She and others of her kind serving under the King of Hell don’t have the same view on death as humans. So she ends up having issues with Moe in trying to get her to succumb to him so she can take her soul.

Moe, being a typical teenager, lets her emotions go all over the map. When she quickly overcomes her desire for death, poor Risky ends up undergoing a physical change. It turns out that she shares the same space as Safety, an angel apprentice assigned to Moe to help bring out her inner happiness. As go Moe’s emotions, so goes who is in charge of the space that Risky and Safety occupy. With a teenage girl, this produces some extremely hilarious results as you watch the two poof back and forth to each other as they trail across her bedroom.

Though both end up eventually failing to really help Moe, they’ve taken to keeping her in their sites while waiting for their next jobs. The two really can’t do much yet due to their level, so they’re assigned to low level jobs. There’s a lot of great back and forth between Moe and Risky as well as some cute moments over who gets control of the space they occupy. There’s also the expansion into other areas as Moe begins to go about her life, such as meeting up with her younger boyfriend or dealing with a classmate whom Risky wants to take over quickly. The eight episodes here, each running ten minutes, goes by very quickly, especially if you skip the endings and previews for each new episode.

The animation for the show is great looking, very nicely fleshed out and richly painted. There’s some obvious digital moments here and there, such as a truck that moves a bit too smoothly or a movement by Risky captured too awkwardly by the camera, but there’s also a lot of really nice little touches, such as the rain falling around the red or green street lights being illuminated the same color. The character designs are also very easy on the eyes, though it does provide some deceptively young looking kids for the cast.

Prior to the licensing of show, I had never heard of it and then managed to avoid knowing anything about it until I popped the disc into the player to watch the final release. This is a very amusing show that’s definitely going to appeal to a number of fans who are looking for that cute kind of show that plays at some heartstrings, has some fun humor and is just a little bit different from most other shows. This is an easy recommendation to make as I think it’s very much worth checking out.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Reversible Cover,Outtakes,Translators Notes,Textless Ending,Original Japanese Ending,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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