Saber Marionette J Again - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.98
  • Running time: 180
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J Again

By Chris Beveridge     January 28, 2002
Release Date: January 08, 2002


Saber Marionette J Again
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
It's no secret that Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry were instrumental in saving Japoness from destruction - But do you know what happened next? They're all back in another hilarious romp where coquettish Marionettes rule and mean people feel their wrath!

Everything starts off well, everyone's enjoying life after the defeat of the evil Gartlant Empire. But suddenly, a new marionette appears! The beautiful Marine joins the group, but within her circuits, she harbors a great new power! So great, that an unknown enemy will stop at nothing to make sure that her power belongs to them! Can Lime and the others rise to the occasion and save their new friend?

The Review!
The marionettes and Otaru return for more fun adventures in this OVA series that's one really long episode. On the plus side, it was more enjoyable than the entire TV series.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a 90's OVA series, it's got your basic stereo mix, but it's a pretty good one. There's a fair amount of forward soundstage directionality and there's some music and an occasional sound effect thrown to the rears. Dialogue is nice and clear and overall it's a solid presentation.

Video:
Compared to the TV series, the budget ballooned for this. The show features some very rich, colorful and vibrant animation using the same designs for the characters and city. On the downside, it's probably one of the more rainbow-infested discs I've seen in awhile, making many sequences practically unwatchable. Mid-range characters become a colorful shimmer at times. But it's not really consistent as there are a number of gorgeous scenes that contain no cross coloration and just jump off the screen. But the times they are there really affected my enjoyment of the show. Other than that, there's hardly anything to complain about in regards to the transfer.

Packaging:
Styled similar to the TV series release, we get a great cover that contains the three main marionettes of our show all smiles here with little fanservice. It looks pretty sweet with only a slight change to the logo to add the "Again". The back cover provides a number of screenshots and a brief summary of the show. Features and extras are clearly listed and mentioning that it's the entire series is a bonus. The insert provides another shot of the cover while it folds out to give summaries for each of the individual episodes. The keepcase used is a double amaray, which means it's got the hinge in it. Thankfully our discs arrived still intact.

Menus:
A nice plus for consistency, the menus are the same design as the TV series with the image of the maiden circuit with the selections ringed around it. The menus load nice and quick and moving around is easily done, though you might hit the wrong direction by accident once in awhile. Access times between menus is solid and the overall layout is just right.

Extras:
Spread across the two discs, there's some good extras in here. The first disc contains a few commercials for the various series as well as twenty pieces of line art for the OVA series. The second disc does a great job in offering up clean openings and endings for all six episodes, since each one is different. Some of these openings are great fun to watch, so I was really pleased to see that.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the Saber Marionette J series got progressively better, in the end it was somewhat average in the been there/done that feel for a lot of it. There were a number of missed opportunities about the show, especially in its male-centric ways, that just weren't explored hardly at all.

Well, don't expect them to get explored here either.

But what we do get is a very enjoyable story. Billed as episode 26 told in six parts, Plasmatic Crisis takes the show beyond the large events of the series. Gartlant is no longer a threat, Faust has gone off wandering the world, Lorelei is off creating woman-ity and Otaru and the girls have set up a restaurant while Otaru continues to do all kinds of odd jobs. Life is something resembling normalcy.

There are two events which change this happy picture though. The first is that Faust has realized the error of his ways in how he brought up his marionettes over the years. So to get them the proper training they need, he sends them to Otaru to teach. So not only do we get Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry, but we also get Luchs, Panther and Tiger living under the same roof. Well, sort of. Tiger is still pretty messed up after everything that happened before, so she's at the castle with Lorelei who is repairing her maiden circuit.

But that leaves Luchs and Panther with the other marionettes. Otaru gets them to work with the others in learning basic domestic chores and living life as his marionettes do. Luchs works with Cherry in the restaurant, proving how incapable of any form of cooking she is while Panther and Bloodberry prove just how alike they are in their violent ways. The pairings go pretty well all told and they all play off of each other nicely. It's mostly predictable stuff, but there are some fairly dark moments when their past relationships crop up.

The second event is something that Faust discovers during his travels. He comes across an empty large canister which contained a marionette. The marionette is long gone, but he knows something about it and heads off to New Texas to warn them about it. But while that's going on, the marionette makes its way to Japoness and ends up being befriended by Lime. So the seventh marionette has arrived, and this one is a sea-faring kind of one with gorgeous blue green hair and seashells for earrings.

This new marionette, who they all decide to call Marine after an amusing argument, is apparently quite different from the rest. She's nervous around men and is always avoiding Otaru. She gets along quite well with Lime and her innocence. It's not long before we learn that she's more evolved than the rest of the marionettes, but that's not really the right time. She's just more matured and is going through the marionette equivalent of puberty and doesn't like boys. This sets off a wide number of things with the other marionettes in how the react to this information.

Oh, there's also a once-in-80,000-years event that threatens to destroy the world too. But that's all pretty much last minute stuff.

The show does a good job of dealing with all of the characters. Having Faust's marionettes change roles was a pleasant bit of scripting that helped change perceptions, Marine was a pretty interesting character all told and even Lime wasn't as annoying as usual. The scripting for these episodes felt much more tightly paced and plotted than the TV series which helped our enjoyment of it. While we barely cracked a smile during most of those episodes, we were laughing out loud numerous times during this.

If it wasn't for the cross coloration issues, this would be a more highly recommended set of discs, especially for SMJ fans. The content itself is solid and if you can overlook the transfer issue, you'll be pretty pleased.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings (6),Textless Endings (6),Commercials,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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