Saber Marionette J Collection 2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 44.95
  • Running time: 200
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J Collection 2

By Chris Beveridge     April 24, 2001
Release Date: April 24, 2001


Saber Marionette J Collection 2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Otaru and his Saber Marionettes have been asked to infiltrate Gartlant and put a stop to Fausi's evil plans. But even the combined strength, speed, and courage of the Marionettes may not be enough. After all, the Saber Dolls are just as devoted to Faust as the Marionettes are to Otaru.
Danger takes a back seat to love as Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry continue to try and win Otaru's affection and live "happily ever after," with some hilarious results. But how can there be a happy end when before one threat is even defeated, another looms on the horizon?

And Otaru learns the secrets of the Maiden Circuits and how truly important Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry are the future of all Terra II!

The Review!
With the setting and introduction episodes out of the way as well as the lead in to the first arc, Collection 2 brings us to some meat of the story and a bit of filler as well.

Audio:
For the purpose of this review, we listened to the disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout this track we had no real problems with it at all, it's a fairly typical two channel soundtrack with little in terms of directionality outside of a few key moments. Dialogue is clean and at a normal level and there wasn't any noticeable distortions. Bandai went above and beyond here by including a Spanish language track on top of both the Japanese and English tracks.

Video:
For the most part, this is a pretty solid looking release. Bandai delayed the release of the first set to get better master from material from Japan and it does pay off fairly well here as well with this second set. Colors are solid with only a few noticeable areas of color banding, line noise is practically non-existent and rainbows are extremely minimal. The grain seems to be less than the previous collection which is a definite plus as well. A few nicks here and there also show up, but hardly noticeable to a large number of fans.

Packaging:
Our copy arrived in the slim amaray double disc case and looks nice. The front cover has the bright and the ultra cute looking Cherry smiling outwards. The reverse side has a good summary of things as well. Lots of pictures, a good summary of the show and a nice layout in general. The insert provides a nice fold-out of Faust and Luchs.

Menus:
The menu system is laid out using various bits of animation mixed in from the show with a numerous musical bits throughout each of the submenus, such as animation playing in scene select along with music. Things are laid out in a fairly logical way and everything's easy to get to. Access times are fairly slow though, especially when navigating between episodes, making the play-by-episode route fairly cumbersome.

Extras:
The character bio section is good, covering three of the characters and providing a couple of stills for each of them while talking about them, but the video simply shows a lot of love of this show. Specially mixed by "Lord Richard", the ending music is remixed to 5.1 with a great rhythm and some solid directionality during certain segments. For those like me who try various buttons while playing things like this, you'll find that it does have English subtitles as well as romaji subtitles and Japanese subtitles. This video is the Cherry mix, so Cherry fans (which I find myself becoming one of) get a great video here. Too bad it wasn't done in DTS. *cackle*

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Things start off fast here, picking up where the last collection left off with Otaru and the marionettes heading into Faust's territory to take down the master computer that runs everything. As they check out the region, they find that the population is set to a schedule set by the computer with rations doled out in small parcels and life in general is pretty ugly to look at.

The look of Faust's city is both technological/advanced but rundown at the same time. Unless you're one of the elite and part of the system, you're trampled on. Otaru and the marionettes naturally despise everything they see and set forth to take down the computer and set free the people. This becomes more involved when they get hooked up with a resistance group and work with them to bring it down.

That's not to say all of this is done with a huge amount of seriousness. There are moments of seriousness, but then Hanagata, otherwise known as The Dandy, gets involved in things and just starts screaming about things and going on and on, running around... flailing... getting into trouble.

Once things are accomplished in the city, the gang returns to Japoness, where Otaru is treated as a big hero and ends up doing all kinds of things you'd normally find a returning hero doing, commercials, ceremonies and all other odd little things. Otaru really gets into it, but the girls end up just missing him. The exploits get spread over a few episodes, so while it is filler, it does actually serve a purpose in starting to explain some of the mysteries about the marionettes and their evolution.

I found myself enjoying these episodes a bit more than the first disc since they moved into actual stories and not individual character episodes. The arc with Faust's city had some interesting bits to it, but a lot of it focused on everyone just running around. There were some hilarious moments though, especially when Otaru and The Dandy end up taking out the super computer in an unexpected way.

I also appreciated that the filler episodes dealing with Otaru as a returning hero actually helped advance parts of the story, in showing that the marionettes are learning and growing as their time with Otaru continues on. It's not something that can be rushed, but it also allows for a few dopey stories. Squirelly needs to be put out of his misery.

While it wasn't more of the same, it did retain the feel and built upon what came before. The second collection made some inroads into getting me to like it more and if the final collection brings things to a conclusion in a satisfying way, my opinion of the show may raise a bit more.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Language,Character Databank,Special Music Video

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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