Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 14, 2002
Release Date: June 18, 2002


Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Bloodberry, disappointed after a date with Otaru goes awry and joins the circus! Meanwhile, Lime meets a fairy, but when she tries to introduce her new friend to Otaru and Co - no one believes her! And finally, Otaru and the Marionettes decide to sneak Lorelei out of the castle for a small outing, but things don't go as planned when Lorelei vanishes and a new enemy appears!

The Review!
This batch of SMJ episodes played our fairly similar to the first, in the fact that we actually enjoyed a number of these and didn’t feel nearly as annoyed with it as we did during the original series.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Listening to the Japanese track we had a good pro-logic experience with the music making good use of the rear channels. Sound effects and dialogue are all forward based and had some nice moments of directionality throughout it with no noticeable dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Using a similar style to the SMJ Again OVA release with the digital look, the show fares out better by not being as polished and looking as fake as a lot of that series did. In general, things look good here, and cross coloration is pretty minimal in the some episodes and then starts to lightly creep in during others. But again, nowhere near the horrid level the OVA had. Colors throughout looked good and there was little in the way of aliasing. If it wasn’t for the cross coloration, this would have been a gorgeous looking disc.

Packaging:
Visions of Cherry make up this cover, with her regular self and an interesting “champ’ version off to the side. It’s a bright and colorful cover and definitely very much Cherry. The back cover provides a number of animation shots from the episodes and a good summary of the discs. Features are clearly listed as well as the discs episode numbers and titles. The packaging also gets the volume numbers clearly listed, an extra bonus. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens up to provide smaller summaries for each of the five episodes. The back cover provides some production credits and voice actor credits for both languages, though only the Japanese get the match-up to the characters.

Menu:
The menu is similar to past releases in using the maiden circuit animation but gets an update by using the new animation of it from the ending. Other parts of the ending animation end up in the various submenus as well. The main menu provides most of the good stuff and moving around is pretty easy and load times are nice and fast. The animation is pretty brief in general, and if you’ve seen past SMJ releases, you know what to expect here.

Extras:
The only extra included is a roughly five minute “interview”’ with the character designer for this series, Tsukasa Kotobuki. This appears to have been done during a convention, since you can see the Bandai con display behind in a few sequences. Kotobuki talks about the designs and what he was trying to achieve with them, but much like the Love Hina #3 interview, a lot of this tends to be fluff and just an overview of the series and its popularity and lots of animation from the show playing (in English). Both these pieces were produced by a company called Animepop and seem to have an affection for doing poor colored over versions of the person talking. I don’t care for it one bit. Even more annoying? In the credits, they provide their web address, which isn’t even freakin’ valid (as of this writing, it’s owned by snapnames).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this second installment of episodes, the show continues to move forward in terms of the characters, but not an overall plot. The bits in the first volume about discontinuing the marionettes doesn’t get covered here again, but there are some inklings of changes ahead.

For individual episodes, it’s fairly typical in that one character gets to shine and show off what’s unique about them. Bloodberry has a good episode where she ends up staying at a visiting circus for a couple of days after Lime ends up infringing upon a date she had set with just Otaru. The circus gig stirs something in her maiden circuit with man she meets there since he looks like Otaru and even has some of the same personality. She ends up getting involved in some of the circus stuff, but it’s really focused on how her feelings are evolving.

Cherry gets a similar episode in a rather amusing way. While she’s about town doing her shopping, she comes across a sizeable container along the river bank. Popping it open with her special skills since it’s locked with government codes, she’s surprised to find that it has a very small baby human inside. She’s practically fallen hard right then and there and decides to take the whole thing home, fearing that the wrong person will come across it and do something wrong. She eventually ends up on the run, misinterpreting the flyers that are passed out by the government officials who are looking for their little lost clone.

The episode does some good stuff in re-establishing the male dominated society and the way children are brought about and cared for in the earliest of stages before they’re moved to families. It’s really unfortunate that these concepts aren’t explored in more detail throughout these shows, as it’s something that I think would give it a much stronger edge over the more stereotypical aspects of the show. But this particular episode does a nice job of bringing some aspects of it to light.

Lime gets a couple of episodes to herself, such as the one with a fairy that she can see that she befriends while another deals with environmental conservation themes and is fairly heavy handed, but to be expected when it comes to Lime and how she expresses things. These continue to feel like the weakest episodes to me though, and generally the ones that my eyelids start to falter on.

These are still fairing much better with us than the original series or even the OVA series. Fairly fun stuff that’s mostly light and fluffy.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Tsukasa Kotobuki Interview

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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