Seraphim Call - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Seraphim Call

Seraphim Call

By Chris Beveridge     January 19, 2005
Release Date: December 28, 2004


Seraphim Call
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Twelve girls with twelve wishes...twelve dreams. Deep in their hearts they all have a secret dream, and they'll all meet at Acropolis Tower to see if their dreams will come true.

The Review!
Eleven tales of girls in the constructed city of Palis in 2010 detail their lives and show that angels are within each of them.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo Japanese mix is the only one on this release as it is and there is no English dub. Much like their release of Sentimental Journey, the show is highly dialogue driven and there's very little in the way of real directionality going on throughout pretty much the entire show. The opening and ending songs are the only pieces that sound like they're using the stereo channels as the show itself sounds center channel based for pretty much all of the episodes. It's slightly muffled in some places and a bit indistinct but still serviceable.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1999, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Done without much in the way of digital or computer assisted animation, the show has a very soft and appealing look to it with a good amount of detail that's visible throughout the show. The color palette used for it is fairly real world style but without much in the way of really vibrant areas. Even the usually bright hair colors are somewhat soft and not over saturated. There's a fair bit of aliasing throughout during some of the movement sequences but cross coloration is pleasantly absent. With six episodes on each volume, the transfer overall looks good and is generally free of serious problems.

Packaging:
Released in a single sized double keepcase, the front cover has a very attractive piece of angel artwork with floating feathers and spots going around her. The bottom portion has a good looking logo for the show and a strip of purple filtered images of several of the girls from the show. The back cover has a couple of collages of a lot of the girls together and some full color pieces as well with a very simple summary of the series premise. The discs production information and basic technical information rounds out the bottom. As with a number of recent releases, no insert is included in this release.

Menu:
The main menu is a good looking piece that takes the purple color and really runs with it. Using a close up shot of the front cover, we get the character along the top half in just purple shading while the logo is just below her in the center. Below that is a filmstrip of the eleven girls from the series in a purple filter that move by, all set to the opening song from the show. Navigation is lined along the bottom and is very minimal since there isn't any language options or extras to be had. Without that, the disc obviously plays with the Japanese language and subtitle option without issue.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taking place in 2010, we're shown eleven separate stories of eleven girls that live on a manmade island in Japan called Palis. At the center of the island is the Acropolis Tower that rises high above everything else. Sprawling out from there is a wide variety of Academia, business and government offices as well as plenty of residential areas as it goes further out. The city itself isn't a terribly big focus of the series but it does provide for a slightly different backdrop to the lives of the girls that impact them in small ways.

Each of the tales stand alone and tell a fairly complete little story about that particular girl. Some of the stories are interesting and some of them are just bland, but each of them focuses on the girl trying to figure out in different ways just who they are and where they're going in their lives. Most of them struggle with things and have a hard time accepting who they are in a number of ways, but with the shows premise of bringing out the angel in each girl, they're all designed around freeing them from what's binding them now and moving them on to the next stage of their lives. Well, most of them, as a couple of them just seem fairly pointless.

There isn't a lot of action to the series but there are a few busy episodes, such as the first one that deals with a genius high school student who can build pretty much any incredible device she wants but she's petrified to be in the presence of any man. Her nervousness about this is a big problem at this time because bombs have been planted in the center of the city and will destroy the entire area if she doesn't come and deal with it since she knows it better than anyone else. So while the police and people freak out about all of this, she spends her time in her room trying to muster the courage to even view a man on a videophone. Other episodes use action in different ways such as the athletic girl who doesn't think she's attractive in any way spends all her time doing sports related things and trying to avoid a woman who wants her to pose naked for a painting since she sees the real beauty inside the girl. The competitive nature leads to some amusing moments as the two wrangle to get what they want but it's not the same kind of over the top action as the first episode gets.

But much of the stories are just simple life tales. One young woman has to deal with changes in her family as her mother is looking to remarry but she feels she can't leave her father who wouldn't be able to survive without her taking care of him. Her original dreams of studying abroad to be a pastry chef are put away and she lives to take care of him but everyone else around her works to try and show her a different way to go about things. Or the story that has a young woman who is secretly a manga author whose stories are popular, particularly among her fellow classmates, who decides to do a standard high school slice of life storyline and gets influenced by a boy who moves in with them to study at the school. The changes he brings into her life influences her manga even more. This is an nicely told tale since it brings actual manga panels into play to help forward the story.

Some of these tales are just a bit weird though or at least take a significant amount of time to get through. One has us looking into the room of a high school girl who has to go through the usual routines of someone her age and doing virtual education, normal physical education and just playing around with her stuffed animals. Seen through the eyes of one of her latest stuffed animals, it's a very dragged out episode with a hook at the end that was obvious right from the start really. There's also a two-part story that deals with twin sisters and their exploration of virtual reality and dream enhancement machines who start having issues in determining what's reality and what's the virtual. These two episodes are particularly bad in a way because each episode focuses on one of the sisters and they both use much of the same animation so it feels heavily like watching the same thing twice with very little new material in the second and practically no payoff at all.

The character designs throughout the show are pretty good and there are some really good design ideas here and there, such as the school uniform for the twins and some of the layout of the academic world on this island. Most of the girls have fairly standard designs and basically feel like they came from a PC dating sim game of that time without much being changed. They're decent but mostly forgettable in the long run. Each of them has a distinct nature about them in their stories and they don't really blend across each other so at least each of the stories feels like it's something new and not a rehash of what we'd seen before.

In Summary:
Seraphim Call is an interesting show but one of those that you have to wonder how it managed to get approved and what the real goal of it was. Each of the stories is fairly well told with some better than others but otherwise it's an entirely forgettable show. Much like Sentimental Journey, it's interesting to watch and it has its moments but it's not something you run out recommending to people. With it having twelve episodes across two discs for the price of one regular release, it's definitely a bargain and not a bad way to spend some time if you're looking for something slightly different or just want to watch some slice of life stories that are slightly outside the normal.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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