Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Other
- MSRP: ¥5,800
- Running time: 30
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Saikano
She, The Ultimate Weapon Vol. #1
By Chris Beveridge
December 01, 2002
Release Date: November 28, 2002
She, The Ultimate Weapon Vol. #1
What They SayThe Review!
Almost any new Gonzo series garners attention from the moment it gets announced, but Saikano struck a chord with a number of folks who saw the few initial images and the haunting music that went with it.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. As that?s the only track included, it made our choice easy. While a number of OVA?s have been done in PCM audio lately, this 13 episode TV series gets the Dolby stereo mix, providing a solid mix for both the dialogue and the music behind the show.Video:
The folks at Gonzo have managed to produce another visually stunning piece with this transfer. Although they show is letterboxed but not anamorphic (a continuing problem that Gonzo simply must address), it looks fantastic. Colors are solid and vivid, aliasing and cross coloration appear to be non-existent an the overall look and feel of the transfer is just sparkling. With only one episode on the disc plus a small helping of extras, the bits went into the program here and it certainly shows.Packaging:
The first volume features the really gorgeous image of Shuji holding Chise set against the ruins, but with most of the background being white.The logo is provided in both Japanese and English here and just has that ?so simple it looks great? look to it. The back cover provides a few pictures from the show itself as well as a summary of the shows main plot. The discs technical features are all clearly listed in the grid format I love. The insert provides the hook image from the Saikano website that got me months ago, while it folds open to reveal a nice full image of the characters city and a quick little rundown on the various characters. The special edition release of this volume came with a box to hold all five volumes of the series and has to be one of the most gorgeously drawn ones I?ve seen. Done by I believe the manga author, Shin Takahashi, the box features gorgeous character artwork on both sides while the other slimmer sides feature mechanical artwork. The series English title is the only name representation on the box. Included in the box is a great figure of Chise in her school uniform holding a box lunch in front of her, with that being the other big incentive for shelling out twice as much as the regular edition.Menu:
The menu is a bit flashier than a lot of Japanese menus, using a similar style to the Saikano website. Selections are easy to figure out along the bottom with a few tries, but the thankful part is that when you get into language selection, the selections are provided in bilingual format, so it?s not as much guesswork. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is definitely nice on the eyes.Extras:
The extras for this release have been listed as unrated, mostly because I?ve avoided them due to there being supposedly a fair amount of visual spoilers in them as well as the fact that they aren?t subtitled, making it harder to enjoy them.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I?ll get this right out of the way to start; with only one episode here, there?s not a heck of a lot to talk about. But even with one episode, they?ve managed to provide the beginning of what looks to be a great series.
The story for all appearances seems to take place in present day, or just about. We follow the lives of several students in a suburban town as they go through the trials and tribulations of life at that age. Our main characters come in the form of Chise and Shuji. Chise had just days before professed herself for Shuji, and he accepted, though he wasn?t sure why. So the two are now dating, though each for different reasons. Chise is doing it because she wanted to know what it was like to date someone, to have that feeling that her friends talk about. Shuji did it a bit more out of obligation, feeling that if a girl asked, he should try. He?s also flattered, but finds it hard to really express himself about it.
Through the episode we follow the two as they go back and forth about their relationship, with the main focus being on an exchange diary that Chise wants to share with Shuji. It?s through this that we start to get a feel for them, especially as we see Shuji trying and struggling with what to write. Their relationship is fleshed out by their friends, each of them telling them various things about their own relationships and how they think their friends new relationship should go.
In the background of all of this, and thankfully done in a way that doesn?t feel either overly forced or far too subtle, is that there?s some sort of war brewing. The Japanese fighters are seen flying overhead more and more, and there?s a few casual comments about it. But like most school age kids, they truly don?t pay it much mind, with the usual ?That?ll never affect us here? mentality. It?s obvious where it?s going to go of course, but even though you can see it coming, it builds in a very well done way. This first episode appears to be titled ?The last love song on this little planet? and love is definitely going to be the focal point going forward, as the relationship between Chise and Shuji looks to be an intriguing one. We?re left with little real information here, but we are left with a pair of characters who, within thirty minutes, are very believable and easy to accept as someone we may even know.
With my early reservations with Vandread, I?ve found that for the most part I?ve enjoyed just about every Gonzo series I?ve gotten my hands on. With this release, I?ve had the added pleasure of seeing it earlier than normal since the Japanese release has English subtitles. This likely comes from something mentioned during a Hellsing interview, where their president mentioned wanting a more international reach with their shows and a more direct approach to it. While I still expect it to get released in the US, I?m definitely willing to try it out with the Japanese pricing and import costs. Gonzo has again created a series where it?s unlike others of theirs and the character designs don?t imitate their own other shows. That alone makes them far more interesting to me than certain other studios. My only continual main gripe with them is that inexplicable inability to produce an anamorphic show. I?m excited that they?re continuing to work with the widescreen format, as I find that with a lot of shows, it really does change the mood and feel of a show with the added space and dimension. But I?m still enough of a videophile to want the picture to gain that much more resolution and beauty. Thankfully, the English subtitles (which are very easy to understand and just about problem free) all reside within the picture, making zooming an easy option for most of us.
She, The Ultimate Weapon is a series that really grabbed me from a single image many months ago and is now grabbing me even more with its mix of visual, music and storytelling. This opening episode almost works well as a simple vignette and could stand alone with the slightest of tweaking. Thankfully, there?s still twelve more episodes to go.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,25 minute special program "Saishuu Heiki Kanojo no Subete",25 minute interview,Five 4 minute mini-programs "SaiKano Jyouhoukyoku",Four 15 second Family Gekijo TV ads,Three 30 second Family Gekijo TV ads,A 15 second CBC TV ad,,Chise Figure
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.