Sister Princess Vol. #7 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sister Princess

Sister Princess Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     August 01, 2005
Release Date: August 02, 2005


Sister Princess Vol. #7
© ADV Films


What They Say
Tokyo... or no? Be careful what you wish for! After a year of living on Promised Island with thirteen girls, Wataru gets a visitor from Tokyo who brings him some really startling news. Now Wataru is faced with a difficult decision that will affect him, and all of his sisters as well. In this last exciting volume of Sister Princess, all the secrets will be revealed, and everyone’s lives will be changed forever!

The Review!
Bringing the series to a close, Akio's arrival and intervention in Wataru's life comes full circle.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a solid stereo mix that makes good use of the range of character voices as they're often spread well across the forward soundstage. There isn't a lot to the show outside of the music and the character dialogue since it's a very much dialogue driven show but it's a good mix that was free of distortions and dropouts during regular playback. We listened to parts of the English track which got a 5.1 mix to it but it's essentially the same just a bit sharper and more distinct in placement.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame format. The show is filled with a lot of vibrant colors and clean lines so it stands out with the bright levels but also in the way that there is so much space given over to areas that it feels expansive yet almost empty at times. The colors for the show are fairly rich at times with lots of very vibrant colors, particularly the reds, mixed in with other colors. The island town isn't a typical town so there are lots of non-standard colors used for roads and buildings but they're mostly pastel in nature. The transfer manages to avoid just about all the usual problems so there's no noticeable cross coloration or much in the way of aliasing going on. There was some light blocking going on during some of the all-black sequences but it was very minimal.

Packaging:
Continuing what I think is a really good design; the seventh volume of this series changes up a few of the colors but keeps to the same layout. The top half provides us with a great full color piece of Chikage, Kaho and Hinako together with a pencil sketch of Wataru next to them. Below the light orange strip we get another full length shot of the other ten girls and it all just comes together very well. The back cover is laid out in much the same way but with photographs taking the place of the strip and production information along the bottom. The top half has a small character shot of Yotsuba alongside the summary paragraphs. The discs extras and technical information is all nice and clearly listed. Some of the extras listed aren't actual on-disc extras though but rather packaging pieces. For example, the reversible cover has a full image shot of Hinako and is what I believe to be the Japanese rental cover as it also has the original Japanese text for the logo. The back cover version of this is different from past volumes as it has a big cast shot of all the girls together that's really nicely illustrated. The insert for this release uses the English language logo for the series and looks like a postcard. It opens up to a two panel spread where it's a letter from Hinako to Wataru about her dreams and feelings towards him. I'll say it again, it's just a little bit creepy. The back of the insert showcases twelve of the girls.

Menu:
The menu layout is surprisingly simple with a static image of Karen, Kaho and Yotsuba outside of the house so that there's a view of the mountain and sky where the menu selections are lined over. Episode access is nice and quick and the navigation is simple and easy to use. There are some brief transitional animations to the submenus, such as a postcard taking up most of the static image when going to the extras menu, but they're very fast and without problem. As a continual plus with ADV release, our players' language presets were correctly read when the disc started up.

Extras:
Though not terribly filled with extras, there's some good material here. The standards are ever present with the new clean opening sequence and the ending sequence but there's no new portfolio of production sketches this time. The new inclusion this time is a Behind the Scenes piece that talks with the English voice actors. The last installment is a "best of the series" review with just about all of the actors having something to say about the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the seventh volume, Sister Princess comes to a close and does what it can to bring some sense of closure to the main storyline. The series had hit something of a surprising high note of interest with the fifth volume and some of the stories there but after that it's unfortunately fallen back down to where we felt about it since almost the beginning. The arrival of Akio in the last volume started to bring a number of small revelations into things but in the end, his involvement and master plan amount to pretty much nothing, which is what the series felt like most of the time anyway.

Akio's plans while on the island are fairly tame all told though he's spent most of it simply chastising Mami about her poor performance in doing what she was sent there to do but also just going on about how decadent everything is. His other push is that he's got the papers that Wataru wasn't quite expecting involving his acceptance in a Tokyo university, something that he had made a deal with Akio about some time ago. Akio's manipulation is fairly obvious and relatively blunt for someone who's considering himself one of the elite of the future, but that's relatively lost on Wataru who continues to be generally oblivious. With the thought of going back to Tokyo and leaving his sisters, Wataru's thoughts linger on how he can tell them what he's doing. His mind even seems to focus on the idea that it's just a visit and not long term.

But what Akio has done has worked well enough on Wataru that he's even able to essentially get Wataru to sneak off the island without telling anyone. After fooling old man Jeeves and getting his own boat to come pick them up, Akio and Wataru return to the fast paced Tokyo life. The changes are fairly dramatic if far too in your face, such as the almost marching ranks of people in the background and the change in Wataru to longer and messier hair as well as the blank glasses going on and his expressions going blank along with it. Wataru falls easily back into what he was like before he went to Promised Island and met his sisters and Akio is all gleeful about it as he sees how their vision of the future will be as them being the elites walking the hallways of power. It's all left vague and just his words on it but it's hard to believe that Akio is really manipulative based on what he's done.

While Wataru goes through everything that's happening there, the girls are back at the island and without Wataru among them they all seem to drift apart around the island and do whatever they can to try and occupy their time. They hardly interact with each other and it seems like their life is drained out of them. It's pretty sad to see them go this route with them since it continues to reinforce the idea of women who are nothing without their man in their lives and simply makes that co-dependent like relationship that they all have even stronger. The people worth watching during this phase are the ones like Yamada who finds his loves not being quite as strong now or those that live on the island and have been working towards everything for Wataru's end purpose.

Sister Princess has been predictable almost from the get go once you got into the main premise of things so it's plainly obvious where the show will end up here and how Akio's plans will result. That's been one of the main problems with the show throughout was that it is incredibly predictable, but it seems like most of the fans of the show simply ignore that aspect and enjoy it for the various characters that they like and just run with that. There's always the hope that there will be something meatier underneath the glossy surface but Sister Princess wasn't angling for that at all. It's light and fluffy and it certainly has its cute moments, but it's a series that was very hard early on to take in multiple episode chunks. The last volumes with less episodes were more manageable but more frustrating since they're the ones with the closing plotline to the series but still felt like they weren't quite sure what they were doing.

In Summary:
When looking back at the series, I'm still very unsure of exactly what it was they wanted to tell. At most, it's a story where it was decided to take a young man out from a route he was on for his life and to try and change him through the interactions of his "sisters" who seem to have connected pasts to him. The changes happened, the pasts were left unexplored and what they were changing him for is left unanswered. It ends with more questions and hardly any real answers. The belief that there's supposed to be something deeper to it is likely what's frustrating me more than it should but with all the references throughout it I have to believe that. For fans of this series, they got a really good release all told with some great extras for dub fans, great artwork, reversible covers and lots of artwork in general. For those curious about the series, it's a hard sell to be sure in my mind but it really depends on how well you can deal with the harem concept.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the scenes with the entire cast,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

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

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