Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 175
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Sorcerer Hunters
Sorcerer Hunters Vol. #1
By Josh Galloway
February 18, 2002
Release Date: February 27, 2001
I suppose it's about time this series got released on DVD, and who better to do it than ADV. Its comedic nature and ample serving of fan service fit right in with their cultivated image. However, this time, the cleavage shots on the cover are no over-exaggeration of what's inside! I saw the first 6 or so episodes about a year ago, and I was excited to see it in DVD quality--with seven episodes on the disc, no less!
I listened primarily to the Japanese track, and checked the English track here and there (mostly to see translation accuracy). Both tracks were standard fare; nothing jumping out extremely, but it was no fault of the DVD. There was some directionality involving characters crossing the screen or being just off screen. The opening and closing songs are quite catchy and I didn't skip them at all, which is a feat considering there were seven of each. (As usual for ADV releases, the subtitles are not hard-matted and they alternate between English translation and romaji, from episode to episode). "What's Up Guys," the intro, is sung by Carrot's voice actor and Tira's, the legendary Megumi Hayashibara. The Japanese voice acting is rather good, with Carrot, Chocolat, and Tira really getting into their wacky roles. From what I heard on the English track, I wasn't too impressed, and I'm a guy who's very open to dubs. It wasn't nearly as good as say, Evangelion. The recognizable (and bearable) voice actors were Brett Weaver as Carrot, Tiffany Grant (Asuka) as Chocolat, and Sue Ulu (Ritsuko) as Big Mama. The biggest turn-off for the English version was Gateau, who sounded like he indeed did have some cake stuck in the back of his throat, and the incidental female characters. The background music is generally goofy synth music, with some nicer serious pieces here and there.
As a not-old, but not-spanking-new TV series, the transfer comes across well. I saw no instances of rainbows or dirt specks. Sometimes the night skies were maybe not as dark as they were intended to be, but I didn't have any qualms. The character designs are very nice for a male-oriented comedy. It's interesting to compare Carrot with his ultra-bishounen brother, Marron. Well, the animation for this series seems pretty high grade for a TV series, with some moments looking really excellent and others more subdued (I don't know if that word really goes with the series!). High points are Tira and Chocolat's transformations, and the opening and ending animation. The opening in particular is very fast-paced to go with the song "What's Up Guys" and is quite well animated and fun to watch. As is standard for ADV, the Japanese logo in the intro was overlain with an English logo. Typically, I really don't like these because they just don't look right; it's very obvious that it's a computer-generated overlay. Bad examples are the ADV Nadesico logo, Ruin Explorers, and Those Who Hunt Elves (which has a cheesy-looking tank rolling across the screen!). However, the Sorcerer Hunters one is pretty bearable. The title zooms in, and right in time with the music, the Sorcerer Hunters symbol appears in the background and a shiny effect goes over the lettering. Just as a little extra note, if you pause right before the logo pops up, you can see the Japanese logo for a split-second before it gets over-lain. Since the show takes place in another world, where there aren't signs in Japanese, ADV didn't do any other overlays.
This is one tough to rate... I will say it's the only DVD I've seen where the title consumes 90% of the space with only two tiny character pictures in the corners. It has the English logo that pops up at the end of the intro. (that was already in English) and an unusually sexy picture of the Chinese fairy-creature Dotta-chan, as well as the standard picture of Tira in her battle costume. The back of the cover is a bit nicer, with good pictures of Marron, Chocolat, and Carrot, as well as some smaller shots. It has a suggested rating of 15+, which I agree with considering the charged sexuality of the show. A gripe I have about the packaging which is one that applies to almost all anime DVD's is the lack of volume numbers. I wonder if this is done so maybe unwary buyers won't realize that a TV series might be 26 episodes, so they'll be more inclined to buy another disc whenever it comes out (not realizing that there are tons more to come, like with Kenshin). Inside, there's a beautiful insert featuring Tira, Chocolat, and Marron. On the reverse is a picture of Marron and all the episode and chapter listings. I'm sticking with the front, so I can be greeted by three very sexy characters! A nice color picture of Tira is printed on the disc itself along with the logo, and it comes in a black Amaray that's easy to retrieve the disc from.
It looks like someone at the authoring house screwed up, but I'm not complaining: typically, ADV discs have a million logos, including the obnoxious ADV one that makes an appearance twice, and they cannot be skipped. I was happy to discover on this disc, as well as the second EVA and a few other recent ADV titles, that they forgot to lock these preview logos in place. Now, all one needs to do is hit menu or track forward! Menus have quick access time, but are also decorated with music and animation. The main menu assaults the viewer with "What's Up Guys" and three separate animation windows that repeat after about 30 seconds or more. The song really gets me psyched to watch the disc! The extras menu is straightforward and plays the ending theme "Shy Venus" which is strangely reminiscent of the Beverly Hills Cop theme song. As always, the disc is set to English by default, and doesn't respect my player's language pre-setting. As a side note, many DVD's now have a jacket image that the player can use as a background when you put it on resume stop. I know the Sailor Moon S and Endless Waltz discs have it, but this one does not. It's not that important, but it is a nice touch (if your player has the capacity to display these images).
An OK set of extras here. Hopefully they'll put some more stuff next disc, like a textless intro and outro. I guess I'm really spoiled after seeing Bandai discs, which have such gems as Club Escaflowne, and the comprehensive info. and pictures on the Endless Waltz disc. They have an original trailer for the show, which seems suspiciously long, given that Japanese commercials are usually very short. This trailer has footage that I presume comes from much later in the show, as well as earlier stuff. There are some distinctive characters that may or may not be recurring, and a few potentially spoilerish moments. Next up is a character bio section which seems a damn sight better than the Eva bios. ADV did well in writing these; they're written from a pretty funny perspective (for example, mentioning that Dotta is more or less there so Big Mama has someone to talk to, thus revealing plot to the audience). It has bios of Chocolat, Tira, Dotta, Big Mama, and the villains from this disc. Oh, and lastly, there are some ADV previews... Big whoop! I really don't think companies should list their previews as extras. For Pete's sake, we got to watch them on VHS whether we wanted to or not!
As I said earlier, I haven't seen too far into the series. I believe I heard it gets more serious or at least less "episodic" later on. These first seven episodes can be watched more or less independently of each other, as the problem in each episode gets resolved by the end.
Sorcerer Hunters, at least on this disc, is a light-hearted magic comedy, filled to the brim with fan service. The...exasperating Tira Misu and Chocolat Misu are a pair of sisters with double personalities (though Chocolat acts pretty much like her Hunter self). When the going gets tough, they transform into wild dominatrix pair (think magical girl meets bondage!). Each has a thing for the main hero Carrot Glace, though his mind is on the cute girls he meets in his travels. Much of these episodes focus on Carrot going after a girl, while the sisters track him down and punish him. Incidentally, the sought-after girl always has something to do with the evil sorcerers they're seeking out in the first place.
Along for the ride are the polar-opposites Gateau Marron and Carrot's brother Marron. And if you hadn't noticed yet, the characters are all named after French desserts!..with the exception of Big Mama and Dotta, the two who send the group on their missions. A note on name translation: ADV chose to call Big Mama "Big Momma," perhaps because that spelling is more familiar with Americans. Daughter is translated as "Dotta." Her bio explains that this is done because the latter is much cuter! (if they go by this logic, I think "Big Mama" is cuter than ADV's alternative) Lastly, Chocolat is called "Chocolate" which gets rid of the French spelling and pronunciation; no big deal, though. Prevalent throughout the episodes is a notion that something more serious is going on behind the scenes. This comes about from Big Mama's memories of a stormy man who was once on the committee she currently heads; the one that sends the Sorcerer Hunters out on missions. I'm sure he will play a bigger role in the episodes to come. Overall, I really enjoyed this show so far. Even though it hasn't gotten to deep or "plotful," it's very fun to watch. Be prepared for a major dose of female body exploitation, though. If you can handle the prevalent "puru-puru" and the bondage themes, go for it! Perhaps we'll see the OVA after awhile too, though maybe on the Soft-Cell label!
Sony model DVP-S530D, 14-inch Magnavox TV (weep!), and an Aiwa stereo