Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Steel Angel Kurumi

Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     August 14, 2003
Release Date: August 12, 2003


Steel Angel Kurumi 2 Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
Another kiss brings Kurumi back to life in the 21st century. Only this time, Kurumi's got eyes for a new Master: the awkward ninth grade cellist, Nako, who lives at the old shrine with her perky, plotting mother. But Nako's neighbor Uruka, the spoiled daughter of a multi-billionaire, is jealous, and the girl's father will stop at nothing to ensure his darling daughter's happiness-even if it means awakening Kurumi's long lost sister, Saki, to get her out of the way!

It's six new episodes set in a new century, with a new Master and new Steel Angel abilities. But if there's one thing that always gets Kurumi going, it's messing with someone close to her Mark II heart!

The Review!
After a successful TV series and follow-up OVA run, what better thing to do than the bring out more?.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a pretty decent stereo mix that has some slightly noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage, but for the bulk of it, it’s just action sequences that utilize the entire area as opposed to really making things directional. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback.

Video:
With the first TV series, we had problems with a lot of cross coloration showing up that proved fairly distracting throughout each episode. Thankfully, that appears to not be the issue with this particular series, which results in some very clean looking animation that’s quite fluid looking and filled with vibrant colors. Aliasing is minimal and with no really dark sequences, there wasn’t much in the way of even a hint of macroblocking. This transfer looks quite good from start to finish.

Packaging:
At long last, someone has done a keepcase cover like a few of the Japanese ones. The central image of this cover, with its nicely colored blue background, is Kurumi and Nako together. What you don’t realize at first is that this cover with them in their school uniforms is actually a laminate that’s on top of the cover that you can remove. When you remove it, you get the two of them in their intimates. To make it even more amusing, there’s another laminate included in the keepcase that you can put on there that has Kurumi in her more typical “maid” outfit. This is the best way to provide the racy covers as well as keeping it clean enough for retail and I hope to see more of these for similarly designed series. The back cover provides the usual array of items, such as a brief summary, some nice shots from the show and a good listing of the discs extras and technical features. This cover isn’t reversible but it is dual sided in the clear keepcase, with the reverse side featuring the trio in much undress playing with the sheets on a bed. All around, this is a great little package.

Menus:
The theme is similar to the menus used in the first TV series with the gears moving in the background, but while those were almost somber and eerie, these are bright and cheerful with fun bouncy music playing along as it all moves about. Selections are quick and easy to navigate and with no transitional animations, submenus load quickly and without issue. I like that some continuity is kept with the originals but that it’s different enough to stand nicely on its own, especially since they could have gone the quick and cheap way of just reusing the same menus again.

Extras:
There’s a couple of nice extras included here, though things are a bit lighter than the first series. We get the fun opening and closing sequences here in textless form, once again allowing for a better look at the usually very detailed and fluid sequences. The extended episode previews make another appearance and there’s also a small but enjoyable character artwork gallery that has various designs from the show as well as a really nice piece of promotional artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the successful conclusion to the first TV series and then the very nice epilogue of sorts with the short character based OVA series, I wasn’t too sure on just what they’d do with more Kurumi. Of course, it’s easy to carry on with more adventures and to push the formula route until it doesn’t pay anymore.

Instead, it looks as if they’ve done something of a reboot of the series. Taking place in the near future, we focus on the same shrine as the original series where we meet young Nako Kagura, a shy and fairly quiet girl who plays her cello at the shrine to help bring in people and money to keep things moving along. She lives there with her mother, Misaki. Since this is the near future, things look different than they did surrounding the shrine in the past, and that’s very noticeable in the sizeable mansion next door where Nako’s best friend Uruka lives, a serious looking girl a year older than Nako. The two are quite good friends, though Uruka seems intently interested in her best friend in more ways that one.

Everything changes for all of them though when Nako goes into the sub-basement in the shrine to retrieve some glasses for her mother with Uruka. Down in what looks much like a war time shelter, the two first come across a very adorable pup and then a floating Buddha statue that chases them outdoors. This eventually shatters after some brief chasing and out pops Kurumi, completely inert. Of course, she falls right onto Nako and ends up lips to lips, which reactivates her Angel Heart and she comes back to life, now ready to serve her new master.

Uruka and Nako are both shocked over Nako’s now taken first kiss. That’s the first real sign that Uruka looks at Nako maybe just a bit differently. This heightens quite a lot as the series progresses and she sees Nako being “taken away” by Kurumi as Kurumi just does her thing in trying to serve, love and please her new master. There’s one great sequence where Uruka is watching from her balcony with binoculars and all she can see is Nako running along the shrine in a towel while a bouncy naked Kurumi is giggling and running after her. The binoculars drop and Uruka just has a great look as she realizes what she’s up against.

The show does do some fairly predictable stuff such as enrolling Kurumi in the 9th grade with Nako, which means we get a uniform for her and the fun of her excelling at all the physical aspects of school. Saki finds herself being revived later on and being brought to use under the guidance of Uruka and her plans to get Nako back, which creates an amusing four way relationship between the girls. We also do get some hints to the past with the original series as Nako’s mother recounts stories her grandfather once told her about the steel angels, though it’s wonderfully warped. It’s really the one visual that provides a link to the original characters in any way, which allows for the original series to either exist or not exist, but also leaves it open to go back and tell what happened. I think that’s my biggest curiosity though, is to know why they were sleeping again for all these years.

There’s also something of a change in the feel of the series with this new interpretation. A lot of it comes from the new character of Kyanwan, the small bright eyed pup of Kurumi’s. He’s actually something of an “angel” himself as he can transform into, well, apparently anything really. Be it a mermaids bottom half, a jetpack for Kurumi or a mini jet plane for himself, he’s all over the place and transforming on demand. With his abilities to do that and the addition of Uruka’s father being the ridiculously wealthy type who does anything for his daughter, the two of them really make this feel like Steel Angel Kurumi meets Project A-Ko in a sense. Uruka’s father even has that Tony Stark feel to him.

The first six episodes here, which is half of the series, are cute and enjoyable. You do spend most of them wondering what the connection to the original is and you also realize that the relationships aren’t anywhere near as strong as they were in that one, but it’s definitely a light and fun series that’s very well executed. It’s a sequel that, while it’s not the best thing in the world, it doesn’t actively harm your thoughts on the first series. Hopefully some of the questions will get answered, otherwise this is just a nice piece of fluff to watch and enjoy.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character gallery,Extended Episode Previews,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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