Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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 Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 20, 2002
Release Date: July 16, 2002


Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
She's beautiful, powerful, passionate, and too dangerous to exist. She is the Steel Angel Kurumi-and she's marked for termination. Her enemy? The Academy, a floating fortress of mystery and military might. Their weapons? Powerful androids as lethal as they are lovely. Can Kurumi and her friends reach her creator's secret lab without being detected by the Academy assassins? Or will her Steel Angel siblings succeed in ripping out her Mark II Heart that makes Kurumi so dangerous?

The Review!
Finally getting into their groove of short episode runtimes, this batch of Kurumi episodes manages to flow a fair bit better than the first volume did, as well as actually moving things forward some in the plot department.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a good stereo mix that makes good use of the forward soundstage with a few instances of directionality, but overall it sort of takes over the entire soundstage throughout most of it. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions. We did listen to a good portion of the English dub track and noticed no issues with that either.

Video:
With the first volume, our main area of contention was with the cross coloration that at times seemed rampant, but was offset but such vivid colors and an otherwise solid looking transfer. Thankfully with this volume, the cross coloration has dropped off considerably, though still present in many scenes. It’s just not anywhere near as pronounced outside of a few areas where I’d expect it, due to some very tight artwork. Colors still continue to look fantastic here and much like before, aliasing is very minimal.

Packaging:
Continuing to use the Japanese artwork, albeit slightly modified to hide the nudity, my favorite of the Angel’s so far gets the nod here with a great looking shot of Saki with wings spread. The back cover provides more of the front image and then goes into a lengthy piece on the show and the English voice talent behind it. Features are clearly listed as well as the production information. The discs volume number is also clearly listed on the spine, something of a rarity in general these days. The insert is a real treat though as it’s a full color Kurumi Fortune Teller cutout, the kind you made back in grade school that you write in and play with. For those not wanting to cut up the insert, a PDF version is provided on the disc.

Menus:
Utilizing the front cover artwork for the main menu, we get a subtle but very gorgeous looking piece here. The gears in the background move along with the low music that’s playing that has a relaxing feel to it. Navigation is good in that you can jump right to any of the six episodes from here or move to the other menus for the various options and extras. Submenus are nicely done as well and access times are nice and fast.

Extras:
Much like the first volume, there’s a sizeable chunk of extras here, though the big attraction may not be something everyone would be interested in, unlike on the first volume. The first of two parts, we get treated to a 20 minute video taken during the setup and shoot session of the four lead actresses wearing yukata’s. There’s voice over commentary from the photographer and the shows ADR director Stephen Foster as well as bits from others. It’s an interesting piece, but one that is going to have more limited appeal than the interview/documentary style piece from the first volume. Those who like to just ogle the attractive women in yukata’s will be pleased though.

The fortune teller piece that you can make with Saki is included here, as a follow-up to the Kurumi one. Another US teaser trailer is included as well as the extended episode preview sequences. The translator notes seem to be about half as short as the first one, but still provide a substantial amount of useful information to guide people through this time period. There’s also a good section of production sketches included.

What really made the extras sweet for me in this release was the inclusion of original cover artwork. These things are just about as important as clean openings and endings to me. In a real rare treat, we get provided with front and back cover art not only for the Japanese DVD release, but also the laserdisc and VHS releases. These are all strikingly different and show just how creatively marketed these were. And to top it off, we also get a look at the seven manga volumes in all their bright garish glory. Excellent excellent stuff.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The storyline throughout these episodes is essentially Angels on a journey. After the incidents in the previous volume, Dr. Amagi has taken both Kurumi and Saki with her and Nakahito to head off somewhere to keep the two Angel’s safe and avoid a big public uproar over their existence. This allows the viewer to get a bigger look into the life and times of people in the Taisho period.

One of the biggest headaches of the time, we come to learn, is that while you can get from point A to point B, there’s usually only one way to do it. This causes problems early on, when a massive boulder has fallen onto the rails and has blocked their train from going any further. Everyone on board migrates to the town they’re next to and take up residence there in the inns and elsewhere. With a fair bit of cash, Amagi manages to swing a nice place for everyone.

And yes, a nice place means there’s a hot spring, so we get some hot spring goodness associated with all of this. With all this downtime, we get to spend some nice moments with the characters interacting about their feelings on things. Saki continues her pining for Kurumi in a non-sisterly way, and even makes the rare advancement of saying something about it. But it’s all confused up in the way she and Nakahito are beginning to get along better as friends. This sends some confusing things to Kurumi, who now finds herself jealous even though she knows she shouldn’t be.

When things do get moving again, they get moving in some interesting ways. The main villain behind things to come has sent up his own Steel Angels to cause problems for our heroines, and has even built himself a Mark II of a sort by putting two Angel Hearts in it, and naming the spunky girl Karinka. These girls eventually reveal themselves to Kurumi after a pitched battle with Saki and the kidnapping of Nakahito. What they want, outside of her destruction, isn’t clear, but it’s moving things forward in the plot department a bit.

While we’ve still got the primary Angels in their maid outfits, the show is definitely moving away from anything really maid related. And when it comes down to it, it’s really only Kurumi who looks completely like one, and she’s often in a regular kimono as she is in that outfit. With these episodes, it feels like the writer/director have finally gotten a hang of dealing with the running time of the episodes as these didn’t feel nearly as rushed not did the end with oddly placed cliffhangers. With only six episodes, these disc went by fairly fast, but much more enjoyable than the first volume.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot,Production Sketches,Original Japanese Artwork (including DVD/LD/VHS and Manga covers),Translator Notes,Fortune Teller featuring Saki,Extended Episode Previews,Original US Teaser

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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