Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: C+
- Extras Rating: B+
- 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 Way Jeng
June 13, 2003
Release Date: July 16, 2002
The second volume of Steel Angel Kurumi picks up where the second left off, and all the main elements of the first disc are still present. There's a good amount of action, and the comedy continues to be just as funny as it was in the first disc. The show tends to not let either comedy or action dominate the show, as each period of action is followed up by some lighter moments. This is definitely a positive quality, as the show avoids the problem of changing between being an action show and a comedy, instead trying to blend the two into a more cohesive whole.
Without a lot of major characters needing to be introduced and the show's plot in place the show is able to move things along and the plot of the show basically in place we get a chance to see some character development and interaction. I also appreciated the fact that although an overall plot is present and followed through the series each episode doesn't directly cliffhanger into the next. In all this is a good follow up to a strong start.
For the most part this disc sets up a format where each episode details the group's adventures in a particular town. For the most part each episode centers its focus on one character or one concept, and most of the characters have a decent amount of time spent on them. In the case of Saki and Dr. Amagi this is especially important. Dr. Amagi was set up in the first disc as a villain, and making the transition to one of the good guys is only credible with a look into her motives. Saki's development in the episodes is also helpful because it lets us get a much better idea of who she is now that she's undergone a personality transformation.
As far as the action and fighting scenes in the disc go things are still as good as ever. There's a fair amount of fighting seen during the disc, and it's quite a bit more powerful and compelling than in the first disc because there is so much character development going on in the slower episodes. The show does an excellent job of switching between the fast and slow elements to avoid boredom and repetition setting in.
The music and voicing of Steel Angel Kurumi continues to be as good as the first disc. I will be commenting on the English language track, but would like to note that I have listened to the Japanese and found it enjoyable in the context of Japanese language tracks. Voice performances in the show are good. I particularly enjoyed the voicing for Karinka, as she comes off cranky and just plain mean.
On the down side Kurumi sounds a bit off in the more serious scenes, but this is probably a product of the expectations of the character from the comedic parts of the show rather than any real problem. On a related note during my first viewing of the disc I felt that Nakahito was occasionally too high pitched to be believable, but on subsequent viewings the problem didn't seem as prevalent. Whether this is because I've become more forgiving of the performance with time or because first impressions can be overly critical is hard to tell.
Visually the show continues to look good. This disc takes place mostly in towns and cities, and the Taisho era comes across quite well in the backgrounds. The cars are clearly older, and characters are dressed appropriately. In all the effect gives Steel Angel Kurumi a markedly different tone and atmosphere compared to other shows. However, I found it difficult to form an opinion on Karinka's character design. While there's nothing ostensibly wrong with her costume I found it strange. While Kurumi and Saki are dressed as maids it's difficult to say if Karinka has any theme to her costume. However, it does serve to show a clear difference between Karinka and the other Steel Angels.
Packaging for the show continues much as the first disc did, save that the images are centered on Saki rather than Kurumi. Again, the volume number is clearly labeled on the spine, and the back of the case lists the episode count along with the disc extras.
The menu of the disc is laid out in the same format as the first disc, and there are no surprises within that context. Episode selection is available directly from the main menu. The reading of an Onmyou prayer is also present on the second disc, and just like the first disc becomes somewhat annoying after seeing it a few times.
The extras on this disc are again plentiful, though fail to live up to the expectation generated by the first disc. Most of the extras are about what you might expect, such as the fortuneteller, translator notes, and various artwork galleries. The only down side here is that music was not looped for those sections, and they do take long enough to read that some music would have been appreciated.
Where the extras fail to live up to the first disc is the photo shoot. This is essentially another behind the scenes feature showing a photo shoot done for promotion. On the plus side it's fairly long, and there's a few interesting comments on photography.. On the down side it doesn't provide any insight into the show itself and it becomes repetitive fairly quickly. It would have been more interesting to see a montage of multiple photo shoots, or perhaps including an alternate audio track to listen to what the photographers and actresses were saying rather than listening to the commentary.
In all fairness it should be said that this isn't a bad extra to have. Rather, considering how interesting the interviews on the first disc were this fails to have the same depth and level of interest for fans of the show. It's interesting for a few minutes, but can't achieve more than novelty status.
Sharp 13" television, Sony Playstation 2