Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #3 - 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 19, 2002
Release Date: August 27, 2002


Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
The Academy has sent its deadliest assassin to destroy her fellow Steel Angel, Kurumi. Using Kurumi’s friend Saki as bait, the ruthless Karinka sets a trap to finally rip out Kurumi’s powerful Mark II Heart from her chest. But Kurumi’s Heart has a dark force within that Karinka didn’t count on. A force that frightens Kurumi’s young master and Kurumi herself. So the Academy is forced to take even more drastic measures—namely, a mysterious stranger who tries to persuade Kurumi’s master to use his mystical power to stop Kurumi before her dark energy overtakes her.

The Review!
The series starts picking up with more of an intense and less comical side, as our cast of Angels moves closer to learning some of the darker secrets of their origins.

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:
Much like the second volume, the cross coloration side of the transfer has lessened even more, though it’s still noticeable in many scenes. It’s simply nowhere near as bothersome as it was on the first volume. This allows us to enjoy the very vibrant color scheme used throughout, particularly in the opening sequence. Colors are nice and solid without any noticeable bleeding, aliasing is very minimal and black levels look good.

Packaging:
Continuing to use the Japanese artwork, albeit slightly modified to hide the nudity, the front piece here is surely going to conflict a few people with the very young looking Karinka taking center stage. 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.

Menu:
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:
Kurumi continues to be one of the most text-intensive extras discs I’ve seen yet, especially from ADV. There’s a sizeable amount of reading here, from the very informative manga background section to the trio of interviews with the anime creative staff as well as the manga creators. Another solid section of translators notes brings some of the smaller aspects of the series to greater light and adds to the remarked upon sequences in the show. Production Sketches get another round, but of more interest is the preliminary design sketches that show just how different things could have been. And as with previous volumes, the extended episode previews are here as well as information on getting the Karinka fortune teller going.

The centerpiece is likely the 20 minute video segment of another photo shoot with the women behind the English voices in this series, this time in the same setting but labeled as a cocktail shoot. Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t started selling signed and framed photos from these shoots, as I’m quite sure there’s a solid enough market for it. Hell, I’d buy at least one.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With these episodes, the show moves further away from its comical roots and into more serious stuff, but manages to keep a nice balance of the two overall.

Things kick off in pretty high gear as the fight between Karinka and Kurumi gets moving. With Saki out of the picture, Kurumi tries to keep things light and get Karinka to settle down, but Karinka has none of that and wants to take down Kurumi more than anything else, especially since she has two Angel Hearts. This appears to be pretty flawed logic though, and the battle does not go in Karinka’s favor, and even sets about the potential for Kurumi to become even more powerful than we previously thought she was. The brief instance of long black wings surely isn’t a good sign.

Even with all that was said and done, Karinka eventually joins up with Agami, Nakahito and the two Angels as they continue their journey. There’s an amusing bit of time spent wit Karinka using subterfuge to try and pry out Kurumi’s secret to being powerful, which when she finally gets into the fold, she tries to employ. With Kurumi believing her powers came from the kiss that Nakahito bestowed upon her, she’s doing all she can to replicate it. What works perfectly is that Saki sees this as a chance to get Kurumi all to herself, so there’s a great little tug of war going on there.

While this side of things starts to settle, as much as it can with Karinka trying her tactics, we start to get information on the past. Upon their arrival in Izumo, and meeting what appears to be Kurumi’s predecessor, the secrets of something much bigger happening start to unravel. The main question that has been on my mind at least since early on is just how such advanced technology has been employed in the Taisho era. Most shows would just chalk it up to a rather lucky scientist or some other find, but Kurumi goes a different route.

This revelation begins the next phase of the storyline, as the forces that we’ve been seeing in the background via Karinka start to move faster to achieve their goals. The military spies end up getting brought in to actually help instead of observe as well, bringing both sides of the coin into play. Of course, all Kurumi cares about his Nakahito, so it’s no surprise that he and his supernatural powers are something that’s going to come into greater focus here. With all the revelations, I’m finding myself much more intrigued by this show than I was earlier, as I found the scenes between Nakahito and Kurumi to be somewhat dragging and awkward to watch.

Some may find this change abrupt, but with the series rapidly coming to a close with only one more volume left, it was either going to be light through to the end or go through a dramatic change. So far, I’m keen on the change. It’s adding a much needed depth to things.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot,Text Interviews with Japanese Staff and Manga Artists,Translator Notes,Production Sketches,Preliminary Character Designs,Extended Episode Previews,Kirinka Fortune Teller

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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