A series of six side stories brings about a bit more character and charm for the world of Tweeny Witches.
What They Say
Down The Rabbit Hole Again.
The destinies of Arusu, Sheila, and Eva have reached their individual conclusions, but many of their adventures in the Magical Realm still remain untold. Rejoin the trio of apprentice witches in wonderland as they experiment with ancient spells, face a powerful witch and her looking-glass self, and find a legendary fairy. The origin of Dragon House, the grand master's past, and a fun romp with Atelia's subordinates Mileth and Miletis are also explored in these charming side stories.
The story strays off the beaten path in this companion piece to the Tweeny Witches series, diving into things that will leave a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.
Media Blasters has gone beyond the norm for this release by including four language tracks. Both the Japanese and English language tracks are presented in 5.1 and 2.0 mixes at 448kbps and 192kbps respectively. The show is one that doesn’t seem to make out too well by the bump up to the 5.1 mix as there really isn’t much to the sound mix as it’s pretty much just dialogue with some minor music cues. The 5.1 mixes do make out with a bit more of an impact and presence to them in comparison to the 2.0 mixes but it’s not that much of a noticeable upgrade that if you don’t have a 5.1 system you’ll miss much. Dialogue is pretty much a full soundstage affair and there isn’t anything here that really stands out during regular playback.
Originally airing back in 2007, Tweeny Witches is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Strangely, the six episodes – which are a bit shorter than the norm – are spread across two volumes in a 3/3 format. Each program in total runs just over an hour and even with the high bitrate it feels rather odd to see a split like this. The series is an unusual one in its visual design because of the CG use in it which alternates between having some great depth and then a very flat feel. The color palette is very drab and dull for the most part as well which doesn’t help it all that much. The main issue that comes from this presentation however is in the source material because of the rendering done for it. There are a lot of visible gradients throughout but it does feel like it’s better than the TV series was and not quite so pronounced.
Tweeny Witches is a two disc release that’s kept in a standard size keepcase without any flippy hinges inside. The front cover lets Arusu take the spotlight as she rides her broom while other elements from the show are behind her. The overall background is very appealing as it has the beautiful green landscape and the dragon house off in the distance, letting us see the world she lives in clearly and with a good deal of appeal. The back cover is a dark piece that’s done the same as the TV series releases as it’s just a black background with a standard slightly off kilter layout for the text and image placement. A few shots from the show are along the top and the summary covers the basic premise of the series. The remainder of the cover is given over to the production credits, a brief listing of the extras and a good technical grid that lists all the important things. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
While Media Blasters usually used motion menus for the past releases, this one has the same design but without any motion to it. Designed similar to where the fairies are kept, there’s a string of cages that rock back and forth slightly while there are various pieces of artwork around it of the Magical Realm creatures. The layout is a bit awkward at times to navigate but it’s nothing that’s terribly problematic once you move around a bit. Submenus load nice and quick but I continue to dislike the episode selection layout that Media Blasters employs since it takes multiple pages to get to later episodes. Due to the multiple audio options and the fact that the players pick up the first Japanese track which is the stereo one, we didn’t bother with player presets as Media Blasters always puts the sign/song subtitles as the first English labeled track.
The extras for Tweeny Witches are available only on the second disc and are pretty good. The extras for this release are a pair of video interviews, both of which run just under ten minutes. The first is an interesting interview with the sound director as he talks about the overall design of the show and how it had its voices recorded first and the challenges there. The second interview is with the music composer where he talks about how he approached the non-nationalistic nature of things and tried to make the music flow without being too intrusive.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the popular run of the TV series, a set of twelve half length OVAs were planned for broadcast in 2005 but it never actually happened. For reasons that I haven’t been able to find yet, the episodes ended up being delayed until late 2007 when they were released directly to DVD. This particular run of the series is rather nice and admittedly more enjoyable than a large chunk of the TV series because it’s all about small stories where everything is wrapped up within two of the half length episodes.
The stories here don’t seem to really take place within specific events of the TV series itself and that gives it a bit more freedom to move around and to tell the tales they want to. Some of them focus on the individual witches and what they’ve gone through while others have them in a tangential way. And some of the more interesting ones are where they’re not even really the main focus at all but are instead listening to stories being told of things from the past. That story in particular deals with the Grand Master talking about when she and a friend had to fight a difficult battle years ago that involved fire, ice, dragons and evil witches that dealt in great personal sacrifice. This kind of story is very appealing as it helps to humanize a character like the Grand Master even more, something that was very much needed.
Other stories are very simple and cute, almost whimsical. One of them delves into a couple of the younger witches end up “capturing” a gremal fairy. This kind of fairy is very childlike and it latches onto the witches like they’re its mother and it’s driving them nuts. Unfortunately, they can’t do anything about it until it reaches a certain age or something else occurs. Amusingly, it turns out that Sheila had done this as well awhile ago so they go to her for advice. There are some nice little moments here between the witches since they don’t like Sheila and begrudgingly go to her for help, but also for Sheila as we learn a little more about some of her past that’s a bit silly.
All in all, it’s really good to see these characters in a setting that doesn’t have big epic events surrounding it. These kinds of stories would have felt out of place within the series itself since it was designed in a particular way, but here we get to spend some casual time getting to know them better and their world better. A set of stories like this is very enjoyable because it allows us to experience the world and the wonders of it without any real pressure. How else could they have kicked off this release by introducing a special library where the girls get a book that have all of them suddenly gaining fish heads?
The Tweeny Witches series was a real mixed bag for me for a lot of reasons but I found myself coming away from this OVA set very pleased. Having the break between it and the TV series probably helped as well since this felt more like a return to something in simpler form, lighter and more accessible. I liked things about the TV series but the execution of it turned me off at times. Here, it’s very straightforward and it’s designed to be pleasing, fun and enjoyable without any serious drama. Some of it goes over the top, such as Eva’s apparent saving of the entire Witch realm or the Googoon creature in the last episode. But these are minor quibbles overall and this is a fun way to close out the franchise and give it a proper send off.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Keiichiro Miyoshi (Sound Director 9 min. 39sec.), Interview with Tamiya Terashima (Music 8 min. 13sec.)
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.