Tweeny Witches Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.99
  • Running time: 161
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tweeny Witches

Tweeny Witches Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 14, 2008
Release Date: May 06, 2008


Tweeny Witches Vol. #2
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Arusu, Sheila, and Eva, in order to retrieve captured fairies, travel to the Warlock Realm with the help of the warlock Sigma. Entering Wizard Kingdom, they find themselves in a world that is very different from the Witch Realm. There, Sheila discovers the true state of the magical world, and then learns of a traitorous witch upon returning home.

After the three witches reaffirm their bond, Arusu faces someone claiming to be her mirror while Eva taps a new power within herself. Meanwhile, in the background, witches are falling to a mysterious illness, and warlocks are preparing to mount an invasion.

Secrets are revealed, hidden pasts are uncovered, and intentions are unveiled as Sigma's words to the three witches ring true: "If you come, then you'll understand everything."

The Review!
After much subterfuge an intrigue, the Witches Realm and the Warlock realm resort to war while Arusu talks of peace and miracles.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2004, Tweeny Witches is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. 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 and several scenes where the background noise is quite pronounced. Combine this with some of the more awkward CG heavy moments with a lot of aliasing and it's not a very appealing looking show from this angle.

Packaging:
Tweeny Witches is a two disc release that's kept in a standard size keepcase without any flippy hinges inside. The front cover artwork is very vibrant and almost angry as it features a shot of Sheila in the center of it with a mean old look to her face as lights flash around against the Warlock Realm background that is made up of quasi machinery. The colors are great and the character design is very striking and appealing. The back cover is a dark piece that's done the same as the previous volume 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.

Menu:
While Media Blasters usually has pretty simple static menus, they've gone the distance with Tweeny Witches by putting in a nice bit of motion. 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.

Extras:
The extras for Tweeny Witches are available only on the second disc and are pretty good. There's a fifteen minute "Talking About Tweeny Witches" session which involves the three principal voice actress as they sit together and go through a roundtable discussion about the show, their characters and just how much they enjoy it. There isn't much terribly surprising here as it's a fairly standard promotional piece but it is fun if like the voice actresses and want to see them talk about their work. A far too brief piece is a two minute or so "test animation" run done to showcase how the series was going to be worked on. The visual design in this actually feels a lot better than what the final show is and makes me wish it really was like this instead. The last extra on the disc is a promotional video for the series which runs just under three minutes and is made up of material that made it into the final series. It's a pretty good selling piece and one that I had seen online before the series came out which got me interested in it initially. It's the kind of video that does showcase the show well with its unusual style and material.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Tweeny Witches was a rather difficult release to get through until the second disc in the set where it started to actually feel like it had a story it wanted to tell. There were intriguing parts to it, but the half length stories and the awkward plotting left a lot to be desired. But as it went forward and things were established a bit more (though little makes any real sense, thank you very much to the concept of magic in general), Tweeny Witches became a bit more engaging and enjoyable. This volume cements that a fair bit more as it backs off of the idea of capturing the fairies and focusing more on the world and the issues therein.

Tweeny Witches left us in an interesting place as the trio had hooked up with Sigma from the Warlock Realm who was intending to help them out soon. Like most other men though, he's not to be trusted as he's really just doing things for his own purpose and using the girls to get to the True Spells book that seemingly everyone wants. His manipulations of the girls are fairly simple and obvious from an outside point of view as he sets them apart and tweaks them so that they don't quite trust each other or are concerned for their safety. While Sigma doesn't exactly play nice, what he does expose them all to is quite fascinating as the Warlock Realm is explored in a way that really shows how bad things have become.

While there has been some semblance of balance between the two realms in the past, everything has changed in recent times as a new faction within the Warlock Realm has decided that the dwindling of magical powers must be compensated by the acceptance of science. While the Realm hasn't gone to pure science fiction, they have incorporated some interesting elements of it such as mass production barcodes and a strong organic technological design. The idea of magic has almost entirely disappeared here and the utterance about it is enough to get dirty looks if not an outright arrest. Even worse is that the Realm has split in two as there is a complete poverty stricken lower class outside, mostly those with memories and love of the past, and the more nuclear family types inside the city where they're really turning a blind eye to what's happening.

And what's really happening is all about the end of both realms as the Source is dwindling which will cause magic to disappear entirely. The only thing that can save it apparently is the Book of True Spells and a particular witch who can utilize the Dark Magic in order to fix it all. That's Sigma's dream but it's something that the Witches can't allow to happen because dark magic must never be used. That doesn't lead into any real discussions about whether magic is good or bad, an age old discussion at that, but there are some brief flickering mentions about Light Magic along the way that does foreshadow how things may play out as the series reaches its climax in the next volume. The discovery of what's going on by Sheila has her quite concerned and her reports to the Grand Master and the others only add to it as they have seemingly given up and are now only trying to keep the population calm until it all finally happens.

The intrigue aspect is played up nicely once Sheila returns to the Witches Realm and starts to grapple with what's there. Her fears are starting to worsen and she's becoming focused on doing things to help out Eva as well as trying to get Arusu to go back to the human world since everything feels like it's about to fall apart but nobody has noticed. This starts to cause a rift between them as the other two feel like they're being pushed away. There's also an interesting shift as Arusu brings someone new into the mix, a pirate witch known as Lennon who has been sailing the Interdimensional Seas for some time and has actually become a key part of what's about to happen due to her relationship to Arusu.

In Summary:
What becomes most evident about this volume is that there is quite simply a whole lot of setup and build up going on. The foundations laid in the previous volume are being added to and we're seeing more of the big picture and how it's all coming together. It's all tied to the smaller aspects such as the character interactions and the fluffy bits about magic being used for good and the rescue of the fairies. As it progresses through the second disc here as the war between the two realms is set up, it's even more apparent about how this middle arc has been designed. The imagery presented, especially towards the end, is very grandiose and epic, almost to the point of feeling out of place considering how small and close knit everything has been for so long. Tweeny Witches hasn't left me feeling as ambivalent as I was with the first volume, but the core issues of the pacing of the story is still there and I'm unsure whether the series will finish out in a truly satisfying way. This set of episodes does raise the bar a bit from the first volume though and proved much more enjoyable overall.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Test Animation,Promotional Video,Roundtable with the Voice Actresses

Review Equipment
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.

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