Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: D
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Variable Geo
By Chris Beveridge
July 08, 2003
Release Date: May 27, 2003
What They Say
© ADV Films
The action is sudden and fierce. The TV cameras are close behind. With every match, beautiful winners inch closer to the grand prize - gorgeous losers strip naked before an audience of billions.
Harmless fun? Not quite. Black magic oozes from every pore in the tournament's public facade. Variable Geo is about more than the opponent in the arena. It's about the reach of an international conglomerate, the genius of well-paid scientists, the bond between best friends and what it truly means to be alive. It's about one powerful woman's burning desire to achieve life everlasting, and defeat the one opponent that stalks us all. The Review!
Variable Geo, the martial arts tournament that’s designed to determine who the toughest waitress of all is. And if you can read that subtitle on the screen and not make a comment of some sort, you’re better than I am.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese since so many of our favorite actresses worked on it. Though a few years old now, the OVA series sports a nice solid forward soundstage stereo mix that makes good use of both channels, though there isn’t a lot of depth to it. Directionality is solid and there’s some good oomph in a few scenes. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and free of distortions or dropouts.Video:
Originally released in the mid 90’s, Variable Geo sports a very clean and vibrant transfer that’s rich in its colors. This is one of the main draws of the shows with its varied and vibrant color palette and thankfully it avoids bleeding or over saturation. Cross coloration and aliasing manage to keep to a minimum here, allowing for a very good looking show overall. The few really dark scenes stay solid and there’s no breakup anywhere. The only real downside is the replaced logo which doesn’t fit well at all, considering the opening song sequence has all the original text along with translations.Packaging:
The cover here goes for simple and pure fanservice with a blue background that’s actually a collage of shots from the show while the main object here is Yuka in her outfit that’s becoming quite torn, complete with the blowing wind. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a decent summary of the premise. The features on the disc are clearly listed and plenty of space given over to the production credits. The insert is basically another shot of the front cover while the reverse side uses the back covers artwork with a more solid blue background to it.Menu:
You get the shovelware feel with the main menu here, a static piece with music playing along that doesn’t even have any animation shots from the show itself, simply a straight down list of each episode, languages and either previews or DVD credits. This menu is circa 1997 in its look and feel. The only good point is that it’s easy to navigate and submenus load fast.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the show opens somewhat darkly, as soon as the opening sequence comes up and we get the spiel about what VG is all about, with the perfect line of finding out who the toughest waitress is, you can quickly determine that this show is not to be taken seriously. Add in its relation to a video game of the same name, and you then wonder how, if at all, they’ll make it work.
Surprisingly, they do make it work, but it’s definitely campy in style and nature. The show revolves around a couple of characters, but the primary two are Yuka and Satomi, two young women who work at Hannah Millers. Life as a waitress is nothing like it is today though, as waitresses travel from restaurant to restaurant and challenge each other to find out who the strongest one is. These challenges, which seem to generate a boxing ring anywhere and everywhere, are broadcast all over and everyone watches intently.
Yuka is currently on the rise as the pre-eminent fighter among them all, and we see her being challenged right off the bat by another waitress named Jun. The battle is amusing but well choreographed. It’s to the point now where we’ve seen so many “waitress” outfits and maid outfits that it all blurs together and we’ve seen them in combat mode before. Of course, there’s a catch to the fights that makes giving and accepting a challenge a risk. The loser, and there is always one, must strip completely naked at the end.
Oh come on now.
While we do get this throughout the three episodes, there’s also a darker story going on. While Yuka and Satomi are definitely friends, there’s some past history to their friendship where Satomi used to be the best until Yuka arrived. She ended up losing all her titles to Yuka, but the two became friends and Satomi stopped fighting in the VG battles. This changes though once her little brother, already recovering in the hospital from some illness, suddenly becomes worse and she’s in dire need of financial help.
Enter a mysterious group who is seeking the most powerful of fighters for some devious plot, and he ends up getting her to sign over everything to them. Her brother is taken care of, but Satomi ends up becoming essentially enslaved to this organization that maxes out her abilities while testing her against a wide range of opponents. The main plot turns into some amusing little thing about reaching immortality, but that’s not the real story here at all.
The real story is the bouncy action nature of the show and a chance to showcase very attractive character designs in various stages of undress while kicking the snot out of each other in sexy ways. In this regard, it succeeds admirably and with a good sense of humor throughout much of it. The show does get progressively darker as it starts dealing with Satomi becoming less and less herself, but for the most part it’s an upbeat little action fanservice series. What helps, at least to me, is a rather solid voice cast. With Yuka being cast with Kotono Mitsuishi and then having such solid talents as Ai Orikasa and Junko Iwao, I had plenty of fun listening to them. This must have been a simple no-brainer quickie for them, but their presence certainly made it more enjoyable.
Variable Geo is one of the shows that you almost want to say that they don’t make ‘em like this anymore, but there’s always something out there that’s vaguely similar. This isn’t a bad show, but it’s something you watch really late at night with friends and just have fun with. At least it’s smartly priced, knowing that it’s probably got a limited appeal among fandom and probably more appeal among video game fans.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.