Venus Versus Virus Vol. #1 - 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: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Venus Versus Virus

Venus Versus Virus Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 13, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2007


Venus Versus Virus Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
We all have our demons. Lucia has our backs! Sumire is your average everyday schoolgirl. That is, if your average everyday schoolgirl can not only sense ghosts and demons, but can also dispose of them accordingly. So, when she finally meets Lucia, a specter-fighting, eyepatch-wearing power-girl from the Venus Vanguard, it’s a match made in heaven. Or rather - Hell, as it were. Together, these two will work to rid the world of the dark forces called Virus that lurk amongst us - trying to add innocent souls to their masses. They will learn from each other why a life is worth saving. They will learn from their enemies that they each have their own potential for evil. And they will hunt down the Virus and give it the beating it truly deserves. Get ready, it’s time for your vaccination.

The Review!
When Sumire gains the ability to see the Virus' that run amuck in our world, she ends up working with Lucia in order to eliminate them.

Audio:
The audio mix for this series is surprisingly light as both the original and English mixes are done in a standard 224 kbps stereo format. The show does have some good moments in terms of its audio when the various Virus' get active and attack, but for the most part it's a rather mild mix that's kept to dialogue and some incidental music along the way. The opening and closing sequences with its music tends to be the biggest draw as it utilizes the stereo channels well. Outside of that however it's a rather predictable and sometimes bland mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions with either mix during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With it being such a recent show I was surprised to see how it looked. There's only one real problem with it but it's a sizeable one in that the backgrounds are filled with mosquito noise. In some of the scenes it's almost overpowering, especially when there are lots of soft blue filled backgrounds. This isn't kept to just the backgrounds though but it is where it's most noticeable. The show appears to be shot somewhat soft in general which adds to this and gives the backgrounds a feeling of being in constant movement. Colors in general look good with no bleeding or oversaturation but their level of solidity is out the window. The opening and closing sequences tend to look a lot better, the closing in particular with its heavy white use.

Packaging:
This release is a touch different in that the keepcase used is done in a nice shale blue color which helps to accent the color design of the artwork itself. The artwork is that of Lucia and Sumire together in their standard outfits with a background made up of some of the framing from certain scenes in the show. It's nicely detailed and the colors look good as does the icon used for the volume number. It certainly stands out well without being entirely overt in comparison to some other shows. The back cover has some good framing to it as well while it uses a rather detailed purple background that lets the text and artwork stand out. The summary covers the basics and the discs episodes and features are clearly listed. The shots for the show are a bit small though, presumably to make space for the copious amounts of Japanese production credits and copyright info. The technical grid along the bottom is pretty good even with all the required logos since it still gets the discs features across clearly and cleanly.

Menu:
The menu design is rather simple and straightforward as it uses the character artwork from the cover off to one side and has a static purple filtered background that uses some of the framing from within the show itself. The navigation is kept to the left which individual episode access and it's all tied together with a bit of the opening vocal sequence. It's a decent looking menu but has that basic effort feel to it. Access times are nice and fast however and the disc, like just about every release from ADV Films, read our players' presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty standard in the inclusion of the clean version of the opening sequence and the two ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series by Atsushi Suzumi which only started in 2005, this twelve episode series is fairly formulaic in its approach as it deals with demons as viruses of sorts. The show revolves around the distinctive pairing of a high school girl and a young woman with an eyepatch who runs a fancy clothing boutique. They work there by day and by night they use special bullets to go hunting creatures that only they can see.

The setup to the series isn't terribly original but it does work well as a series that deals in what appears to be self-contained stories, at least at first. Over the first four episodes we're introduced to Sumire, a quiet young woman, and Lucia, the almost pirate-looking young woman who have an interesting relationship. Sumire is something of a rarity in that she's able to see things others can't which are called Viruses. They often take the form of gelatinous blobs but they do take over people on occasion and voice their will through there. Lucia has over the years, with help from her grandfather, come up with a specialized bullet that only affects the Virus itself. Even when inhabiting another, the bullet simply affects the Virus and leaves the person be.

There's only been one unintended consequence of this, something that was found out quite by accident when Lucia discovered Sumire. When Sumire was accidentally shot during the incident when Sumire was saved by Lucia for the first time, Sumire ends up going into a berserker mode due to the imbalance of chemicals in her system. Her quiet and innocent exterior turns to one of bloodlust as she tears apart the Viruses with glee. If no viruses are left however, she turns her focus to whoever else is around her until she just plain tires out. Finding the right balance of chemicals in the bullets to take down the Virus but also limit what Sumire can do hasn't been found yet.

Through the first four episodes, we get to see three varying tales of "horror" as people find themselves in situations that require Lucia's help. These people are the only ones able to see the flyers she has scattered throughout the city which helps ensure that she only gets the right kinds of customers. Through the stories we get to understand a little bit more about the Virus situation but it's still kept to the basics for the most part. None of the tales are terribly original but they're decently executed and likely to appeal to people new to the genre more than people very familiar with such tales. The one episode that stands out nicely is the one regarding Sumire meeting Lucia as it gives us a flashback of merit, seeing how Sumire handled her first berserk experience and Lucia's reactions to it.

There are undercurrents of more going on than meets the eye though. I have to wonder how much of it can be cleanly explored with only a few volumes of the manga out at the time that this went into production in Japan. Lucia has at her service her grandfather as well as a younger blonde girl named Laura who is rather flip with her comments. Sumire starts to befriend a young pretty boy bookworm during one of the episodes which will lead to something since we see him in the opening sequence. There are also hints of another group that likely performs similar actions out there that are watching what Lucia and Sumire are doing and are about to make their move. For the most part though, this is strictly episodic material right now with a few larger elements tossed in to give it some flow.

The character designs for the series are pretty good but Lucia really leaves me wondering what they're trying to go for. Pony tailed pirate girls are attractive enough in their own right but here she's slightly combined with a goth-loli aspect and a quasi maid outfit that really has such a mixture of styles to it that it's almost disorienting. She does have that darker and harder edge to it but it's diffused fairly quickly as we see how she interacts with victims of Viruses. There's also the interesting aspect of how her eye under the eye patch works which will likely have a story all of its own. Sumire for her part continues to the trend of cute looking high school girls with elaborate school uniforms that have amazing powers. While she doesn't stand out strongly, it's a good design that fits with what's going on here. The real treasure, fanservice that it is, are the various still shots at the end and the eye-catches that showcase the pair in some very appealing outfits.

In Summary:
Venus Versus Virus has some formulaic material to it but has coated it with a number of trends that are wearing thin, at least in the US. There may be some potential here but these first few episodes spend more time going through the basics and teaching the viewer what the scenario is about without anything that really drives home a hook for the viewer. Right now it's all about the visuals with the character designs and some of the basic setting designs that are used as hooks. As single episode viewings it may hold more appeal when you see it on a weekly basis but it does feel weaker when taken in a single viewing session like this. Whether it has the potential in the eight remaining episodes to break out if its mold or not remains to be seen but it does have some potential to it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

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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