Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 65
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Viewtiful Joe
Viewtiful Joe Vol. #01 Screener
By Brett Barkley
December 16, 2005
Release Date: February 07, 2006
Viewtiful Joe Vol. #01 Screener
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
"Joe is a dude just like you and me. He has two great loves: his girlfriend Silvia and Captain Blue, the action-movie superhero. When Silvia is magically captured by a celluloid monster, Joe gets himself swallowed into the screen to save her. Joe meets Captain Blue just as the superhero is about to retire, exhausted from his lifelong battle against villains known as Jadows.
With special superpowers bestowed by Captain Blue, Joe transforms into ""Viewtiful Joe"" to bash the enemies in the Movieland. "The Review!Please note that this review is of a screener version of the release. No menus or extras were included so the review covers only the content.
A very fun and stylistically faithful adaptation of the popular video games, Viewtiful Joe the anime maintains that series' humor and adventure, while expanding on the source material. Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Viewtiful Joe the anime is based on the very popular Capcom video game series, initially released in 2003, of the same name. The series of 51 epsiodes aired in Japan from October 2004 to September 2005. Both the video game and this series seem to have drawn a great deal of inspiration from the plot of the American film, The Last Action Hero, and combine this with a very healthy dose of Henshin-style superheroics. As such, the series features a number of the genre trademarks, from villainous organizations, a helmeted and costume-clad superhero, martial arts-inspired monster and robot fighting, to the transformation sequences initiated by speaking the magic phrase; in this case, "Henshin a go-go, baby!"
Though it takes a few liberties in expanding on the story as featured in the game, the story here is much the same. While watching an extremely rare showing of a Captain Blue film, his lifelong fictional idol, in an old seemingly vacant theater, Joe and Sylvia are drawn through the silver screen in to Movieland, which is basically a montage of various movie worlds and settings come to life. But while Sylvia is kidnapped by Hulk Davidson for the nefarious purposes of the Jadow group, Joe has an encounter with Captain Blue. The Captain, having gotten on in years and no longer in peak fighting shape is unable to adequately challenge Jadow or rescue Sylvia, so he bequeaths his wide array of powers to Joe. And though he does not arrive at a name for his new superheroic persona in the two episodes on this disk, thus is Viewtiful Joe born.
As a fan of the video game, I was actually looking forward to this series. However, in order to fully meet my expectations, I felt this anime had to retain the same artistic and irreverent feel that so permeates the video game series. I am very pleased to reveal this anime stays true to the look and feel of the Viewtiful Joe games.
The first thing you'll likely notice when watching this anime (and which will be immediately recognizable if you've played the games) is the artistic feel. It truly stands out with a very unique style that relies on deep and regular blacks juxtaposed with bright, saturated colors. This vibrancy of color and the blacks makes the images jump off the screen, infusing them with a stylistic life all their own.
Additionally, the same irreverent attitude that makes the games so enjoyable can be found here. This is a series with a strong and consistent sense of humor. Light in tone and feel, the humor doesn't let up and never takes itself too seriously. From Joe's utter inability to understand his girlfriend, to the over-the-hill and pot-bellied Captain Blue, to the ongoing gag of Joe's half-hearted search for a name, nothing is sacred here and is thus, just as it should be.
In the two episodes featured on this review disk, the viewer is able to get a decent feel of the characters, though a number of those associated with the Jadow group remain undeveloped and, in some cases, are not even introduced. Joe, as yet loosely defining the term, is the series' hero and demands the most screen time. A slacker with a lifelong obsession with the Henshin superhero Captain Blue, Joe has his dreams fulfilled when he's given the powers of his hero in order to defeat Jadow and rescue his girlfriend, Sylvia. A great deal of the series' humor is found in his bumbling attempts at heroics and combating the minions of Jadow. Joe does, however, show some progress in his adjustment to the role of the superhero, most of which occurs through his recollection of various Captain Blue films and movies.
The rest of the cast featured in these episodes is comprised of Joe's girlfriend Sylvia, Captain Blue, and series villains Hulk Davidson and Charles III. While not deeply developed in these episodes, Sylvia fulfills the role of damsel in distress quite nicely. A doting, albeit attention-starved girlfriend, while she is not remotely interested in Captain Blue movies and collectibles, she is very much motivated dreams of a paperback-style romance. The matter-of-fact way in which she reacts to the strange and wild situations she finds herself in offers a great deal of humor. Captain Blue largely remains a mystery in these episodes, though it is very apparent he has let himself go. Sporting a bulging gut that protrudes from his costume, he serves as little more than Joe's occasional mentor. Villains Hulk Davidson, a giant green motorcycle riding rhinoceros/alligator-like creature, and Charles III, a walking bat creature, are both interesting in their roles as antagonists and add a large amount of humor and challenge in these episodes.
As stated above, the art style is nearly identical to that established in the video games and was a big part of my accepting this series. I was very relieved to find the series creators had high enough regard for the work done on the video game to try and replicate here and, to that end, did such a great job of it. From the fantastic use of color and bold black outlines, to the Henshin-inspired costumes sported by both he and Captain Blue, I was very pleased to find it all just felt right. I did note a few instances of inconsistency in character faces, but it wasn't enough to detract from my enjoyment of the art specifically, or the series in general.
The series animation was also solid throughout. I was very curious how the series would handle the fighting sequences, as they are such a staple of the games. I was not disappointed. Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1 employs some nice effects, such as Joe's dusty, grainy "film" flashbacks, and dynamic fighting sequences. Rather than rely on still shots, these episodes featured some great fights with a flavor similar to the games, particularly while Joe employs his powers. There are a number of instances featuring recycled animation (excluding Joe's transformation sequences, a staple of the Henshin genre), but I didn't feel they detracted from my enjoyment as most simply dealt with Joe's defeating the minion robots and how they fall once vanquished. These are certainly minor in comparison to what the series does well, particularly in the fight scenes, and are therefore easily overlooked. In Summary:
I feel fans of the popular video game series are definitely going to be drawn to Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1. It manages to stay very close to the source material, and while it does expand on what was established there, it is never disrespectful in its adaptation. From art style, to character interaction, to the irreverent attitude of Joe and his tongue-in-cheek brand of superheroics, the feel from the game is entirely reproduced here. In this regard, fans of the video game series will be very pleased with the anime.
But I believe it has potential to appeal to a wider audience as well. The art style is very unique and brings a flavor and life all its own to the series. The animation is also solid and while fight scenes do have the occasional recycled animation, I was very pleased to find Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1 does not rely on the "dramatic" still shots so prevalent in many fighting anime. Combining some nice fight scenes with a fun sense of humor, I found the series to be enjoyable for what it is "a light Henshin fighting adventure.
English 2.0 Language,English Closed Captions, Character Profiles, TV Spots
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.