Viewtiful Joe Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • 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. #02

By Brett Barkley     April 07, 2006
Release Date: April 04, 2006


Viewtiful Joe Vol. #02
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
"Joe is a dude just like you and me. He has two great loves: his girlfriend Silvia and Captain Blue, the action-movie superhero.
Now that Joe has totally awesome superpowers, he's ready to battle his way through Movieland to rescue Silvia. But first, he enters hamburger heaven to fight his own hunger. It's too bad Jadow wants to hit Joe where it hurts... will the hungry hero overcome? And every hero has to have a trusty sidekick. Enter Captain Blue Jr.!!!"


The Review!
While sparse in the way of extras, Viewtiful Joe Vol. 2 is a fun addition to the first volume, introducing a great new character to the already colorful cast.

Audio:

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 2 is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English only (though it does provide English closed captions). The English track is nicely done, making ample use of the rear channels. It was easy to make note, while watching, of just how immersive the sound is. Considering the action-packed feel of the series, the audio is equally fast and furious, coming at the viewer from all speakers.

Video:

Originally airing throughout 2004 and 2005 in Japan, Viewtiful Joe is presented here in its native standard Full Screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. I thought the transfer looked absolutely great and detected next to no issues of aliasing or blurriness. I also thought the colors reproduced very nicely. Considering how the series relies so heavily on highly saturated colors, I was pleased to find the coloration remained consistent and really infused the animation with a life all its own.


Packaging:

Geneon's Viewtiful Joe Vol. 2 features a primarily blue image with Captain Blue Jr. (introduced in this volume) in the foreground with Viewtiful Joe in the background. The title and volume number are clearly displayed along the lower edge of the cover. The thing I absolutely love about this cover is the fact it's an homage to Detective Comics 38, the introduction of, "The Sensational Character-find of 1940... Robin the Boy Wonder." Someone on the design team certainly knows his or her comics.

The reverse of the disk case is very similar in design to the first volume, carrying over the blue background and prominently features stills from the episodes in a film cell design, with episode titles to the right, and a brief summary of the disk below that. DVD Extras are found on the lower left side of the cover. A larger image of a Captain Blue is found dead-center of the case. "Come on, Machine Six!" (an indication of one of this volume's spotlights) is boldly displayed along the upper edge of the case, and information on the reverse, much like the front cover, is easy to find and read.

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 2 is bound with a single page insert (as opposed to last volume's fold-out). The insert reflects the cover image, including the logo and volume number. Disappointingly, the insert reverse is little more than


Menu:

The main menu loads after a brief clip of Joe transforming to his Viewtiful Joe alter ego and opens against a solid blue background with what appears to be white energy swirling around the bottom of the screen. An icon of Viewtiful Joe loads on the left of the screen, with the menu, volume number, and title on the right. The Viewtiful Joe image periodically darts across the screen, providing an almost animated feel to an otherwise very static menu. The menu options are listed as: Play, Setup, Scene Selection, and Extras. These are in descending order, and are easily navigable. A brief audio clip plays throughout.


Extras:

The extras in this volume are even slimmer than the last, featuring only Character Profiles, and Conceptual images. The Character Profiles features a brief write-up of introduction for both the heroes and villains, and list a number of characters not yet introduced in this volume. The problem here is much of the information provided is the same as that found in the last volume, so there's really very little value to be found with this extra. The Conceptual Images feature a number of colored character and object concepts from the series the viewer can scroll through at his or her leisure. While I appreciated the inclusion of these images, they didn't really stand out as anything particularly spectacular. I had been hoping, after the slim extras of the last volume, that we'd see something a littler meatier here. However, that is not the case. But my hope remains. Considering the property's pedigree, I would like to see a little more about how the series was translated to the anime medium, as well background on the genesis of the original concept.


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 episodes 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!"

Viewtiful Joe Vol. II features only three episodes but manages to introduce two important aspects to the series in the form of Captain Blue Jr. and Machine Six. While I'm not familiar with either of these characters from the games, I really liked the young superhero wannabe aspect of Captain Blue Jr., particularly since he's likely far more qualified than Joe to actually be a superhero. I appreciated this twist on the Western comics concept of the mentor superhero and the student sidekick. As far as Machine Six goes, to this point it's little more than the flying equivalent of Batman's Batmobile, so I'm looking forward to learning if it plays a larger role in Viewtiful Joe's adventures.

The first episode of this volume does little to answer any of the more relevant questions regarding Silvia's capture, choosing instead to focus on Sprocket's attempts to deteriorate Silvia's hopes that Joe will rescue her. Meanwhile, Joe wanders the various sets of Movieland searching for a cheeseburger. Further, there's not much in the way of boss fights, just a lot of re-caps of various battles the viewer has already seen (though to the creators' credit, these battles are filtered and made to look like they were shot on film "only slightly better than an outright clips sequence). Joe does manage to transform to his eponymous alter ego long enough to battle a number of tutu-clad ballerina robots, but the fight is over too quickly. All in all, this episode felt more than a little like filler, but it was handled well enough to hold my interest.

One aspect I really enjoy about the series is how Joe simply wanders from realized movie set to movie set on his quest to save Silvia. Though this wasn't explored as well in the first volume, here we get a better idea of the possibilities of Movieland, as we see a wide range of different set worlds Joe finds himself in. For instance, in the opening of episode five, the second on the disk, as Joe is aimlessly wandering Movieland, he comes across a hardboiled detective attempting to defuse a bomb. Of course his attempts do more to hinder the detective and actually cause the bomb to explode prematurely. In the next scene, Joe is no longer in the previous bombed-out reality, but in what appears to be a Wild West-style desert. Here he finds Blue Town, a town formed in honor of Captain Blue, the residents of which are now under attack by a biker gang. I really like the dynamic of all the different realities and how they cross over one another. It is in Blue Town that Joe meets Captain Blue Jr., a youngster attempting to defend the town in Captain Blue's absence. Though he has the potential to be a bit annoying, I like the way this character is handled here (and in the next episode). He's strong-willed, determined, and quite likely the more logical choice to have inherited Captain Blue's V-watch, which makes him nearly everything Joe is not and, therefore, the two of them the perfect team. I am curious to see where the creators take the character and how he'll play in Joe's attempts to rescue Silvia.

The third and final episode on the disk (episode six) introduces Machine Six, Joe's flying super-mobile. Recognizing Joes' weakness in his inability to fly, Jadow has sent Charles III and a legion of flying, bomber robots to attack him. As Joe walks in to Charles III's obvious trap, Captain Blue's biggest fan, an old man whose defining moment in life was actually meeting the Captain, supplies Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr. with Machine Six. Apparently, Machine Six was just waiting for the true heir of Captain Blue's legacy to appear, activating just in time to save the not-so-dynamic duo from certain death. This episode is fun, filled with action and a healthy amount of humor, and manages to cram in a quick boss-fight at the end. All in all, I found episode six to be entertaining, as well as doing a decent job on building on the cast of characters and their relationships.


In Summary:

The two volumes of Viewtiful Joe released to this point have had a few a couple areas where there could be improvement (the lack of an original language track, only three episodes per disk, and the veritable lack of extras). There are other issues that stand out as slightly awkward. For instance, fights often seem to suddenly break out only to just as quickly end, which I believe is the way in which the creators have attempted handle pacing and is an attempt to bridge the gap between the anime and the non-stop action of the video game series. This tends to give the otherwise strictly linear, non-directed focus (as much of Joe's time is simply spent wandering aimlessly) of the plot a somewhat jaunty feel, but doesn't really negatively affect the story. However, there are also a number of aspects to enjoy. The art style is consistent with that of the video game series, there is copious action, and I really enjoy the show's sense of humor. The creators have managed to build humorous characters in interesting and humorous situations without truly resorting to clichés. For instance, Joe's a slacker, but he still manages to use his super powers; Silvia's a damsel in distress, but she's resilient enough to persevere in her captivity. I truly hope the show can maintain this level of character development. In conclusion, while I like the series to this point, I'm hopeful Geneon will address a number of the issues I've mentioned above, the most glaring of which is the very poor extras.

Features
English 2.0 Language,Character Profiles,Conceptual Artwork

Review Equipment
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.

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