Viewtiful Joe Vol. #03 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

0 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Viewtiful Joe

Viewtiful Joe Vol. #03

By Brett Barkley     July 10, 2006
Release Date: June 06, 2006


Viewtiful Joe Vol. #03
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The adventure continues with Joe as he fights his way through Movieland to save his girlfriend Silvia!


The Review!
Continuing the Joe and Captain Blue Jr's lighthearted and fun romp through Movieland, this volume doesn't contribute much in the way of advancing the primary plot (Joes' really no closer to rescuing Silvia), but features some genuinely great laugh-out-loud moments.

Audio:

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 3 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. 3 features a large image of Joe battling Alastor against a largely yellow background that appears to be pulsating with explosive energy. The title and volume number are clearly displayed along the lower edge of the cover. The cover is simple and the design itself is rather standard. However, the near atomic red of Joe's costume stands out nicely and directs the eye to the log.

The reverse of the disk case is very similar to those that have come before, carrying over the background from the cover, 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 Fire Leo is found in the center-right side of the case. "What? Disqualified as a Hero?" is boldly displayed along the upper edge of the case. The information found on the reverse, much like the front cover, is easy to find and read.

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 3 is bound with a single page insert, a 5$ off coupon from Geneon, and a sticker page that features the Viewtiful Joe Logo, an image of Silvia, and a large image of Alastor. The insert reflects the cover image, including the logo and volume number.


Menu:

The main menu loads after a brief clip of Joe transforming to his Viewtiful Joe alter ego and opens against a solid yellow background. An image 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 just as slim as those found in 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 couple volumes, that we'd see something a littler meatier here. However, that is unfortunately not the case.

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. 3 features only three episodes but fill them nicely with some fairly consistently humor. While these episodes do little to advance the main plot of the series (which is largely the fun of these episodes, and something the creators poke fun at in Alastor's "confrontation" of Joe and his "heroic quest" in episode 8, "Fire on the Mountain."), they are certainly entertaining. The focus of these episodes appears largely to be developing the team and friendship of Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr., which I found to be fun and interesting.

In episode 7, "Attack of the Slugoon Platoon," Joe and Captain Blue Jr. find themselves in a nice, quiet town with no sign of Jadow's influence when they arrive. Soon, however, a strange and charismatic traveling salesman arrives, offering to give away a strange new thing called a "Slugoon." Worn on the head, the Slugoon forms a unique bond with its user, communicating directly through thought, the gelatinous blob morphs in to almost anything to help its user accomplish whatever he or she desires. Available only to children, the traveling salesman actually gives away the Slugoons for free. When Captain Blue Jr. excitedly accepts the gift, much like the other children in the once peaceful town, he begins to act strangely. Soon, the children of the town begin following suit, actually striking out at their parents, as the once-friendly salesman reveals himself to be Rotten Jack, the Toxic Toy Box, an operative of Jadow. As the formerly peaceful town quickly turns in to a twisted version of the Pied Piper fairytale combined with the Village of the Damned, Viewtiful Joe must quickly determine a way to defeat the Slugoons, while not harming the children wearing them.

Episode 8, "Fire on the Mountain" continues exploring the relationship dynamic of Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr., while also delving in to the strange relationship between Joe and Alastor. Having found themselves in a mountainous region (like the backdrop of Heidi), Joe and Captain Blue Jr. make the most of the situation and, rather than searching for Silvia, take a moment to gorge themselves on fondue. When Alastor, attempting to get to know his sworn enemy pays them a visit, their humorous conversation is interrupted by a hilarious battle with Fire Leo, in which Joe continually mistakes the villain for a dog. By the episode's end, Fire Leo is surprisingly defeated, and Alastor has managed to learn more about Viewtiful Joe, but somehow understand him even less. This was a great episode, and filled with laughs, as well as some great art, particularly in the mountainous backdrop.

Episode 9, the final featured on the disk, is titled, "Roamin' Holiday" and pays obvious homage to the Hollywood classic, Roman Holiday. When Joe and Captain Blue Jr. find themselves in yet another film-inspired world more akin to a European city, they happen to stumble in to a runaway princess in disguise. Seeing the duo with the princess shortly before she flees, taking Captain Blue Jr. with her, the police arrest Joe, mistakenly believing he was actually kidnapping her. While Joe spends the bulk of the episode in prison (where we get a nice cameo of the hardboiled American cop from several earlier episodes), while Captain Blue Jr. and the Princess learn more about one another and do battle with another of Jadow's villains. It seems when the Princess' father, the King, mysteriously disappeared some time ago (at the hands of Jadow), she was forced to fulfill his role as leader of the country, when she's like nothing more than to just be a kid. It is through Captain Blue Jr.'s selfless sacrifice and dedication to the oath he made to protect her, though he has no super powers, that the Princess begins to see the value of sacrificing for the greater good. This was a fun episode, giving a greater amount of time to exploring Captain Blue Jr. and his dedication to being a hero. As he's just as interesting a character as Viewtiful Joe, it was nice to see him get a little more exploration.

A couple things really stood out to me in the episodes on this disk. First, I was reminded how much I really enjoy the art style. I'd highly recommend checking out the art style employed on the background mountains in episode 8, to see how well this style works. Most likely using a photograph as the basis for the work showcased in this episode, I was very pleased with how well the final product matched the series' art style, while standing out as somewhat realistic, or even impressionistic. I am continually impressed with the art in this series, with the way in which it feels so expressive, yet sticks so closely to the source material.

While watching these episodes, I also noticed a surprising relationship to the lead character Joe and Justy Ueki Tylor from The Irresponsible Captain Tylor. When comparing the two, the similarities are very interesting. Much like the Irresponsible Captain, Joe appears to be a creature driven more by instinct and the uniquely positive influence of chance, than by rational thought. Joe often seems to accomplish more when he's trying to do less, than he does when he actually pursues a goal. Those around Joe, much like Captain Tylor, spend the bulk of their time caught between doubt and a shocked sort of wonder at what must be some amazing gift of intellect, or even luck. And, like Captain Tylor, Viewtiful Joe also has a villain, a foil in Alastor who, like Captain Dom, who spends most of his time simply trying to figure out his unfathomable opponent. As a tremendous fan of all things Tylor, I think this comparison very much works in the favor of Viewtiful Joe, and may help the series appeal to fans of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor.


In Summary:

Much like the previous two volumes, Viewtiful Joe Volume 3 is genuinely fun, with laugh-out-loud moments and great characterization. The art and animation are very nice and are definitely unique. While the three episodes featured on this disc do little to progress the core story of Joe's attempt to rescue Silvia, it is very much entertaining nonetheless. However, I have to wonder why Geneon seeks to continue alienating any anime fan base this show could actually (and most certainly deserves to) develop. Perhaps they're marketing the show to the Kids WB audience, but I don't understand why they would continue distancing this property from a potentially greater audience. As stated many times before and in many different places, the show lacks a native Japanese audio track, features only three episodes per disc, and offers very, very few extras to speak of. I thoroughly enjoy Viewtiful Joe and look forward to every chance I have to review it. However, disappointingly, the primary issues I take with the series, are not with the series at all, but rather the way in which Geneon has handled it.

Features
English 2.0 Language

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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES



Be the first to add a comment to this article!


ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS