Viewtiful Joe Vol. #07 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 85
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Viewtiful Joe

Viewtiful Joe Vol. #07

By Brett Barkley     April 11, 2007
Release Date: February 06, 2007


Viewtiful Joe Vol. #07
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
When Joe and Jr. are desperately seeking for a hamburger shop, they find a cell phone on the ground. They end up searching for its owner, a runaway girl, while chasing Gran Bruce who raids the hamburger truck! Being separated from Joe, Jr. has to fight against Jadow by himself. It is time for Jr. to prove that he is a hero candidate too.

Meanwhile, Silvia is able to escape from her room when she is looking for a detergent. Biankies didn't even notice she was gone. Can she manage to get out of Jadow's HQ?

The Review!
And now for something a little different.

Audio:

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 7 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 vol. 7 is presented here in its native standard Full Screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is decent, though slightly inconsistent. A closer inspection shows a fair amount of jitteriness and blurring. The colors, however, are 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. 7 features a large image of Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr. in the clutches of Sprocket, set against a blue background pulsating with explosive energy. The logo and volume number are clearly displayed along the lower edge of the cover. The cover feels a little jumbled, as most of Sprocket's hand (in which Joe and Captain Blue Jr. find themselves) is obscured by the logo. However, due to his placement on the cover, Joe's bright red outfit stands out nicely, serving as a focal point.

The reverse of the disk case is very similar to those that have come before, carrying over the background color from the cover, and prominently features stills from the episodes in a film cell design, with episode titles to the upper right, and a brief summary of the disk below that. A larger image of Bianko Billy is found in the center-right side of the case. The information found on the reverse, much like the front cover, is easy to find and read.

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 7 features no insert.

Menu:

The main menu loads after a brief clip of Joe transforming to his Viewtiful Joe alter ego and opens against a solid red 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 somewhat static menu. The menu options are listed as: Play, Setup, and Scene Selection. These are in descending order, and are easily navigable. A brief audio clip plays throughout.


Extras:

There are no extras on this disc.

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!"

Episode nineteen, "V is for... Veggie-Burger?!" follows the series standard, opening up as Joe and Captain Blue Jr. step in to the world of another popular film, this time an homage of sorts to the Bad News Bears. The episode opens as Viewtiful Joe and Captain Blue Jr. practice Joe's battle cry, a young girl named Amy runs away from home, the beleaguered baseball team loses yet again, all against the nefarious backdrop of Gran Bruce's plan to defeat Viewtiful Joe by closing down all the cheeseburger joints in town. From here, the episode progresses in an almost scattershot, domino-like series of events. Viewtiful Joe can't practice his battlecry without cheeseburgers to fuel his brain, but all the cheeseburger shipments in to town have been carjacked by Gran Bruce's Biankies. The downtrodden baseball team sees one of these car-jackings take place, and attack the Biankies by pummeling them with baseballs. Joe, who has been searching for Amy, drops that search in order to save a truckload of hijacked burgers, and eventually confronts Gran Bruce, in which he soundly trounces the man-shark. By the end, everyone has coincidentally found their way to the same park, and it's a happy ending for everyone but Joe, who still hasn't had his cheeseburgers.

While featuring a number of very humorous moments, I found this episode to be one of the weaker on the volume, as the storylines of the baseball team and runaway girl felt like they each needed more development, and would likely have worked better expanded to two episodes. As it stands, by the end of the series, we don't even know the baseball team's name, nor do we ever get a real understanding of the relationship between Amy and her mother. Finally, the resolution was quick and relied too heavily on coincidence.

Episode twenty, " Express Train to Yesterday" opens as Joe awakens to find himself on a mysterious train with Gran Bruce, Edward III, and Hulk Davidson. An homage to the feature, "The Polar Express", the three Jadow agents are soundly bested by the small top-hat wearing cat conductor. Soon it becomes obvious this train holds some special significance for Joe as he finds a museum of sorts filled with all his childhood toys. However, when the toys seemingly develop a life and will of their own, they appear to join with the agents of Jadow against Joe! After the timely intervention of a tiny Captain Blue Jr, Joe comes to understand this magical train and its guests have been assembled as a means of giving those onboard a chance to connect with their long gone childhoods. In fact, however, the meanness of the three villains corrupts the spirit of the toys. It's only when Joe manifests a new (and completely unexplained power) that he returns innocence to the spirit of the toys and gives the villains a much-needed reminder of the children they once were.

A completely different and an interesting attempt at a more touching episode than any that has come before it, "Express Train to Yesterday" is really nice for a change of pace. Even though I love Captain Blue Jr., it was nice to see Joe actually work something out on his own, and solve the episodes' dilemma without help. Though it left a number of questions unanswered, particularly in terms of what it all means, I enjoyed this episode thoroughly.

Episode twenty-one, "Bianco Billy Rides Again" opens with a scene directly out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (with an interesting homage or two to Thelma and Louise). As our heroes flee from gun-toting Biankies through a Western movie-style desert, they find themselves standing on the inevitable cliff, overlooking raging rapids far below. Separated at the cliff, Captain Blue Jr. is carried downstream. With Bianco Billy still on his trail, Captain Blue Jr. eventually makes his way through the desert to Cyrus the inventor's farm we saw several volumes ago. This episode is primarily Jr.'s, as he, with the help of Captain Blue's old (ahem) partner Gina. With fat old woman jokes aplenty, this episode is an interesting romp through the desert, and offers some teasers as to Captain Blue's past and possible reasons for his departure.

Following the pattern set by the last three episodes of dedicating an episode to focusing on a single character, the final episode on the disc, episode twenty-two, "Cleanliness is Next to Escape-liness", is dedicated to Sylvia. In a show of just how well-liked she is in her "imprisonment", Sylvia has managed to organize the Biankies in cleaning the entire compound. As she's allowed to go basically anywhere she likes, Sylvia soon and completely unwittingly discovers a Top-Secret room in Jadow headquarters (as well as a number of plots to defeat Joe). The room reveals details in to Sylvia's past, interestingly showcasing an estranged relationship with her father (dressed in what appears to be a baseball uniform?!?). What key this holds in the larger plot remains unclear, nor is it clear why Sprocket permitted Sylvia access to the room that even Jadow agents are forbidden to enter. More than any on this volume, episode twenty-two suggests there's much more to Sprocket and Jadow, as well as Sylvia's part in the whole plot, than has been previously suggested.


In Summary:


While for the most part serving up more of the same, Viewtiful Joe vol. 7 continues with the series' staple humor and clever one-liners in the continuing story of Joe's search for his girlfriend Sylvia. Throughout its run to this point, this series has been more about seemingly random fun than about establishing or building on the series mythos and overall plotline. However, with this volume, things are mixed-up a bit, as the creators explore different episode tones and offer just enough subtle suggestions and bits of foreshadowing to hint at answers for some of the series' fundamental questions, while raising new ones. While there are some problems, particularly with the jittery transfer (in some close-up scenes, Joe's goatee sometimes looks like it's actually going to curl), this volume does a great job of maintaining the humor while giving the viewer just enough information to pique their interest.

Features
English 2.0 Language

Review Equipment
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre.

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