Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Witch Hunter Robin

Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 12, 2003
Release Date: December 02, 2003

Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Being a Witch Hunter is anything but normal. Robin has begun settling into her new life at the STNJ, practicing with her supernatural powers and making some extraordinary progress. The arrival of her beloved Vespa has given Robin independence and freedom as the hunt for witches continue. There is no one type of witch - Robin and the STNJ will face them all: witches who kill out of vengeance and a witch who takes a life so that another may be spared. And this time around, one of the STNJ’s targets will be someone very close to them...

The Review!
With another set of five episodes, the series continues to build up the standard procedures that the group uses in their hunt for rogue witches.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that provides some good directionality in a few key sequences. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no technical issues with either language track during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2002, Robin has one of the most gorgeous full frame transfers I’ve seen lately. Watching this in the dark and taking in the visuals from simple things like the backgrounds outdoors and indoors brings out so much detail and attention to the small things. The coloring is done lushly when we get outside of the dark offices and buildings that the characters usually inhabit. The series is also almost completely free of cross coloration and had only a few moments of noticeable aliasing during some digital panning. This transfer was a real treat to watch.

Using the same cover as the Japanese release with a platinum edition logo thrown along the top, Amon gets the main piece this time with a photograph of the city behind him where the lights are all moving fast. It’s an interesting looking cover and works well with all the darks as well as mixing the animation shot and the live action piece. The back cover provides a collage of images along the right from various episodes while the left goes into a few paragraphs worth of summary. Episode numbers and titles are listed here along with the discs extras and features. There’s no volume numbering here at all, leaving the episode numbers to tell you what volume you’re on. The insert has a nice look and feel of an old book to it and opens to the text piece that’s played at each ending sequence as well as some character design shots. The back of the insert provides the full production credits as well as bilingual main voice actor credits. The cover is also reversible this one using the good looking shot of Harry with Robin as the barmaid all in black as usual.

The menu layout is solid with a circular half of the screen being animation from the show playing but separated by a line of fire. The right side has the animated logo and selections for the disc, which is all wiped away when you make a selection and get the flames running across for a transitional animation. That animation manages to go by quickly and the load times are fast so it’s not terribly bad or annoying if you go through the menus a couple of times.

The extras are a bit minimal and similar to the first volume, with a few pages worth of conceptual designs for the mechanical/equipment side of the show as well as a few pages worth of basic liner notes for the show. The liner notes have a few interesting bits to them, but they’re not as detailed as a lot of liner notes we’ve gotten used to recently.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first volume of the series we got introduced to the main setting, characters and the atmosphere of the series as well as a couple of decent little action sequences. With that one bringing five episodes in one session, it’s quick to move past the big setup phase and let the second volume tell some tales.

The episodic nature of Robin, at least so far, comes through strong with this volume which also has five episodes. Each one tells a story relating to the STN-J group going after different witches or probable witches and dealing with the situation. There’s some light character growth when it comes to the leads, such as Robin and Amon, but overall more time is given to telling occult style mystery tales. That’s not to say there isn’t some personal aspect to the tales though, as a couple of them play nicely to the cast.

One episode deals nicely with some of the problems of tracking down the witches and just how subtle they can be within society. After getting a ride out of the rain, Robin learns that the driver died just a short time later in a car accident. Though she didn’t really know the women, she felt some kind of worth in finding out what really happened. Amon, seeing that Robin is taking an active interest in the investigative side of their job even though there’s no apparent witch connection, lets her go forward with it even though it pushes the boundaries of abuse of power.

Her investigation leads her and Amon to one of her employees home, one she visited just before the accident. The woman there is quite odd, almost unconcerned about learning about her bosses death and about things in general. All she seems to care for is the numerous dolls that are around her house. Once the two entered the house though, something changed and Amon later finds himself being attacked in his car by one of the dolls. As they research even deeper into what’s going on, there’s some really interesting revelations about past histories and witch abilities and how they manifest. This is one of the creepier episodes so far and it plays out very well.

The last episode on the disc is another very strong one where the STN-J gets word of one of their old cases needing to become priority again. A few years prior, a rogue witch had gone to the US to avoid what was going to happen in Japan, but he’s snuck back into the country now and they know he’ll come to Harry’s bar at some point. Setting up with cameras throughout it and having Robin and Dojima work as waitresses there, the bar gets staked out for the long haul.

Like earlier episodes, there’s a certain slow pacing and casualness to things that keeps it from being the edge of your seat exciting show, but as it plays along it becomes something closer to the edge of your seat nail biting experience as you wonder what will happen, such as when they discover someone else is watching for the mans arrival as well. Though the episode is filled with quiet moments, the interactions between characters between them, such as Amon dealing with what may be an actual girlfriend or Dojima giving her boss grief, are quite enjoyable. Harry himself continues to be an intriguing character and this episode does a fantastic job in fleshing him out more than I expected him to be this early.

One aspect to this series that I’m really enjoying is the photo-anime style used with a high number of the backgrounds. With the photograph being anime colored and lined as well as mixing in character animation, it just looks amazing. Some of it stands out a bit more than it should, but so many scenes just have such a deeper more detailed looked because of this style that it really helps build the overall atmosphere of the show, giving it more life.

In Summary:
This series has managed to become a favorite very quickly and these episodes help re-enforce the feelings we had with the first one. Though I can see people dropping off from here since these are basically crime stories with an occult twist and all standalone in nature, they’re quite engaging and well laid out and presented. The characters are slowly getting their time, something I suspect will happen more in the next volume or two. Until then, we’re definitely hooked on this show.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Liner Notes,Equipment Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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