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15 home / june 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Brain Powered Vol.1: Birth DVD
Bilingual DVD
2 Disc
225 Minutes
Bandai Entertainment
A great show for any anime fan, Brain Powered transcends its status as merely another mecha show by focusing on matters of the heart instead of the technical details involved.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Brain Powered Vol.1: Birth DVD
By Patrick King

When I first got Brain Powered, I knew very little about it. In fact, the only buzz that reached my ears concerning the show was focused on whether or not the opening sequence would remain intact for its North American localization. (The opening sequence presents all the female members of the cast in the background in various poses or actions... naked. I'm still not sure why, considering the otherwise squeaky-cleanliness of the show.) The first volume contains the first nine episodes of the series on two discs - quite a good value.

Brain Powered does indeed possess some of the mandatory plot elements found in most futuristic anime. We quickly learn that mankind has finally reached the limits of Earth's resources, causing a global food shortage that savagely reduces the global population via starvation. To make matters more complex, the planet somehow begins to generate gigantic plates that spawn "Anti-bodies," huge mechas that are believed to originate from a mysterious ancient relic known only as "Orphan." As these plates are spewed forth from the ocean, they tend to cause a large amount of destruction until they finally come crashing to a resting place on the Earth's surface.

Later, Scientists examined the organic engines that power these mechas, and eventually two factions emerged; Orphan, a group that desires to fully revive the underground relic and escape the dying Earth with a selected group of humans, and Novis Noah, a more humanitarian organization founded by the United Nations. The mechas are referred to as either "Brain Powereds" or "Grand Chers," depending on which of the two factions contact the newborn being first. As time runs out, an all-out war between the two opposing forces becomes imminent.

We are introduced to the main character, Hime, when a plate begins to revive a mecha in front of her--specifically, a Brain Powered. It immediately takes a liking to her and allows her to pilot it, surprising Yuu and Kanan, two members of Orphan, who were on their way to recover it. They had previously believed the Brain Powereds to be useless, but seeing it operate in synch with a young girl who had no previous experience with the creatures planted the seeds of doubt in their minds about the true nature of their mission.

The large cast becomes well established by the end of the ninth episode, creating a very dynamic story that focuses more on interpersonal and familial relationships than just action and giant organic machines. The Anti-bodies respond to feelings, and apparently Brain Powered's writers also took emotions into careful consideration when penning the scripts for the shows. It adds depth and value to an already interesting story, and helps give this show its own unique flavor to set it apart from other mecha anime.

This is a fairly recent show, so it's not surprising to find that the animation is very smooth and has a good use of vibrant colors. There are a few rainbow artifacts here and there, but nothing insultingly obvious. The character designs all tend to be a bit cute, but attractive none-the-less. There's quite a bit of diversity within the cast, even if they are all unrealistically easy on the eyes. I suppose it's much better than a show populated exclusively with ugly people. The packaging for the discs depicts Hime and one of the Brain Powereds, and while it is pretty, it's also a bit darker than most of the show.

The audio for this show is particularly good, and it wasn't until I read the credits that I realized Yoko Kanno wrote all the music except for the opening theme, and even the opening theme is very well-done. The show is encoded with Dolby Digital sound, certainly a plus for the audiophiles out there. I've always been a huge fan of Kanno's work, but I appreciated Brain Powered's score even before knowing she was involved. The sound effects work well with the show even though many of them seem recognizable from other shows, such as Bubblegum Crisis 2040. The voice actors for the Japanese track sounded very good, in particular, I really enjoyed Akino Murata's performance as Hime. She has a distinct voice that stands out from the others that I truly took a liking to. The English track is better than average, but still lacks much of the emotion that can be found in the original language, and a few of the voices were downright laughable, such as Nanga's voice.

The only extras included on the discs were the textless opening and ending credits, however the disc insert contained a nice explanation of the show along with episode names and a small cast and crew listing. Personally, I'd appreciate it if every DVD came with some sort of liner notes, and Bandai's inclusion of this information was a welcome addition to the package.

Brain Powered is an endearing, well-rounded, character driven show that contains a good balance of high quality music, animation, and an engrossing story. While it's not the most original anime ever produced, it easily presents enough value for its price. Whether you like mecha anime or not, there's a good chance this will find a place in your heart. There's plenty of action for all the Gundam and Evangelion fans out there, as well. Either way, Brain Powered comes highly recommended.

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