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volume 3 issue 12

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Saber Marionette J to X Vol.4
Bilingual DVD
4 Episodes
100 minutes
Bandai Entertainment
One of those unique series that where you aren't sure where its going next.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Saber Marionette J to X Vol.4
By Patrick King

This show has consistently overcome a number of obstacles that should have threatened its entertainment value, and for that, I applaud its creators. After all, this is a continuation of a series that had, by all rights, come to an adequate conclusion. And maintaining the mix of drama with occasional bits of slapstick humor is no mean feat to pull off. Yet, pull it off they do, and they manage to throw in interesting plot twists every few episodes or so.

The fourth disc in this collection begins with the arrival of Otaru and his trio of Marionettes in Xian, finally showing viewers exactly why the show is called Saber Marionette J to X. If you still haven't caught on, then I'll help you out. The party originally hails from Japoness, a nation very much based upon real-life Japan. However, halfway through the series, they take a vacation in China-inspired Xian. Seeing as it's a real pain to say "Japoness to Xian," the brilliant minds behind the naming of the show decided to shorten it down to "J to X."

With that mystery solved, we can all sleep more peacefully.

As I've mentioned before (when I reviewed previous volumes), this series is very charming. Remember those plot twists I spoke of a few paragraphs ago? Well, they're back, and more drama invoking than ever. This time around, Otaru contracts a life-threatening illness while touring Xian, and the Marionettes try their hardest to find a cure for their master. However, when Otaru finally awakens from his sickness, the girls are nowhere to be found. Once again, the disc leaves things hanging and me craving more.

I'm rather fond of the plot structure of Saber Marionette: J to X with its myriad ups and downs, and sometimes even sideways movements. It's hard to predict but consistently entertaining, nonetheless. The characters in the show really do have a soul, and their behavior around each other make the show worth watching.

I like the visual style presented by this series even though it differs from the show's predecessors. Everything is very angular, but the animation is smooth and the colors are bright, so I'm visually satisfied. I think the variety of scenery in the show is one of its greatest visual strengths, for we get to see quite a number of locales as time progresses. The design of Terra 2's cultures is very interesting due to the fact that it's a mix between feudal Japan, China, and modern society. I can always enjoy a hybrid society. The clothing for the characters in Saber Marionette has always been distinctive, and this offshoot is no exception. It's hard to forget characters when they dress like Bloodberry, Lime, and Cherry.

The music and sound effects are good, and I particularly like the opening and ending themes. Audio is not a problem in this show. The Japanese voice actors (including Megumi Hayashibara as Lime) are great and inject exactly the right personality into their characters. The dub suffers from typical dub problems. For example, the following sentence fragment was in the subtitles: "...somehow Lime's memory was erased." Yet, when the voice actors take over, this simple phrase becomes "...somehow Lime's memory was erased by an enemy of yours, Otaru." One sentence later, we get another unnecessarily lengthened sentence, going from "Why else wouldn't they come back to us?" to "What other reason could there be for them to not come back to us, Otaru?" I'm not sure who to blame here, but in any case, the dub comes out sounding rather awkward. However, I'm sure that everyone already has a favorite preference and you'll watch it the way you like it regardless of what I prefer. That's why DVDs rock; we can watch most anime in either English or Japanese!

There are some extras here, including a short making-of segment. It's a nice touch, and the obligatory trailers are thrown in, as well. All in all, this is another neat installment of a show that has really grown on me. Even though I never caught the other incarnations of the Saber Marionette world, I find this series is very fun to watch. If only they could minimize the cliffhangers between discs...

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