Anime Briefs

by Janet Crocker, Joe Luscik and Megan Sutton

Manga Briefs image. Cyberteam in Akihabara Vol. 1

ADV Films / USD$29.98
Rating: 50%

Cyberteam in Akihabara is definitely one the most annoying things I've ever watched. All Hibari Hanakoganei wants in the first episode is a PataPi, a little mechanical creature that grows and learns. Hibari gets one from "her prince", a guy she has dreams about. She discovers that her PataPi, whom she named Densuke, is very special. When Hibari is threatened by this weird big-chested woman, Densuke turns into a cyborglike version of Hibari, and destroys the enemy's henchmen. I also watched episode two, only to find that the battle scene is almost exactly the same as in the first one.

There is a hint that a plot may eventually surface, given the mystery surrounding the guy she thinks of as her prince. But other than that, it is a almost unbearable series of silly events. Plus, I get really tired of hearing Hibari's friend Susame talk. "Oh me, oh my my, I am worried about you my dear friend, that I am!" Like fingernails on a chalkboard, that it is. --MS

Manga Briefs image. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 3

Bandai / Manga Video / Production I.G. / USD $24.98
Rating: 92%

The third volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex continues to move along the story of The Laughing Man and it also throws in two stand alone episodes, one of which has a lighter hearted feel to it.

This volume probably has the largest diversity out of the three DVDs so far, consisting of an episode that just takes place around a table with people talking about theories on The Laughing Man, a more graphic one about Batous’s military past, Togusa having to go undercover to work with children who are amazing with computers (this episode also ties in with The Laughing Man), and lastly, an episode that starts off more light hearted with a Tachikoma going out for a joy ride and helping a little girl, but then finishes with a more typical Ghost in the Shell thought-provoking ending.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC started off as a great serious anime and this volume is no different. Any fan of the series so far, of Sci-Fi anime, or of good stories in general should pick up this volume and will certainly enjoy it. Not only do you get some of the best animation that you’ll see in a TV series, but also a true example of story telling at its finest. --JL

Manga Briefs image. Hyper Speed Grandoll

U.S. Manga Corps. / USD$19.95
Rating: 60%

I'm all for the release of old anime onto DVD, provided that the anime is actually good. Hyper Speed Grandoll is a cross between Superman and Sailor Moon, with not a shred of original plot to it. Hikaru was found in a spacecraft as a young child by a couple of mad scientists, who raised her as their own child. Her life is pretty normal until some weird generic evil guys show up and threaten to kill her crush at school unless she hands over the Royal Armor. Hikaru transforms then into Hyper Speed Grandoll and triumphs over her foes, becoming friends with Sigil, a warrior sent by the evil Sir Friedshalf to fetch the Royal Armor for him. Of course, Sigil loves her overlord, to the point of defying him for his own good. As is to be expected, this three-part OVA ends with Sigil dying, Friedshalf crying and committing suicide over Sigil, and Hikaru saving the world.

This would make a good anime movie for kids, if not for the abundance of fanservice. Naked breasts just keep popping up where you expect the usual Barbie anatomy. One of Grandoll's special attacks is "Shining Breast!". Considering that this is a 1997 anime, the animation quality is very good though. Rent this if you're desperate for anime, but don't expect too much. It is cute for what it is, and that's saying a lot. The dub was so bad that I could only watch the beginning of the episode for three minutes before switching back to the subtitles. --JC

Manga Briefs image. Ikki Tousen Vol. 2

Geneon / USD $29.98
Rating 60%

I know I’m supposed to keep an open mind when reviewing, but frankly there’s a whole lot of bad here and not much good, so I’ll start with the good. Ikki Tousen does have a catchy opening song and for a relatively large secondary cast the voice acting was above average and… that’s about it.

Ok, now on to the not so good for this show. Picking up with this volume, the show really starts to try too hard. I feel like I have to keep a scorecard to try and remember everyone’s full name, their ancient warlords’ name, and their school's name, which you’ll have to know in order to follow what’s going on. When you have seven schools and over a dozen characters after seven episodes, it all adds up. I think this DVD really lost me during the completely pointless lesbian molestation scene. You later get more pointless scenes that could have done without involving the bisexual girl. Actually, most of the pointless scenes involve her.

To top it off, the show has really corny and poorly done dialog that makes you laugh or shake your head. Even though this show is only thirteen episodes, sticking out until the end will be hard. For fanservice fans, you’ve got too much story here, and for story fans, you’ve got too much crotch camera angle kicks and just a horrible story. --JL

Manga Briefs image. Stellvia: Foundation II (Vol. 2)

Geneon / USD$24.98
Rating: 89%

The widely-anticipated second volume of Stellvia is now available! This DVD contains episodes 5-7, something of a disappointment, since I would have preferred four episodes per volume, and only three episodes after such a wait feels cheap.

This arc concerns Foundation Field Day, a spacecraft athletic festival between all the Foundations to practice the skills necessary for carrying out the Great Mission, protecting Earth from the Second Wave of a dying supernova. Shima is growing in her piloting skills, managing to be chosen to join The Big Four and represent Stellvia in the Astro-Ball competition. Stellvia wins the title, and Shima finds herself being set up as a rival to her upper classwoman and brilliant pilot, Ayaka.

I'm still enjoying this series, even if it's only two volumes in. Characters are very cliched, but unique enough to remain as individuals. I like how Shima is our genius heroine, yet she is not the top student. I also like how the students don't magically turn into top gun pilots; there is a learning curve. The animation is bright and engaging, the CG'ed ships not out of place too much. Stellvia: Foundation II makes a great addition to your home anime collection. --JC

Manga Briefs image. Urda: The Third Reich

Anime Works / USD$19.95
Rating: 25%

Nazi anime. Yes, it does exist. This half-hour German anime has perhaps the worst CG animation that I have seen since Final Fantasy VII, and FFVII was some years ago. The white hair and light blue-green eyes of our heroine, Erna (named Elena on the cover blurb) invoked memories of Sephiroth. Sadly, Urda even runs like a composition of early Playstation RPG FMVs. The characters have mouth flaps, and that's about the extent of their emotional expressions.

The Nazis, represented mainly in the one-eyed, blonde Grimhild Kruz, have captured a man from the future (2112), who accidently time-travels to 1943 in a spacecraft warp experiment. They want to use the spacecraft as the ultimate weapon to win the war. However, Chris (Clis, on the on-screen text) was also on the spacecraft and she is the only one who can use the time-traveling warp device. Erna rescues her from the Nazis, but Chris doesn't want to return to the future: she is a synthetic human, and she will be destroyed when she returns to her own time for scientific purposes.

Fatalistic philosophy is tossed around ("You can't change the future"), with annoying piano lounge music. Grimhild and Erna duel, first with swords, then guns, then airplane wings. Then the climatic plot twist: Chris is Erna, ten years later!

The dub is brain-numbing: all the Nazi characters have exagerated German accents; Erna speaks in perfect American English. Please, don't buy this. If you're feeling nostalgic for FFVII, play the game. Don't watch this anime. --JC

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