Steel Angel Kurumi-Volume 2 (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-A Steel Angel Photo Shoot
Gallery-Original Cover Art (DVD, LD, VHS)
Gallery-Original Manga Covers
Teaser Trailer-Original US Teaser
Trailer-Extended episode trailers (6)
DVD-ROM Extras-Saki Fortune Teller PDF
Trailer-ADV Previews (6)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||86:27 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Naohito Takahashi|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English Song Lyrics
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits|
The second volume of Steel Angel Kurumi already! As always, I'm going to refer you to my review of Volume 1 for the more detailed discussion of the series.
This disc also starts with a lengthy Onmyou prayer (recited by Claudia Black) — it's interesting, but makes for a lengthy start-up for the disc.
The episodes on this disc are:
|7||No, Not There!||Nakahito gets a stomach upset, but something odd happens in the doctor's surgery|
|8||Reiko Amagi, 23 Years Old?||The travellers are stuck in a town because there's a huge boulder blocking the train tracks|
|9||Fireworks for Just the Two of Us||Nakahito is kidnapped when Kurumi goes to get them soft drinks|
|10||We Came For You||Kurumi is up against a trio of Steel Angels sent to convert her or destroy her|
|11||I Know! Cinnamon Cookies...||Saki runs off to get some cinnamon cookies to share with Kurumi|
|12||It's Karinka||It's Kurumi versus Karinka, after Karinka has hurt Saki badly|
Once again, the titles above are the ones shown on the screen, which are different from the ones in the English dub. The English dub's titles are printed on the inside of the cover, should you care to see them — this time they are mostly abbreviations of the ones above, but the first episode is titled Playing Doctor.
Kurumi, for all that she's supposed to be obedient, is stubborn and willful. It seems that her jealousy is almost without bounds — she gets quite stroppy when the doctor wants to examine Nakahito with his clothes off. She's essentially nice, but she has strong opinions. And she seems to be quite oblivious to some things, including Saki's oh-so-obvious love for her. But she is very likeable, possibly because of her enthusiastic optimism and cheerfulness.
The two female spies trailing them get more fleshed-out. It's a little disturbing that one of them is interested in Nakahito (he is 11 years old, after all), but the other one is more interested in Dr Amagi (at least Amagi is an adult).
Everything so often a Japanese term will appear, and it will be defined by Kurumi in super-deformed mode — useful, although one wonders if those bits are original animation or added for the English-speaking market.
The range of technologies (beyond our current capabilities) that are apparently available in 1920s Japan increases: apparently Tsunami has control over gravity.
Two of the new Steel Angels we see were drawn from character designs submitted by fans of the original manga — the first time we see these Angels a small sign appears with the name and prefecture of the fan who designed them — that's nice, if a little confusing to the unprepared viewer.
It seems that every new Steel Angel we see is wearing a skimpier outfit. When Karinka (this is the mystery character voiced by Hilary Haag) appears, her outfit is really quite, um, minimalist.
The series has hit its stride, and the characters are developing nicely...
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That's how this show appeared on television.
The image is marvellous: sharp and clear. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is brilliant. The super-deformed segments are done in very bright colours, with backgrounds that look like they were drawn by young children with coloured textas; the main animation demonstrates beautiful control of colour. The dramatic sequences are darker, with sombre colours — it's a very effective mastery of colour, and perfectly rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are no film artefacts. What little aliasing there is seems a touch more noticeable on this volume, but it's still an order of magnitude less that I'd expect to see on a series like this. There is a tiny bit of dot crawl on the odd occasion. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. There is, unfortunately, some interleaving (probably produced in the process of converting from NTSC to PAL), but it is only visible when single stepping, or when freeze-framing — at normal speed it is utterly invisible.
The only subtitles are in English — the first are normal full English subtitles, the second subtitle songs and signs. I watched all of the full English subtitles, and they are well-timed, seem accurate, and are easy to read — they are in the traditional yellow with black outlining.
The disc is single-sided with a nice picture label (which is apparently the original DVD cover) and dual-layered. The layer change is between episodes, so it is invisible.
Note: the first R4 release of this disc has an unusual glitch which means that it will freeze at the start of some of the episodes on certain DVD players. This is due to a split-second video insert that was made to sync the audio. Madman are aware of the problem and are re-mastering the disc — they will exchange it for anyone experiencing the lock-up. In the meantime, it is possible to bypass the glitch by "searching" to a time past the problem (3 seconds is plenty); because every episode begins with the "don't sit too close to the TV" warning, you won't miss any part of the episode.
The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, both in Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 224 kbps. I watched all the episodes with English sound and most of them again with the Japanese soundtrack.
The English dialogue is easy to understand, even when Kurumi is at her most shrill. It is very well matched to the animation. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear, but I really can't assess comprehensibility.
The score is nothing extraordinary, but it does the job. The score is by Toshihiko Sahashi. The themes are sung by The Steel Angels: Atsuko Enomuto, Rie Tanaka, and Masayo Kurata, the Japanese voice actresses for Kurumi, Saki, and Karinka, respectively.
These are pure 2.0 stereo soundtracks, with good stereo imaging, but no use of the surrounds or subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
Another disc, and another wide range of extras to choose from — this series is setting a very high standard for number and quality of extras.
The menus are animated with music. The menus are easy to navigate and quite attractive, with neat transitions. The images on the menus draw from the various covers of the DVDs, laserdiscs, VHS, and manga — they are quite attractive.
This is interesting, not because of the photo shoot itself, but because of all the bits of trivia let slip by the commentary team, which includes photographer Michelle Grinstead, art director Ruby, director Steven Foster, and make-up artist Andre Shutter. This shoot is an attempt to get photos of the main voice actresses in yukatas (Japanese robes that are somewhat softer and lighter than kimonos):
It's quite clear that ADV intends to make the faces of these voice actresses well known (it doesn't hurt that they are attractive women). Given that Japanese voice actresses have fan clubs, it seems only fair that US voice actresses (who have a tougher job) should get some recognition, too.
The artwork originally designed for the series on DVD (volumes 1 to 6), laserdisc (volumes 1 to 6), VHS (volumes 1 to 8). Although it isn't stated, I'm assuming that they mean the Japanese releases, because the DVD covers they show don't match the R1 or R4 releases..
The cover designs for the Japanese release of volumes 1 to 7 of the manga from which this show originated.
A total of 27 pages of sketches showing the rough-outs of each of the characters and many of the other elements we see on-screen.
The trailer originally used in the US to promote the series before it arrived.
These are interesting. This time they include some elements which are strictly speaking not translation-related, but more commentary on elements of Japanese culture which have a strong bearing on plot elements. Strongly recommended reading.
These are the longer form "next episode" teaser trailers, apparently done for the VHS release. There are six of them, naturally, lasting about 30 seconds each (the ones in with the episodes only last about 15 seconds).
There's a PDF file on the DVD-ROM which you can print out to make a fortune-teller themed to Saki. A small version of it is printed on the inside cover, and it looks rather pretty. I think it's even prettier than the Kurumi one on the first DVD.
This is the only item among the extras which is exactly the same as on the first DVD, and it is the only place I don't mind seeing repetition, although some different trailers wouldn't hurt.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc is virtually identical, even to the same artwork and menu design. As far as I can tell there are no significant differences — but the R4 is rather cheaper.
The second volume of episodes from an interesting and enjoyable new anime series for adults. Presented very well on DVD.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is excellent.
The extras are plentiful and interesting.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|