Steel Angel Kurumi-Volume 3 (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Steel Angel Photo Shoot Part 2 of 2
Notes-Steel Angel World
Gallery-Preliminary Design Sketches
Trailer-extended episode previews (6)
DVD-ROM Extras-PDF file: Karinka fortune teller
Trailer-ADV previews (6)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||86:31 (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|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits|
The third volume of Steel Angel Kurumi arrives after a bit of a gap. Please refer to my review of Volume 1 for a more detailed discussion of the series. And while you're at it, you might care to read my review of Volume 2. Bear in mind that this is the second last volume of the series, too — there is a Volume 5 on the release sheets, but it's actually an OVA also called Steel Angel Kurumi Encore, rather than a continuation of the series.
Just as the first two discs did, this disc starts with a lengthy Onmyou prayer, so there's a bit of a wait before it gets to the menu. Although I haven't compared the prayer frame by frame, as far as I can tell it is the same.
The episodes on this disc are:
|Written Title||Spoken Title|
|13||I Got Another Kid Sister!||Second Sister||The battle between Karinka and Kurumi rages, with some frightening consequences|
|14||I Won't Give Up!||It's Not Fair||While Saki is being repaired, Kurumi has Nakahito to herself for a week|
|15||I Got It, Sis||Dark Wings||Nakahito and Kurumi have part-time jobs in a cafe, and Karinka joins them|
|16||Nakahito's Greatest Danger?!||Our Lips Are Sealed||Karinka is convinced she will become super-powered if she kisses Nakahito|
|17||We Arrived in Izumo!||Mikhail||They reach Izumo — now they need to locate Dr Ayanokoji's secret laboratory|
|18||That Can't Be True||Lies||Nakahito is told some very disturbing things about the Mark II Angel Heart|
I've shown both sets of episode titles above: the ones that show up in writing, plus the ones that are spoken in the episode previews (the latter are the ones printed on the inside of the cover. You can see how different they are. I cannot tell you which are "right", because they seem equally applicable.
Kurumi and Saki are wearing outfits that fit with the ostensible purpose of the Steel Angels, which was as maids / servants. Karinka's outfit, apart from the tie and dinky little hat (which must be glued on!), doesn't fit that motif (unless you believe in really kinky maids...).
The English dub has Karinka swearing using some rather coarse language, which seems out of keeping with the rest of the series, and not the sort of thing I'm accustomed to hearing in Hilary Haag's voice. The language in the subtitles is somewhat ameliorated, and seems more appropriate — I wonder if that's a reflection of the original Japanese?
Kurumi continues to act like a spoiled child, with tantrums and fits of jealousy — although she's quite likeable, and generally well-meaning, she can be quite a brat. Saki remains quiet (and doesn't appear much in the first few episodes) — I really like her. Karinka seems a lot smarter, but still somewhat naive. There's plenty of entertainment in the encounters between Steel Angels and the rest of the world. It's also fun to listen in on the two spies trailing our party — they are clever, resourceful agents, but they have their hang-ups.
I'm not thrilled by Karinka's frequent asides to the camera during some of these episodes. Once or twice, fine, but it's taken to extremes.
We finally learn why there seems to be so much advanced technology in the Japan of the Taisho period, which is good — it seemed so out-of-place. This volume sets things up for a big climax in the next (and final) volume — I can hardly wait!
There's some nudity in this series — even if the Steel Angels are machines, they look just like pretty girls. And a discussion of comparative breast size is probably not on your list of suitable material for children. When you add in the other suggestive elements, it's just as well that this series is rated M. For an adult audience, however, this is quite an amusing and entertaining show.
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. No complaints — that's how this show was broadcast.
The image is lovely: sharp and clear in all but long shots. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is brilliant (in the original meaning of the word). The super-deformed segments are done in very bright colours, with minimalist backgrounds; the main animation sequences demonstrate beautiful control of colour; the dramatic sequences are darker, with sombre colours — it's very effective, and perfectly rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are no film artefacts — no flecks, spots, specks, dust, or fluff. There is some aliasing, particularly on pans, but there aren't very many of them. There is a little bit of dot crawl on the black lines around characters when they are moving, but it is well-controlled. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. There continues to be a little bit of interleaving, but it is reduced on this volume — even single-stepping a scene with a lot of movement only shows interleaving every so often.
The only subtitles (two tracks) are in English — the first are normal full English subtitles, the second subtitle only 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 (nice picture label, slightly censored around the inner ring) and dual layered. The layer change is between the fourth and fifth episodes, so it is invisible (and quite fast).
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 then 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 biggest difference between the two is Kurumi's voice — both versions are good, but the Japanese version sounds a bit more distinctive; I'm not sure if this is emphasised by the way she ends so many words with "-desu" (there's a translator's note about this on the first or second disc). I'm not saying that the Japanese is better, just different.
The score is fine. 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 — I like the bouncy opening theme (I find myself whistling it, even though I don't understand the words); the closing theme is good, but not as memorable.
These are pure 2.0 stereo soundtracks, with distinct stereo imaging, but no use of the surrounds or subwoofer. Bass management may route some signal to your subwoofer, but even Pro-Logic decoding does nothing significant for the surrounds.
|Surround Channel Use|
This series maintains its high standards for quantity and quality of extras.
The menus are animated with music. The menus are easy to navigate, and quite attractive, with neat transitions. This disc's menus feature images of Karinka.
This is just as interesting as the first half of the photo shoot. Once again, this is not because of the photo shoot per se, but because of the trivia that comes out in the commentary. That's not to say that the voice actresses don't look good in their little black dresses — they look very good indeed (I especially liked Hilary Haag's dress, with its single-shoulder design).
This is more than fifteen pages of notes about the world in which this series is set, giving considerable background information which was conveyed in the manga version, but necessarily omitted from the anime. I found this helpful in understanding what was going on, but it's not compulsory reading.
These are interviews in text form (three or four pages each) with a number of behind-the-scenes people:
The notes this time are mostly about food, funnily enough.
Nineteen pages of sketches.
Fifteen pages of preliminary designs — interesting to see some of the design elements that were discarded.
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 Karinka. A small version of it is printed on the inside cover, and it looks like it emphasises her behind — not the most flattering image.
Mostly the same trailers as on the first two discs, but at least we get a new one this time.
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 — I'm recommending getting the R4 to support our local industry!
The third volume of episodes from a delightful anime series for adults. Presented very well on DVD.
The video quality is excellent and is very colourful.
The audio quality is excellent for a stereo soundtrack.
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|