Steel Angel Kurumi-Volume 4 (1999)

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Released 2-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Conversations with Angels, Part 2
Biographies-Character
Notes-A Kurumi Travelogue
Gallery-production sketches
Notes-Translator's notes
Trailer-extended episode previews (5)
DVD-ROM Extras-Fortuneteller PDF
Trailer-ADV Previews (6)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 87:40 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Naohito Takahashi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Atsuko Enomoto
Kelli Cousins
Houko Kuwashima
Kira Vincent-Davis
Rie Tanaka
Monica Rial
Masayo Kurata
Hilary Haag
Ai Orikasa
Shelley Calene-Black
Yumi Touma
Claudia Black
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Toshihiko Sahashi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The fourth, and final, volume of Steel Angel Kurumi arrives quite soon after the third. Please refer to my review of Volume 1 for a more detailed discussion of the series. You might also want to read my review of Volume 2 and Volume 3. This is the last volume of the series the Volume 5 you might hear about is actually an OVA also called Steel Angel Kurumi Encore, rather than a continuation of the series proper.

This disc does not start with the Onmyou prayer, which is kind of ominous...

The episodes on this disc are:

Written Title Spoken Title
19 Charge! Academy Base Storming the Base Our three Angel friends, with Dr Amagi, attack the Academy Base to rescue Nakahito
20 The Ultimate Super Steel Angel Avenging Angel Kurumi meets a challenger who is even more powerful than she is
21 The Day an Angel Disappeared When Angels Die Only one of Kurumi and her challenger survives
22 Chaos Angel Hell's Angel The world is threatened by the very force the Academy sought to avert
23 Crime and Punishment Crime and Punishment The Academy prepares for a last-ditch effort, sacrificing everything, even the Angels
24 Final Episode Kiss Can anything save the world?

Once again, 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 (except for the second last episode). I don't know why there are two sets of titles.

We finally get to meet the character played by Claudia Black. That's good. And it's rather a surprise that's good, too.

I'd like to be able say that the story twisted and turned, and one could not anticipate where it was going; that's not really the case. Some of what happens is fairly easy to predict, but at least they do it with style, and there are still some unexpected events.

The one thing that annoyed me about these episodes was the character Dr Walski. He is annoyingly convinced that his is the only way, and he persists with the same strategy for far too long. I wanted to grab him and shake some sense into him (and rip off that silly moustache!). Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind grabbing some of the Angels, too, but that would be for rather different reasons...

I wonder if there is some correlation between having a Mark II Angel Heart and having a large bust (you'll see what I mean).

It is interesting to note the level of overlap of voice actors between this series and another, such as Noir. I'm not just talking about the English language voice actors (although the names Monica Rial, Hilary Haag, Shelley Calene Black, and Tiffany Grant may leap to the eye...), but the Japanese voice actors, too Houko Kuwashima, for example, plays Kirika in Noir, and Nakahito (yes, the boy after all, he is played by Kira Vincent-Davis in English) in Steel Angel Kurumi. I guess there are only a limited number of really good voice actors...

There's some nudity in this series even if the Steel Angels are machines, they look just like pretty girls, and Nakahito is a young boy. When you add all the suggestive elements, it's just as well that this series is rated M. For an adult audience, however, this is quite an entertaining show.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

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 superb: sharp and clear in all but long shots. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise. This is animation rendered as well as possible.

Colour really is brilliant (in the original meaning of the word). The animation illustrates (pun intended) superb control of colour, with a palette ranging from a wide variety of sombre tones through to some vivid fully-saturated colours. There are no colour-related artefacts. You will see some colour blooming on a couple of scenes, but that is completely deliberate, simulating the intensely bright flash of an explosion.

There are no film artefacts, and the transfer is so sharp that any would have shown very obviously.

There is very little aliasing on my primary system, but on a system without progressive scan you will see some aliasing, particularly on pans. There's no moire, and nothing in the way of MPEG artefacts.

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 mostly in the traditional yellow with black outlining, with the occasional white subtitle.

The disc is single-sided (with a nice picture label), and dual layered. The layer change is between the fifth and sixth episodes, so it is invisible (and quite fast).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

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.

As has been the case throughout the series, all the dialogue is clear. The English dialogue is easy to understand. I can't comment on the Japanese. Once again, the English seems to match the mouth movements better than the Japanese does.

The score is well suited to the on-screen action, and the style of the show. There are some lovely bold orchestral phrases this is excellent work 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. The credits in Japanese after the final episode use some extra music, a variation / expansion of the bouncy opening theme. The English credits follow the Japanese ones a nice touch.

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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This series maintains its high standards for quantity and quality of extras. I wish other shows would try this hard.

Menu

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...no, that's a secret...

Featurette Conversations with Angels: Behind the Scenes Part 2 (11:31)

The second half of the interviews we saw on the first disc it even starts with the same snippets. Interesting stuff, especially the section where we get to see Claudia Black recording some of her voice work under Steven Foster's direction.

Character Bios

We get bios for an awful lot of characters I think they have covered almost everyone who appeared in more than one episode. The bios are for:

Notes Kurumi Travelogue

This lists the cities that they visited on their trip, and gives a page of notes on each of the six cities.

Gallery Production Sketches

More than 20 pages of sketches of various characters, including model pages that show relative sizes.

Translator's Notes

Six pages of assorted notes, including a literal translation of the Onmyou prayer, plus a lot of rationale as to why they chose certain translations of key Japanese words or phrases.

Extended Episode Previews

The longer form "next episode" teaser trailers, apparently done for the VHS release. There are five of them (there's no "next episode" after the last one), lasting about 30 seconds each (the ones in with the episodes only last about 15 seconds). These acted a little strangely on one of my players, causing it to open after playing one (odd, but not too disturbing).

DVD-ROM Feature Fortune Teller PDF

There's a PDF file on the DVD-ROM which you can print out to make a fortune-teller themed to Nakahito but featuring both Nakahito and Kurumi. A small version of it is printed on the inside cover; it looks nice.

Trailers: ADV Previews

Exactly the same trailers as the third disc boring.

R4 vs R1

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 extent of having the same artwork and menu design. As far as I can tell there are no significant differences, although I suspect we may have received a slightly better transfer so I'm going to recommend getting the R4, because I know firsthand that it is superb.

Summary

The final volume of episodes from an excellent anime series for adults, presented very well on DVD.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is excellent for a stereo soundtrack.

Few anime series are provided with this quantity and quality of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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