Steel Angel Kurumi 2-Volume 1 (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version-Clean opening and closing
Trailer-Extended episode previews
DVD Credits-Clean Opening (1:31)
Reversible Cover-Clean Closings (6:08)
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||86:35 (Case: 90)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||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 preview|
Steel Angel Kurumi was a delightful anime series, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. As you can imagine, I was very pleased to see a sequel.
The original Steel Angel Kurumi was set in the period between the two World Wars, a time known as the Taisho Era in Japan. This sequel is not set in the past, but in the future. It is set roughly 100 years after the previous series, so it's a few decades from now.
We open at the Kagura Shrine, where the teenage Nako Kagura is performing a cello recital. She's rather good. She lives at the shrine with her mother, Misaki. After the grace and dignity of her performance it's a shame that she trips going down the steps from the stage. But that's Nako she's a bit of a klutz, but sweet and a thoroughly nice person. Through a somewhat complicated sequence of events sweet little Nako ends up kissing Kurumi, thus activating her. So this time Kurumi has Nako as "master", and just like last time, Kurumi is passionately in love with her "master". If you have a problem with girls being in love, you are not going to enjoy this show almost all the love expressed is from one girl to another. As well as Kurumi loving Nako, we have the girl next door, Uruka, who is convinced she is in love with Nako, too (I think she just likes bossing Nako around, and feels possessive, rather than loving). Things get even more confusing when Saki shows up she ends up expressing love for two girls.
Uruka and Nako have grown up together, with Uruka a year older, and thus in charge. Uruka thinks Kurumi is stealing Nako away from her, and so she is upset. This wouldn't be too bad, but Uruka's father is amazingly rich, and hates to see his daughter upset (indeed, we get the impression that he strives to cater for her every whim). So he tries hard to get rid of Kurumi...
This story is lighter than the one in the previous series, but I enjoy it as much there is a place for something that's light-hearted and cheerful.
This anime is presented in bit-size pieces: each episode is less than 15 minutes long, including opening and closing credits (which run about 1:30 each), leaving about 10 minutes of action once we take out the next episode teaser. This is neat: it means that the show moves at a rapid pace, with little wasted time. It also means that they can fit the twelve episodes of this series onto just two single layer DVDs. Watching a single episode is a nice little treat, but it's hard to stop at just one. The episodes on this disc are:
1 Things that suck, Squeeze We meet Nako, her mother, and Uruka, and Kurumi is awakened 2 Master is a Girl Nako's mother explains about Steel Angels to Nako 3 The First... It Is Kurumi starts school in grade 9 with Nako 4 The New Steel Angel Saki Mark II Uruka and her father want to activate Saki 5 Master and Sister They try to use Saki against Kurumi 6 Kurumi Becomes a Fish The obligatory beach episode
Like the previous series, this one looks like kid's stuff, but I wouldn't put it in front of children. There's some fan service, some nudity, and what they term "Adult Themes". In other words, that M rating is no accident (strangely, the Region 1 disc is rated 17+). This is for adult kids!
The original "theatrical" aspect ratio of this show is 1.33:1, and that's exactly what we get here. It is, understandably, not 16x9 enhanced.
The picture is composed of static and moving elements. The static elements are sharp and clear. The moving elements aren't as clear, mostly due to mild aliasing. Therefore it is fortunate that this style of animation uses more static elements than moving ones. There's no significant film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is rendered brightly and vividly, which is really important in a show like this one, where there are plenty of bright cheerful colours. There are no colour-related artefacts of any significance.
There are no film artefacts.
Aliasing is the only artefact, and it's not too disturbing. There's no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.
There are the usual two subtitle tracks, with the first subtitling only songs, and the second providing dialogue subtitles as well. The subtitles don't match the English dialogue, but that's because they are a more literal translation of the Japanese. They are easy to read, and seem well-timed.
The disc is single sided, single layer. No layer change, and everything fits comfortably into one layer.
There are two audio tracks, the expected English and Japanese. Both are provided in Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224kbps.
The English dialogue is clear and readily understood, with no egregious slips in audio sync. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough, too, but I can't assess comprehension. This is a series that I think is thoroughly enjoyable in English if you are not an anime purist, I recommend listening to this in English. The English dub is provided by an excellent cast, with all three of the voice actors for the Steel Angels (Kelli Cousins, Monica Rial, and Hilary Haag) reprising their roles, and a cameo from Kira Vincent-Davis (Nakahito in the previous series). Add in Luci Christian (Kaname Chidori in Full Metal Panic!) as Nako, Rozie Curtis as Uruka, and Allison Keith (Nanvel in Burn Up Excess) as Misaki (Nako's mother), and you have quite a cast. To be fair, I should mention that the Japanese language voice actors for the Steel Angels are the same as last time, too, and Nako is played by the voice actor (the hard-working Houko Kuwashima) who played Nakahito in the first series.
There's plenty of score, and it works very nicely to support the mood of the show. This score comes from Toshihiko Sahashi, the composer on the first series. And just like the first series, the lyrics to the opening and closing songs are provided by Naruhisa Arakawa. The opening song is a substantially updated version of A Miracle that Starts with a Kiss it still ends with Mi-ra-Ku-ru-mi. The closing song is new; it is Beyond the Clear Blue Sky.
The pure stereo soundtracks provide no signal for the surrounds or subwoofer, but that's OK. There's some spread to the stereo image, with occasional voices placed to the far left or right, but the directional sounds are fairly infrequent.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is busily animated with music. It is easy to operate.
This is a double-sided page with a shot of Nako and Kurumi in school uniform on one side, and a shot of Kurumi, Nako, and Karinka in bed naked on the other side.
The original outside cover shows Kurumi in her (updated) maid outfit, and Nako in traditional shrine maiden garb. The reverse has them in the same pose, but in their underwear (see R4 v R1 for the explanation).
The opening and closing sequences without credits.
A free-running montage of character sketches of all the main characters.
The episode previews that we see at the end of each episode are the short versions, running roughly 0:15 each. This gives us access to the longer versions, each of which runs just over 0:30. They are individually selectable, and labelled for the episode they preview (rather than the episode in which they appear).
Three trailers that run one after another, not individually selectable:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
I bought the Region 1 version of this disc some time ago. It is quite similar to this one, with pretty much identical disc content. The packaging is a little different...
The Region 1 disc cover starts with a shot of Kurumi and Nako in school uniform (we get this shot in miniposter form). But if you open the cover you can discover that the school uniforms are on an acetate sheet, and can be removed. Underneath you'll find the girls in their underwear (a pose we get as the inside of the reversible cover). And inside the package you'll find a second acetate sheet with Kurumi's maid outfit and Nako's shrine maiden outfit so you can dress them that way, too that's the shot we get on the cover (and I think it's the better choice). The inside of their cover slick shows the image of Kurumi, Nako, and Karinka in bed (we get this on the other side of the miniposter).
So we get all the images that the Region 1 package offers, but we get them in a more convenient (albeit less cutesy) form.
The transfer on the Region 1 is essentially the same as the Region 4.
You get effectively the same thing whether you buy the Region 1 or the Region 4. So it's truly excessive to buy both (and yes, I have done so).
A delightful anime series given a good presentation on DVD
The video quality is good, impeded only by mild aliasing.
The audio quality is good.
The extras are pleasant.
|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|