Steel Angel Kurumi 2-Volume 2: Earth's Guardian Angels (2001)

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Released 8-Dec-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Character
Alternative Version-Clean opening and closing
Trailer-Extended episode previews
Trailer-ADV Previews
DVD Credits-Clean Opening (1:31)
Reversible Cover-Clean Closings (6:08)
Poster-double-sided miniposter
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 86:12 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Naohito Takahashi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Atsuko Enomoto
Kelli Cousins
Houko Kuwashima
Luci Christian
Rie Tanaka
Monica Rial
Masayo Kurata
Hilary Haag
Mie Sonozaki
Rozie Curtis
Kotono Mitsuishi
Allison Keith
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 Yes
Subtitles English
English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode preview

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second, and final, volume of this series. The first volume, The Lips of a New Master, is quite sweet, and silly, and this one picks up exactly where that one left off, with a group of practitioners chanting over Karinka...

    This anime is unusual, with its episodes running less that 15 minutes apiece. They manage to pack a lot into each episode. The episodes on this disc are:

7 Awaken, Karinka Mark II Saki prepares a sumptuous dinner, but Nako is late — can it be that she's involved with her teacher?
8 How do ya do, sistaz? Karinka shows up and makes her mark most emphatically
9 Part Rain, Part Shine, & a Rainbow Karinka's fight with Kurumi comes to a climax
10 Big Part-time Job Plans Kurumi and Karinka have to take jobs to make up for something they broke
11 Master Will Go Away If Nako wins the contest, she will be able to study in Vienna — that's a long way away
12 Beyond the Clear Blue Sky Will Nako win, or will she be prevented from playing in the concert?

    One interesting part of this series is the conflict involving the practitioners (or mystics) — in the first series they were more prominent (after all, Nakohito was a mystic in training). In this series they are more in the background, but there are interesting hints when they appear — we learn why the Steel Angels exist, and their importance, from these hints.

    I do feel sorry for Saki. She suffers so much from her unrequited loves, and gets taken for granted by both Uruka and Kurumi. Still, she does get one kiss...

    Karinka's motivations are different this time around, but the effects are pretty much the same. It's amusing that it takes the combined power of 130 mystics to awaken her, unlike Kurumi and Saki, each of whom were awakened by a single kiss from a girl.

    Oh, watch out for Misaki, Nako's mother — but I'm not saying why.

    A little aside: during the closing song, the lyrics include "Sukina ko, jimina ko" and "Sukina ko, shai na ko", which sounds (to me) like "Suki Nako, jimi Nako" and "Suki Nako, shai Nako", as if they are singing "Nako" repeatedly — I don't know if that's deliberate, but it's cute (yes, I know that the "ko" is "girl"). I also noticed that one of Nako's catch-phrases: "This sucks!" is rendered in Japanese as "hani hani" — where it appears in the song it's rendered as "honey honey", which is rather different in meaning.

    Once more, I feel obliged to point out that this show, although it looks like kid stuff, is not for children. There's some fan service, some nudity, and what they term "Adult Themes". This is definitely for adult kids (and older teens)!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The original "theatrical" (TV) aspect ratio of this show is 1.33:1, and that's exactly what we get here. It is not 16x9 enhanced — I have yet to see a 1.33:1 show given 16x9 enhancement, although it is possible (if questionable!).

    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 and some interleaving. There are a lot of pans in some parts of the show, which exacerbates the problem, but it's still fairly mild. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is rendered very well, and that's vital in a show with as many vivid bright colours as this one. There are no colour-related artefacts of any significance.

    There are no film artefacts.

    Aliasing and interleaving are the only artefacts, but they don't make the picture hard on the eyes. There's no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are the customary two subtitle tracks, with the first subtitling only songs, and the second providing dialogue subtitles as well. The full subtitles are a more literal translation of the Japanese, so they don't match the English dialogue, so it's rather interesting to compare the dialogue with the subtitles. There are a couple of instances where there are significant differences. The subtitles appear to be well-timed. They are easy to read.

    The disc is single sided, and single layered. there is no layer change, and everything fits comfortably onto one layer.

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

Audio

    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 easily understood. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough.

    The English dialogue is well acted by an experienced cast. The script has been well-written — it is not a literal translation, and that's a good thing — it renders things more idiomatically.

    The Japanese dialogue sounds good (and the cast are experienced, too), but is not quite as well-synced to the mouth movements (not an uncommon situation). However, I prefer the sound of the English soundtrack, possibly because of my cultural bias towards slightly deeper female voices — the Japanese voices sound a bit shrill to my ears.

    Speaking of sync, the worst sync between the animation and the sound is in Nako's cello playing — there are several sequences (such as in episode 10) where the depicted bowing bears absolutely no resemblance to the sound we are hearing. I would have liked it if we'd heard a bit of variety of cello music: using the same piece over and over was a bit tiring (they could have used different segments from the one piece, at least).

    Toshihiko Sahashi gives us an excellent score — it enhances the action nicely.

    The pure stereo soundtracks provide no signal for the surrounds or subwoofer. If you enable ProLogic processing you'll hear a little bit of sound from the surrounds, but it's not significant.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is busily animated with music. It is easy to operate. The music is a bit loud, though.

Mini-Poster

    This is a double-sided page with a shot of Saki and Karinka in their Steel Angel outfits on one side (this was the original cover on the Region 1), and a shot of Uruka and Saki in bed naked on the other side (this was the image on the inside of the cover slick on the Region 1).

Reversible Cover

    The original outside cover shows Saki and Karinka in school uniform (this was the alternative cover for the Region 1). The reverse has them in the same pose, but in their underwear (see R4 v R1 for the complete explanation).

Clean Opening (1:32) and Closing (1:32)

    The opening and closing sequences without credits. The closing sequence starts out black, so it looks faulty, but it's correct.

Gallery: Character (1:48)

    A free-running montage of character sketches of all the main characters.

Extended Episode Previews

    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) — these are for episodes 8 to 12.

ADV Previews (4:50)

    Three trailers that run one after another, not individually selectable:

DVD Credits

    This is a one page still listing the Madman folks responsible for this DVD. It comes up after the last episode, or you can view it from the Extras menu.

R4 vs R1

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 at release, back in 2003. It is essentially the same as this one. The packaging is a little different...

    The Region 1 disc cover starts with a shot of Saki and Karinka in Steel Angel 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 their school uniforms so you can dress them that way, too — that's the shot we get on the cover (I like it). The inside of their cover slick shows the image of Uruka and Saki in bed (we get this on the other side of the miniposter).

    I think Madman were clever: we get all the images that the Region 1 package offers, but we get them in a more convenient form — lining up that acetate sheet is fiddly.

    The transfers on the Region 1 and Region 4 are pretty much the same — the Region 4 has interleaving, but the Region 1 has a bit more aliasing. Neither is hard to watch.

    This is a case where you can happily buy either version, and get pretty much the same thing. Only an obsessive collector would buy both (err, yes, I have done so...).

Summary

    The concluding volume of an entertaining anime series, given a good presentation on DVD

    The video quality is good, impeded only by mild aliasing/interleaving.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are pleasant.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, December 13, 2004
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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