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Burst Angel Box Set with OVA

1 rating: 1.0
Anime & Manga movie directed by Christopher Bevins

In a crime ridden future, the streets of Tokyo are patrolled by RAPT, the organization responsible for maintaining peace and order. In this bleak world the citizenry are legally allowed to carry and wield firearms. But so are the criminals. It is RAPT … see full wiki

Director: Christopher Bevins
Genre: Animation
1 review about Burst Angel Box Set with OVA

A Hodgepodge of Themes and a Taste of the Old West

  • Jul 6, 2009
Let me start this review by expressing my absolute adulation for Funimation's Viridian Collections. I was first introduced to these extraordinary anime packs through Blue Gender and made it my priority to attempt to locate as many others as possible. For those who don't know, Viridian Collections, in Funimation's own words are the essential titles for any well-rounded DVD collection exploring the pop culture phenomenon known as Japanese animation. To you and I it means a box set containing an entire series, an OVA, and a lot of extras all for the price usually associated with a single season of a given show.

The extras contained within this Viridian Collection could easily fill up my entire critique so I'll mention a few of the key areas of interest briefly. The set contains a whopping 6 episode commentary tracks with many of the English vocal talents and production, all of the original radio dramas, a Japanese cast interview, CGI artist interview, character designer interview, trailers, alternate opening and closing themes, battle records, textless songs, outtakes, and a Funimation trailer section on each and every disc. If all that weren't enough, each disc contains a full episode of the bizarre but strangely addictive Funimation property Mr. Stain on Junk Alley. For those of you who have no idea what this is (and that included me before this set), imagine a fully CG rendered show that would fit in pretty well with what we Americans might expect from Pixar, in which a presumably homeless (and shoeless) man, his sweater-wearing cat, and iguana on a leash spend each episode digging through the discarded junk in an alleyway for survival and ensuing high jinks. Sound strange? Oh it is. Take for example the one episode where he finds a pack of crayons that when colored with affect reality or another where starvation begins to tempt him into turning his pet lizard into a meal. In the end you'll certainly wonder whether drug use played a part in the show's creation but yet somehow it succeeds on nearly every level (and all this without a single word of dialog ever spoken).

But enough about Mr. Stain, we're here to talk about Burst Angel right? Language options are standard fair sub and dub which of course means dialog presented in either original Japanese or English dub each in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. And, like always, the choice to run English subtitles exists for either spoken language option.

The show could best be described as a mix of about a hundred different sociological elements, not the least of which is the spaghetti western theme that you may have gathered from the trailers and box art. Although to be completely honest, except for a few chaps and six-shooter toting women and a giant robot that looks like he's sporting a cowboy hat atop his massive metal head, there really isn't much to remind the viewer of the old west. In fact, the show starts things rolling with perhaps the oddest group of protagonists ever assembled and slaps them waist-deep into a conflict with underground crime syndicates, a corrupt government, and just a dash of sci-fi intrigue (like hideous beasts with glowing-brains that exit the skull and attempt to crawl away once the monster is defeated).

Sometimes the formula works, other times not so much. When the show opens the viewer will more than likely fumble through the ensemble not exactly sure what to expect. You know- like is this character important to the overall prose or what about this one here? By the end I can't say with certainty that the odd dynamic of the good guys ever falls into place. You have many near-naked women to work with; one who takes charge of the group, another young girl who happens to be a computer genius, a bouncy (yet perky) redhead with a knack for getting into trouble, and a red-eyed, silver haired, purple tattooed killing machine who makes it her personal mission to bail the redhead out of trouble in nearly every episode.

There are a few males to speak of, mainly in the form of the giant robot's hairy mechanic (way too much exposed body presented in the "beach" episode) and a wussy pastry chef-in-training that is brought on to cook for the girls. I suppose part of my own bewilderment comes from the fact that I expected the young cook to play a much bigger role in the grander story arc than he actually does by the end. The first twelve episodes use him as a major focal point of the story then suddenly he gets dropped off like a bad step-kid at the soccer field.

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to tell you that this is the bizarre story of Meg and Jo (the redhead and killing machine I told you about earlier) and their meteoric rise to mercenary status with a strange, dare I say lesbian love for one another. Perhaps if I had known this going into the program, I would have been less distracted by the frivolous characters and jutting story threads that go nowhere throughout. The OVA makes this reality especially clear although since it represents the very end of the show, by then its too late.

The English dub takes us back to 2005; an era where Funimation was improving in leaps and bounds but still wasn't quite the well-oiled machine that it has since become. The commentary tracks are virtually useless at shedding any sort of light on the production process or the behind-the-scenes data that fans may expect from a commentary. However, it's almost impossible not to find the bubbly personalities of the female voice actresses both infectious and personable. Regardless of how happy you are with your current lot in life, these tracks will make you wonder if voice acting shouldn't have been your calling- even if you had to pay to do it!

In rare form, the majority of Texas-dwelling voice stars that make up Funimation were given an opportunity to let fly their southern accents in a segment that takes place entirely in Osaka (as opposed to Tokyo). Since the original Japanese dialog wipes this correlation out entirely, I personally found it interesting that Osaka would be considered the old west of Japan. Sure it's a gimmick and it may have been taken a bit too far, the fact is that this segment acts as a well-needed bridge between the two bigger story sections that are being developed here.

The Japanese acting, as is often the case, is more dramatic and emotional but lacking in the small inflections that hint toward ethnic-authenticity that the English track nails down.

In all Burst Angel is a very unique take on the mecha category of anime. The visuals are pure Gonzo magic; especially the robot battles themselves. The animation is both fluid and life-like with uncanny attention to detail. However, the story is quite inconsistent in its delivery. At times you'll be convinced that this is in fact a cleverly disguised comedy show only to reconsider it as a horror wannabe an episode later. It picks and chooses elements at will which would have been fine had it committed to a single theme beneath the variations. However, as it stands the end result feels muddled and a bit convoluted. This is a tale that banks nearly everything on the viewer's undying adoration for the lead characters and to be honest, I never felt much toward them.

I should often point out that observant viewers may notice a couple of scenes that appear to have been taken almost directly from the 1997 American film Alien Resurrection. I was hoping the creative staff would have commented on this observation in the extras but alas, no mention of it was ever made.

In conclusion this is a 3-star show from Gonzo but a 5-star product from Funimation. Packaging, extras, and value are absolutely through the roof. That's two for two on the Viridian Collections thus far but who's counting?

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