Written by Yosuke Kuroda
Directed by Goro Taniguchi
- Clean opening and closing animation
- Lost Ground Express
- Design gallery
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
- Confusing at first
- Oppression and redemption
- Irritating little sister
Released by: Bandai
Rating: 13+ for violence
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format
My Advice: Add it to your collection.
Afraid of this power in the hands of the poor and disenfranchised, mainland Japan created a group called HOLD to police the island, and a group called HOLY, made up of their own Alter Users, to control the "menace" of the native Alter Users; those who do not jump when HOLY commands are imprisoned and reeducated. Kazuma must battle his opposite number, Ryoho, build his own powers, and meanwhile keep safe those who cannot defend themselves--all while being himself and keeping up his misanthropic and lazy reputation. Sound a bit confusing? Well, it is, like most good anime is in the beginning of a series, but I think it's going to be worth it.
The characters, thus far, are varied and interesting. Kazuma may be a bit of an uncontrolled, irritating rebel, but he's doing it for the right causes, and Ryoho bids fair to tame Kazuma's arrogance. For his part, Ryoho is a complex "villain," with secrets and reasons of his own, not to mention his childhood traumas, which will hopefully be addressed by childhood friend Mimori.
The audio quality of this show is splendid. Both the Japanese and English audio tracks are crisp and clear, and the casts do an exceptional job in both cases. The English voice actor for Kazuma, Steve Jay Blum, is particularly outstanding, since he portrays successfully being both a disaffected teenager on one hand and freedom fighter and hero on the other. The visuals are similarly solid: attractive, bright, and clear; the CGI blends beautifully with the traditional cel elements. The soft subtitles work well with the hard to provide translations of just signs or full subtitling.
There is a nice selection of extras on this volume, as well. We have clean openings--each episode has a slightly different opening--and a clean ending for fans justifiably enraptured by the artwork. The Design Gallery is a huge selection of character designs, interesting commentary on the characters, and animation samples. Finally, the Lost Ground Express will explain anything viewers didn't understand from watching the show, explaining a bit of background for anyone who didn't read the manga first; it's a great addition, and I wish all anime shows would do something like this.
At heart, this is a show about revolution, about lust for freedom, and about the poor and the defenseless getting tired of being pushed around by the fascist Powers That Be. We have a reluctant hero who isn't good because he wants to be some paladin of justice, but because he can make money when the hungry people around him can't, and he can't stand seeing them suffer. We have a girl who is part of the problem but is beginning to see the truth behind the rhetoric, and we have a wounded, uber-powerful man with a justified vendetta. The character and plot complexities alone recommend this title, but it's also just plain fun to watch, nice to look at, and a right good action flick.