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REVIEW: Kurau: Phantom Memory DVD 1


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Jedi General



Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 2485
Location: Tucson, AZ

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:52 am Reply with quote
I watched the free first episode a few days ago and I very much enjoyed it. I'm glad to hear that the rest of the volume is just as good. Now I have another great series from ADV to look forward to along with Le Chevalier D'Eon. Very Happy
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bci110



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 391

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:25 am Reply with quote
The one thing I love about Studio BONES titles is how well they play off relationships, and it looks like the Kurau is no exception. The points about the first episode are contrary to what I've been hearing lately in that most people I know said that the first episode of Kurau lacked that spark you usually see from BONES titles. However I do agree that the first episode was well-done, and perfectly set the tone for the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire volume, and can't wait for Vol. #2 to become available. Looks like I have another solid BONES title to add to my collection. Cool

Nice review, Theron. But then again, I didn't expect to see anything less than stellar work from Studio BONES. Very Happy
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DKL



Joined: 08 May 2005
Posts: 1800
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:32 am Reply with quote
What caught my interest here was that Matt Greenfield was directing ADR...

I'll probably give it a shot if it shows up on On-Demand (in the bay area... yeah, this hasn't shown up yet).

Apparently, Monica Rial was chosen by some of the Japanese producers or something (this is what she said anyway... like, this was one of those cases where that casting suggestion thing happened... she was pretty happy about it too).
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bci110



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:57 am Reply with quote
DKL wrote:
Apparently, Monica Rial was chosen by some of the Japanese producers or something (this is what she said anyway... like, this was one of those cases where that casting suggestion thing happened... she was pretty happy about it too).


Yeah, that's right. She posted it on her Yahoo Group fan club a while ago IIRC.

Here's what she said.
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Key
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
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Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:04 pm Reply with quote
bci110 wrote:
The points about the first episode are contrary to what I've been hearing lately in that most people I know said that the first episode of Kurau lacked that spark you usually see from BONES titles.


The problem there, I think, may be that the series is pitched more as an action series, and that's not what it really is. Someone going in expecting an action emphasis is almost certainly not going to find the first episode living up to their expectations.

Someone going in expecting a story more about relationships, though, should have a much more favorable reaction.
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CMB



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Location: Lock Haven, Pa.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 3:17 pm Reply with quote
The free first episode makes me hope that there will be a manga down the road, like Eureka Seven. Very Happy
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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 6:40 pm Reply with quote
Key wrote:
To call Kurau a love story would not exactly be accurate, as the Kurau/Christmas dynamic does not have romantic overtones in the traditional sense.


Oh, but that isn't going to stop shoujo-ai fanatics from drawing conclusions to the contrary!

Quote:
Alternately complementing and detracting from the rest is a spectacularly inconsistent soundtrack. At its best it is so utterly brilliant in conveying the spirit and soul of the storytelling that it almost overwhelms the viewer with its mood, while at other times (most commonly in action scenes) it sounds like twangy, hackneyed late '80s/early '90s synthesized retreads, so the grade given below is more an average of its peaks and valleys than a consistent score.


Feh, I like to think of it as being as "varied soundtrack." The mixture of soft piano pieces and synthesized tracks works well for me, but mileage will vary, I suppose.

Quote:
The worthiness of the dub produced by ADV largely comes down to a matter of personal taste.


Eh, I've never really been fond of Matt Greenfield's work outside of Golden Boy and RahXephon. Stresses too much on exaggerated emotions, and too much additional swearing for my tastes. The English dub for Kurau suffers the same issues, though I didn't find myself reaching for the remote to switch audio and turn on subtitles while viewing like I did for Neon Genesis Evangelion. The main casts' voices work well (Doug's added idiosyncrasies aside), though I was bewildered to hear random accents thrown about. I know that the world of Kurau isn't limited to Japanese, but come on now. Still, I'd say it's worthwhile to check out ADV's adaption for those that've already listened to the original Japanese dub, or else are hellbent English dub fans.

Anyway, I agree overall with the review, and it's pleasent to see that I'm not the only one here who loved the first episode since I've seen some complaints about how "boring" it is. Those type of comments surprise me considering that when I initially watched it, I was amazed at how much was put into the first episode. Still am after watching it -- just simply stunned when we see the series' logo appear halfway through the episode and you realize, "Hey, you mean that there's more?! Whoa!".

CMB wrote:
The free first episode makes me hope that there will be a manga down the road, like Eureka Seven. Very Happy


I'm downright confused on that comment. I haven't read the manga adaption of Eureka Seven, but just about every single anime to manga adaption that I've come across is downright disappointing and lacking compared to the original. FLCL, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and RahXephon are easy ones to point... Besides, it's been a few years since Kurau has come out, so it's even more unlikely for a manga to come out for it.
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CMB



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Location: Lock Haven, Pa.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:46 pm Reply with quote
I have found that some Anime to Manga works do work. Like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Big O. I've found these manga series to be good and their are others that are as good out there too. Smile
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bci110



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 391

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:50 am Reply with quote
CMB wrote:
I have found that some Anime to Manga works do work. Like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Big O. I've found these manga series to be good and their are others that are as good out there too. Smile


And on the flip side, you also have anime-to-manga works that are just downright awful (like My-HiME).
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Chrno2



Joined: 28 May 2004
Posts: 3700
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:25 pm Reply with quote
Good review on vol. 1.

This really is a good show. Very heartfelt at best. I really LOVE this show. It's like my "prozac" of anime. There isn't really many series out there that give me such a warm fuzzy feeling. Smile

I remember reading about it in an older issue of 'NTUSA'. By this time the show hadn't aired yet. When I saw the first set of protagonists, I was pretty much drawn in. This was also, 'Yasuhiro Irie' first solo project. He was a director on the 'Alien-9' OVA. And since I did enjoy that little feature, I wanted to give my support on his new project. Yet, I was willing despite it's first impression. I didn't know why and I knew nothing of it before or after. Nor did anyone else.

Once I got a chance to see the show in it's entirety I was really moved. So moved that I was PISSED OFF during the years waiting for ADV to release it. So many shows came out [in Japan] and were released [in the U.S.] the same year (2004) but 'Kurau' was nowhere to be found. Now in 2007, the wait is finally over and now viewers will have a chance to watch the series and judge it for themselves.

It truly is a beautiful piece of work. Again the music may not be for everyone, but I feel that the group 'S.E.N.S' were possibly the best choice for this film. They give that "ambient" feel, that works well with sci-fi. Again it's not a feature for everyone due to it's pacing. So those looking for something that is not this, stay away from this one. Everyone who wishes for something different with a refreshing twist then this might be for you.

This is definitely a feature that's good for just lying back on a dull quiet day, enjoying something warm or confectionary in front of your TV. Who knows what genre fans will put it in. But whatever the case it'll wrap itself around your heart enough that you won't care.

Guess, 'Kurau' will be sharing a space on my shelves next to 'Figure-17'. Wink
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CMB



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 43
Location: Lock Haven, Pa.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:33 pm Reply with quote
I still one can hope for something. Hell, I would be happy with a light novel or two for this Anime. Very HappyCool
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Randall Miyashiro



Joined: 12 Jun 2003
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Location: A block away from Golden Gate Park

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:03 am Reply with quote
I'm really amazed at this first volume. The last few Bones series (Mars Daybreak, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Eureka Seven) seemed to lean towards shonen mainstream action for my taste. Granted RahXephon did have some serious shonen elements, it also seemed a little less rambunctious and had an elegance which can also be seen in Wolf's Rain. Most of the newer titles would frequently have an overly energetic male youth as a lead who is naive and noble. To make things worse (or better for some) the drama for these newer series is often punctuated with a silly visual gag. Kurau feels far more like Bones' older works.

I love the main characters of Kurau and Christmas and find them both charming. I agree that the series shines the most in it's drama. The first episode does an amazing job building sympathy and setting up the main character. There is something about the more realistic character designs (much like D'eon) that really works for this series. The characters and how they interact really reminded me of Speed Grapher and upon doing a bit of poking in the encyclopedia I confirmed that all three Speed Grapher scriptwriters and the scenario person worked on Kurau's scripts and series composition. This familial relations is definitely what this team writes best.

ADV does a great job with the extras and includes a little foldout much like the one in Utawarerumono. I believe the design archives runs over seven minutes and is set to some OST stuff, much like Funi's FMA DVDs.

Overall this first volume shows much promise and my biggest complaint is that Bones continues to make full framed series in this day and age. The industry is at the point where most titles are presented 16:9 with Bandai and Bones being the two biggest holdouts.
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Zalis116
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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:53 pm Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:
Key wrote:
To call Kurau a love story would not exactly be accurate, as the Kurau/Christmas dynamic does not have romantic overtones in the traditional sense.
Oh, but that isn't going to stop shoujo-ai fanatics from drawing conclusions to the contrary!
Ah, but are they slashable? My sources say "yes" Laughing
Chrno2 wrote:
I guess that 'Kurau' will be sharing a space on my shelves next to 'Figure-17' Wink
Well, it would on mine too, except I have too much f-g-h-i-j-k anime in between Cool.

I stopped by Best Buy last night on the hopes that they'd have it early...I was in luck, and for the first time since the last volume of Ghost Stories, I took a DVD home and put in in the player that same night. Good thing I'd already pre-ordered the vol. 2 + Box from Rightstuf, because I think I'm hooked. I'd agree with Randall that it had some of the charm of slightly older Bones series like Wolt's Rain and Scrapped Princess, both of which I liked. I also liked the details on the futuristic technology and the gorgeous cityscapes.

Although I sensed elements that seemed similar to other series (Figure 17 as previously mentioned, and the action parts reminded me a bit of ROD and Nancy's powers), it's a solid package overall. I guess they decided not to spend too much time on exposition and packed the first episode chock-full of events. They managed to create enough sympathy for Kurau within the first episode alone that Christmas' re-awakening was a rather touching moment.

I agree that the soundtrack was a little off in places -- the OP/ED were passable, but skippable, some scenes were a little "busy" with the soundtrack blaring, but the low-key piano pieces worked all right.

I checked out episode 4 in the English dub; acting seemed all right, but some of the alterations were a bit too liberal, to the point of taking out those shoujo-ai overtones by changing "just the two of us" to something else. I don't know what's with those accents either. I mean, come on, the vaguely Scottish housekeeper? Does it get any more stereotypical than that? The second Broker was a load of laughs, though. Overall I think I'll stick with the Japanese track and sample some English dub episodes here and there.
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Randall Miyashiro



Joined: 12 Jun 2003
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Location: A block away from Golden Gate Park

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 pm Reply with quote
The other series that it vaguely reminds me of is This Ugly yet Beautiful World. Although the similarities are on a fairly superficial level there are some nice plot elements that they share, much like Eva/RahXephon/Eureka. I must admit I'm a big fan of Figure 17, and still find it funny that the staff is comprised of the core staff from Berserk. I wish there were more one hour television series out there since this seems to help in the pacing.

My favorite titles are ones that are either original works or are based off of novels. I believe that due to the nature of the media many manga titles seem to become more episodic if they are released monthly or weekly. This makes it easier to follow if you were not there since volume one, compared to most series that are based off of novels or are original. It is much harder to start of mid-series with novels.

With Ergo Proxy, Noein and now Kurau it seems as though all my favorite new releases are SF titles. It also amazes me how different these three series are. They all seem to embody completely different aspects of what I like in anime.

The letter G is clearly the king of letters (198 DVDs here not counting both Galaxy Angel box sets that are in transit!, GITS takes 31 slots, and various Gundam titles take a good 1/3 of the Gs) If I ever made my own anime I will make sure it began with a G!
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bglassbrook



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 1124
Location: Gaithersburg, MD

PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 12:35 am Reply with quote
Well, they have finally sacrificed the first episode upon the slab that passes for ANOD on Comcast these days, and I really wish they were following the older release schedules of a new episode per week or two off the bat before sinking into 2-4 weeks between episodes. Not because I am hooked, but because there seems to be a lot of development/setup, mentioned in the other reviews, that is missing.

A number of ANN/forum reviews go on about all the relationship development and series setup that goes on in the first few minutes, let alone first episode. I didn't see it. While not necessarily expecting this to be an action series either, it felt like there was a short setup, followed by an action setup, follwed by lots of filler, with a short quasi-actionesque scene, and closed with THE BIG HOOK.

Was quite surprised to be thinking through most of it "why does it feel like yet another 'alien has taken over body, become super-human agent, is bored with it, but now must face human tribulation' stories?" Maybe the other three episodes will provide some of the focus ... guess now I have until at least May to watch Figure 17 and find out.

PS. My "G" is bad, but "M" is worse and it doesn't help that I decided to keep the former lower using "Mobile Suit" to sort them all.
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