This week, a show about murder, gore, and the "other"; a show about ... more murder and gore, and one about luck.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Feb 12th 2004
Brigadoon - Marin and Meran
DVD 3: The Celestial World
Everyone except for the kind folks at the tenement house are angry at Marin for attracting so many Monomakia accidents. Deciding that she can't endanger any more innocent lives, she sets off for Brigadoon on the next US space expedition. When she gets up there, she and Melan race for the Core to use her powers as the Creis to save both worlds. In a turn of events though, an unexpected reaction occurs. Is it possible that she's not really the Creis?
As Brigadoon bustles forward in its storytelling, one thing is slowly becoming apparent. After so many episodes, Marin still has no clue what's going on around her, and the audience must surely feel the same way. At first, it was part of the glamour, part the “mystique” that surrounded the shadowy story. Who is this mysterious girl? What is this huge secret that Melan is keeping from her? Even Marin is yammering to know what the hell is going on, and when Marin whines even more than she normally does, it's not a pretty sight. Sadly, after all that whining, we're back to square one, except now we've got a naked prepubescent girl lying in a hole on a foreign planet with no explanation as to why. Here is where viewers veer into horny bar mode, metaphorically speaking. If you meet a cute girl at a bar that won't give you the time of day, you have two options. You can either keep wasting your time on a prize that you'll never get your paws on, or you can start hitting on her loose friend. It's the same with Brigadoon. If no one is going to bother telling you what's going on by episode 13 (in a 26 episode series), it's time to hit on a different series. Life's too short to be in the dark for six hours.
And like all good jinxes, once you utter these words and reach for the “stop” button, BAM! Something interesting happens. The entire time, the series has been beating around the bush that Marin is the Creis, this thing (since they never tell you) that magically saves Earth and Brigadoon… somehow. For the first time, it's hinted that they have the wrong girl. Her naked prepubescent body didn't do the trick and it's time to search for another naked prepubescent body. It's beside the point that the entire series is about Marin and anyone with insight deeper than a ketchup stain knows that this Surprise isn't really a surprise at all… just an excuse for you to keep watching. And to retaliate for figuring out their wily plan, the scriptwriters punish you by slapping you in the face with an excruciatingly dull recap episode and the world's silliest plot twist—Marin and Melan fall into an alternate world Paradise Sugar Happy Land.
While the two worlds are pelting each other with behemoth-sized rocks and buildings and Earth is on the verge of turning into a post-apocalyptic motorcycle wasteland, Marin and Melan are goofing off eating Paradise Sugar Happy Food that grows on trees. The butterflies are really sacs filled with carbonated fruit juices, rice balls grow on trees, the land is covered in Honda family-sized strawberries, and the stage is set for an Alice in Wonderland cheer fest.
This isn't new for Brigadoon though. Since the first episode, the series has suffered from conflicting moods. From the secretive air of the folkloric opening theme and the lurid examples of death, human struggles, class conflicts, and police brutality, this is a series that wants to be taken seriously. With all these tragic marks smearing the series, it's not hard to see why. Alas, the series seems too afraid to run down the woe-begotten path it chose for itself and instead breaks up the scenes by using the time-honored Robin Williams tradition of forced comic relief. The only difference is that Robin Williams is entertaining. If Brigadoon were able to settle for being just a drama or just a comedy, it would have much better success. Instead, it pans off as choppy, random, and rather unpalatable; it's just downright hard to get into a series when the viewer is getting jerked around so much. Understandably, the original intention was to produce a unique series that was able to combine the dramatic throes of a sci-fi series with the hyper hijinks of Marin & Friends, but it comes off as simply unrealistic. No matter how resilient and emotionally tough someone is, a young girl can't face with a family death in one episode and completely forget about it two episodes later.
Tokyopop is certainly trying hard to make the best of it though. As each episode goes on, the English dialogue track seems to get better and better. The script translations are right on and mold into English perfectly. Similarly, the dub cast nails their roles on the head and really bring the characters to life. Given the aptitude Marin's Japanese voice has for overdosing on helium and Jolt, the English version is preferable when it comes to her. For everyone else though, the voices are brought to life by their respective actors, both Japanese and English, and it's a joy listening to the wide range of personalities carried through.
Led by the seasoned veterans at Sunrise, the animation is crisp and fluid as usual. Doing an impressive job of combining mirage-like CGI effects with traditional 2D work, watching the characters zip around is truly a sight to see. While the art crosses the line from unique to brutally ugly, it's nice that at least the animation is slicker than an oil spill.
Brigadoon is really somewhat of an acquired taste. Some people might love its bi-polar tendencies and the way that it jumps from breast jokes to family deaths. Some people might find it the most distracting thing in the world. What can't be denied is that it pulls you in and makes you want to find out what happens next. True, it's frustrating that any information has yet to be leaked and it's already over past the mid-mark, but like tempting you to choose between a car and the secret mystery box, you always kind of want to know what might happen. Considering that's the only real pull towards this series, this isn't something that many people would buy and watch over and over again. If your friend owns this series though, it might be fun to borrow for the weekend. Just be prepared to have your emotions jerked around on a chain. From the moment you press "play", you are Brigadoon's bitch.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : C+
Music : A
+ Interesting storyline that is finally showing signs of going somewhere
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