Jason checks out Hideki Ohwada's politically-charged mahjong manga, The Legend of Koizumi.
Reviewby Allen Divers, Oct 15th 2002
10,000 years ago, acting as judge, jury and executioner, Dangaizer sealed the fate of mankind by reducing it to ashes. Slowly, mankind rebuilt their civilization and once again stands at its peak. Hiding amongst the survivors of mankind, the evil organization of Goma lies in wait for the return of Dangaizer. This time, it's a race to stop the awakening of the 3 that can pilot Dangaizer and subjugate the world to their rule. Will the 3rd pilot learn her true destiny and awaken in time, or will the world find a new destiny in the hands of Goma?
With a stylish look and plenty of fan service eye candy, Right Stuf's domestic release of Dangaizer 3 jumps right into its plot with hardly any foreplay. Wasting no time on a back-story, the 2 episodes featured in this release jump right into the plot laced with strong religious overtones. For such a potentially heavy storyline the amount of fanservice mixed in with the action is almost overbearing. Relying on the strong animation, the story seems bogged down thanks to little exposition and foreshadowing in the script.
Sometimes it's left to the extras to help move the plot along. Unfortunately, that's the only strong part of the extras included with this light 2 episode OAV release. The background history of the world of Dangaizer is presented in text with a few screen shots from the show. While helpful in helping to establish the back-story of the series, it leaves things a bit ambiguous as to who is good and who is evil in the series. The other extra included is a slideshow gallery with the closing credits song played over it. There are quite a few screen shots from the 2-featured episodes, but also quite a few from the rest of the series.
The audio tracks are the standard English and Japanese audio with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. New Generation Pictures produced the English Dub and as is typical for one of their Dubs, the English script matched as closely as possible to the Japanese, with minor variations for timing with lip flaps. Performances by both casts were excellent with good casting on both sides. The only major problem here was with the subtitles. For this release, subtitles were an all or nothing proposition. Luckily there wasn't a large amount of Japanese text that needed to be translated, so the one subtitle track only really hampers the opening and closing songs as both tracks use the Japanese audio.
Visually, Dangaizer shows off its OAV budget with strong character designs and well-drawn animation. Centering around 3 female heroes, the designs accentuate their various attributes succumbing to a large amount of fanservice. Many scenes are reminiscent of the standard magical girl genre, as the girls always seem to undergo elaborate and revealing transformation sequences to activate their powers. The mecha designs are equally elaborate with a wide range of robots and power armor in almost constant action.
The Japanese enjoy exploring various aspects of Western culture, with quite a few series focusing around the Christian belief of the Book of Revelations. Dangaizer 3 explores this idea with the robot, Dangaizer 3 acting as the hand of God. The story becomes a bit convoluted, as in episode 1 its not quite clear if the audience should be cheering for the organization of Goma or cheering for the awakening of the third so that Dangaizer can rise. From the back-story, the impression is gained that the awakening of Dangaizer means the end of everything while the scripting and the focus on the main characters points in another direction as to the true nature of Dangaizer. Of course, the authors avoid much of this by taking the standard approach of leaving it up to stereotyping for the audience to decide which side is the antagonist and which is the protagonist. The 3 lead characters take on the standard roles of naïve girl hero-type, cocky foreigner and the quiet mystical type. In these episodes, only the lead role of naïve girl gets the chance to grow. The other 2 are simply there to back her up as she reaches the point of saving the day.
The show gets right into the action without pausing for back-story. The dialogue gets a bit heavy, with a few attempts at revealing background information and a bit of foreshadowing. Unfortunately, much of that dialogue simply comes across as cryptic and teasing. At the end of episode 2, the audience is left wondering how much they've learned up to this point.
Visually appealing with a decent script, Dangaizer 3 fails to capitalize on its underlying back-story. Taking on the cliché plot line of the end of the world should create a darker and more sinister story than its character designs and animation seem to imply. While the script is rather good, the heavy plotline is pushed aside for standard good guy vs. bad guy rhetoric. The small episode count on this release also hampers the story as the next few episodes could contain the exposition and foreshadowing missing. The amount of fanservice contained in this series truly feels out of place, when balanced against the potential storyline. Hopefully, the next few episodes will help fill in the missing pieces and work towards a smooth conclusion of this series.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ Strong visuals and top-notch animation
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