In this week's RTO, there are hot zombies, hot sex, hot kitchen utensils, and hot climates as we look at new volumes of Cage of Eden, Happy Marriage, and another digital-only release. All this and more stuff that may or may not be hot awaits you in Right Turn Only!
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jun 8th 2002
DVD 3: Spring Love
By the third volume of Saint Tail, the heroine of the story is still able to remain elusive and out of the grasp of Asuka Jr.. Interestingly though, something is definitely blooming between the two, whether it's with Meimi, or her counterpart, Saint Tail. Unfortunately, some one else has a crush on Asuka Jr. and she'll do anything to make him hers, even if it means betraying Saint Tail's true identify.
Without a doubt, Saint Tail is one of the cutest shoujo series to be released in North America in the last year. Available to viewers from Tokyopop, the third volume of Saint Tail is as crowd-pleasing as the first two. Featured along with the four episodes are a few extras, including something entitled "Outtakes #2." As it turns out, it's not as funny as one may think; in fact, it's not funny at all. All it involves are the dub actors making stupid mistakes like forgetting their lines or coming in at the wrong time. Basically, it's just a waste of an extra, just an extraneous tidbit used to pad the DVD. The other extra on the disc is much more worth it, featuring line art of the characters and props. The lines are imposed over light blue rendered clouds, which makes them easier to see than if they were just scanned in with their original backgrounds. A slightly annoying aspect about the DVD packaging, however, is the way Tokyopop presented the episode summaries on the back of the cover. None of the summaries actually have anything to do with the episodes, which defeats the purpose of having them there. The episode blurb would say something dramatic to make the viewer anticipate the event stated, but after waiting through an entire episode, the event never actually takes place. Luckily, no mistakes that Tokyopop could make would ever ruin the magic of Saint Tail.
Like most shoujo anime series, Saint Tail follows a certain pattern for all of the episodes, each half-hour segment follows the basic outline as the ones preceding and following it. What makes Saint Tail such a great series, however, is that even with the repetitive pattern it follows, each episode still appears fresh and exciting. The stories are constantly cut by different situations of comic relief, or a magic trick, making the episodes very easy to watch back to back while still being fun. It's always interesting for the viewer to try to guess how Saint Tail will foil her pursuers, or how she always manages to avoid the traps being set for her. Especially refreshing about the series is the continuing story line that connects all the episodes together. Instead of being a collection of random shorts, Saint Tail has an intriguing underplot that makes viewers await anxiously the next episode to see how Meimi's love life is progressing, or how she will stay out of the clutches of the girl trying to steal Asuka Jr. away from her. Undoubtedly, it's one of the most intriguing and easy to watch shoujo series currently available on the market, and it's sure to please almost every fan of shoujo anime.
Surprisingly, the animation is extremely good, sporting fluid character movements and camera pans. Even better, the series only has one reoccurring scene, which is the transformation Meimi undergoes to change into Saint Tail. Being a magical girl series, the presence of recycled footage is acceptable, even expected. Wonderfully, the transformation sequence is the only reused footage in the series, which is another factor that makes the episodes all seem fresh and radically different from the ones around them. Another nice aspect about the series is the art, which although never reaches a peak of excellence, is nevertheless of good quality. For the most part, the backgrounds are carefully drawn, as are crowds of people. The character design is especially commendable, as the people and animals are a golden key in making the series as cute as it is. Sometimes the scenes are so crammed full of cuteness that unguarded viewers might be forced to squeal out in delight. The only odd thing about the designs is that the guest characters in each episode are rather sketchily drawn, in comparison to the main characters. Whereas the main people have expressively drawn eyes and facial features, the guest characters remain rather bland, with perturbingly large and unnatural eyes. Other than that, the art is drawn well, with detailed shading even in the clothing.
As far as the audio goes on the DVD, the Japanese voice actors performed their lines well, delivering the proper emotions at the right times. Somehow, the voices even sounded cute, matching the characters extremely well. The subtitles that accompanied them were, for the most part, decent. However, there were occasional background lines that weren't translated, a rather annoying failing, especially for viewers who depend heavily on subtitles to understand the scenes. While the English voice actors did a decent job of acting, the real downside to the dub was the way the voices were recorded. The tracks were poorly balanced, so the voices stuck out sorely, and didn't match the background music and sound effects at all. Instead, they sounded like the voices were just overlaid on top of everything else, without regard to track and sound mixing.
The music in the series was especially well done, as the background instrumentals always managed to match the emotions shown in the scenes. Ranging from fun fanfares to gentle melodies, the music was able to enhance the actions of the scenes extremely well. Unfortunately, the music is faint and harder to hear in the English dialogue version because of the voices laid too heavily on top. The opening and ending songs, although nothing spectacular, are cute and fun to sing along to, making them great candidates for upcoming convention karaoke contests or just an party with a bunch of fellow anime fans. If the music was to be described in one word, it could only be described as shoujo-ish. If one were to picture the soundtrack to the ideal shoujo series, the tracks on the Saint Tail series would match them perfectly, with happy melodies and angst-driven love ensembles.
For viewers that are already fans of shoujo anime, Saint Tail is a series that cannot be missed. It has all the great qualities of a great magical girl series: romance, adventure, comedy, and cute animal sidekicks. Even viewers who adamantly avoid watching anything shoujo, well, there's probably an aspect of Saint Tail that would appeal to even them. One of the cutest series in existence, it's hard not to like it, even if just a little. With four episodes on a disc, it is definitely worth the purchasing an and collecting the entire series. For those who are still unsure, it's worth at least a rental or two.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Cute series that's fun to watch
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