Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Mar 14th 2002
Ceres, Celestial Legend
DVD 3 - C-Genome
Abandoning their previous obsession of trying to kill Aya, the Mikage family has launched a new plan-the C-Project. They have determined that there are others in Japan with celestial blood in them, and Mikage International is trying to round them up and harness their powers.
The name Watase Yuu will sound familiar to many fans. Known for her pretty boys and cute girls, Watase gained popularity in Japan and the United States for her manga, Fushigi Yuugi. Luckily, she's back again in yet another fantasy work, Ayashi no Ceres. In the third volume released by Pioneer, the viewer is led on a thrilling adventure full of action, romance, and brief moments of pure comedy. Ayashi no Ceres is a fun series, but alas, the viewer is unable to enjoy it. Something apparently must have gone wrong in the DVD mastering process, as the quality is quite shabby. Whether it was this particular disc, an incompatibility with certain DVD players, or perhaps a whole shipment of disc, the picture quality leaves much to be desired. When played on a Sony DVP S560D player, every so often, the subtitles and the picture will pixelate, followed by brief moments of color and sound loss. The second volume of Ceres was recalled by Pioneer for flaws, and perhaps this volume may also be a good candidate for recall. Sometimes, the disc would even skip when it changed chapters, but the occurrence was rare. Incidentally, when checked on a different brand DVD player, the picture quality was fine. Playing the disc on another Sony player of the same model showed the same problem, however.
Although the episodes themselves were in poor condition, the rest of the disc is fine. The third volume comes packed with many fun extras. It contains production sketches from the series, and also a character gallery where one can access individual characters and browse through background information about them, as well as line drawings. On the downside, the drawings are small and relatively hard to see on the screen. Nevertheless, it is still convenient to be able to access information about a character's life and past. Also, if one wanted to find the profile of a certain character, the person would have no problem locating it, as the full character gallery comes standard on all the Ayashi no Ceres DVDs. An extra exclusive to this disc is an interview with Watase Yuu, which is a nice touch. In it, she discusses some of the influences in her works, as well as a section about the "hot male characters" in her manga. Overall, the extras add a nice touch to the disc and luckily, they come error free without any of the problems the episodes did.
Performing their lines with emotion and enthusiasm, the Japanese voice cast deserves a round of applause. (Fushigi Yuugi fans will notice that Tomokazu Seki is back in a small role; he's even using his high-pitched, trademark Chichiri voice.) There was one odd moment in the intro to the first episode, however, where the Japanese and English language tracks were slightly messed up. When the Japanese track was on, the voice could barely be heard in the background. What was heard was an English voice saying something about Japan in the foreground. Initially, a viewer's reaction might be that perhaps the two language tracks were mixed. A check of the English dialogue track through that passage shows that there in fact is no English dialogue; it is instead replaced by a string of French. The section only lasts a few seconds, but there's no logical explanation for it other than perhaps something went wrong in the mastering stage-but why the French? Aside from that strange section, and the occasional moments where the sound faded out, the actual acting was fine. The English cast left a little to be desired, however. While a few of the male actors delivered somewhat believable lines, many of the actors and actresses were bland and unemotional. Their script wasn't much better, as sometimes the lines were changed so much that the intent of the scenes was altered.
Overall, Ayashi no Ceres is a wonderful series. It's just a pity that this disc didn't turn out as well as some of the other products Pioneer has put out in the past. Fushigi Yuugi fans can't pass up this chance to watch more of the magic created by Watase Yuu. It possesses many of the traits of Fushigi Yuugi-action, fantasy, romance, comedy, and others. This series is definitely a commendable show. The DVD on the other hand . . . well, perhaps this was just a bad apple.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : B
Art : A-
Music : A-
+ Fun extras to play with
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