Reviewby Bamboo Dong,
Ceres, Celestial Legend
DVD 4 - Resolve
In the fourth installment of Ayashi no Ceres, Aya continues on her quest to stop Mikage International's C-Project. Along the way, they pick up a new house member, a young girl who also has the power to transform into a celestial being. Meanwhile, Aya's twin brother Aki is beginning to remember his past life as the husband to Ceres. Now he must overcome the resurgences of his past life that lusts after Aya.
Released in North America by Pioneer in conjunction with Viz Video, Ayashi no Ceres is a new fantasy adventure by Watase Yuu, the manga author famous for Fushigi Yuugi, a series of worship for myriads of fan girls over the world. With three episodes on a disc, shoujo and FY fans can now experience the magic of Ayashi no Ceres, a series that possesses many of the same charming characteristics as it's predecessor.
In the preceding volume, the DVD was marred by poor visibility and other issues and unfortunately, the fourth volume is host to some problems too. Namely the occasional blurring of picture quality and subtitles. On the positive side, this occurs only seldomly, and the problem is quite fixed by the end of the first episode. Included with the episodes is the same character gallery on all of the discs, which houses line drawings of individuals as well as complementary profiles. Also included are two trailers that played in Japan advertising the series. Although the extras are fewer than on the preceding volume, the improved video quality makes this DVD a much more attractive buy.
The Japanese cast continues to work magic with the characters' emotions, effectively portraying feelings ranging from rage to anguish to sadness, to even lovesick heartbrokenness. On the other hand, the English dub track continues to deflate the magic of the series. Although some of the male characters seem to have stepped up in acting ability, many of the other characters still lack the vigor and vitality befitting the scenes. The love scenes lacked drama and were performed in a monotone that just didn't seem to capture the essence of the characters. Another issue of contention is the casting of the characters. While the majority of the actors do a relatively good job of matching the natures they are trying to depict, some of the actors did not fit with the characteristics of their person at all. At one point, the voice of one of the characters let out an air of rude egocentrism where there was only sincere commentary in the lines as well as the person's face. Another issue is the matter of subtitles. Although Pioneer did a pretty good job of subtitling and timing, there were scenes where multiple lines of dialogue might have been useful. Instead of trying to subtitle the various conversations taking place at the same time, Pioneer leaves a gap of untranslated Japanese and doesn't jump in until a few seconds later.
One aspect of the series that is enjoyable is the background music. Although there are no defining elements that would make someone dash online and import the soundtrack, it's fun to listen to and sway in time with. The music ranges from bouncy, slightly out of place selections, to beautiful chamber pieces that draw out the emotional responses in the viewer. Especially delightful is the piano version of the opening theme, Scarlet, which is used during touching love scenes where the hero overcomes difficulties to meet his beloved. In fact, it is the music played during those love scenes that makes the music pleasant to listen to. When it comes to sentimental love melodies, Studio Pierrot always has the ground covered.
If Watase Yuu's works were compared, one would find one defining aspect that would connect them all together and identify each one as her work beyond a doubt. That element would be the harem of beautiful characters. Whether men or women, the characters have a quaint air of beauty about them that make them so pleasing to the eye. Watase also has a knack for exposing a character's background and motivations so tactfully that the information seems to flow naturally into the plot. By revealing each person's inner most emotions, the viewer is able to feel connected to whomever he or she is rooting for. Perhaps it is this delicate outpouring of feelings that makes the characters so endearing. No matter how over dramatic a scene may be, there will also be a nagging part inside a viewer that will make them tense on the side of the chair, hoping that the characters will overcome their struggles and be reunited with their loved ones. It is this soft character development that envelops Watase's works, and it is prevalent throughout Ayashi no Ceres as well.
Despite the minor picture problems at the beginning of the episodes, this DVD is nevertheless still a good buy. Ayashi no Ceres has elements that will appeal to the shoujo crowd, as well as those guys out there who secretly love shoujo but will never admit it. While it may not be the most mind-blowing series to be released recently, it will guarantee hours of light-hearted entertainment suitable for almost anyone. Fans of Fushigi Yuugi cannot possibly pass this series up, as it's guaranteed to be as good as, and maybe better than its predecessor. The characters are likable and undoubtedly, each viewer will have already picked a favorite by the end of a few episodes. Ayashi no Ceres plays like a fantastical legend that will enchant fans all around the globe-shoujo fans unite, it's time to step into the myth.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A
Animation : B+
Art : A
Music : A-
+ Endearing characters and plenty of hot men!
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