This week, we take a look at Bandai Namco's upcoming Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment! Plus Firefly Diary, Under Night In-Birth, and the secrets of an old NES nightmare-maker!
Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, May 26th 2004
DVD 2: We Need Money!
The first volume of Two-Brother's original doujinshi may have been an emotional victory, but it wasn't much of a financial success. With Two-Brothers heavily in debt, Kazuki has no choice but to take on a part time job to pay off the debt and cover expenses for the upcoming Comic Party (Comipa). But will he be able to manage a part time job, his school studies and be able to finish his new doujinshi on time for Comipa? And will Mizuki be able to put up with Kazuki not having time to spend with her?
Picking up after the first spot sale that Kazuki attends as a seller, Comic Party volume 2 continues the story introduced in the first volume. There are new jokes in the same vein as the comedy in the original and new challenges for Kazuki to overcome. There is some more development of the relationship between Kazuki and Mizuki, particularly in the way that Mizuki reacts to Kazuki's new obsession, as she becomes more understanding and supportive. Unfortunately this development is somewhat one-sided. While Kazuki's understanding of doujinshi does grow and expand, his attitude towards Mizuki does not. Viewers who relate to Mizuki won't enjoy the character and relationship development as much as viewers who relate to Kazuki. This volume continues to be entertaining, funny, informative and even a bit uplifiting, but its also a "development volume." While there's some good chracter and relationship development, the characters spend most of these three episodes preparing for events that will occur in later episodes. Hopefully volume 3 will have the characters actually achieve something of note, otherwise the series may get boring.
With the last volume of Comic Party I mentioned that several of the minor characters appeared to have been miscast in the English dub, for example Mizuki's high school friend who sounded like she was 35 years old. Fortunately, this time around, it doesn't seem that any characters are particularly miscast. This isn't to say that every character sounds identical in English and Japanese--there's no need for them to sound identical, rather, it's more important to be able to that say they all match their parts.
Another complaint I had about the first volume does persist in this volume, and it appears that it will continue through all volumes of the series. It is the issue of re-writing the translation to the point where it no longer approximates the original. This was evident in this volume is two ways. The first had to do with lines that were simply changed. For example, in one scene, Mizuki's friend states “Yup, the guys won't be able to look away from my nice body! Just kidding.” Unfortunately in English she states, “Yup, and the guys won't be able to take their eyes off me. They'll be drooling” Although the first sentence is slightly different, it's perfectly adequate, however the second sentence is not a translation, but rather a re-write. The second way that the translation differs from the original Japanese is in terms of the cultural localization of terms. Instead of calculating how many yen he needs for his project, Kazuki is calculating how many dollars he needs; instead of showing off her summer kimono, Mizuki's friend wants to show off her Versace summer dress; and instead of Lapsong Soochong and Marco Polo teas, Mizuki gets excited about Chamomile and Earl Grey. All in all, the English dub still works fine with all of these alterations, even if a few do change the plot slightly, but if your preference is for a 100% accurate translations, you'll want to stick to the Japanese dub with subtitles, and if you're a dub fan who wants a 100% accurate translation… well, you're unfortunately going to be disappointed.
The animation, art and music all continue at the same level as the first volume. The art is bright anf colorful but not outstanding, the animation is typical TV quality and the music is satisfactory as a soundtrack, but not something I'd listen to when not watching the show. As with the first volumes, Comic Party volume 2 is chock full of extras. Again, there's an interview with the Japanese cast, but this time its with the voice actresses; there's the second mini-episode, and decent translator's notes that explain certain cultural issues in the subtitles (all of which have been written out of the dub). Volume two includes another great gallery of production sketches (hopefully one of the volumes will include an art gallery with colored paintings as well) and the last extra on the disc is another set of character bios. In addition to the on-disc extras, this volume also includes a booklet with visual notes about multiple scenes (like translators notes, but regarding things that the viewer sees) and sheet music for the opening and ending themes. Along with a great set of menus, a technically flawless disc and a reversible cover, Comic Party volume 2 is another release that shows TRSI's commitment to giving fans the best product possible for their money.
The only problem remains the dialog rewrites in the dub…
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : C+
+ Fun Story, great DVD Production and Extras, Colorful Art
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