Reviewby Paul Ward,
(Maze Mega Burst Space)
Mild-mannered mecha pilot by day. Superpowered skirt-chaser by night! Transported through time and space, Maze has gained incredible powers... and one astronomical problem. Every night, she transforms into a lecherous man! To top it all off, she must rescue a fugitive (and overly affectionate) princess from a mysterious warrior cult. But male Maze would rather be chasing the ladies...
The Maze OVA as presented here was the original piece of animation released under this title, preceding a 25-episode TV series by about a year. The story is drawn from a later volume in the corresponding manga series, and as such, the viewer is thrown for a bit of a loop, as there is little in the way of back story or character introductions prior to this two-episode series getting underway. However, there are more than enough laughs to go around to make up for the confusion one might experience upon first viewing this title.
Penned by Katsumi Hasegawa, who may be familiar for screen writing work from such titles as Photon, The Slayers, and The Slayers Next, this is familiar ground for those who have seen his previous works. Set in what is, at this point, an unfamiliar and rather strange world, the story within these two OVA episodes is self-contained, managing to escape one trap that some OVAs based on a pre-existing manga series have fallen into. The plot itself really isn't that complicated, nor does it require a great deal of deep thinking. More often than not, the storyline is there only to provide a framework for the comedy, which is the real heart of this title.
One note about the age rating for this title: despite the fact that it is listed as being suitable for viewers 13 and up, there is a substantial amount of nudity (bare breasts) and sexual situations, as well as some moderate violence. While most might not find this a problem, it must be said that this title would probably do better with a 17 and up rating.
The Japanese voice actors are right on in their characters; there are a few higher-pitched voices here that might annoy some after a while, but for the most part, this is good voice acting. The English dub, by contrast, is not without its problems... the character voices of Mill and Randy can get on your nerves rather quickly, and, as with most English dubs, the voices of most of the minor characters are leaden and uninspired. In addition, during the introductory sequence in the first episode, there is a point where the dub voice of Mill does not even come close to matching the mouth movements of the character on screen, missing by at least 4-5 seconds. Finally, the English dub isn't really much more than a dubtitle, meaning that the dub script borrows very heavily from the sub script, in many cases matching exactly.
The animation here is very good, and consistent throughout the two episodes; the character designs are quite appealing, and a lot of bright colors are used, especially during the battle scenes. There characters are also very easy to distinguish from each other, with a lot of different methods used to make each one unique. The design for the mecha in this series are not quite the norm, tending more towards a bone-like appearance, as opposed to the metallic designs of fantasy series such as Magic Knight Rayearth.
The extras on this DVD release are rather basic, but interesting nonetheless. In addition to a Meet The Cast section within the DVD menus, DVD-ROM users can also peruse an art gallery, character sketches, a cast list, and scripts. The lack of these extras for standalone DVD players is a bit disappointing, however, as most other releases nowadays don't require a DVD-ROM. One additional extra, in a sense, is the inclusion of the first episode of the Maze TV series, which is now also out on DVD from Central Park Media in the form of a 4-disc box set. This is an excellent way to give casual fans a chance to see what they might be getting into prior to spending the big bucks on a box set, and its inclusion is something other domestic studios might want to take note of for future releases of their own.
Overall, this 2-episode OVA is mostly about one thing: making you laugh... the story isn't very complicated, nor does it try to be. The DVD release, while being flawed in some areas, is still a good buy, especially with the first TV episode included as a preview of things to come.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
+ Lots of laughs to be had here; animation is very good; first TV episode also included.
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