by Carlo Santos,

Miami Guns


Miami Guns DVD 4
In the pseudo-American, fictional city of Miami, the last line of defense against crime is an oddly matched pair of cops: straitlaced Lu and ditzy rich girl Yao, the so-called "Miami Guns." But who will protect them when their own partnership is threatened? Too naïve to realize that her "best friend" Nagisa is bent on revenge against her, Yao walks into a carefully planned trap. At the last minute, Lu saves Yao and tries to convince her that Nagisa can't be trusted. Still refusing to believe it, Yao leaves the police and single-handedly tries to uncover the crime syndicate that made Nagisa turn against her, while Lu tries to bring Yao back to the force. When the crime organization comes out in full force and takes international dignitaries hostage on a cruise ship, the fate of Miami—and maybe the world—depends on whether Yao and Lu can reconcile.
It's official, folks: after three volumes of scraping the bottom of the barrel for laughs, Miami Guns has completely run out of jokes. To make matters worse, viewers will now have to deal with a contrived, melodramatic story arc too. After realizing that their humor supply had run out, the producers of Miami Guns tried to inject some serious drama into the final episodes. The result is an ending that's satisfying only because you're thankful that there are no more episodes left.

Miami Guns should have stuck with its original formula: goofy attempts at parody that took the cop-duo setting to new levels of potty humor. It wasn't very accomplished, but at least it was consistent. With these last three episodes in the series, the potty humor is sacrificed for the sake of overwrought drama—a change in tone that's jarring and painful to watch. By the time Nagisa collapses in a flurry of blood and flower petals in Episode 11, the show has veered so far off course that this "emotional" scene leaves the viewer feeling more bewildered than upset. The series tries to invoke a lot of dramatic twists before getting to the end; unfortunately, these twists are like reading a scriptwriter's manual on how to produce a conventional cop thriller. The final episode tries to redeem itself by piling on several gags at the outset (including the recurring gay couple), but the sprint for the finish line falls short and we get a cheesy Hollywood-style ending that wouldn't be out of place in a Police Academy sequel.

As always, Yao is a screaming bundle of silliness in these closing episodes, and the few moments where she tries to show depth and emotion feel completely out of character. Lu and Nagisa, being the "straight up" characters in the show, fall into character drama more easily, but the supposed straining of Yao and Lu's friendship (when it was never a particularly deep connection in the first place) is just too contrived to be believable. As for when Yao is her usual, hyperactive self—well, that joke stopped being funny long ago.

Contributing to the mediocrity of Miami Guns are the visuals, which are sorely lacking in craftsmanship. Although the colors and clarity are easy on the eyes, the part of the artwork that actually involves drawing is shoddily produced. The unexciting character designs can't even stay consistent from episode to episode, as in the case of dashing lone gunman Julio Peacemaker, who apparently loses weight between Episodes 11 and 12 as his features go from studly to scrawny. The animation doesn't fare much better, taking shortcuts wherever it can, with choppy motion and still frames popping up fairly regularly. Overall, the visuals simply suffer from a lack of attention to detail—it might not be detectable to everyone, but there are enough amateurish mistakes to give viewers a feeling of something not being quite right with the picture.

The music of Miami Guns is on about the same level as the art: uninspired, but not awful. The mildly upbeat soundtrack is typical cop-show material, and most times doesn't interfere with the action. Even the theme songs are somewhat pleasant, despite being fairly forgettable once you're done listening to them. While the music doesn't shine, it doesn't get in the way either—which is perhaps the best that one could ask for in a show like this.

AN Entertainment's work on the Miami Guns dub takes what was already a barely-average show and ensures that it will be regarded as an inferior product. Yao's voice actress does her best to capture the character's loud and annoying ways, resulting in a VA performance that will leave most viewers reaching for the "audio" and "subtitles" buttons on their DVD remotes. When some international characters are introduced in the closing episodes, AN's dubbing staff tries to represent it by giving them foreign accents, but it sounds overly forced. The English-language cast makes an effort to give the characters life and variety, but they have a long way to go before reaching the standards of today's top dubbing studios.

On the other hand, AN Entertainment does an admirable job with DVD extras, providing its usual share of cultural and translation notes. Also included is an interview with Yao and Lu's Japanese voice actresses, where they reminisce on their favorite episodes in the series and offer their take on the material.

Miami Guns isn't offensively bad—the plot isn't completely in ruins, the visuals won't make you gouge your eyes out, and the fanservice doesn't get any more horrific than Yao running around in a tank top and panties. The problem with the show is that it comes up short in everything it tries to accomplish. The final volume of Miami Guns tries to be funny but can't dredge up any sidesplitting gags, so then it tries to be dramatic, but by that stage we refuse to believe that the characters can behave in a serious manner. Hand this over to an animation staff that lacks any superior talent and the result is a mediocre product that isn't worth a second look—or even a first look. The best we can do is to be thankful that the series is over.
Overall (dub) : D
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : D
Art : C
Music : C

+ A merciful, conclusive ending with the final episode trying to dish out the last few jokes
Poorly executed comedy, poorly executed drama, and thoroughly mediocre

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Production Info:
Director: Yoshitaka Koyama
Tamio Hayashi
Yutaka Hirata
Yoshitaka Koyama
Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Akatsuki Yamatoya
Kiyoshi Egami
Katsumi Endō
Moriichi Higashi
Shougo Kawamoto
Shigeru Kimiya
Yoshitaka Koyama
Shin'ichi Masaki
Sōichi Masui
Nanako Shimazaki
Takashi Yokoyama
Music: Kou Nakagawa
Original creator: Takeaki Momose
Character Design: Hiroaki Nakajima
Art Director: Masatoshi Muto
Animation Director:
Moriichi Higashi
Shigeru Kimiya
Yoshitaka Koyama
Shin'ichi Masaki
Sōichi Masui
Toshio Matsuhashi
Kazuaki Moori
Nanako Shimazaki
Takashi Tanasawa
Sound Director: Hideo Takahashi
Executive producer:
Masamichi Fujiwara
Hiromi Kadokawa
Atsumi Tashiro
Hideki Kama
Hiroshi Kanemasa
Yoji Morotomi

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Miami Guns (TV)

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Miami Guns (DVD 4)

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