animefringe august 2003 / reviews

s-CRY-ed Vol.1: The Lost Ground
Format: bilingual DVD, 5 eps., 125 min.
Production: Bandai / Sunrise / Goro Taniguchi
Comments: ALTERing your perception of anime.
Animefringe Reviews:
s-CRY-ed Vol.1: The Lost Ground

Kazuma is just a regular guy living in the Lost Ground, a chaotic land left over after an earthquake destroyed the Kanagawa region of Japan a good twenty-two years ago. The thing is, Kazuma and about 1% of the population born after the earthquake have something special about them, something that makes him different than you and I. You want to know what it is?

He's psychic and can alter matter around him to create a destructive weapon that rests on his arm. Oh yeah, he also uses this weapon for cheap thrills and to make money.

It is exactly this attitude that the rest of Japan despises, as they created a police force named HOLY to force these rebels to give themselves up and become productive members of society. These special people are called Alters; Kazuma and others who live in the Lost Ground without surrendering to HOLY are called 'Native Alters' and it is HOLY's mission to unmask and assess as many Native Alter users as possible.

s-CRY-ed surprised me, because when I started to watch it, the show seemed to try to tackle too many plotlines at once. You have Kazuma's life in the Lost Ground, Mimori's life as a civilian scientist infiltrating HOLY, and the shadowy Ryuho as one of the strongest Alter users in HOLY. These are the three different main characters that each have a separate influence on the action of the show. The show handles itself very well, however, and ties the characters together with ease. The supporting characters in the first five episodes are particularly interesting, as some are protagonists to one main character while an antagonist to another. The interweaving storyline makes it hard for a viewer to decide which character's 'side' they are really on, but that makes the show all the more interesting.

Visually, the show isn't revolutionary, but that doesn't get in the way of the story in the least. It is crisp, bright, and as accurate as any other anime of its time. The effects used when an Alter user activates his or her different ability is the thing to watch for if you are interested in pretty graphics. However, strictly from an animation perspective, s-CRY-ed is average.

The music featured in s-CRY-ed struck me as fairly reminiscent of the music used in Cowboy Bebop (which shouldn't surprise, as both shows were made under Sunrise) as there are tracks used during the show that feature soft jazz works in addition to ones with a more ethnic sound. This variance in music is crucial in describing the different settings of the show. When the action is occurring in the 'lost ground,' the music takes on a raw and tribal flavor as opposed to the harder rock tracks occurring when the characters are on the mainland or in the HOLY headquarters.

The voice acting was particularly impressive, as English voice actors seemed to really get the feel of the original voice for their character. Exceptional examples would be Dorothy Elias-Fahn, who does the vocal work for one of the main characters, Mimori Kiryu. She adapted the awkward confidence of the grad student very well and gives her great expression. Another fine example is one of HOLY's officers 'Straight Cougar' as voiced by the impressive Crispin Freeman, who tackles the character completely and manages to capture the fast-paced expression of the speed demon.

This show was much fun to watch, and there are a hearty five episodes on this DVD, giving a first time viewer enough of a glimpse into the series to interest him or her in watching the rest of it. s-CRY-ed Vol. 1 isn't your average 'special powers action anime,' or I wouldn't be giving it such a good review, I assure you. It's definitely worth a few hours of your time.