Anime Briefs image. A.D. Police OVA

AnimEigo / USD$29.98
Rating: 4/5

Boomers. A powerful hybrid of organic materials and advanced technology, they served a very useful purpose in society as a creation built especially for labor beneath the dignity of regular people. Yet just as humans, Boomers were not perfect. Because of their immense strength and lightning-quick speed, a single malfunctioning Boomer could take out whole city blocks before conventional methods would be able to bring it down.

Before the Knight Sabers appeared with their hard suits, there was only one force that stood between humankind and renegade Boomers: The A.D. Police.

This side story to the Bubblegum Crisis mythology takes place before every other story. It depicts Leon McNichols as a new recruit, and it's significantly more gritty, violent and sexy than the tamer TV series that followed nearly a decade later. It remains an engaging show that tackles the standard man-machine philosophical issues that are commonplace today. The animation is impressive for its age, the music is good (if a little too nostalgia-inducing), and the action is top notch. The DVD's menus takes a little too long to load, but otherwise, this is another fine release from AnimEigo, and a classic anime OVA that all fans of the cyberpunk genre should watch. --PK

Anime Briefs image. Fighting Spirit (Hajime No Ippo) Vol. 4: Dream of a KO

Geneon / USD$29.98
Rating: 5/5

This series is so exciting! There aren't that many sports animes that I've seen that swallow you into the action and actually makes you stand up and cheer for the main character; well Fighting Spirit did it for me! What makes this series great so far is the continued effort that Ippo makes and the punishment that he endures as he continues to climb the ladder to the top of the All-Japan Rookie Tournament.

Ippo, fresh off of his win over Jason Ozuma, fights a unknown fighter named Kobashi. Ippo's peers laugh off his opponent, saying that he'll have no problems with him. Ippo, however, has his doubts and he prepares to fight a boxer known to win by decision. Will Ippo be victorious or will he fall to the plans of the unknown Kobashi?

The fourth volume of this show is nothing but spectacular. I was very happy on how the show is progressing and that they don't make Ippo this great unbeatable rookie boxer. He faces a lot of pressure in this volume and learns that there can be luck while in the ring. I consider the supporting cast great because they enjoy to clown Ippo, but they also continue their training for their own hopes and dreams; the show doesn't just focus totally on Ippo. Great stuff, must get for all anime fans! --AC

Anime Briefs image. Initial D Vol. 9

Rating: 3.5/5

Action, suspense, romance and one pathetically lovable friend, this volume of Initial D has it all. The really odd thing about volume 9 of Initial D is that it comprises of episodes 25 and 26 of the 1st stage and episode 1 of the 2nd stage. Considering that the 2nd stage is just a continuation of the 1st stage, it doesn't seem that out of place when you're watching it, unless you compare the animation, which is really stepped up in the 2nd stage episodes.

Any fan of the series will really enjoy this volume, since you get the two-episode race conclusion to the battle between Takumi and Ryosuke, which has been building up throughout the entire show. As usual, you get some great racing action, great music that compliments it perfectly, and some subpar animation, though the race scenes with the "cardboard cutout" people cheering always make me laugh. They really manage to pull off a great ending here that will leave fans satisfied, but enough is left open to leave people wanting more. In the first episode of the 2nd stage, we get to see where it's going to go as a new street racing team is looking to take over.

Overall, this has been an extremely fun series to watch. Although it's certainly not the best, it is entertaining none the less, and this last volume is just the right conclusion and start that fans will be happy to see. I suggest that you watch the original and avoid the "tricked-out" version; it's not worth watching. --JL

Anime Briefs image. Kaleido Star Vol. 4: Fall From Grace

ADV Films / USD$29.98
Rating: 4/5

This series is one of those that can be easily overlooked by anime fans. With slick animation from Gonzo, catchy music, a colorful atmosphere, and an unexpectedly good story, passing up Kaleido Star would be a shame.

Sora is maturing finely as an important actress-acrobat in the world-famous theatre-circus, Kaleido Stage. Her boss, Kalos, still treats her like a child, but the rest of the cast and crew are starting to see her potential.

In this volume, just as all of the characters were getting comfy with their roles, a surprising change in the direction of the plot appears, threatening to completely change the nature of the show. It's been an exciting, endearing ride so far, and this volume only further increased my enjoyment of the series. If you haven't taken a trip to Kaleido Stage yet, there's still time. Then, you'll be ready for the second season (though the sequel series is a VERY different show). --PK

Anime Briefs image. Texhnolyze Vol. 2: Spectacle

Geneon / USD$29.98
Rating: 3/5

I saw the first volume a long time ago. Finding it to be as weird as Lain is on your first viewing, I put the series on the backburner, as I really didn't "get" Lain until around episode seven or eight, so I figured that I should wait until more volumes were available for a mini marathon. So now I'm giving Texhnolyze a second try.

I really should have re-watched the first volume beforehand, as I had a hard time remembering the story. However, I got up to date quickly. The story is starting to form, as the wandering outsider Yoshii manipulates the gangs in Lukuss to create a massive war, and the cruelly inhumane doctor does the finishing touches to Ichise's Texhnolyzed leg and arm. Ichise seems to have some sort of destiny entwined with the city of Lukuss, as he survives the most unlikely of situations. Ran, the girl in the fox mask, follows him, acting as Ichise's guardian angel, keeping him one step ahead of his many enemies. The story is still rather mysterious, but intriguing enough for me to want to continue watching this series. The animation is airy, reflecting the decay of Lukuss and its inhabitants. The opening song by Juno Reactor is still among my favorites. If you enjoyed Lain or Boogiepop Phantom, then you should enjoy Texhnolyze as well. Just be patient and all will be revealed. --JC

Anime Briefs image. The Twelve Kingdoms Vol. 8: Alliance

Anime Works / USD$29.99
Rating: 4.5/5

For a while, the story of The Twelve Kingdoms slowed down a little bit to introduce new characters and set the stage for the climax of the series. Now all of the pieces are in place, and everything is coming together at a wonderfully exciting pace. There are no extras on this disc (sadly not more than a one page insert, either, devoid of Youma information), but there are five episodes, and the bonus features on earlier releases somewhat mitigate their absence as we draw near to the end.

Youko, Suzu, and Shoukei's paths finally cross in this volume, and once again the drama picks up, reminding me of all of the the reasons that I consider this one of the best anime series that I've ever seen. The music is beautiful, the animation is fluid, and best of all, the characters are incredibly well-realized (even if they do things that make me want to slap them every once in a while). Anime Works did a great job translating the title, and while I know this isn't a top-tier release in terms of popularity, it should be.

I'm not sure what I'll do when the tenth disc comes along and I finally finish the series. It will be a sad day, but with luck, someone will pick up Fuyumi Ono's novels and bring them over here so I can once again experience this fantastic world. --PK

Anime Briefs image. Wandaba Style Vol. 1: Rocket to Stardom!

ADV / USD$29.99
Rating: 1/5

When J-Pop meets anime, non-sense is sure to follow. For anyone looking to find the next Excel Saga, I suggest picking up Miami Guns, Nurse Witch Kogumi or even Puni Puni Poemi as Wandaba Style is just a wannabe that tries far too hard to be funny and instead comes off as gratingly loud and obnoxious.

At first glance, the series seems to have everything that would make it an instant classic; rock stars as tough as Priss (Bubblegum Crisis), lolitas selling their panties on the internet, crazy mad scientist with visions of landing on the moon and even an afro-wearin’ manager named Michael Hanagata. But the nonsense never gels and the series simply drags on and on as characters continue to scream with headache inducing frequency. Worst of all, Wandaba Style features fan favorites such as Hilary Haag and Monica Rial in one-dimensional roles that they next should have been cast in. Trust me, watch this one subbed or not at all. --AA

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