Anime Briefs

by Janet Crocker, Susan Hsu and Joe Luscik

Anime Briefs image.Burst Angel: A New Tokyo Vol. 2

FUNimation / GONZO / USD$29.98
Rating: 3/5

It seems as if we still donít get any real glimpse of a bigger picture in volume two of Burst Angel, but what we do get is two nicely done standalone stories in the same style as the first volume.

Yet again, Burst Angel revolves around Meg being in trouble and then having to get rescued. First sheís under cover at an elite high school where a student went mad. What I found amusing was that it seemed the crazy things that people saw were Salvador Dali paintings. Of course Meg gets found out by the people behind this event and Jo has to save the day. This story does touch upon something bigger that involves the head girl of the group behind everything that happening. The second story involves a giant crow thatís taking young girls, and yup, you guessed it, Meg gets taken. Now itís up to, thatís right, Jo to try to save her. This episode does seem to bring about a new aspect to the show when tension mounts between two of the characters, and Joís character shows an emotion other then anger.

Itís hard to say how long this formula will last before it gets too repetitive, but since Burst Angel seems as if it can be taken as a more standalone, episodic style action show, this volume was quite enjoyable. Just as in the first volume, this one has some great visuals and awesome music, and you get a little insert booklet and a lot of great extras on this DVD, which really helps to make the release worth purchasing. --JL

Anime Briefs image.Divergence Eve: The Beginning of the End Vol. 3

ADV Films / USD$29.98
Rating: 2.5/5

The proverbial you-know-what hits the fan in this the final volume of Divergence Eve. Overall, this volume does a decent job in wrapping up the series. That is, if you can understand anything thatís going on. Volume three also becomes more serious in nature, and thereís a lot more introspection from the characters. Departing completely from comedy and even from a good amount of the fan service, this volume has a different mood from the previous two volumes.

One thing that Divergence Eve has always had a lot of throughout is techno, sci-fi babble that makes basically no sense. Unfortunately, this volume is absolutely loaded with it, which makes this volume a bit hard to follow. Misaki, through the hard way, is able to find out more about who she is. While at the same time, LeBlanc, with the help of Prim, is executing his master plan, which seems to involve Misaki in some way. During all of this, it seems that Primís attitude is changing, and she is having second thoughts about continuing to help LeBlanc after realizing more of his scheme.

Volume three also increases the amount of CG shown back to the level of the first volume. Now, if it was actually some great looking CG, I wouldnít mind. Divergence Eve did have a good release, being only three volumes and each DVD coming with some nice extras. It has certainly surprised me. However, the last volume didnít deliver as much as the first two, while getting away from its original feel and just not making much sense. Additionally, the cheap plug for the sequel at the end seemed tacky. --JL

Anime Briefs image.Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 7

Bandai / Manga Video / Production I.G. / USD$24.98
Rating: 5/5

The close of what has easily become the top release of the year for me is here, and it doesnít lose a beat in wrapping up this series as only Ghost in the Shell could.

Section 9 is in hot water after their last stunt in kidnapping Serano, and the government will use them as scapegoats to help them out in the upcoming election. Motoko and the rest of the group are forced to flee and fight to survive as an elite squad is sent out to ďremoveĒ Section 9. Of course, Aramaki is never without some idea up his sleeve, and the audience is treated to a great finish here. As usual, thereís a decent amount to try and follow, but the dialogue is so well written that it makes it enjoyable. As well as never falling to offer the best visuals, music and voice acting, there is no point that Ghost in the Shell SAC doesnít excel in.

Fans who have watched the entire series will certainly not be disappointed, as the ending is extremely well done and it will leave the viewer satisfied. To close out the release, volume seven includes an interview with the director of the series. If I had to make one comment that isnít positive, it would be about only having three episodes on this disk. It would have been nice to not see a seven-volume DVD release for this title, but it doesnít take away from how good this show is. Only once in a while does series like this come out, so every anime fan out there should do themselves a favor and pick up this series. --JL

Anime Briefs image.Pretear Vol. 4

ADV Films / USD$29.98
Rating 4/5

This is the final DVD that concludes this modern Snow White / Sleeping Beauty story, so it is needless to mention that the climax of Pretear occurs during episodes eleven to thirteen. The ever good-looking Sesame turns into the Dark Knight for his love Tatako, who is presently the evil Queen Fenral, leaving Himeno and company to save the day. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems; Tatako is not your everyday black-and-white villain -- she is not pure evil. Knowing that Tatako still has a soft human side, Himeno decides to save her even at the cost of the lives of the Leafe Knights and herself. In the end, Himeno turns into the Legendary Pretear on her own and revives everybody with her power, sacrificing her own life force, known as leafe...

Yeah, I admit that the basic plotline is as cheesy as a tissueful chick flick. However, Pretear is filled with unexpected and humorous elements (including a surprise ending), so I did not find the series boring at all. Furthermore, those who enjoy superb background music, great artwork (we can never have too many bishies) and an awesome storyline, if not a bit cramped, will enjoy this series.

Sadly, the DVD packaging and label design, as well as the layout are not on par with the content of the DVD. It was almost like ADV Films ran out of time and stuffed the DVD in some random case at the last minute, and shipped it to the nearest store available. Despite all this, Pretear is one of the best magic girl anime that I've ever seen, making the four DVD series a worthwhile buy. --SH

Anime Briefs image.Private Sessions 2

Critical Mass / USD$24.95
Rating: 3.5/5

Once again, we visit Critical Mass' Vanilla Series, and I am forced to ponder what their Chocolate or Rocky Road Series titles are like. Private Sessions 2, as you might guess from the title, continues the adventures of Professor Tomoya making sex slaves of high sch... er, college girls. In this sequel (although you have no need to see the first title), the good bespectacled professor has been fired from his old job, so he steals the identity of a younger student teacher sharing the same last name and who oddly enough looks a lot like Tomoya. The hapless student teacher also just happens to be starting his internship at The College of Sacred Maidens, a private girls' school. Can anyone say poison?

Tomoya quickly adjusts to his new surroundings, picking three new "teacher's pets," along with his two helpers. Yumi is a shy cheerleader and the sister of Tomoya's interfering sempai at the college. The gym teacher has the hots for Yumi, while he's actually dating her elder sister. So Yumi runs to Tomoya for protection against the gym teacher's groping assaults... and we learn that she is an exhibitionist, or chauvinist, as the dub calls her. The captain of the swim team, Seira falls next, as Tomoya blackmails her about her illegal performance drug use, and then her love of anal play. Finally, the lead actress in the theatre club and "good girl", Asuka is blackmailed into taking it or Tomoya will rape her best friend Miki, who actually hates Asuka for taking the lead role away from her. Asuka's kink is that she's a masochist who loves pain. After all of the pets are recruited and trained, Tomoya gets his revenge against the overbearing gym teacher and the sempai... and he gets away with it all. Cue credits.

As much as Private Sessions 2 is centered around rape and revenge, the plot isn't as much as a downer as Wicked Lessons, nor is it boring for hentai. The dub wasn't that bad either; Tomoya's voice actor sounded more like an actual voice actor than a random recruit off of the street. There are a lot of corny lines and sounds (my favorite being the moneyshot paired with a gunshot), but that's only to be expected in porn. Sex acts include rope bondage, sex in public, fingering, anal play, double dildos, bukakke, and a slight bit of oral incest. Surprisingly, there is no fellatio, a lack that is really felt in a hentai title. The new industry standard of virgin blood does appear for the first scene with each girl, but it isn't as gross or obvious as it is in other titles, and it doesn't detract from the scenes. As usual, the box artwork does not match any of the scenes in the anime. Still, Private Sessions 2 is a fairly solid title for your collection. --JC

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