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ADV Films presents
Ruin Explorers (1995)

"I don't have anything that's worth much! Really! I really don't have anything at all, and I wouldn't taste good if you ate me, so...."
- Fam (Hekiru Shiina)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 08, 2002

Stars: Hekiru Shiina, Michiko Neya, Hikaru Midorikawa, Kouichi Yamadera, Chikao Ohtsuka, Jessica Calvello, Tamara Lo, Kelly Manison, Brett Weaver, Guil Lunde
Other Stars: Rica Matsumuto, Kenichi Ogata, Iemase Kayumi, Kikuko Inoue, Ryuuzaburou Ohtomo, Yuri Shiratori, Iemasa Kayumi, Hanh Nguyen, Jason Douglas, Tristan MacAvery, Kira, Phil Ross
Director: Takeshi Mori

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (animated violence)
Run Time: 01h:57m:12s
Release Date: July 11, 2000
UPC: 702727000928
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+A D

DVD Review

From the director of Gunsmith Cats and Vandread comes Ruin Explorers (originally Fam and Ihrie), a four part OVA, telling the tale of the quest for the Ultimate Power, based on the manga by Kunihiko Tanaka and featuring character design by Toshihisa Kaiya. In a world once ruled by mages, the ruins of a great civilization lay in the wake of a global conflict to dominate the last remaining sources of magic. The pinnacle of this former time was the achievement of the Ultimate Power, but its secrets now lie buried in the forsaken, and heavily protected fortresses of the past. Fam (Hekiru Shiina) and Ihrie (Michiko Neya) are Ruin Explorers, searching for treasure, willing to undertake almost any task to bring in some income. When they meet up with Galuff (Chikao Ohtsuka), a salesman and fortune-seeker with questionable ethics, the location of the Ultimate Power is revealed, but he needs the girls' skills as relic hunters to search the castle where the prize awaits. Both girls also are formidable magicians, but there is a catch: because of a curse from her mentor, Ihrie is transformed into a mouse when she uses magic, and Fam, who is rather catlike and sports a tail, while able to converse with the spirits, can't remember a spell to save her life. The Ultimate Power would afford Ihrie freedom from her curse, and would also allow her to exact revenge on her mentor, but they aren't alone in the quest for this magical holy grail, as another team, in the form of Rasha and Migel, are also after their goal. Rasha (Rica Matsumuto) is another magic user, while the hulking Migel (Kouichi Yamadera) is said to have fended off entire armies single-handed, so they aren't about to just let Fam and Ihrie waltz away with the goods. There are other forces at work as well, as the evil Rugudorull (Iemase Kayumi) displays his powers, which best those of anyone so far. Add a pretty boy prince (Hikaru Midorikawa as Lyle Robert Lyon) and a mischievous dog to the mix, and you have all the ingredients for a magical adventure.While some might dismiss Ruin Explorers as just another in a long line of fantasy/treasure-hunt adventures, the show does have a number of things going for it, first and foremost being a collection of strong characters. Sure, they may be stereotypical, but the combination works, as the motley band play off each other well. This is due, in large part, to the voice acting cast, though I didn't quite buy the dub as they sounded too cutesy for my liking. The second thing is the production value afforded by a bigger budget OVA, which adds more to the animation quality than typically would be found in a TV series. The soundtrack also enhances the presentation, including the use of Les Solistes de Versailles (The Versailles Chamber Orchestra), and an active sound design, which help bring the situations and locations into focus. The story arc is well paced, there is plenty of action and the humor is abundant, with alliances changing like the weather, and the tide turning from scene to scene. While there is nothing truly groundbreaking in terms of premise, it is a fun little adventure with likeable characters, and a solid couple of hours of entertainment.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As an older release, the image exhibits more rainbows than would be expected these days, but otherwise is pretty solid, with good, strong colors and decent black levels. The credits and a few other places have some minor compression issues, but nothing that really detracts from the enjoyment. The next episode previews are pretty freaky, looking like a DVD gone haywire.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The stereo Japanese and English tracks benefit from the higher OVA budget. Good use of ambience and stereo perspective, coupled with an enveloping orchestral and rock score push this beyond average. Sound quality is very good, with full spectral representation, a pleasing presence, and no harshness or brittleness. Quite impressive.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
11 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ninja Resurrection, Slayers: Book of Spells, Legend of Crystania, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Battle Angel, Burn Up W, Queen Emeraldas, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sakura Wars, Tekken
Packaging: Scanavo
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Extras include a 15-image gallery, plus 12 preview trailers including Ruin Explorers, plus Ninja Resurrection, Slayers: Book of Spells, Legend of Crystania, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Battle Angel, Burn Up W, Queen Emeraldas, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sakura Wars, and Tekken.Alternate angles are used for the credits, allowing either Japanese or English credits to be seen on the fly.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The complete Ruin Explorers OVA collection presents a fun, magical, action adventure in typical treasure hunt fashion. While the plot may be familiar, the characters elevate the enjoyment, and the better-than-average production values sweeten the booty. Solid entertainment.


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