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Pioneer Entertainment presents
Vandread #2: Nirvana (2000)

"You know, when you're out fighting with women, you're gonna get tired."
- Hibiki Tokai (Yoshino Hiroyuki)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 26, 2002

Stars: Yoshino Hiroyuki, Kakazu Yumi, Orikasa Fumiko, Asakawa Yuu, Rafael Antonio Oliver, Julie Maddalena, Melissa Williamson, Wendee Lee
Other Stars: Neya Michiko, Sawami Youko, Asano Mayumi, Toyoguchi Megumi, Ishige Sawa, Kyouda Naoko, Oohara Sayaka, Tasaka Hideki, Seki Tomokazu, Iwata Mitsuo, Ellen Wilkinson, David Lucas
Director: Takashi Mori

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ for mature content)
Run Time: 01h:08m:48s
Release Date: March 12, 2002
UPC: 013023170490
Genre: anime

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

DVD Review

The second disc in the Vandread series brings us another 3 episodes in the hi-tech space epic where the battle of the sexes takes to the stars. The interesting premise of this show is the segregation of the sexes, who had, until fate brought them together on the starship Nirvana, led separate and opposing lives: in fact they were at war with each other. The first disc sets up how a group of men and women, with completely opposite backgrounds, were thrust together facing an even more formidable enemy than each other. The cast here is pretty big, and a common problem with many series like this is creating enough familiarity so as not to be overly confusing. As these episodes began to unfold I was feeling pretty comfortable with who was who, which surprised me with the number of characters that we have here, but goes to show how strong definitions and good exposition can work.

As the second disc opens, rivalry among the women is intensifying, with the subject of their dispute being who will be combining with the male pilot Hibuki's Van-type fighter in combat. Red-headed Dita, who has a crush on the man she calls "Mr. Alien," is trying to make romantic gains, though she doesn't know why she is doing it. Blonde Jura, whose enthusiasm for battle depends in large part on the condition of her hair, also wants to combine her mecha with Hibiki's, and is jealous that he has joined forces with Dita first. The girls each hatch plans to gain Hibiki's favor, but the young man wants nothing to do with women, although when called to battle he will do whatever is necessary to be victorious, even if it means working alongside or on top of his former enemies.

The series takes two of these episodes to look at individual characters. When Meia, the team leader, is seriously injured, command of the Dread squad is in chaos. Jura does her best to handle the situation, but she hasn't been trained for the role she has assumed, and in the heat of action is indecisive. Meanwhile, in her hospital bed, Meia is engulfed in a world of dreams, recounting her childhood as an orphan and the events that have made her who she is today. Her life hanging in the balance, the crew of the Nirvana desperately needs her return to service, and can't think of how things would be without her.

Next, Dita takes center stage, as her feelings for Hibiki are shown. Her efforts to make the boy feel at home meet with disastrous results, and she is not prepared for the feelings this generates. The show does a good job combining humor and drama in these segments.

Tying everything together are intense battle sequences, highlighting the CGI work that gives this show its flavor. The action is blistering, and well choreographed, with tight edits and rapid cuts which are great adrenaline boosters. I was a little apprehensive going into Vandread, but the show has definitely won me over—this is great fun, with good personality, plenty of thrills, and strong, likeable characters who are becoming increasingly easier to identify.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The widescreen transfer here looks as good as the first disc—vibrant colors, strong black levels and excellent contrast. Aliasing is pretty noticeable, especially on the CGI segments, whose edges aren't well blended into the background. There are no print defects to mention, and on the whole this looks really nice.

The widescreen image still poses overscan problems for those with 16x9 sets wishing to zoom the picture, as the subtitles still are very tight to the 1.85 frame, which may cut them off on some systems.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is exceptional, with a full frequency spectrum, and nice use of directionality. The Japanese language track, which features some great voice acting, didn't exhibit any distortion that was unintentional, and voices were clear. Samples of the dub indicate a consistent audio quality, and an acceptable cast assignment.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Design galleries
  2. Commercials
  3. Textless openings
Extras Review: Another decent set of extras is included. Once again, there are clean opening sequences for each of the three episodes. Five commercials are provided as they appeared on Japanese TV for the series, including the Japanese DVD/VHS release, the soundtrack and the siLc Himegoto EP.

A 15-image line art gallery rounds out the on-disc extras. Our review copy had the foil cover, but no foil collector cards.

The single-sided insert has a chapter listing and artwork that pretty near duplicates the cover, with a pose from Meia over faint designwork in the background.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Now that we've settled in a little bit and grown more familiar with the characters and style, Vandread has become pretty entertaining. Visuals are eye-popping, there is plenty of humor (some of it a bit too ecchi for younger viewers) and lots of action, with the male/female contrast is being used effectively. We're having fun!


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