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Odex Private Limited presents
Vandread (R3) (2002)

"You gals are just super troublesome."
- Hibiki Tokai (Yoshino Hiroyuki)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 13, 2002

Stars: Yoshino Hiroyuki, Kakazu Yumi, Orikasa Fumiko, Asakawa Yuu
Other Stars: Neya Michiko, Sawami Youko, Asano Mayumi, Toyoguchi Megumi, Ishige Sawa, Kyouda Naoko, Oohara Sayaka, Tasaka Hideki, Seki Tomokazu, Iwata Mitsuo
Director: Takeshi Moro

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 05h:01m:41s
Release Date: May 28, 2002
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB+B- C-

DVD Review

For those with region 3 capability, Odex brings the complete 13-episode first stage of Vandread to DVD in this four disc set. Produced by Gonzo, the team behind Blue Submarine No. 6 and Gatekeepers, this high action, CGI-laced, space adventure packs a punch with an unusual twist in its underlying premise—literally, the war of the sexes.

On the all male planet Tarak, plans are underway for the unveiling of their new weapon, a ship that will turn the tide in their bloody battle with a race of unconscionable beings—women. These despicable creatures having been raiding their shipping lanes for too long, and the time has come to strike a decisive blow. Their reputation as vicious killers who eat their prisoners is legendary, and has made the Mejale the Tarak's most bitter enemies. As the first class military assemble for the launch, Hibiki, a third class engineer, is sneaking his way into the storage bays housing the mechanical robot Van fighters, the outcome of a dare. When the ceremony is interrupted by the arrival of a female raiding party entering their space, the male ship, the Ikazuchi, is forced into action prematurely—with Hibiki stuck on board. A fierce battle erupts, but the Mejale succeed in overtaking the flagship, leaving her commanders scrambling in retreat. The Tarak have only one final trick up their sleeve—unleashing a devastating weapon that opens up a wormhole, and hurtles the ship and her crew across the universe.

For the female crew, the site of a man is a new and disturbing experience, but Di-ta finds the idea of aliens fascinating, so when she spots Hibiki, she figures she will attempt first contact. Fearing for his life, Hibiki bolts, but soon finds himself captured, but he is not alone. Two other males have also been seized, and are now imprisoned, while their fate is being decided. Things aboard ship have gotten interesting, for not only do the women have three refugees in their midst, but the ship itself has begun transforming. Unable to decipher the strange Tarak codes, they enlist the men's service, if reluctantly, but when the ship is attacked by an unknown enemy, the women are unable to defend themselves with their Dread fighters alone. Hibiki mans the last Van-type fighter, but he too is unable to defeat their adversaries, but when they discover that they can combine their fighters, the tables are turned and their destruction is staved off, at least temporarily. This new enemy poses a daunting challenge, and in order to escape their current whereabouts alive, the women agree to work with the men, forming an uneasy alliance between races who have been warring for generations. It won't be easy, but if they want to survive they have to unite in their cause.

The series is packed with action, centered around the CGI space battles which highlight each episode. The animation is slick, with engaging perspectives which put the viewer in the middle of the action. While certainly a large part of the enjoyment of this show, the mecha eye candy is also served well by the ongoing story development, and abundant comedy. Key to its appeal though, is Vandread's large ensemble cast, which at first can be pretty confusing. Full of interesting characters, as the show progresses, each member gets their turn in the spotlight, building a great base for interpersonal conflict, and the situation becomes more complicated as jealousy and rivalry begin to emerge in the crew. The male/female angle keeps things slightly off balance, and adds to the hilarity. Vandread has a nice blend of story, humorous characters, and action that make for an exciting and entertaining watch.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Much of this show is eye candy, and it is well presented here. The widescreen transfer features vibrant colors, strong black levels and excellent contrast. Due to the source animation, aliasing is pretty noticeable, especially on the CGI segments, which don't seamlessly blend into the background. This transfer has a number of minor dropouts in the image across the four discs, making it slightly inferior to the region 1 release.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseno

Audio Transfer Review: For a stereo audio track, this sounds awfully mono—a definite downgrade from the region 1 version. Surround information is virtually nonexistent, as is left and right front channel content. Frequency range is good if a little more midrangy, but there is some distortion in places, with the seventh episode being a bit edgier in general on dialogue, especially on Di-ta's voice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese with remote access
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening and closing animation
  2. Music video
Extras Review: One of the things I have come to enjoy about Odex's releases are the original Japanese title cards on most of their releases, instead of the redesigned English versions found on region 1 discs. Vandread is no exception in this regard, however not all episodes have the Japanese screens.

By default, the disc contains clean opening and closing animation, since there are no credits or translations available for the songs.

A 3-minute music video is available at the end of disc four, listed as a "special point." Subtitles have the usual grammatical errors found on Odex's titles, but nothing that really detracts from the meaning, though they are often awkward.

The four disc set comes in a pair of clear double Amaray cases, which have additional art on the back of the insert.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Consistent what we've come to expect from Gonzo's shows, Vandread packs a punch in the visuals department, and features great action, and fun cast of characters, and an unusual plot. Fanservice is bountiful, both in the sexy crew and in the displays of mecha, and humor is abundant. The show is highly entertaining, but may not be suitable for very young audiences due to some of the adult comedy. For those on a budget with region 3 capability, this complete first season set is priced considerably lower than its Pioneer counterpart, but does have drawbacks in the video and audio presentation quality.


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