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ADV Films presents
Steel Angel Kurumi #4: Fallen Angel (2002)

Kurumi: Why do we have to fight?
Mikhail: I told you, didn't I? Because you are something that must not exist.

- Atsuko Enomoto, Yumi Touma

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: October 08, 2002

Stars: Atsuko Enomoto, HoukoKuwashima, Rie Tanaka, Tamio Ohki, Kelli Cousins, Kira Vincent-Davis, Monica Rial, Shelly Calene-Black
Other Stars: Tomomichi Nishimura, Ai Orikasa, Yasunori Matsumoto, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Tomoko Kawakami, Michiko Neya, David Matranga, John Swasey, Andy McAvin, Christine Auten, Emily Carter, Claudia Black
Director: Naohito Takahashi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (17+ for animated violence, nudity, language)
Run Time: 01h:27m:33s
Release Date: October 08, 2002
UPC: 702727020025
Genre: anime

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

DVD Review

Disc Four of Steel Angel Kurumi concludes the series with the final six episodes, wrapping up this fun and exciting adventure. With the revelations that closed disc three, the tone takes on a more serious air as Kurumi's deep secret manifests itself in the climactic confrontation with the Angels working for Dr. Walski and the Academy. These installments are packed with action as all the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place, with a few surprises in store.

With Nakahito kidnapped by the Academy, Kurumi leads a desperate assault on the fortress to free her master with her sisters and Dr. Amagi at her side, but their arrival is expected, and the Steel Angels are caught in a trap. Mikhail continues to try to win Nakahito over to the Academy's view of the situation, but the young mystic's reluctance to sacrifice Kurumi leads to another stunning revelation. With Saki and Karinka separated from Kurumi, Dr Amagi is reunited with Dr. Brandow and introduced to Dr. Walski, who informs her that Dr. Ayanokoji is still in a coma after being captured. However, there is far more to the story as she learns the true nature of Kurumi's power, and the threat it poses—and the measures being put in place to correct the situation, a new indomitable Steel Angel whose sole mission is to terminate Kurumi.

As Saki and Karinka battle to free themselves and rescue Nakahito, Kurumi comes face to face with her adversary, but her overwhelming desire to save her master triggers her latent power, leading to a brutal battle between the two Steel Angels. As the Academy scientists overlook the proceedings, Ayanokoji's resurrection has him criticizing Walski's plans for Kurumi's destruction, but no one is prepared for the outcome, which raises the stakes immeasurably.

I really enjoyed this series. The characters were extremely likeable (and very cute), the adversaries formidable, and the exposition pretty near perfect. While I am not often fond of series that switch gears part way through, Steel Angel Kurumi handled its transitions with a very natural feel. The plot unfolds with an even pace but plenty of twists and turns, balancing all the elements in a highly entertaining manner, while allowing the characters to grow. Their relationship to each other forms the majority of the comedy, from the introduction of each new player, to Kurumi's obsessive possessiveness for Nakahito or Saki's fantasies about Kurumi. While there is loads of fanservice, it is presented in a very sweet and innocent way, with plenty of blushing resulting. The animation is wonderful, with eclectic styling ranging from realistic elements, to super deformation, or expressive stills during the height of battle. The Japanese voice acting is superb, really bringing the characters to life, with the English cast also doing a respectable job. For a mature, but highly comical adventure with a good plot, this one is hard to beat.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is consistent with previous discs, and the artwork comes across nicely with bold color and deep blacks. There is a moderate amount of aliasing, and a fair bit of minor cross coloration on outlines. Overall, this looks pretty nice.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The stereo mixes both have a good deal of directionality, with center-anchored, easily discernable dialogue. The mix is very easy to listen to, with just the right balance between foley, soundtrack and voices. No technical deficiencies were noted other than some slight edginess in a couple of places.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sakura Wars 2, Burn Up Excess, Zone of the Enders, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Excel Saga, Wild Arms
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Conversations with Angels
  2. Travelogue
  3. Extended episode previews
  4. Translator notes
  5. Nakahito fortune teller
Extras Review: The packaging and menu design are in keeping with the rest of the series. I did find the navigation a little sluggish, but not overly so. Another impressive collection of goodies awaits in the extras menu, but be warned that some contain major spoilers if you haven't seen the show.

As a follow up to the interviews included on the first disc in the series, the Conversations with Angels returns with part two. ADR producer/writer/director Steven Foster, and voice actors Kelli Cousins, Hillary Haag, Kira Vincent-Davis, Claudia Black and Monica Rial discuss some of the aspects of their parts. The second half of the 11m:28s feature showcases Claudia Black in studio, recording her character.

Character bios outline the role each player has, and their relationships with each other.

A Kurumi travelogue shows the locations the story takes place in, with a brief history of each city.

More translator notes describe some of the challenges faced and reasons for the subtitle translation.

Twenty-two production sketches detail various aspects of the character designs seen in the final episodes. ADV has translated the design notes which makes them a bit more interesting than they can be otherwise.

Another set of extended episode previews add more humor and slightly different angles.

A printable PDF version of the Nakahito fortune teller included as an insert is available to those with DVD-ROM drives.

Trailers for Sakura Wars 2, Burn Up Excess, Zone of the Enders, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, Excel Saga, and Wild Arms round out the supplements.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Steel Angel Kurumi is an imaginative and entertaining series, containing a great combination of humor, action, well developed, memorable characters, and an interesting and engaging science fiction story. The short episode format keeps the pace brisk, and filler is pretty much nonexistent. The discs are packed with some great extras, which greatly enhance the show. If you are looking for a fairly light, action filled comedy-drama with a sci-fi flair, and don't mind a little fanservice, this one comes highly recommended.


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