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ADV Films presents
Steel Angel Kurumi #3: Where Angels Fear to Tread (2002)

"Is this slowly turning into something huge, or what?"
- Koganei (Mechiko Neya)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: October 29, 2002

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (17+ for mild animated violence, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:26m:24s
Release Date: August 27, 2002
UPC: 702727016523
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-A-A- B

DVD Review

The third of four discs in the Steel Angel Kurumi series feature six more mini episodes. The story is definitely heating up with a third Steel Angel coming into play. Kurumi's sweet and innocent manner is given some depth, as more revelations about her are brought forward. With the episodes being half length, there is little room for filler, as the stakes are raised in this delightful action-comedy.

Kurumi has met her match in her youngest "sister" Karinka, whose pair of Angel Hearts give her the strength to battle Kurumi's Mark II Angel Heart. After using Saki as bait and beating her to a pulp, Kurumi arrives to defend her younger sister from this latest threat. Cocky and self-assured, Karinka has no doubt she has everything it takes to fulfill her task of destroying Kurumi, but no one is expecting the dark, secret power Kurumi musters, which sends shivers down the spines of her friends. Unable to overcome her opponent, Karinka decides on a different tactic to reveal her sister's latent power—play at being a good girl, something she is not at all accustomed to. Meanwhile, the Academy is becoming increasingly concerned about Kurumi's presence, and a new player comes into the mix in Mikhail, who has a few secrets of his own up his sleeve.

Steel Angel Kurumi has a lot going for it. There is plenty of action, with exciting, well choreographed battles. The designs are gorgeous, and the character interaction is excellent. Each character is well developed, giving them a real personality, and with Karinka thrown into the mix, her play acting and devious side are a great addition. The writing flows nicely from serious, dramatic elements to lighthearted fun, and the profuse sexual humor, such as Karinka's fascination with her sister's more ample endowment, is handled with an innocence that keeps it from feeling lecherous.

The plot gets a real twist in the end here, which really throws a lot of what has happened into question. This keeps the story interesting as there are still many elements to these characters yet to discover, and a darker side that looks to temper the abundant humor we've seen so far. The set up is in place for the final round of episodes, which, with all that occurs in this set, promises to be very enlightening.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is gorgeous, with the vibrant palette delivered beautifully. Colors are even and well saturated, and blacks are solid. There is a normal amount of aliasing present, and some minor cross-coloration on fine detail. Most pleasing.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both original Japanese and English dubs are available. Audio continues to be very well presented, with a perfect balance between mix elements. Dialogue is clear and easy to discern, and there is an appropriate amount of directionality in the stereo soundfield. A couple of minor distortions were the only technical deficiencies.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Nadia: The Motion Picture, Burn Up Excess, Dai-Guard, Excel Saga, Dragon Half
1 Documentaries
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo shoot
  2. Interviews
  3. Preliminary and production sketches
  4. Translator notes
  5. Extended episode previews
Extras Review: While slightly sluggish on my primary DVD player, the menu design and implementation is excellent here, with a perfect blend of style and functionality. Extras are once again provided in abundance.

First up is part two of the English voice actors' photo shoot with Monica Rial, Hilary Haag, Kira Vincent-Davis and Kelly Cousins, and this time, the girls pose in western cocktail attire. Like the first installment, this 17m:07s feature is commented on by photographer Michele Grinstead (aka Mona), art director Ruby Halpoto, and series dub writer/director/producer Steven Foster. A nice inclusion.

Next is some background information on the Steel Angel Kurumi manga.

Four separate text interviews are included, with manga and series creator, Kaishaku, director Naohito Takahashi, general director of animation and character designer Yuriko Chiba, and screenplay writer Naruhisa Arakawa. These contain lots of insight into the production and differences between the manga and the anime.

More of Steven Foster's translator notes are presented, indicating some of the additional challenges involved in the English language versions.

A collection of production sketches covers designs used in the anime. The Japanese notes that normally accompany the images are translated, making them a lot ore interesting.

Kaishaku's preliminary design sketches show how the characters looked before the manga was serialized, and also include characters that weren't in the original manga. Each image is annotated by Kurumi's comments.

Extended episode previews are available for all six episodes, which add to their hilarity.

This time, a Karinka fortune teller—also included as the insert—is on the DVD-ROM portion as a printable PDF file.

ADV's trailer set consists of Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water: The Motion Picture, Burn Up Excess, Dai-Guard, Excel Saga, and Dragon Half.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Steel Angel Kurumi continues to be a highly entertaining series, with fast-paced action, copious amounts of humor, and an extremely appealing cast of characters. The adult overtones do warrant the rating, but the sexual element is very lighthearted and sweet. The story is developing nicely, and has a decent depth to it. ADV has also loaded this release with some great supplements, making it one of the better featured anime titles out there. It all adds up to a well rounded and very enjoyable experience.

 


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