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Manga presents
Bounty Dog (1994)

"Tee-hee. Now he must die."
- Ines (Teresa Gallagher)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 28, 2003

Stars: Stephen Grat, Teresa Gallagher
Other Stars: Nigel Greaves, Toni Barry
Director: Hiroshi Negishi

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for graphic violence, strong language, and brief nudity
Run Time: 00h:59m:55s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 660200407520
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-B-B- D-

DVD Review

Mystery Science Theater 3000 once did a bit about anime, joking that it was nothing but animated violence and nudity. If you were to judge the genre solely on the merits of Bounty Dog, a two-part OVA released in Japan in 1994, that would be a pretty fair assessment.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around Earth in the near-future. The moon has been colonized, and has become a popular tourist attraction. As the show opens, three travelers are heading there to investigate some strange power fluctuations emanating from one of the giant corporate cities that cover the face of the satellite. One of them, Yoshiyoko, is haunted by memories of his past, of a former lover who was murdered. He's surprised, then, when he meets a woman who looks just like her, only to see her gunned down by a police squad. He's more surprised when she turns up again... and again. It seems she ties in to some sort of plot about genetic cloning, an alien race, bad mojo on the dark side of the moon, and the true nature of the moon itself.

Anime is often frustrating to the Western audience simply because much of it relies on narrative ambiguity. Bounty Dog takes things one step further, crafting a plot that is almost incidental, filling the story with non sequiturs and random, unexplained imagery, and basically turning the entire hour into an incoherent mess. There's nothing suspenseful or entertaining about watching a show for a full 45 minutes whilst having absolutely no idea what is supposed to be happening. Suspense requires some investment in the action, and that's hard to develop when plot points are just thrown at you randomly. It's not even clear until over halfway through that these three travelers are the "Bounty Dog" team sent to investigate some strange goings-on. Towards the end, everything is explained in large, meaty chunks of expository dialogue, but even such ham-handed storytelling techniques do little to clarify much of the plot.

In the meantime, though, there's plenty of the aforementioned violence and nudity. The clones are glimpsed in the nude a few times. There is quite a bit of graphic gunplay, and bodies spurt blood and brain matter as they are riddled with bullets. The dialogue is needlessly littered with expletives that I doubt were present in the original Japanese (we'll never know, though, since Manga has neglected to include the original language track, opting instead for a laughable, shrill dub). And, to top it all off, the animation isn't even all that interesting. The character designs are weak overall (though I did like the look of one of the bit players, even if I'm not such of the character's intended gender), and the visual style—scenes are monochromatic, saturated in hues of earthy brown or dull blue—drains the life out of nearly every scene (and serves to undercut the violence, so even fans of such extreme displays will be robbed of their ocular pleasures).

When reading up on the history of the show, I discovered that it began as a radio play. While its current form likewise lacks of compelling visuals, I find it odd that it was also able to so efficiently jettison any and all traces of worthwhile dialogue and verbal narrative. If they tried the adaptation in the reverse order, the result would be an hour of dead air.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Video quality is fair, though Bounty Dog would never look outstanding due to its somewhat drab color scheme. Many scenes are awash in muted hues of brown or blue, which means cross coloration isn't really a problem, but these scenes nevertheless have an indistinct and muddy feel at times. Blacks are fairly deep, and shadow detail is average, though darker scenes do sow some grain. I've never seen the OVA before, so I don't know how many of these problems are a result of director's intent or a low budget, rather than a shoddy mastering job. I can safely say that the occasional aliasing is certainly not supposed to be there.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a basic stereo mix, with nice clear dialogue and a strong presentation of sound effects across the front soundstage. I didn't notice much in the way of directionality in the front mains, but the action comes across well enough. Surrounds are more or less mute throughout, save for some spaceship action near the beginning of the program.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
13 Other Trailer(s) featuring Virus: Virus Busters Serge, Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, End of Evangelion, Blood: The Last Vampire, Rayearth, Black Jack, X, Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras specific to Bounty Dog are present, but there is a fairly generous trailer gallery that includes clips for Virus: Virus Busters Serge, Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, End of Evangelion, Blood: The Last Vampire, Rayearth, Black Jack, X, Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll, Street Fighter II, and Street Fighter Alpha.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

I'll sometimes forgive an incoherent story if the visuals are good enough, but those in Bounty Dog aren't. If you prefer nudity, extreme gore, and foul language in your anime to a good plot and consistent characters, than by all means, give it a go. As for the DVD, it's a typically flawed product from Manga—hardcore fans will probably want to take a pass due to the absence of the original Japanese dub.


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