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AnimEigo presents
Crusher Joe (1983/1989)

Ricky: I wonder if Joe is alright.
Talos: Relax. Unless he's dead, he's OK.

- Noriko Ohara, Kiyoshi Kobayashi

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: April 10, 2003

Stars: Hiraku Takemura, Run Sasaki, Noriko Ohara, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Issei Futamata, Michael Brady, Juliet Cesario, Dave Underwood, Shaun O'Rourke, Marc Matney
Other Stars: Goro Naya, Osamu Kobayashi, Akira Kume, Reiko Mutou, Maruo Ootsuka, Kazuyuki Sogabe, Takeshi Watabe, Yoshio Nagahori, Kazuko Yonaga, Nobuo Tanaka, Hidekatsu Shibata, Kazunari Futamata, Iemasa Kayumi, Yuzuru Fujimoto, Mitsuo Senda, Masaaki Tsukada, Daisuke Goori, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Kenji Utsumi, Mikio Terajima, Yasuo Muramatsu, Shooji Ehara, Kiyoyuki Harita, Bob Edwards, Daniel Morris, Stacia Crawford, Mike Way, Kevin Potts, Sean O'Connell, Belinda Bizic, Pierre Brulatour, Norm Shore, Amiga 3000, Rick Forrester, Michael Titteron, Sinda Nichols, Rick Havoc, Larry Tobias
Director: Yoshikazu Tasuhiko, Toshifumi Takizawa

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Animated violence, some mature content)
Run Time: 04h:05m:53s (total)
Release Date: January 15, 2003
Genre: anime


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

DVD Review

As part of a renaissance of sorts in the Japanese science fiction genre inspired by the original Star Wars movie, Haruka Takachiho launched his first story, Crusher Joe, in 1977. The precursor to his award-winning Dirty Pair, (which would go on to a TV series, plus a collection of OVAs), Crusher Joe was first animated as a full-length feature film with a 1983 release. A pair of hour-long OVAs followed six years later, all of which AnimEigo delivers in this two-disc set containing the complete Crusher Joe library.

It is easy to see the connection between Crusher Joe and the later Dirty Pair. Both work under the same type of situation, with Crushers and Trouble Consultants taking on the jobs nobody else is capable of, for a fee. Their personalities are similar, self-assured and brazen, undaunted by whatever situation they find themselves in, and both shows have non-stop action. While their basis may be related, there are fundamental differences in the approach and tone of two. Crusher Joe is a more serious affair, whose characters are far from the disastrous Lovely Angels in their aptitude for dealing with their missions, but the destructive duo, Kei and Yuri, do make a cameo in the Crusher Joe movie.

The Crusher team consists of five members, who travel the galaxy in their spacecraft, the Minerva. Their leader, Joe, is the son of the first Crusher, and no matter what predicament he encounters, always has an ace up his sleeve. His towering sidekick, Talos is an android and a veteran fighter, who also is good for a surprise or two. They are accompanied by two younger crew members: teenaged Alfin, who used to be a princess, and the easily animated Ricky, as well as Dongo, their trusty robot. In the course of their activities, the Crushers often run afoul of the law, and there is no love lost between them and the galactic police known as the United Space Force.

Crusher Joe: The Movie

The first theatrical release for Sunrise, Crusher Joe: The Movie is a sprawling space adventure set in 2161 AD, with obvious influences from the Star Wars series. The Crushers interrupt their vacation to take on an urgent assignment delivering the daughter of an important business magnate in cryo sleep back to her home world. Mid flight, their ship encounters a strange phenomenon in hyperspace, which puts them way off course, and causes the loss of their cargo. The team finds some direction from United Space Force Lt. Colonel Bard, who tells them of a group of space pirates led by Big Murphy, who have been attacking vessels in this shipping lane, which sends them looking for the planet Lagol, a renegade world housing many unsavory characters. When they discover the true nature of their former cargo, the Crusher team sets off to take on Big Murphy and his gang, and finish the job they started.

Crusher Joe: The OVAs

Released in 1989, this pair of OVAs continue the adventures of the Crushers. The first story, The Ice Prison again interrupts the team's vacation plans, when they are called on to save a band of political prisoners working on an artificial satellite which is on a collision course with its home planet. The government, who had sent these men to space for their opposing political views, feels that Joe and his crew are the only chance they have of avoiding certain disaster, but as work gets underway for the rescue, the Crushers learn that their mission isn't what it is cracked up to be.

The final OVA brings out another doomsday device in The Ultimate Weapon: Ash. This time, Joe is contacted by the president of a planet who has just established a truce in a longstanding war, but who doesn't trust members of his own army who may be looking to continue the conflict. The Crushers are to rescue the only woman who can control an incredibly lethal weapon, capable of turning all life on a planet to ash. To complicate matters, the world they need to locate is home to "cloakers," another robotic weapon, long thought destroyed, who are engineered to destroy all human life. There is peril in abundance as the Crusher team executes their mission.

The feature film is a great sci-fi epic, packed with action, a sense of humor, and with plenty of plot twists to keep things interesting. The characters are well established, and the production design is excellent in its cinematic feel. The first installment of the OVAs is the weakest of the three, but is still well above par, containing a good deal of intrigue and adventure, but with a more basic and predictable storyline. The final episode was great, with lots more action, formidable and interesting adversaries, and a well paced plot. The classic look of the series, with character design by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu (Mobile Suit Gundam movies) and mechanical design by Shoji Kawamori (Macross) adds a lot to the presentation. This set is highly recommended for fans of epic space adventures.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The transfers here look great, especially given the age of the source. Colors and blacks are solid and well saturated, though there is some bleeding and dot crawl in places. Print defects are minor and sporadic, there is a bit of faint ghosting throughout the feature, but aliasing and rainbowing aren't much of a factor.

The OVAs are pretty near identical in terms of presentation quality, but do exhibit some haloing on outlines and aliasing is more pronounced. Overall these are more than I would have expected for a 1980s show.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both Japanese and English soundtracks are available. Given the age of the show, expectations here weren't that high, but the audio is very well presented given limitations of the source. The soundfield is somewhat restricted in terms of width, but frequency coverage is acceptable, with no excess sibilance or noise present. The OVAs do exhibit a bit of distortion in a few places, but this sounds like the original source rather than an encoding problem. The dub is adequate, but can't measure up to the original language track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Liner notes
Extras Review: Extras are slim, but the set does contain a set of AnimEigo's trademark liner notes covering a short bio of Haruka Takachiho, along with an interview from WorldCon '92 and lyrics to the theme songs. Animated menus are styled after a ship cockpit, and a bonus trailer for the OVAs is hidden in the language menu on the second disc. The features all have their original Japanese credits intact, with English translations provided in a separate credits section.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

This complete Crusher Joe collection is a great value, with over four hours worth of solid entertainment. Both the movie and OVAs are high calibre, space adventure anime, loaded with action and humor with the classic 1980s look. Highly recommended!

 


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