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Pioneer presents
Jubei Chan the Ninja Girl #2: Basic Ninja Training (1999)

"I just want to live my life simply as Jiyu Nanohana."
- Jiyu (Hiroko Konishi)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: January 10, 2001

Stars: Hiroko Konishi
Director: Akitaro Daichi

Manufacturer: CMCA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild sexual innuendo, violence)
Run Time: 01h:12m:52s
Release Date: October 03, 2000
UPC: 669198097195
Genre: anime

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

DVD Review

Jubei Chan the Ninja Girl—Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch—Volume 2: Basic Ninja Training (from the Japanese anime series Jûbei-chan Lovely gantai no himitsu) presents episodes 5, 6 and 7 in the continuing adventures of Jiyu Nanohana, a hapless eighth-grader who seems to be the reincarnation of Yagyu Jubei, a samurai warrior from three centuries past. When she dons the heart-shaped "lovely eyepatch," Jiyu transforms into an extremely capable fighter, capable of defeating skilled opponents with or without her sword. Unfortunately for Miss Nanohana, she doesn't want to be a warrior and doesn't take her responsibility of defending the Yagyu school of swordsmanship very seriously. Still, she rises to the occasion when challenged by assassins and representatives of rival schools. This disc includes episode #5, The Enemy Brought a Memory with Them, in which a villainous husband-and-wife team attempt to steal the Lovely Eyepatch, and episodes 6 and 7, My Next Enemy is Yesterday's Ally and She Had Grasped the Secret Before She Knew It!, a two-part story which pits young Jiyu against the head of a rival school.

Jubei Chan takes an artistic risk in combining light-hearted shojou humor with darker ninja/samurai elements, but the combination works wonderfully well. Jiyu's life as an eighth-grader is complicated by her single father, who writes historical plays; her friends, one of whom has an obvious crush on her dad; the Ruffians, an unrefined trio of hoodlums whose leader, Bantaro, constantly strives to win Jiyu's favor; and memories of her mother. The combat elements are secondary to the humor and over-the-top characterizations of Jiyu's daily existence, but they're equally well-presented with a darker, more serious style—her eye shape even changes during her transformation, from the dreamy almond orbs of youth to the narrower, more focused eyes of a warrior. The samurai storyline frequently crosses over into the situation comedy—in episode 7, for instance, a helmet designed by her attendant Koinosuke to force her to learn to fight one-eyed resembles a certain stainless-steel fixture, forcing Jiyu to endure a school day as the "Urinal Queen."

The series is similarly creative in its visual approach, which is dominated by the traditional anime "look" but takes considerable liberties with the form. Aspect ratios are altered freely, using 1.85:1 and even 2.35:1 widescreen letterboxing when the visual composition or tone of a scene calls for it, making for particularly effective standoffs and dramatic moments. The series permits its artists to have fun as well, using crude, childlike sketches and animation to humorous effect from time to time. This visual flexibility helps the series manage its frequent shifts from humor to drama and back again, even allowing for some outrageous combinations of the two. A band of goggle-eyed ninjas in episode 7 would not seem out of place in a Max Fleischer cartoon, and Koinosuke's serious, focused, scrubbing-tiger-linen-dragon approach to housekeeping is always good for a laugh.

Jubei Chan Volume 2 is fun of the highest order. Though some may find its schizophrenic nature a bit off-putting, I thoroughly enjoyed its off-kilter combination of styles; it's chock-full of footloose samurai goodness.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Bandai presents Jubei Chan Volume 2 in its original TV-based 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio, drawn from a high-quality videotape source. There are a few scan-line shimmers and just a hint of red/blue aliasing now and then, but colors are bright and the animation looks great, with no seriously distracting "ringing" or other digital artifacts. The image is steady and clean throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Jubei Chan Volume 2 features the bilingual audio support expected of anime on DVD, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese track and a full-blown 5.1 mix for the English dub. The tracks are very similar in terms of envelopment—the "5.1" English mix seems primarily to be a marketing move, as it closely resembles the 2.0 Japanese track with little use of discrete surrounds or deep bass. As usual, the dubbed version sounds stilted and over-wordy, though Bandai's English voice casting approximates the tone of the Japanese voices with some success. Both soundtracks are limited in frequency and dynamic range, but they're generally crisp and clear and support the visuals nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English dialogue/text, English text with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tenamonya Voyages, Haunted Junction, Outlaw Star, Escaflowne
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bantaro's Dating Tips
  2. DVD Production Credits
Extras Review: Bandai provides Jubei Chan Volume 2 with a small but effective set of features, including Opening/Part A/Part B/Ending/Next Episode chapter stops for each episode, trailers for four of Bandai's other anime series releases, and a fun little "Bantaro's Dating Tips" section, using still images from the series to illustrate dating Dos and Don'ts courtesy of Jiyu's lovestruck but unrefined gang "leader." There's also a screen of DVD Production Credits.

Bandai also deserves credit for a nicely-implemented subtitle feature tied to the language audio selection. The disc supplies English subtitles (not "dubtitles" either) for the Japanese version, covering dialogue and onscreen text, as well as a subtitle track specific to the English version which explains onscreen text, often crucial to the series' humor. My only real complaint is that the disc features voice credits only for the English adaptation, not for the original Japanese production.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Jubei Chan the Ninja Girl: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch: Basic Ninja Training is great fun, mixing junior-high social comedy with dramatic fighting action, presented in a delightfully free-form visual style. Bandai's DVD is another in the studio's high-quality line of series presentations, with a solid transfer and cute extras. Now have we kicky good time? Hai!


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