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ADV Films presents

ReBoot #3: The Web (1997)

"My format? Guardian. To mend and defend."- Bob (Ian James Corlett)

Stars: Sharon Alexander, Paul Dobson
Other Stars: Long John Baldry, Ian James Corlett
Director: Nicholas Kendall, Ezekiel Norton, Dick Zondag

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all ages)
Run Time: 01h:29m:37s
Release Date: 2001-02-13
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-A- D+


DVD Review

ReBoot began, in the U.S., as a Saturday morning animated series on ABC. The show takes place inside the world of computers. Basically, it imagines each item of data in a hard drive as a separate, living entity. The focus is on the Guardians, basically anti-virus programs, who safeguard the Mainframe against viruses. The first two seasons were successful enough, but about midway through the second, the storylines began to change. The "problem of the week" format was shelved in favor of a continuing plot and evolving characters (a rarity for most children's fare). ABC was not happy with the new, less accessible format, and decided not to pick up the series' third season. Luckily, several years later, Cartoon Network, looking for anime and anime influenced programs to fill its afternoon schedule, decided ReBoot would fit right in. The show was picked up and the third season episodes were dubbed for English speaking audiences.

ReBoot aired initially in Japan, but was produced in Canada by Mainframe Studios, a computer graphics studio that also does work on TV shows like Beast Wars and Shadow Raiders. Still, the anime influences are evident, especially in the later episodes. The storylines are far more complex that anything produced for children by American studios (except for the Batman animated series and its spin-offs). Characters change and evolve, and the heroes don't necessarily always do the right thing. Heck, characters even die!

When ADV decided to license ReBoot for DVD, they were only able to obtain the rights to the third season. This is disappointing, and I certainly hope more are released later, but the third season represents the show at its best and is a good starting point for new viewers. This DVD features episodes 9-12 from season three: The Return of the Crimson Binome, Edge of Beyond, Interface, and Mousetrap.

The focus here is on Matrix, a renegade Guardian looking for his friend Bob (the star of the series), who mysteriously disappeared at the end of season two. Matrix has left the Mainframe in his search, and has subsequently become caught in the Web (which is apparently a pretty dangerous place). Through the course of four episodes, he makes new friends and new enemies as he attempts to escape the Web (into the Net, which I guess is a nicer place, like AOL) to continue looking for Bob.

The thing that impresses me most about this series is the imagination it took to conceive. Using the basic outline of computer components, the creators have fashioned an entire world of characters and environments, all of which fit perfectly into the computer setting. For example, one character is a web surfer, so he rides... a surfboard. Ok, so it sounds stupid, but it comes off rather well. There are a lot of small touches as well: in the web, characters come up against an impenetrable firewall and must figure out why the wall is blocking them (likely the porno JPEGs hidden under Matrix's bed). Crates of supplies about a ship are labeled Chips and 100101. Little stuff like that is thrown in everywhere, and people knowledgeable about computers will really get a kick out of this imaginary world.

The computer animation looks rudimentary by A Bug's Life standards, but is actually very nice. Character designs are unique and the backgrounds look complex and realistic (at least, realistic in the context of the show). Character movement can look at bit blocky at times, but it isn't too much of an issue. The action sequences look especially good, matching most anything done for Babylon 5. Direction is top notch as well, with well-shot action sequences and some amusing cinematic effects.

Anime fans might want to give ReBoot a rent first, due to some elements aimed at a younger audience, but I think anyone willing to get involved in the storyline would enjoy it. For those already fans of the show, ADV has produced a very fine presentation that should please everyone.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: I don't know if this transfer was done right from the digital master (like the Toy Story films), but it sure looks like it was. Colors look very, very rich and bright, with no bleeding or motion blur. Black level is very good. I noticed no edge enhancement or digital artifacting of any kind. Heck, I didn't even see any aliasing, which usually plagues even the best transfers on my 4:3 set. The only real problem was a bit of shimmer (almost like film grain) on certain surfaces (usually anything white). Overall, however, this looks nice and much better than the Cartoon Network airings.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the audio on this disc. For a TV show, this sounds great! Dialogue is anchored in the center channel and is always clear and understandable with no hiss. There is some nice separation between the front right and left speakers, with great directional effects during the several battle scenes. I can't say I noticed much action in the surrounds, but I was happy enough with the very wide front soundstage, compared to, say the Neon Genesis Evangelion discs, also from TV, which have a very narrow soundstage.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spriggan, Orphen, Gasaraki, Martian Successor Nadesico, Shadow Raiders, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Animation tests
  2. Character Gallery
  3. Vehicles
Extras Review: As with most ADV discs, extras are pretty basic, but at least there are a decent number of episodes included. Besides the usual ADV preview gallery, there are selections for Animation Tests and Character Gallery. The tests are just two brief rendered models of characters from the series. The gallery is just one still shot. Fun.

The back of the box also promises Concept Sketches, but they aren't present. Instead, we have Vehicles, which again is just three stills of different vehicles used on this disc. Pretty bland stuff. Plus, there are no subtitles. Pooh!

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

ReBoot would be an excellent choice to introduce a younger child to anime. While it isn't really traditional Japanese animation (it is produced in Canada - and on computers), it does feature many of the more grown up elements that animated series focus on overseas, without being too violent or sexual. The characters are fun and the storylines are complex, and there are some great in-jokes for the computer savvy. I just hope the first two seasons make their way to DVD as well.

Joel Cunningham 2001-02-28