Burst Angel Anime, Volume 6 (English)

May 7th, 2008

My biggest complaint about the previous volume of Burst Angel was that the winning formula – i.e., Jo and Meg being the point people – was sort of dropped and left behind as the plot flailed around in a Jo-focused sort-of-back- and sort-of-present- story.

Thankfully, Volume 6 recaptured what made the early episodes work, so we get to wade about in a pool of satisfyingly standard tropes of action team anime, with a decidely Western flair.

First, having resolved Jo’s personal arc, we must face the inevitable Storm before the Calm, as the team is dissolved for political reasons. As is typical in this particular plot complication, the characters, despite their personal bonds, shoot apart like shrapnel. I don’t know why that is, but it is a requirement that we all go bara-bara. Jo and Meg take to the road, Amy does Amy things and Sei-who-is-not-named-Beth does Sei-who-is-not-named-Beth things.

Jo and Meg face one more crisis, as Maria returns (another standard, which I mentally refer to as “Can’t keep a good bad guy down”) and in a lovely fit of Yuri, she kidnaps Meg, because she wants her for herself. There’s some lovely sexually suggestive stuff in there, before Jo shows up and beats the crap out of Maria in a nicely animated fight. (A trope my wife has just named “Get your hands off my Betty!”)

Meg has a chance to have her own moment of Yuri where she confesses her feelings to a sleeping Jo, kisses her and promises to protect her forever, thus notching up the Yuri without making any committment at all.

Akane returns, as the wildcard cowboy who rides in for the last battle; a nice touch, as it’s a classic tactic for Westerns.

And there’s the standard emotional parting scene where Jo leaves Meg behind before the final showdown. Also a classic Western moment, reflected beautifully by the music.

Last thing I noted was a convention of mecha/sci-fic/cyberpunk anime – the main brain to which all other brains are connected, is inexplicably wired to explode when something something something. Whose idea was that? Imagine if Google did that with their servers…. Seems to me to be a *really* bad idea.

So, the final volume returns to the classic Western roots it sort of vaguely nodded towards in the beginning. It really worked, I think. This wasn’t a deep look at anything particular, it’s not “slice of life,” or “drama,” or despite fans’ insistence “romance,” – Burst Angel is a pretty standard action anime, with strong ties to conventions of good, ole’ American Westerns. For a decent live-action analogy, I recommend Silverado which contained many of the same tropes and was about as satisfying to watch as any Western I’ve ever seen. Plus, the cast kicks. No giant weaponry though, unless you count Danny Glover’s shotgun. :-)

In the end, we get a teeny little brief glimpse of Meg’s future, which I really would have prefered to be her present, but oh well, it’s nice to know that Jo’s scarf bestows +10 competence on the wearer.

Extras as always – the American cast commentary, the Japanese radio dramas and a nifty book full of nifty facts and pictures. Extras aren’t crucial to me, and they won’t save a bad anime, but it feels nice to have such a *chunky* set of extras for this series. It’s the best of both worlds – something for the intellect and something tactile to enjoy.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 4
Sevice – 4

Overall – 8

Overall, a fun series that would make really good background images on a big screen during a party. :-) My thanks to Ted the Awesome for sponsoring today’s review!

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9 Responses

  1. “Extras aren’t crucial to me, and they won’t save a bad anime, but it feels nice to have such a *chunky* set of extras for this series. It’s the best of both worlds – something for the intellect and something tactile to enjoy.”

    I just have to ask. Have you ever considered taking part in extra features? I see all these ‘voice actor commentaries’ and cast interviews, but I can’t help but wonder what you could do if you had the opportunity to take part in creating supplemental features for a series you liked, especially if it had a strong Yuri element to it.

    Every time I see a Yuri series like Strawberry Panic, Simoun or Maria-sama getting next to nothing in the special features department, I can’t help but think of how cool it would have been if you were on there somewhere. Whether it’d be the basic production note style extras or the full blown picture-in-picture commentaries, I think it’d be the coolest thing ever to learn more about a series from your point of view then any of the dub actors or directors. Just look at all of the over priced Criterion Collection titles out there. Almost half of their titles have commentary tracks that are all done by ‘film historians”. You could be a ‘Yuri Historian’! I can see it now.

    Special Features:
    – Commentary by Yuri Historian Erica Friedman.

  2. It’s not really up to me, is it?

    The commentary usually involves the actors and staff and I am neither.

    Feel free to email the companies who make the DVDs and ask them to ivinte me to comment – but don’t be surprised if they don’t. :-)

  3. “It’s not really up to me, is it?”

    I don’t know. Have you tried?

    “Feel free to email the companies who make the DVDs and ask them to ivinte me to comment”

    Sure! but first I need to know exactly how you’re going to do it. I can’t just say “Let her comment!” and hope for the best.

    let’s say Media Blasters said “yes” to you taking part in the special features (First print of Simoun autographed by the team? I’m surprised they haven’t asked already). They want you to comment on something that involves either Simoun, Strawberry Panic and/or Maria-sama. What would you discuss and in what format? What can you give the viewers and fans who are going into these series when it comes to Yuri and how it relates to these shows in general?

    Or how about just a feature of the Yuri genre? You could explain it’s history, it’s triumphs, it’s tragedies, it’s clichés it’s characters and how it’s changed over the years. Remember Central Park Media? They had this feature thing called “anime art form” that explained all sorts of anime styles and it’s history from hair color to Japanese school clothing. And don’t worry. Your feature will be fool proof because we’re talking about a genre, not an art form. Some of the “minor” details in the anime art form feature are now horribly out of date.

    And don’t forget. You may have nothing to do with the shows, but even critics do commentary tracks.

    :D

  4. I can’t even get Media Blasters to proofread the subtitles before they distribute the DVDs.

    The Japanese extras come with the DVD masters. Media Blasters adds *nothing* of their own, except subtitles. And they are, at the moment, the only compane that market any titles as “Yuri.”

    As for other companies, they are located in Canada, California and Texas, and draw on the talent and staff at their locations who are involved with the creation of the DVDs. They are highly unlikely to fly me to their locations and I am even less likely to fly myself there at the moment.

    If you’d like to see critical commentary on anime DVDs, then you should definitely let the companies know.

    So seriously, I think your idea is a very nice one, but wildly unrealistic.

  5. Frea says:

    Ohhh… or you could take a page from Jo and burst (pun most definitely intended) in there and bust up the place to demand to be part of the extras! I can see it now, splashed on all the anime news blogs:

    “Erica Demands Extras; Starts Riot”

    Officials are still unclear how she was able to get through security, but Okazu owner, Erica Friedman, was tired of the lousy extras that normally come with anime dvds, and she decided that enough was enough.

    “She just kept saying something about no more reversible covers… I don’t know… it was all so fast,” sobs some poor Funimation kaishain.

    She is alleged to have shrieked, “don’t get me started on Sei-who-is-not-named-Beth!” just as she was subdued by police.

    Funimation has not commented on whether they will invite her to contribute to any anime dvd extras in the future.

    *grins*

  6. LOL

    Except that I actually *like* the extras Funimation puts on the DVDs!

  7. Eric P. says:

    In the commentary, I find it interesting how the English voice actresses seemed to have gotten the gist of Jo and Meg’s relationship, as opposed to the ADR director who kept insisting they were “very good friends”

  8. “So seriously, I think your idea is a very nice one, but wildly unrealistic.”

    Well, if it means starting high and having the higher ups of all the studios bow before you (Which I think would be the coolest thing to ever happen in anime), then yes. It is quite unrealistic. Let me try to restructure my idea a bit.

    You said that if I wanted to see/hear critical commentary on anime that I should write a letter to the anime companies. I would but I would much rather have someone who *wants* to share their thoughts on the subject rather then doing it for special features sake. If studio support is out, than how about making your own special features? I know a lot of websites that have people creating their own commentary tracks for movies and TV shows. Heck, even Darren Aronofsky did a commentary for his film “The Fountain” and posted it on his official website.

    The idea of making special features like commentaries or documentaries is far from unrealistic. All that is needed is that you got to *want* to do it. And if you don’t, that’s ok! I still love reading your blog and I hope you continue to have fun with it. I’m just happy we got someone like you who is very vocal about Yuri in today’s world.

  9. I *have* made my commentaries available – on this blog. This is what I want to do as far as make commentaries for anime DVDs.

    I am supremely uninterested in making video or audio tracks for anyone else’s work on my time and dime.

    My particular form of fan time is devoted to writing reviews on Okazu, writing Fanfic, publishing books with ALC, maintaining the Yuricon website, posting on the Yuricon mailing list and doing lectures. I feel that that’s sufficent claim to my time and energy.

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