Saturday 18 July 2009

DVD Reviews: Mecha

Transformers Season One, Season Two Part One, Season Two Part Two, and Seasons Three and Four
Metrodome Group
Review by Brad Harmer

What can I possibly say about a release such as this? Transformers has been through many incarnations over the last twenty odd years, gradually getting worse in each incarnation, before become little more than summer blockbuster poodoo. This however is the original series – the one you remember from your childhood.

Together with its rival Master of the Universe, Transformers formed the basis for the entire Saturday Morning Cartoon genre. Optimus Prime and the Autobots battled against the Decepticons, and you know what? It was bloody brilliant stuff at the time and its bloody brilliant stuff now.

Any major criticisms that could be levelled at Transformers would have to be inconsiderate of the Saturday Morning Cartoons genre. “The animation isn’t great!” “Yeah, so what?”, “The morality is too black and white!” “Yeah, so what?”, “The whole thing is just a twenty-two minute toy advert!” “Originally, yeah, but you’re missing the main point which is that it’s awesome. Shut the hell up, and sell me a Dirge while you’re at it.”

The DVD presentation itself, however, is a little bumpy. These three to four disc sets have a recommended retail price of £12.99 (with Internet retailers obviously selling much cheaper, as always), and that gives you plenty of “bang for your buck” – with each running in at at least six hours (and the longest at just over 12 hours – although those ones are Rodimus Prime heavy).

However, in at least one instance the episodes on the DVD are out of sequence; and whilst the picture looks good, the sound is a little off. Frequently the sound will drop off in the right channel, which can be a little distracting. These are niggling errors, but they’re such simple mistakes that someone should have picked up on them before release.

That said, the material itself is still fantastic, and I’d recommend it to fans of animation, Saturday Morning Cartoons, comics, sci-fi, mecha, giant-robots-fighting and anyone who thought that the live-action movies were shit. In other words, everyone reading this site.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
For a Saturday Morning Cartoon, there is a surprising amount of direct conflict, involving both projective weapons and brawling. That and the main antagonist turns into a gun. That’s pretty cool.

Sex/Nudity: None. You’ll have to Google “Cliffjumper Ravage xxx slash pissing” for that.

Swearing: Jesus, the thought has just occurred that someday soon someone is genuinely going to Google that, and find this site. If you’re reading this, you’re sick, and I know what you did with that Merman action figure.

Summary: A genuine piece of both Saturday Morning Cartoon and science fiction history at a bargain price. The presentation is a little sloppy at times, but not enough to ruin your enjoyment – 9/10

ADV Films

If you've ever seen an anime that featured a giant fighting robot with a bloke in it before, then you can skip this review. There's absolutely nothing new to see here.

Anyway, here we go...The oh-so-in-desperate-need-of-a-PR-makeover "Dr. Hell" has resurrected an ancient army of mechanical monsters to conquer the world. Ancient...mechanical? If they pre-date John Logie Baird, I think I can take them on. With a spanner.

First he has to destroy the "photon power lab" (three random words thrown together if ever I saw it) and the one thing standing in his way: Mazinger (pronounced Mah-zing-er)! But it's going to take more than defeating Mazinger for Dr. Hell and his evil henchman Baron Ashura to clear their way for world domination...because there's a new kid in town-Mazinkaiser (Mah-zin-kai-ser) he packs quite a punch. Can the young Kouji Kabuto (the pilot of Mazinkaiser) deal out the punishment faster than Dr. Hell's army can take it? Will you still give a shit after the first half an hour?

There's not an awful lot to recommend this rather drab and at times downright irritating series. The bad guy acts like a transsexual Harvey Dent, and the supporting good guys are so irritating I was actually praying for their destruction within the first ten minutes. The animation, to be fair, is actually pretty good, and the opening sequence of the bad guys glimpsed as marching silhouettes against a backdrop of explosions was amazing. It's just a shame that it went in the space of seconds from "awesome robot fight fest" to "that manga series you were chucked out of Waterstones for spitting on".

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
A lot of mecha-to-mecha combat, involving the obligatory overpowered weapons.

Sex/Nudity: Not a lot that I can remember.

Swearing: A very mild amount.

Summary: If you like giant robots and anime you would probably get some enjoyment from this. Everyone else should pass and spend their money on the Transformers sets instead. Bad timing, boys - 4/10

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