Funimation // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // June 23rd, 2005
Clean out your guns, dust off your mecha, 'cause this is one explosive experience you don't want to miss.
A new law has been passed in Tokyo: Ordinary citizens are now allowed to openly carry firearms. As you would expect, the crime rate has gone up, up, up. Into the fray comes RAPT, the Recent Armed Police of Tokyo, which employs the latest advances in technology to quell the rising crime rate. RAPT usually gets the job done (their preferred method of law enforcement is simply exterminating the perpetrators), but quite often they're just as corrupt -- and sometimes more corrupt -- than those they aim to stop. Who can you turn to in a time like this? An angel, of course. That's where Jo comes in. Jo is a mercenary, and a damn good one at that. No one is sure if she was sent by the forces of Heaven or the ruler of Hell, but she's quite possibly the only hope the city has.
The folks at Funimation have released the first four episodes of Burst Angel on a pretty spiffy disc. Here's a rundown:
* Episode One: "Hell Comes Silently"
Kyohei, a young man studying to be a chef, is on his way to his delivery job when he is caught in a fight between Jo and a criminal she's been hired to take down. Kyohei watches helplessly as his delivery scooter is shredded by hails of gunfire. Forced to quit his job, he dejectedly returns to his school, only to have his teacher inform him of another job, this one as a cook. Kyohei agrees to be interviewed for the position, little realizing what he's in for. He is picked up by Sei and taken to a large trailer/command center/domicile, where he is introduced to Meg, Amy, and Jo, who are Sei's cohorts. Kyohei thinks he recognizes Jo, but is unsure. The girls get a call about an assignment and tell Kyohei to scram. Unfortunately, a couple of goons grab Kyohei just as he walks out the door and later try to use him for leverage when they attempt to get their hands on a disc the girls have retrieved. Things go from bad to worse when Meg is snatched by a Terminator Cybot mecha.
* Episode Two: "The Heartless Gunfighter"
Amy, in hopes of stopping the cybot that grabbed Meg, deploys Django, Jo's mecha. Jo briefly battles the Terminator, but the cybot transforms and flies away, taking Meg with it. Meg uses her cell phone to snap photos of landmarks along the cybot's flight path and sends them back to the team's headquarters. Sei and Amy think they know where Meg might be, so Jo grabs Kyohei, who now has no doubts as to Jo's identity, and forces him to help her rescue Meg. After doing a little research, Sei determines that the Terminator Cybot, which has an organic brain, was intended to be RAPT's latest mecha, but someone stole the plans and constructed one before RAPT had the chance. Jo finds Meg, smuggles her out, and then uses Django to once again battle the Terminator. Kyohei fixes the girls one last meal, tells them he won't be back, and runs for his life.
* Episode Three: "City Where the Beast Howls"
Sei convinces Kyohei to give it another shot. Meg and Jo go out in an attempt to capture Wong, a crazy guy who howls at the moon and hangs out with rats, but some RAPT scientists beat them to the punch and abduct Wong. Meg and Jo follow the scientists to an abandoned chemical plant, where they find Wong being held in a stasis pod. They also meet some crazy guy who thinks Meg and Jo killed Wong. Wong is loaded onto a train that's headed for a laboratory owned by Hinode Pharmaceuticals. Meg hops aboard the train, where she finds herself face to face with the crazy guy.
* Episode Four: "Brothers Die at Dawn"
Turns out the crazy guy is Liang, Wong's twin bother. He tells Meg his brother was once arrested by RAPT, whose scientists experimented on him while he was incarcerated. Liang and Meg attempt to break into the train and rescue Wong, but they end up getting captured. The train is attacked by a mysterious band of bounty hunters, but the RAPT forces repel the attackers. Wong mutates into a slimy beast (the end result of the experiments conducted on him) and breaks free, killing the RAPT scientists in the process. The train hurtles toward the laboratory, and Sei, Amy, and Jo must find a way to rescue Meg.
I kinda like Burst Angel. The first two episodes are pretty sweet; the second two aren't quite so hot. The show is at its best when it's concentrating on Jo, and it's not too bad when showcasing Sei (who comes across as the stable one) or Amy (who's one of those young anime girls whose age and goofy giggle belie her computer skills). My problem lies with Meg, who too often acts like a silly twit, which means (for me, at least) that the show suffers when she is at the forefront. That being said, there's still enough here to keep me watching. The premise is interesting, the action scenes are fantastic, and the animation itself is generally top-notch (some CG animation, primarily in the vehicles and mecha, is mixed in with traditional cell animation, and this is some of the best integration of the two styles I've seen). On top of that, Django, whose name is in no way a coincidence, is just frigging cool.
I really like the show's presentation. This is my first exposure to a Funimation release, and if this is any indication, they really know what they're doing. The transfer is fan-freaking-tastic; to put it mildly, it's absolutely gorgeous. Audio options include a 5.1 English dub as well as -- check this out -- a 5.1 Japanese mix (woo-hoo!). Both are spacious and immersive, with excellent surround action. Unfortunately, the dub, which plays a little louder than the Japanese track, features some very poor voice acting. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) Extras include a rather boring commentary on the fourth episode by members of the dub's cast and crew and ten minutes of footage in which the dub cast flub their lines. You also get clean opening/closing animation and previews for other Funimation releases, as well as what appears to be clips from Japanese radio broadcasts featuring the actress who portrays Jo and Meg. Unless you're into reading subtitled excerpts of two unseen women goofing off, I'm not sure what purpose this serves.
Burst Angel has its flaws, but so far the good stuff outweighs the bad. It's definitely worth a look.
Review content copyright © 2005 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary on "The Brothers Die at Dawn"
* Radio Drama Volume 1
* Textless Songs (Clean Opening/Closing Animation)
* Official Site
* Anime News Network Page