Bandai // 2004 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 14th, 2005
A galaxy full of adventure!
I've always wondered what anime has done for children's programming. Are there any cartoons left for kids these days? I have a little sister who loves anything from Japan, and she especially relishes the chances she gets to watch anime series. Unfortunately I have a pretty strict father and stepmother, so her choices are limited, when you look at all the anime out there that has serious adult content in it. DICE -- Adventures in Space (Volume One) is a disc from Bandai that can easily fill the gap between kids and anime without any furrowing of adult eyebrows over racy content or extreme violence. It is labeled as being appropriate for kids over seven, and I'd be hard pressed to find many instances where it wouldn't be able to be viewed by even smaller tykes who like to see a gang of kids save the galaxy by turning into robotic dinosaurs. Yes, that's right...robots and dinosaurs in one show! This is playground nirvana.
DICE is an acronym for "DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises." It's also the moniker of a heroic organization that dispatches teams of troubleshooters throughout the Sarbyllion Galaxy. DICE -- Adventures in Space (Volume One) is a collection of five episodes about one team of the organization, called the F-99 Fortress. Led by Captain Tak, this group of rather young warriors include ace pilots Marco, Robert, and a puckish red-head named Jet. The gang often employs vehicles called Dinobreakers, which are transforming vehicles that can resemble various modes of transportation or prehistoric mecha monsters that look a lot like Godzilla and the gang. In each stand-alone episode the team is dispatched to save planets, battle intergalactic pirates, save workers, and even fight the forces of nature.
DICE -- Adventures in Space (Volume One) might be familiar to kids already. The show was produced using a pairing of US writers and actors with Japanese animation studios, and was made to run on the Cartoon Network. They also launched a collection of toys to make it all more popular. This disc merely collects the five episodes, and offers no extras. The transfers are bright and shiny, and the stereo soundtrack pops along just fine. The animation is bold, but also rather unambitious. It's the usual fusing of cel animation with CGI effects that reminded me of several traditional cartoons mixed with some wizardry found in more recent efforts. DICE seems to bridge two worlds and two cultures. It's the "gateway drug" that should lead more kids to be fans of anime.
Will adults like it? Not really. Nothing in the show is all that sophisticated; I'd see this as mainly a purchase for a child in your life. Great at birthday parties, but it won't get much play from teenagers and above. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but this one belongs in toy store racks rather than on serious collector's shelves. Seven year old boys will probably cheer and scream, and ask you to start it all over again once it's finished. As a grown-up kid I found it mildly entertaining, but no great shakes. Jet and his compatriots were all a little too young to engage me. I thought the dinosaur robots were "neat-o," but the stories were predictable and simple. There is no arc to the show; the twenty minutes of any of the five episodes stand alone. No need to worry about coming in halfway through an episode -- you and the kids will get the message no matter where you start. It's a positive show without any dark overtones. DICE -- Adventures in Space will be donated to someone who will appreciate its charm more than me.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site