ADV Films // 2003 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // April 28th, 2005
The world's most powerful weapon is the mind.
A secret force of psychics in the future, trained by a corporation to do secret missions...how did they manage to make this boring?
Kai, a young psychic, lives in a future that dislikes these powerful freaks of nature (which they call E's). In order to get the best possible medical treatment for his sister, he agrees to work for a powerful corporation, and he is quickly spirited away to a facility called AESIS, where he is trained in all manner of secret spy operations. A year later, Kai and the rest of the E's are sent on a mission to a slum town named Gald, where things go terribly wrong. In the aftermath, Kai learns that he may be working for the wrong side. This disc contains the first five episodes of the series.
The biggest problem I've had with anime series lately is that they seem painfully typical. Although they all promise to offer something new, they wind up sliding into the center, where there's light physical humor, mild action sequences, blushing teenagers, and long conversations about identity. E's Otherwise has a generic but promising premise, but it never commits to taking that premise to a new or interesting place. The first two episodes are edgy and dark, with Kai learning how to fight using his physical and psychic powers. The conflict between the E's and the rest of humanity seems severe as well, as he quickly learns how angry his peers are at the humans they have clashed with in the past.
If that conflict had been more fully explored, I would be a lot happier with the results of this volume. Kai dislikes violence, though, refusing to take a gun on his missions and unwilling to harm people intentionally. Although this does cause some strain between him and the other E's, that whole side of the conflict seems to fade as soon as the operation is over. He then settles down with some humans, and the series turns into a generic teen anime series. He meets a cute (and slightly younger) girl, who obviously has a crush on him. He has a strained partnership with her older brother, and their adventures are more funny than exciting. Evil guys set up a conspiracy, in hopes of harnessing the powers of the E's to do something terrible and as-of-yet undisclosed. A few of the funny moments had me chuckling, but it's not exactly high concept comedy.
Even the action sequences are fairly nondescript. Although the E's have a wide range of psychic abilities, they aren't very creative so far in their battles, simply choosing to block objects, and tossing objects and energy through the air at each other. Perhaps they are building towards more interesting conflicts, but I haven't seen much yet that hasn't been used dozens of times before.
The animation is solid and detailed, but lacks the richness and depth that it clearly wants to obtain. The characters look good, except for their '80s hairstyles (you'd think psychics would be fashionable). The backdrops seem far too pastel for the subject matter, and there's too much evidence of computer assistance, which gives everything a flat and empty look. The sound is right out of the anime fake book as well, with pounding techno music, exaggerated sound effects, and cutesy voices.
As usual, ADV has done a fine job transferring the series to DVD. The video quality is solid, showing the flaws in the animation more often than creating flaws in the digital transfer. The lines are sharp and clean for the most part, and the colors have been transferred well. There are no compression errors or digital flaws to be found. The sound is also solid, with a Japanese stereo track and an English 5.1 track. The Japanese track is good, but the English track adds depth that I wish we would see in more Japanese anime series tracks. The translation in the dub is accurate and well timed.
There are some character sketches and Japanese television spots on the disc, but nothing else in the way of special features.
If you aren't tired of the same old teen anime conventions, you will probably find much to like in E's Otherwise. It has a tried and true science fiction premise, and has introduced quite a few characters and situations in this first volume. If the series starts to move in new and interesting directions over the next few volumes, it could easily be salvaged. I'm not holding my breath though, and I expect to find the series tired. If you are a fan of the genre, give this volume a try, but I would recommend a rental before you commit to buying the series.
E's Otherwise isn't guilty, but it hasn't done anything to distinguish itself, either.
Review content copyright © 2005 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Production Sketches