ADV Films // 2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // September 29th, 2005
The world's most powerful weapon is the mind.
Last time, when the story of E's Otherwise took a left turn into the wasteland of teenage angst and bad anime humor, I was pretty forgiving. After all, the second volume of a series can be tricky: It needs to carry on after the first blast, but often hasn't fully settled into the story. Bad news: E's Otherwise hasn't gotten any better in its third volume.
In fact, I'm getting quite annoyed with the series. The problem isn't with the concept. Psychics trained for battle by evil mega-corporations is a cool idea no matter how you look at it. Unfortunately, that aspect of the show has become a backdrop for a stilted action/comedy series that moves in fits and starts. This volume begins with a two episode story that involves Kai and Yuuki's dealings with a young scientist who has created a device that disables nearby psychics. While this could have grown into a more interesting story, much of these episodes was wasted on a love story between the young man and Asuka, which never really goes anywhere. The third episode begins as ridiculous filler, as Kai and Asuka search for a lost cat. Then, the possibility that Asuka is a psychic suddenly gets thrown into the mix. As if there weren't enough young, angsty teenage psychics running around in this series. The fourth episode once again returns to Shin-lu and Shen-lon, who are still having serious troubles.
The narrative jumping around isn't aided by the unbelievable number of new characters and situations tossed in at random. E's Otherwise is often confusing, since so many plot threads are started and stopped again. Much more distracting than the story is the dialogue, though. Whoever wrote the script for this series needs to be fired and never heard from again. The characters never stop talking, even during the battle scenes, and their lines are so crammed with sci-fi clichés that they cease to make sense after a while. There are discussions of psi ratings and power levels, but damned if they bothered to actually write in some decent battle scenes. Instead of good action, mysterious baddies from Asheron and the other corporations show up from time to time, incoherently blathering about their evil plans. The back of the DVD case says: "wrap your head around the twisty plot and compelling characters" of the series. Well, I don't mind thinking hard when a plot makes sense, but it seems a waste of time when the story is such a muddled mess. Also, none of the characters are that compelling. In fact, most of them need a good smack in the mouth.
The animation is getting worse as well. The character design looks shoddy and rushed, and the backdrops are painfully bland. Some cheap CGI effects have been overlaid on the lousy drawings to make them look sophisticated, but they haven't been created well, either. Everything about E's Otherwise makes it feel as though it was rushed out the door. This good an idea deserved more effort and careful construction. At this stage, I have little hope that the series will blossom into a worthwhile series. In fact, I wish I hadn't been lured in by the promise of cool psychic battles in the first place.
To ADV's credit, it is still doing a fine job with the DVD releases. The video transfer is sharp and clean, making it very obvious how sloppy the animation is. The Japanese dialogue is stronger, but not by much. The dub has a few very annoying voices, but the translation is fairly accurate and captures the overall tone of the series. Other than some cutesy "Actor Psi Profiles," featuring the English voice cast, the only extras are the usual clean credit animations and production sketches. I wouldn't expect or ask for more.
If you've really enjoyed E's Otherwise to this point, I suppose you may as well grab this volume. Just be aware that it doesn't look to be improving as it proceeds. Teen angst only works with carefully developed characters that we grow to care about, something that's sorely lacking here. Cool psychic powers or no, this volume of E's Otherwise is guilty and is hereby asked to leave until the characters grow up and get into some actual fights.
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 (Jamaican)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Actor Psi Profiles