ADV Films // 2003 // 325 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // January 19th, 2006
Danger never looked so good.
Whenever there's a dangerous job that needs to be handled, legal or otherwise, call the Danger Service Agency. The three-member group might not look like much, operating out of a beat-up old bus and driving around the city in a bright pink VW Beetle. But when danger breaks out, this team dives into the action, taking out the bad guys and leaving incredible amounts of property damage in their wake.
And what a team this is: Mikura might look like a perky teen girl, but when the chips are down, no one can handle firearms or kick butt with martial arts like she can. Harada is the team's Coolio-haired tech expert, whipping up all sorts of gadgets and doo-dads to save the day. Leading the team and handling the money is Pops, a former police detective who loves noodles and worries about his receding hairline. Along for the ride is Asami, the unofficial fourth team member, a shy girl who admires Mikura and who always ends up a part of the action somehow.
All 13 episodes (or "shells" of you're using the lingo here) of Mezzo are included on this three-disc set, but not the far more violent and racy Mezzo Forte OAV the series is based on. Still, one does not have to have seen the original film to follow the series. Everything moves at a quick pace, with each episode more or less a stand-alone tale.
Typical episode: the team is hanging out at their low-rent headquarters, where they get a job of unusual and potentially dangerous nature. While on the job, though, our heroes discover some sort of unusual twist in the proceedings. This is usually a science fiction element to the plot, such as aliens, androids, ghosts, virtual reality run amok, and even a mummy's curse. There's some slapstick craziness, followed by gunfights, martial arts fighting, and explosions. Everything's then wrapped up in a melodramatic conclusion where the DSA's clients' lives are changed forever. Roll credits and bring on the next episode. To be fair, there is an overall "arc" tying all the episodes together, but it's only hinted at except in the last two.
As you can tell by the above synopsis, Mezzo is a real "everything but the kitchen sink" series. The creators want big, violent action, but they also want cutesy comedy and overwrought heartbreaking drama as well. It's a wild ride while you're watching it, but all the various pieces don't quite hold together at the end.
For example, take the series' star, Mikura. She is so expertly skilled in martial arts that she can take out any opponent, even big burly guys twice her size. She's also the group's weapons master, whipping out guns of various sizes at different times, happily blowing away thugs and henchmen by the dozens. On the other hand, she's a happy, perky girly-girl, always with a smile on her young-looking face and an upbeat attitude. There's also a definite sexual element to her, as seen in her skin-tight leg revealing jumpsuit thing she wears. She's an "all-in-one" character, as if the creators attempted to create the ultimate "anime babe" with elements of all anime staples stuffed into a single character. Imagine if Joss Whedon attempted to take Willow and Cordelia's character traits and combine with Buffy's personality, and you get the idea.
Visually, the animation here is rich in detail, with smooth, fluid movements, especially during the many fighting scenes. The transfer here benefits that, with bright, vibrant colors and no defects. The 5.1 English track is solid, with big booming explosions. The Japanese 2.0 track isn't quite as immersive, but should still satisfy the anti-dub audience. The only extras are trailers for six other anime releases.
Enjoy it for the crazy, over-the-top action, but not for the paint-by-numbers story. A rental is recommended.
Review content copyright © 2006 Mac McEntire; 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: 325 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Mezzo: Shell One Review
* Mezzo: Shell Two Review