Geneon // 2004 // 65 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 26th, 2006
Capcom's Viewtiful Joe was an unexpected video game hit in 2003. I will admit I spent many an hour with the original side scroller, eating up every second. It was loopy fun that looked like a cartoon to begin with, so is it any surprise Capcom turned it in to a series? The show debuted in Japan, but the WB network decided it might make a solid entry in their "WB for Kids" lineup, so Joe got an English revamp as well. Kudos to the animators for making the series look so much like the video game, and jeers to the script writers who lamely and loosely fleshed out a smart video game, turning it into a tepid serial adventure. Viewtiful Joe on television just isn't as much inspired fun as it was on the GameCube. Where's my joystick when I need it? Geneon has released a lot of anime product, and in an odd move they only include an English track for Viewtiful Joe: Vol. 1. Maybe they realize serious otakus of the anime genre will run for the hills, so they didn't bother with the original Japanese track.
The plot will be familiar to anyone who has played the game. Joe is a surfer dude obsessed with comics and superheroes, especially Captain Blue. He drags his poor girlfriend Silvia to an obscure screening of the action hero's epic movie, but something goes wrong. The ending of the film shows Captain Blue thwarted by the bad guys, and Silvia gets dragged into the screen by evil henchmen. Joe follows her into the celluloid world of fantasy villains and heroes, and soon joins a washed-up Captain Blue's crusade -- with his own super powers, from a special V-watch he is given. The bad news is he is the only super hero with a longer transformation than the trademark Wonder Woman spin in the trees. With a cry of "Henshin-A-Go-Go-Baby!" Joe slowly morphs into a pink-and-red spandex outfit amidst explosions and vogue posturing and poses. For a surfer dude-cum-superhero it's awfully...um...FABULOUS! The Queer Eye guys would rename him "BOOTYfull Joe," but I digress.
On DVD we get the first three episodes of Viewtiful Joe, which chronicle his origins in full screen. Transfers are competently bright and playful, and the stereo audio mix does a nice job with the J-pop soundtrack. The Verdict was sent a screener copy -- it claims there will be extras, but gives no indication what these extras will be. Hopefully it will let you play the game instead of watching the show. It's not over-the-top terrible, but I imagine only the youngest fans will find it entertaining. Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1 is one of those suburban-ready releases that should be effective at keeping the kidlets quiet on road trips when the portable game system runs out of batteries. Good for kids, but not much here for grown-ups. Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1 is nowhere near as fun as the video game.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 65 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated