Judge Joel Pearce solidly refuses to put another quarter into this game.
"Someone tell me what's going on!"—Bebe
"What's it all mean? Aaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuugggghhhh"—Pseudo
"Why is everything so crazy?"—Moderato
BASToF Syndrome is kind of like Inspector Gadget suddenly deciding it wants to be Ghost in the Shell. That's not to say there's anything wrong with fluffy Saturday morning cartoons, but their depth and scope simply isn't enough to enter the same plot territory as the big thinkers of anime.
The plot of the show certainly screams "overblown animated epic." This volume picks up right where the last one left off, with the three spearhead dream team players battling against the evil game that seems to have some kind of connection to the real world. When their little beepers go off, signaling the presence of the game, they all rush from whatever they are doing to fight it. For some strange reason, only one player can play at a time, even though the game is clearly networked. In this volume, the plot waters are muddied further by the inclusion of several new characters. The mayor of the city seems to be important to the conspiracy of the living evil video game, and a stuttering hacker and sexy broadcaster have also been bluntly thrust into the plot.
Watching this show becomes more tedious as it continues. It's not this general plot arch that's really bad…although the video game show is a little passed its prime. What really makes it all suck is the painfully inept script. In order to be more ambiguous, characters ask the same vague questions over and over again, and the show never seems to be moving toward some kind of firm development. At the same time, it still feels like a children's show in which each new discovery must be announced plainly by several characters so that the audience doesn't get lost. New plot elements are added through obvious conversations between characters that completely destroy the pacing of each episode.
Unfortunately, the action scenes are also destroyed by the terrible writing. Throughout this volume, the evil AI opponents (called lemons) become increasingly powerful, but there is no rhyme or reason to these battles. Sometimes the attacks of these bots are relentless, but at other times the characters have time to stand around and talk for what seems like an eternity. I suppose it's nice of the evil bots to wait until the characters are ready. Still, it's yet another element that destroys the pacing. When the characters need to have weapons uploaded to them, then call out the name of the weapon in order to attack, each fight scene becomes long-winded and silly.
The characters don't help matters. Pseudo is back in the race for "most annoying character ever" award, but Mint remains a serious contender. It's only fair to place those two obnoxious tag-along kids in their own category, who will probably never be defeated as the most teeth-gratingly, screechingly annoying supporting duo in the history of film. Congratulations.
I could go on railing about other things I suppose. The surprise at the identity of the broadcaster isn't really a surprise when it is finally revealed. The attempts at humor throughout the show just don't make sense, and it is almost as if the creators were trying to be as unfunny as possible. I have read reports that ADV Films licensed BASToF Syndrome without having seen it first, and they must be kicking themselves right now. I bet the voice actors are kicking them too.
Despite these complaints, the disc is actually pretty well produced. The video quality seems weaker this time around, as the aliasing during any kind of zooming is really terrible, and the characters don't look as strong this time around. What looked different and unique to me at first just looks sloppy and cheap now, but part of that could just be my annoyance with the show itself. The transfer is decent, with a wider color palette than Moulin Rouge (only more pastel).
Once again, the audio comes in two choices. It doesn't really matter which you choose. The lip movement of the characters in the animation is pretty poor, so the dub is almost a direct translation of the Korean (assuming that the subtitles are accurate). The voice acting on both tracks is shrill, but I can't imagine any voice cast in the world being able to make these lines sound any better. The music is still horribly inappropriate. It's all mixed fairly well, so I guess that's something.
The good folks at ADV were probably wise not to waste their time on producing extras for this stinker. Some honest interviews with the voice actors would probably be entertaining though.
Perhaps it's unnecessary for me to give my recommendations for this disc, but it's part of my job. So many anime shows have handled the issues that BASToF Syndrome has ineptly tried to juggle here, and done it really well. Don't waste your time with this.
Guilty! Someone get this show out of my courtroom before it causes any more damage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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