Join Judge Brett Cullum as he finds out whether this relatively harmless anime series rolls six the hard way, or craps out.
Jet versus the Phantom Knight!
"Call in the kids whenever you need help!" seems to be the whole plot of DICE—it's simply that repetitive and basic. DICE stands for "DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises," an organization that defends the galaxy with battle suit technology. The series focuses on the members of F-99, who are all teens. Any given episode goes something like this: a problem pops up, the F-99 crew shows up, people balk at their ages, and then they save the day. It's a dumbed-down version of Transformers mixed with Scooby Doo. Serious anime fans need not apply—this one is built for kidlets with their portable DVD players locked in place in the backseat.
The show is distributed by Bandai, which also retains the toy license. The show is cute and cuddly, and shouldn't pose any problem for parents who find their young charges asking for the collection of movies and action figures. Violence is of the cartoon variety, and usually only involves mecha beasts knocking each other around. This is fast-moving, colorful entertainment that should only engage the under-twelve set.
In DICE: To the Rescue (Volume 3) the story actually gains some continuity as a new threat is introduced, and Jet faces memories brought up by meeting the Phantom Knight. Jet has a climactic battle with the Knight, and he is defeated. This weighs on him, and he begins to question his confidence. During a rematch a mysterious figure enters the fray, and suddenly things take a turn for the worse.
The colors here are nice, and the show looks fine. The stereo mix is adequate for the series, and has enough punch during the battles to rumble appreciatively. There are no extras to be found, but kids won't mind. Who needs any of this explained? Bandai knows its market, and aims squarely for the preteen set, who will eat DICE up. The show is produced by a cooperative of Oriental and Western production teams for the US market, so there are no Japanese tracks to be found. The English is the original source track. The show airs on The Cartoon Network as well, so that's where kids can sample the show first to see if a purchase should be in their near future.
A friend of mine has a seven-year-old son who eats this series up. He likes the mechanical dinosaurs and the fast pace of the show. That's about all the endorsement the series needs. Anyone looking for anything deeper should seek out a more robust title. DICE is great fun for kids, but won't interest adults. Nothing wrong with that—I'm glad to see anime aimed at children. There seems to be a real lack of programming for the younger viewer who likes this sort of thing. So let them have at it! If you're heading to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, DICE: To the Rescue (Volume 3) is the perfect gift to wrap and bring along.
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