Judge Joel Pearce has seen two lackluster volumes of this show. E's Otherwise is an anagram for TWO HERESIES. Coincidence? I think not.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
The second volume of this light psychic action series is a sharp departure from the structure of the first volume. This departure is neither good nor bad, but the change is nice.
By the end of the first volume of E's Otherwise, Kai was staying with Yuuki and Asuka, trying to come to terms with the events of the past year while trying to get on with his life. He helps Yuuki on his mercenary jobs, which is very different from the assassin work he was trained for by AESIS. Meanwhile, plots are brewing among the corporations, which is likely to bring even more fighting to the city of Gald.
The first episode on this volume is actually half decent. Yuuki and Kai get in over their heads when they are hired to hunt down a tough man who turns out to be a cyborg killer. Kai has the power to easily defeat the thing, but his new job requires him to approach these situations in a different way. He no longer wants to be a killer, but his training will need to be reversed if he is to fit into this new life. These creatures, known as "The Branded" are wholesale ripoffs of The Terminator, but they explain why Gald has become such a dangerous place to live. The people of Gald are right to be angry, and will need powerful allies if they want freedom from the tyranny of the corporations that place them in constant danger.
If only the creators of E's Otherwise were as good at assembling a plot as they are at stealing ideas from other sci-fi franchises! The chase sequence with the cyborg is so painfully slow and poorly paced that any suspense is ruined. This misjudgment carries through the rest of the episodes. The middle three episodes on this disc are ridiculous ideas poorly executed. The second with a psychic pretending to be a famous television superhero is bad enough, but one of the episodes features Yuuki's attempts to make better Ramen noodles than a local restaurant. How exciting! Another chance for Kai to cross dress makes for a slightly better episode, if only for the humor when he has to go on a date with a local arms dealer. These could have been chances for the characters to uncover what the situation is really like in Gald, and make us care about the inhabitants of the city before the corporations send more psychics in to do horrible experiments. Instead, each of these episodes begins and ends with Yuuki and Kai insulting Asuka's attempts to cook. The way that she is approached is demeaning, as it's clear that she has nothing else to contribute to the plot other than failing at her cooking, looking cute, and showing up every time they are on the job.
Then, out of nowhere, the characters from AESIS are reintroduced for the last episode. Shen-Lon becomes the focal point once again, as another mission into Gald is planned and he and Shin-Lu are placed on a new team of psychics led by the much more powerful Maxim. As soon as this development is introduced and the plot of the series moves forward, the volume is over. Looking back, not much has been accomplished. There's a side plot involving some shady characters, but it's not explored or explained enough to hold these lackluster episodes together.
If anything, the animation is even weaker this time around. A lot of shortcuts have been taken artistically, including numerous quasi-still shots and strange panning mask the low budget of the series. The action sequences are much smaller this time, making the volume bland.
The transfer is on par with the last one. The image quality is solid, showing the strengths and the flaws of the animation. There aren't any print flaws, and I didn't notice any other issues. The sound is satisfactory, with neither the original language track or the dub doing anything to help the pathetic script. The music, matching the '80s costume and character design with cheesy metal riffs, is starting to get annoying after ten episodes, and I don't see it getting any better soon. The only extra is a short series of factoids about some of the English voice actors, using the aforementioned annoying music in the background.
My recommendation is slipping slightly from last time. The overwhelming angst from the first volume is gone, replaced by pointless and bland episodes that don't fit into the main plot. If you liked the first volume, you'll want to at least rent this one, and you might feel differently about it than I have. This is not an important or interesting anime title, though, no matter what angle you come at it with.
E's Otherwise is guilty of being boring and trite. Here's hoping that something interesting will happen in Volume 3.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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