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Case Number 05518: Small Claims Court

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Mezzo: Shell One

ADV Films // 2003 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // November 4th, 2004

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All Rise...

Judge Mitchell Hattaway wasn't exactly wowed by this anime series, but he's still a sucker for a cute chick with a gun.

The Charge

Her name is Mikura, and she's all about service with a smile.

The Case

Mikura, Harada, and Pops Kurokawa are the Danger Service Agency (DSA), a freelance detective agency operating outside the law. If a job needs to be done, and if the authorities need to be kept in the dark, they're the ones to call. Payment upfront is preferred.

With its reckless, gun-toting heroine, oddball supporting characters, over-the-top violence, and paranormal plots, the anime series Mezzo plays like an episode of The X-Files crossed with a Luc Besson movie, and I mean that as a compliment. There's just enough action and humor to keep this thing moderately interesting, but you'll forget it the moments it's over. There are really no surprises in the plots (you can see the twists in the stories coming from a mile away), and each storyline is really just an excuse to stage the action scenes. The plots can also seem overly familiar. The villain in the second episode resembles Neo a little too much, right down to his wardrobe and the way in which he stops bullets mid-flight. The third installment is reminiscent of Ronin, from the double- and triple-crosses right down to the mysterious, shiny briefcase. The final episode presented here has a plot structure similar to that of Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. (This episode also flashes back to Mezzo Forte, an earlier Original Video Animation release, which looks to be much more violent and much more interesting than the subsequent series, but unfortunately only seems to be available in the U.S. in an expurgated version.) There's also an annoying little girl who idolizes Mikura and keeps popping up at inopportune moments; I imagine there's something to this plot thread, I just can't imagine what. Still, despite the seeming lapses in creativity, I was marginally entertained. By the way, for those of you keeping score, there's only one gratuitous shower scene.

ADV Films has done another fantastic job on the audio and video end. The picture is absolutely perfect; there are no flaws whatsoever. (The Pepto Bismol pink of the DSA's old Volkswagen really pops off the screen.) The original Japanese stereo audio has very good channel separation and a much wider soundstage than I had anticipated. The English 5.1 mix is rather robust, with good directional effects and a healthy amount of bass activity, causing me to wish the Japanese track had been given the full surround treatment. Extras include clean opening and closing animation, production sketches, and ADV's standard previews.

Mezzo: Shell One is fairly entertaining, so the court finds the defendants in this case not guilty, although it was close call. We only hope future installments don't cause this verdict to be overturned.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
• English
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Anime

Distinguishing Marks

• Clean Open/Close Animation
• Production Sketches
• ADV Previews


• IMDb

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