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Burst Angel Intro Notes

Got this series on Blu-ray because… well, it’s high-def, Gonzo, and relatively cheap. Couple episodes in, and it’s certainly pretty enough—big, fancy, Gonzo-style mechs, reasonably slick extreme action, lots of attractive girls, and a relatively interesting looking dirty-future Tokyo.  Too functional to be post-apocalypse, too dirty to be full cyberpunk—reminds me a little of the more Mad Max-y concepts in the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG (aside: that date is getting pretty close, and I don’t see my polymer one-shots or shift-tacts yet…). The box art and graphic design has a very wild-west flavor, but so far it really doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with that genre apart from some huge sidearms (and wildly inconsistent ability to aim depending on plot requirements).

There’s not enough going on with the plot to have any idea what’s up—there’s the stock team of uber-skilled, heavily-armed, mildly insane, possibly-superpowered women funded by… somebody, to do… something shady. Big, bad government, shady, evil mecha-equipped somebody/thing, and really no idea at all where it’s going yet.

The characters are the most distinctive bit, in that the meanest (and in this case apparently most central) of the women is unusually murderous and unfriendly (also, she apparently likes zombie movies—nice touch), and there’s a comic-relief/normal-guy contrast character who may or may not take on a central role who’s particularly un-manly (he’s a chef-in-training). Plus the requisite ditz, bubbly young one with inexplicable tech skills, and stable, boss-like one. So far not really liking them much as characters, and a little torn on the guy—he’s sort of annoying, but he’s also more likable than half the women and at least offers a little contrast. Whether he ends up being the Branch Manager in Daphne in the Brilliant Blue or the stock male-stuck-with-crazy-women remains to be seen.

Speaking of Daphne, the costumes certainly remind me of that series. Which is to say they are rather severely lacking in substance (and Burst Angel doesn’t even have the tropical climate as an excuse). You’ve got micro-hotpants (borderline thong, really), way-too-tight tube tops, and the competent business-like one, who has a nice, reserved long coat on… and when she takes it off a top that appears to be a belt and a handkerchief fighting over control of her bust, failing to cover much of anything in the process. It’s not quite as extreme as Daphne, but that’s really not saying much, and so far it seems a little more leer-inducing here (though admittedly nowhere near as fanservice happy as Godannar).

Overall it seems kinda like a much meaner, less humorous/endearing, less obvious take on the same general series type as Solty Rei (which, given that both are Gonzo, isn’t entirely surprising). It’s also not getting me fired up at all, though there’s lots of room to go somewhere with the foundation, and the action is quite nice if it keeps up (I’m feeling nervous after Solty Rei ended up having almost no action to speak of after the first half-dozen episodes). The things that stuck most in my mind as plusses so far is some of the better bits of action (great explosions as always from Gonzo) and some nice bits of character animation—not exactly the biggest list, admittedly.

On the Blu-ray front it’s not amazing, but it does look quite nice. The character art isn’t detailed or flashy enough to benefit much from the 1080p resolution, but the backgrounds do get some extra, and the big, fancy explosions and digital effects do come across quite nicely. I haven’t seen any compression artifacts at all thus far, despite squeezing all 26 episodes onto 3 discs (taking up only 2-cases-worth of shelf space, which living in a small apartment I highly approve of). The 5.1-channel TrueHD audio (Japanese, though there’s also a dub) is very nice so far—lots of separation and surround-channel effects, if a little less punchy in the subwoofer channel than I’d like for something as action-oriented as this. It does have the minor annoyance of the dialogue not being particularly well attached to the center channel—it tends to float around the front soundstage and change volume depending on the shot, which is mildly annoying since it makes it hard to hear what they’re saying some of the time. Gonzo has had this issue since their earliest days, though—Blue Submarine 6 had dialogue so spread around the soundstage and varying in volume you sort of needed subtitles even if you could understand the language. At least it’s nowhere near that bad.

We’ll see where it goes.