STEEL ANGEL KURUMI ENCORE! (2001)

 

Format: 4 14-minute OVA episodes (numbered 25-28) on one DVD

 

Rating: R (N, AC, AL, V)

 

Type: “Pretty Girl” Action-Comedy-Romance

 

American Production: A.D. Vision (a subsidiary of ADV Films)

 

Japanese Production: Pony Canyon

 

Grading

 

Premise:

A-

Story:

A-

Writing:

A-

Character Design:

A

Animation:

B+

Artistic Merits:

A-

English Dub:

A

Musical Score:

B

Opener:

A-

Closer:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

A

Action Content:

A-

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

B

 

 

OVERALL:

A-

 

Synopsis

      Unlike the original series, each episode of Encore! tells a mostly independent story which focuses on a different character. In the first episode, set a few months after the events in the original series, the core Steel Angel trio are working in a restaurant when a movie director is so struck by Saki’s look that he proposes to make her a silent movie actress – and so he does, but how much is Saki’s heart in it when the job eventually means moving to Hollywood and thus away from Kurumi? Later Karinka explores the possibility of a love interest other than Nakihito when she receives a love letter from a secret admirer. Next, Kurumi makes an attempt to learn how to be a proper lady when she comes to believe that Nakihito might be put off by her antics. In the final episode the other Steel Angels get the notion in their heads that they can be more powerful if Nakihito kisses them and becomes their master, which of course doesn’t sit well with the extremely possessive Kurumi. A contest ensues amongst all the Steel Angels and one outsider for that special kiss.

 

The Long View

      Often when a good series comes to an end the viewer is left to wonder What Comes After. Encore! provides that answer (to an extent) for the Steel Angel Kurumi series by offering up four additional episodes that were released straight-to-video rather than being broadcast on TV. Allegedly this was because of much racier content, although I didn’t feel this was true. The episodes have more the feel of an add-on than an actual part of the original story. Regardless, episodes 25-28 are a welcome revival of the light-spirited, sweet-hearted zaniness and sentiment that made the earlier episodes of the main series so appealing. As a result they are a delight to watch. Within these 56 minutes of animation are some of the most riotously funny moments of the whole series, and that’s saying a fair amount.

      The high level of technical merit achieved in the main series carries through into these new episode, especially in the character design. Also worthy of particular note is the vibrant palette of coloring used in the series; this is bright, fresh, dynamic artwork whose coloration sets the mood as much as the humor. The caliber of writing actually improves a bit since there’s no bothersome overarching plot to weight it down, and the series continues to be a sterling example of English dubbing. (Although one voice – that of the Steel Angel Nadeshiko – has changed, it isn’t a significant or easily noticeable difference.) The insanely cute and addictive theme song is still around, as is the advisory message at the beginning of each episode, although a new cutesy closer replaces the simple dance track-driven original closer.

      Graphic content for Encore! includes a fair amount of nudity and risqué situations and a bit of swearing but nothing beyond cartoonish violence. I continue to give the series an R rating primarily because of more adult content in some scenes, although I don’t think this series would be inappropriate for most teens.

Kick back and enjoy. Steel Angel Kurumi: Encore is one of the most purely entertaining anime releases into the U.S. market during 2003.

 

DVD Extras

      The DVD case includes a fold-out poster featuring the central trio of Steel Angels in appealing poses. The DVD itself includes:

·  Company trailers

·  Extended “Next Episode” previews

·  Audio commentary for episodes 25, 26, and 28 featuring various combinations of Kelli Cousins, Kira Vincent-Davies, Monica Rial, Hillary Haag, and English producer/director Steven Foster (uneven in quality, does include some swearing)

·  Abridged filmographies for lead seiyuu and English voice actresses (pictures included with the latter)

·  Series trailers

·  Clean opening and closing animation

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Kurumi

Kelli Cousins

Nakihito

Kira Vincent-Davies

Saki

Monica Rial

Karinka

Hilary Haag

Dr. Imagi

Shelly Calene-Black

The General

John Swasey

Kamihito

David Matranga

Agent Koganei (black hair)/Yaoi

Emily Carter

Agent Kichijoji (brown hair)

Christine Auten

Steel Angel Nadeshiko

Alison Keith

Steel Angel Kaga

Kaytha Coker

Steel Angel Kaori

Shantel van Santen

Steel Angel Tsunami

Tiffany Grant

 

 

 

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