From the depth of the DVD queue directly to your computer screen… It Came From Netflix! Welcome to Anime Diet’s newest regular review feature focusing on dubbed anime. I’ve been meaning to do reviews of DVDs/Blu-Rays available in the US for quite a while, specifically dubs because I feel it is an untapped topic on Anime Diet. I know dubs get a bad rap, but really the “bad anime dub” is a tired cliché. True there are “bad” dubs, but recently they are becoming fewer and far between. Some dubs are downright awesome, as good or better than the original Japanese in my opinion (Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon, and GitS: Stand Alone Complex spring to mind), but that’s an argument for another day.
With Netflix’s nearly endless selection of anime at my fingertips, reviewing new anime releases will be a snap (Get it? Fingertips? Snap? Ha!), so I decided to kick off this feature with the recent DVD release of an Anime Diet favorite, Queen’s Blade.
Once every four years, the greatest women warriors in the world compete in a tournament to determine who will be the new ruling Queen of the land. Reina… er I mean Leina, daughter of the noble Count Vance, unhappy with her lot in life, enters the tournament even though she has no experience as a fighter and routinely gets her (bare) butt kicked. Despite this she never gives up and keeps fighting, improving her skills in her quest to become Queen. Along the way she befriends the benevolent thief Risty, and develops a bond with her that keeps Leina going when times get tough. On the other side of the coin, Shrine Priestess Tomoe, in an effort to protect her homeland and her people also travels to compete in the tournament accompanied by her friend Shizuka, the Ninja. The show follows these two story arcs, alternating focus between episodes.
The story is pretty standard of fantasy anime, and one has to wonder if without Queen’s Blade’s famous excessive fan service and insinuating imagery innuendo, if the show would have had anything to make it stand out amongst the hundreds of similar shows that have come before. Not to say the show is bad, far from it. It is very entertaining and fun, but it is not deep. The first four episodes do a decent job setting up the world and introducing the main characters, but these episodes don’t really get into the real meat and potatoes of the story (in fact I would say this series doesn’t do that until season 2).
Visually, you can tell that Media Blaster’s believes in this series and really pulled out all the stops with this release. The DVD looks great, an excellent transfer for a gorgeously animated show, which isn’t surprising as a majority of the appeal of Queen’s Blade begins with its visuals. The show has excellent character designs that are unique and interesting, and it’s overt sexuality and fan service hooks you into watching, slowly drawing you into its story of friendship, honor, family, and revenge, all wrapped up in a Victoria’s Secret lingerie box.
The dub, however, is less than perfect unfortunately. Especially in the first episode, where it is obvious the voice actresses did not record together. This isn’t unusual for anime dubs, but here it is particularly noticeable. Their dialogue and reactions do not seem to match up at times and it can be very jarring and distracting. Subsequent episodes get slightly better, but it really feels like Media Blasters has a few kinks they still need to work out. Also some of the voices just seemed a little off, not quite fitting the character they were portraying, but hopefully this will also improve as the series progresses and the actors grow more comfortable with their roles. It was not unwatchable by any means, but honestly is was a below average dub, and if that really turns you off the disc also has the original Japanese audio and subtitles available.
The DVD also has some nice extras, including two non-canon OVAs, textless opening and ending themes, TV spots, trailers and promotional videos. The most significant extras are undoubtedly the OVAs, which are little more than seven minute clothes shredding, jiggle fests but you really can’t help but snicker, smile, and enjoy them.
This is a good release. A more polished English dub would have been nice, but the fun story, interesting characters, ample amounts of fan service, great visual transfer, and enjoyable extras make up for it. I’m hoping that they find their groove soon and get the dub on track with future releases, but overall, for fans of fantasy anime or fan service or both, this is a worthy addition to your DVD collection.
Queen’s Blade: Wandering Warrior
Volume #1: A Single Step
Media Blasters – Anime Works
Released: May 18th, 2010
Episodes: 1- 4
Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Story – 3 Visuals – 5 Dub – 2 Extras – 4
OVERALL – 3.5
Scoring System –
5 – Treasure It
4 – Buy It
3 – Rent It
2 – Trash It
1 – Destroy It
NOTE: Yes, I am aware I more or less panned a dub in the same article where I said most dubs are great. Shush…