The hardship of catching mischievous magical balls.
What They Say:
The Magic Spheres are incredibly dangerous and powerful magical artifacts, capable of absorbing negative emotions and transforming everyday objects into monstrous BEMs (bug eyed monsters). So when a demon manages to scatter six of them through the gate between the World of Magic and Earth, someone’s got to get them back. Unfortunately, that job falls to master of disguise (and fan-servicey costumes) Lime, the sometimes monstrous and generally lecherous monster hunter Bass, and their ooey-gooey shape-shifting slime companion Poogie, none of whom are probably the best choices for a task of such monumental importance and urgency.
On the other hand, the whole situation is sort of their fault to begin with, and while their decision to infiltrate a Japanese high school may seem a bit oddly timed, at least it gets them a new friend in the form of cute but clueless schoolgirl Miyuki! Will this motley band of would be BEM hunters be up to the task of fingering panty stealing pocket purses, pinning down living syringes with nastily pointed agendas and turning up the heat on malevolent candles intent on snuffing out entire cities?
The audio presentation for this release is about as one would expect as we get the original Japanese language track and the previously created English language dub in stereo, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The series is one that certainly shows its age a bit here as it’s largely a center channel based mix with a bit of loudness to it that carries things through in a decent enough way to serve the material. There’s plenty of magic, action and silliness here but it has a very basic design about it that doesn’t flex much outside of the warmer opening and closing sequence pieces. And even then there’s not all that much. That said, it does fit the material well and it comes across clean and problem free during regular playback, which is about all you can really ask for here.
Originally released in 1996, the transfer for this three part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show has its original opening and closing sequences intact here and all the translation credits occur at the end of the third episode since this is a rescue release. Animated by Aishi Production, the OVAs are pretty much the epitome of what 90’s OVA series were about. It takes some of the good styling of the 80’s material and bumps it up a bit, but without going into a full slick mode during the start of the transitional period of how anime was changing in terms of color and depth. Traditionally animated, there’s a lot of detail to take in here with the backgrounds and the character designs and it’s well handled for the most part with this standard definition transfer. It’s not a hugely rich work but it’s not a paint by the numbers piece either. The transfer captures the colors well with a largely solid feeling about them, some good black levels when needed and it’s free of any noticeable cross coloration, though there’s a few moments of line noise here and there during a couple of panning sequences that’s representative of the age of the materials.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD case to hold the single disc inside. The front cover definitely shows its time origin pretty well, but it’s a bright, colorful and busy piece that works nicely in showing off the designs and the overall style of the series. The logo is certainly cute as it updates slightly with stronger color tones but keeps to the bouncy aspect of the original design in a good way. The back cover is traditionally laid out as we get a nice shot of Lime along the left below the Pokemon reference tagline and there’s two lines of shots from the show, though they feature mostly dark backgrounds which may not be the way to go. The premise is rather dense for such a simple show, but it all works well. Add in the production credits and technical grid and you’ve got a solid looking release with no inserts nor a reversible cover.
THe menu design for this release certainly does what it can to bring things up to date a bit while still keeping to the tone of the original. The color design is pretty good with the pinks, whites and blues used through the left side with the navigation, which is obviously simple with just the episode selection and languages as there’s no real special features to be had here. The right side gives us a very clean close-up of Lime that’s not used on the cover artwork, which is also really appreciated. It’s bright, colorful and engaging. Submenus when used are quick to load and easy to use and we had no problems in moving about to set things up or go through them after viewing the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the 1993 Japanese PC game of the same name, Jewel BEM Hunter Lime was animated by Aishi Production and ran for three episodes in 1996 through 1997. The show got a rather early pickup at the time from Media Blasters, who grabbed it in 2000 and brought it out in bilingual form before it eventually went out of print and the license expired. Now, after all these years, the show has been picked up again by Sentai Filmworks. It may seem like an odd title to grab, but realistically all the hard work has been done prior. It’s dubbed, it just needs a clean-up of the subtitles and it has a background bit of knowledge from fans that makes it a curiosity title to pick up, especially since it’s short and cheap. And since we’re always glad to see out of print titles come back, I can’t really complain about it in that sense because there are always new fans to be discovered for a show.
It’s been well over a decade since I last saw it and it’s certainly not changed much over the years. Some shows you can find new meaning in as you get older and your experiences change you. With Jewel BEM Hunter Lime, what you see is what you get. And there is a nice bit of simple nostalgia to be had here without all the weight of a larger series or something that’s considered more well known and important in a way. With its traditional animation, fun designs that are nicely detailed and a sense of old school pervertedness that really does seem quaint compared to other series (but still against the rules of society today), Jewel BEM Hunter Lime delivers us a straightforward action piece that’s fun without requiring a lot of thought or effort on the viewers part. It’s charming in its simple little way.
The series revolves around Lime and Bass, two people from the magical world that are in pursuit right at the start of a demon that has stolen six magical spheres and has escaped through a portal that opens once a month to the human world. The two have to manage to stop the demon, but not before the six spheres scatter into Japan. That forces them to head into the human world to retrieve them before they cause too much trouble. Lime is a straightforward type with a bit of bounce to her personality as she’s intent on completing the mission and doing what’s needed, though at the same time trying to force a lot of the hard work on Bass. Bass is your standard worker grunt type, who also doubles as the muscle as he can transform his body into something a little more demonic looking that’s strong, but the two work well together while also having Poogie along with them, a little yellow ball that serves multiple functions.
You can see where the show goes easily enough as each episode has them dealing with one of the spheres that has locked onto something in the human world and is now causing trouble. The first episode has it getting stuck inside a candle that wants revenge as the world turned to electricity and it got cast aside while the second episode has a change purse that takes on a life as it tries to figure out its purpose in life, thinking it needs to be a criminal for most of it. That has the trio trying to actually help it so it can move on to the next life with fulfilment, thereby getting the sphere back. The third one involves a syringe that has come to life as C. Ringe who wants vengeance for the way they’re viewed as the bad guys that cause pain when their real function is to help people by getting the medicine in them. Each of the spheres give the things they take over a really cartoonish look and personality that works surprisingly well as it’s just plain goofy and silly. Particularly Moneybags as he doesn’t know what his mission in life should be and we see how Bass and Lime try to help him commit crimes but each instance ends up helping someone out instead, making it impossible for him to cross over. He’s so child-like through a lot of it, so innocent in a way, that you can’t help but to laugh at it.
And really, that’s all there is to this show. Simple, basic, laughs. It’s an easy show to vilify because there’s not a lot there and it is a monster of the week kind of thing, just in OVA form. And not high quality OVA form. You almost get the sense that this was a trial to bring it to TV and make an extended show there, which would have probably followed the same pattern and gotten really tired after awhile. It has a curious mix of simple cartoon kind of stories to it while also adding in a lot of little pervy moments as well, making it less than clear what the real target audience is. The show didn’t really find one in the end though, in Japan or abroad, but it’s a light and fluffy piece that certainly reminds me why I like animation from this time period and wish we were getting more of it. There’s a simplicity about it that’s just charming and enjoyable.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.