What They Say:
In the future, Tokyo is a desolate place. After a massive earthquake, the city struggles to survive. The old city is in ruins. Acid rain falls from the sky. And worst of all, evil beings called Lucifer Hawk have invaded Earth to destroy humanity. Earth s last line of defense is a secret branch of the Police, the AMP. Its members include the psychic, Yuki, the cyborg Kiddy, the Shinto priestess Nami, the visionaire Lebia, and their chief, the mysterious Rally Cheyenne. But they re about to get a new and powerful new member. Katsumi Liqueur, a woman with strange powers and a dark past, is about to join the fight. The battle for Earth is in the hands of these powerful women…but will that be enough?
The audio presentation for this release is solid all around, but is definitely reflective of the time from whence it came. The series has a rather basic stereo mix to it that doesn’t have much in the way of any real impact, even with the 256kbps encoding it has. The show is really more a dialogue piece than an action one but when the action does kick in it doesn’t feel all that different or stand out all that much. It’s certainly not bad but it is rather basic and doesn’t really engage the viewer all that much. Where it counts though is that it’s a problem free mix with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the Japanese track and no issues with the spot checking we did of the English mix.
Originally airing in 1998, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Part of the new wave of TV series released during this time period, it uses some basic digital animation to it, Silent Möbius manages to have a really solid transfer for the most part. The main fault that will be found with it, outside of some aliasing during some panning sequences, is the dreaded cross coloration. This release contains the same discs as were released in 2002 so there aren’t any changes to it so the problem is still there. The problem is certainly minimized with the progression of technology though and the cross coloration issue is far reduced compared to what we had seen before due to the various filters and such that are available via the hardware we’re using today.
After being released in a series of double disc sets, the complete collection edition of Silent Möbius is done up in a basic brick set that contains all the original discs, complete with the awkward volume numbering. The front cover is surprisingly dark though appealing as it uses a good if murky illustration of Katsumi in her uniform sitting on Grosspoliner while the shadowed image of her father’s face is behind her along with the pentagrams that make up the magical side of the show. The back cover is just as dark as it uses the pentagrams again for the backdrop over which the summary is done up in a difficult to read sci-fi font. Grosspoliner is laid at an angle here and to the right side of it there is a good small collage of shots from the show. The bottom portion has a lot of small font production credits and the standard minimal technical grid. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Using the pentagram from the show as well as parts of the logo with the lightning crackling over it, the main menu loads up to the opening song and looks and sounds great. There’s little to the discs outside of playing the show as every other disc is the one that contains the extras, so the menus are fairly minimal but nicely styled with solid access times. The layout is a bit awkward at times since it uses the pentagram layout but everything highlights which is a nice plus when selected. Language selection is also good in that it highlights what’s selected and each disc correctly read our players’ language presets.
The extras for this release aren’t a surprise but they are rather weak and part of the less than clear vision Bandai Entertainment had back then. The extras are relegated to the even numbered volumes as the original release was done as double disc sets. The second volume has a clean opening sequence and the fourth volume has a clean ending sequence. The final volume ups it a little bit with a karaoke version of the opening and ending sequences, with English, romaji and Kanji listed across the screen as they play back. Unfortunately, these are extras that I felt should be available on each and every volume.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the twelve volume manga series by Kia Asamiya, Silent Möbius is a twenty six episode series that fuses together sorcery and technology in a way that is both compelling and simply a lot of fun to watch. The series came out a few years before Asamiya got around to finally ending the manga so it was easy to go into it without expecting to get the same kind of ending. Of course, considering how long it took Viz Media to release their translated manga version, it really didn’t matter anyway. Now some ten years after the series first came out and six years after the US release of it, we’ve taken a look at the show in marathon form to see how it stands the test of time.
Silent Möbius is certainly a product of its time and it is one that is starting to show more signs of its age now. The series is one that covers a fair bit of time which works to its advantage as the characters are all older and dealing with larger things than just their own personal problems. The world of Silent Möbius takes place in 2024, but its origins start off in 1999 when a man named Gigelf Liqueur is involved with a massive project in Tokyo that ends up ruining ninety percent of the world, taking mankind to the brink of destruction. In the time since then, mankind has retreated to massive cities that are spread across the world and things have returned to a kind of normalcy as humanity adapts. The causes of the incident back in 1999 are still ongoing, though they’ve been muted in the years since.
Like a lot of series of this nature, everything hinges on a crucial change that can help the viewer connect with everything. For Silent Möbius, that hook is the arrival of a young woman named Katsumi Liqueur who has been brought in to Tokyo to meet with people who know things about her long dead father. To her surprise, what she’s really been brought in for is to join a new police force that’s been created called the Attack Mystification Police Department. In 2024, the police departments are run by corporate sponsors and a large board of them oversees everything about them. This new department has been created to deal with a specific problem which becomes apparent with Katsumi’s arrival.
The world is being invaded, albeit slowly, by a race of creatures dubbed Lucifer Hawks. The Lucifer Hawks are fairly interesting in that they come from a parallel world where their planet is becoming purified and it’s increasingly difficult for them to exist. On Earth, our world is becoming increasingly poisoned which makes it difficult to live. The Gaea Project that started in 1999 was designed so that each side could swap issues and enter a golden age, but nothing went according to plan at the last minute which left Earth devastated. The Lucifer Hawks have begun to make their way to Earth now from Nemesis and they’re searching for the key to the gate that will usher in a new era for them. Katsumi is obviously that key due to her father and the abilities she displays. The downside is that Katsumi wants nothing to do with any of this.
Of course, that can only go on for so long before the pressures and threats of living in such a world are realized and Katsumi is drawn into everything. Much of the first half of the show involves her getting acquainted with the other members of the AMP and pulling out all sorts of standard little character stories that explain their backgrounds and personalities. Katsumi is a strong woman but one who is conflicted about her past, even more so when she starts to really understand her nature. The AMP is led by Rally Cheyenne, a mysterious woman whose on past is heavily tied to that of the Lucifer Hawks. She’s ably served by Mana Isozaki whose on true nature isn’t revealed until closer to the end which means she serves as little more than a cipher for much of it.
While Rally and Mana make up the administrative side of the AMP, it’s the rest of the women that really flesh it out as it goes forward. Katsumi is the one whose view we see them all through and understand them with. The group is part of the ideal make up in that everyone has a part to play to make it successful. Lebia Maverick is the genius cyberwizard who has a long family history with all of this. You have Kiddy Phenil, the barbarian character who has become more and more cyborg as time goes on after having an accident involving a Megadyne cyborg. Yuko Saiko is the cute and optimistic young woman who has precognitive powers and the kind of personality to make the place feel like a family. And then you have Nami Yamigumo, the only one to not wear the uniform as she’s a priestess of sorts who has an even lengthier family history tied to all of this. As they come together in dealing with Katsumi, their small back stories come out and the entire team gets fleshed out with connections to the past.
If there is any character that bothers me, it’s Lum Cheng. Silent Möbius introduces a solid supporting cast along the way, particularly romantic interests for Kiddy and Katsumi, that when Lum Cheng gets introduced around the halfway point it feels really forced. The show takes on a similar tone to the first half as the brash new brat is introduced and is intent on doing everything herself, just like we saw with Katsumi when she first really got on board with everything. The reasons for her being there are certainly covered along the way, particularly when it comes to Katsumi’s boyfriend Roy, but out of all the characters she’s the one that just grates on me and feels tacked on and useless.
As Silent Möbius tells its tale, the show balances things out well between the epic and the personal. The character stories and the connections built are very much key to the show, and it helps immensely that the characters are all in their mid twenties at the start of the show. As the show goes on, the ties to the past become more crucial to the larger storyline and we even get one episode spent entirely dealing with Gigelf and how he met Katsumi’s mother and all that’s involved with the Sorcerers’ Guild. What really makes this show just so damn enjoyable on a certain level however is the progression of time. The series starts off in 2024, does its flashbacks to 1999, then continually advances things until 2030. While the characters admittedly don’t age visibly, the progression helps quite a lot in giving this a bigger feeling, one where events aren’t happening so quickly that they’re spiraling out of control.
With this series having come out just during the beginning of the transitional phase to digital animation techniques, it retains an old school traditional look to it which can be pretty off putting for newer fans. The series generally avoids CG animation in general until the last couple of episodes where it introduces a surprising amount of it, almost like they got a new toy around that time. Looking at the show in marathon form for the first time since seeing it back in 2002, I found that everything held up better than I thought it would in terms of telling the overall story. But it’s a story that is going to be hampered by the animation style since it doesn’t have a look that could be considering current. The timeline also impacts its ability to relate to a newer audience as well, but these are small things. For those that enjoy science fiction tales of this manner, there is a lot to like here. Silent Möbius just isn’t aging all that well however and is likely to feel even more dated as the years go on.
Silent Mobius was a property that I had always enjoyed, but it never felt like it could break through to real critical mass, particularly with the TV series. Having first been introduced to it through the movies, that obviously colors my view a bit of it. Though the two don’t directly affect each other, they support it in that the TV series is a much stronger fleshed out view of the property overall and is quite enjoyable. It is a show that’s worth taking in over a shorter period of time so that you can follow the small nuances and nods that make it into it. The franchise has achieved something of a cult status over the years, from its original manga run to the movies, but the TV series just never clicked in the same way which is a shame. This is certainly worth checking out though and each collection presents the whole thing in a very easy to grab package.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening, Textless Ending, Karaoke Version
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Release Date: July 11th, 2003
Running Time: 650 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.