What They Say:
Junior High student Jimon Asuta is in a fix. He had a big fight with his dad and was kicked out of the house. With no money and no place to live he shares the last of the food with an unusual little girl he encounters. It turns out she is Venera the Great, the leader of the secret organization Zvezda and committed to conquering the world. At first he thinks it is just a little girl’s fantasy, but strange events with weird technology soon prove that Zvezda is, in fact, for real.
Set in 2.0 Stereo in Japanese only, the track had no real issues in terms of standard quality or regarding delays to lip flaps or transition to subtitles. It is quite annoying when there is only one track considering the price (and lack of extras) and whilst the series is a tad obscure as well, the UK market is always a bit of a risk so wasn’t sure why this was very bare bones if that was the case, however there was no need to change my default settings with the audio so it is more than acceptable, just pretty much standard and that is it.
Video wise, colours were fine and flashy, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio, no problems video wise with subtitles synching, no video freezing or any slack animation when pausing the show, so overall a quality release – the uniqueness of the animation reminds me of the style of a Gurren Lagaan, or a bit more obscure, a Dokkodia, it is very colourful and energetic, and flows through quite well especially during the battle sequences (even combining it with dull scenes like the smokers) so can’t fault the animation or the video.
There was no packing for this test release.
The main menu has White Robin and White Egret on the left smiling and in poise, whilst the crew of Zvezda is on the right with Kate looking like she is shouting orders in battle position with robots and soldiers in the background of both side with a mysterious man in the middle shadowy, almost ghost like. Play All and Episodes only selection (no audio select due to just one track and no extras). Menu is easily accessible both from main menu and from the show but with no real selections need to be made; it is the most basic of the basic outside of the artwork.
There are no extras for this release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
You can quickly switch from having the greatest show you’ve seen to something quite the opposite, both in style…and in quality. My last review was of the gorgeous Gankutsou and then this was the next on my list, which is quite the taking the good with the bad. This series I will admit I hadn’t even heard from before, and with only a Japanese track release it probably explains why. The image of a half naked loli leading a group of adults has some potential amusement factor, and for the record, it does, but as for everything else…
The title is basically the plot – it is about a group called Zvezda, who are none other than a group settling for world conquest. This includes conquering dinner, school, smokers, and then THE WORLD! So yes, little baby steps at a time in this 13 episode series. And it starts like it is on crack. We are introduced to a young man named Asuta, who has run away seemingly unappreciated by his father. He bumps into a little girl named Kate, who he doesn’t know is this leader for world conquest…until she pretty much talks about it to his face. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t take it seriously and just plays along, but then…Japan’s defence force comes around to fight off a giant squid thing which when destroyed turns into bouncing slimes from Dragon Quest (sorry, was best description I could think of) and all controlled by the stuffed toy that Kate carries with her, and then drags Asuta over to her ‘base’.
And then no-one speaks of it again. It is pretty much the zaniest of the episodes, and doesn’t really introduce much aside from Kate and the base (and Asuta himself as well as his classmate Renge, one of the few real shining stars of the series). He thinks it is all a dream after wandering the streets from the aftermath, but at school the next day, a member of Zvezda, an eye-patch wearing strict girl named Itsuka drags him back to the base, as Kate sensed potential in him. We get the other members – Natasha, a mad scientist type girl, Yasu, a rather wimpy yes man, Goro, a huge guy who likes sweets, and Roboko…a robot girl who eats udo to get her strength. We are also introduced to the ‘good guys’ in White Light who are tasked with stopping Zvezda, so the episodes then combine a story for Zvedza to fight them…or something of their own doing, and we discover the potential Asuta had…
…he can cook. Yep, whilst he is a vital point, the episode was a punch line for Kate ‘conquering’ cooking. So the episodes not are pretty much episode until right the end, with the only unique thing is Asuta (now known as Dva) and one of the White Light have a rivalry/respect…which is obvious who the White Light member is, we get an episode which seems to showcase the creator or staff have a real hate for smokers, looking for more sources of power for Roboko (ironically of all the cast, the robot is probably the best developed) , when Kate and Roboko join Asuta’s school and join a treasure hunt which is a trap by White Light, and then we get introduced to White Light’s main leader Kaori who has some history with Goro – we do get the eventual reveals of who is who and a climax between White Light and Zvezda – all leading to basically why Asuta was running away in the first place, as his father is in fact the Governor of Tokyo as he is the first blockade to true world conquest…
…and then there is an OVA episode about Roboko wanting to be a school idol. Yeah, it’s as pointless as it sounds.
As you can tell, this isn’t really a series I liked that much. It wasn’t unwatchable, but I was definitely looking at how long was left of the episodes a lot. The huge problem is that with the fact none of the characters are defined well in the slightest. Not even Kate, who is pretty much supposed to be the star, she doesn’t say or do much to make you remember her (aside from being a half naked underage girl, NOT the attention I was looking for to remember a character) outside of the deus ex machina that is her plush toy, which doesn’t come into play after the 1st episode until right at the end. Strangely the show does have a gradual plot with the battle between White Light and Zvezda, but the issue is that there is no real back-story to either group – all the characters have brief flashbacks of how they were recruited, but the origins are non-existent, and what little there is, is quite forgotten quickly. They build up the other girl of White Light Miki as this uber-idol who can do anything, but as a member of White Light? Barely does anything outside of being an antagonist tool that is a contrast from Renge who is easily the most memorable character of the group. In fact, the one positive I can say is that at least the Asuta/Renge relationship is actually well explored – you can tell they have a crush on each other but are good friends to start, they have problems as enemies but once it is discovered, the two are pretty much on the run and there are even some tender and tough moments before the final battle.
Aside from that, they try to make you feel for the characters especially when the new girl Kaori is introduced – in just a couple of episodes she actually has more back-story than pretty much everyone in the cast – but bar the occasional moment with her and Goro (which granted does have an hilarious payoff) it is very forgettable. The quirky moments of the cast whether it is Itsuka being super strict but ultra nice to Kate, Roboko becoming more human (which is actually rather sweet at times), Goro enjoying his sweets and Yasu being the victim every time, they aren’t involved in the story long enough to make them memorable. Even Kate herself as mentioned has no real major back-story for her past until late in the series, which feels like they just tagged on at the end as an immortal girl who has been leader of Zvedza for centuries and her power to persuade humans to do her bidding does feel really tacked on.
The ending, which at least makes sense from Asuta’s point of view with his father being the main enemy as well as the fact he also wants to conquer does give a good finale at the end, and the story has at least progressed to that point that it makes sense. It just is not that memorable for the majority of the show that you struggle who half the characters are. At times the show can make you chuckle and the Asuta/Renge relationship is very cute at least, but it feels like it was very rushed, with plot just tagged on and hopefully making the characters at least interesting with their quirks, which it fails to do even in that. The show is colourful and unique in that regard, but sadly I find it hard to recommend to anyone – action, comedy, slice of life, mystery? It doesn’t really hit the mark on any of them and instead comes off as one big mess.
World Conquest at first reminded me a little of Excel Saga with its little conquering day by day and there are some amusing moments here and there. But whilst it is a short series, it really fails in grabbing the viewer on either a story standpoint or a comedy standpoint – it feels like it doesn’t know what series it is trying to be, and whilst the development of Renge/Asuta combined with a few choice moments doesn’t deem it unwatchable, you’ll likely watch it once and then forget all about it. Not really a series can recommend.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: February 1st, 2016
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.