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Burn Up! Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Burn Up CoverBurn Up! returns to the market as it’s one of the real classic OVA series out there where everything is just done right.

What They Say
Maki, Reimi and Yuka may not look like ace crime fighters, which is why they’re stuck on traffic patrol, but all that changes when Yuka gets herself kidnapped. Then Maki and Reimi must don skin-tight battle armor and teach the kidnapper that when you play with fire, you’re going to get burned!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language and previously created English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. The stereo mix for it is pretty decent but with its age there isn’t all that much really noteworthy about how the forward soundstage comes across as it has a pretty full feeling overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released to video in 1991, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. While this isn’t terribly old by a lot of standards, so much has changed over the years that a show that looks like this is vastly different from what’s out there today. The transfer for it has held up really well though depending on how close you sit and the size of your monitor, you’ll notice some of the usual flaws of a traditionally animated show like this, such as bits of dirt and dust as well as some little nicks and scratches. These are very minimal overall but they do exist. There are some very light touches of cross coloration in a few scenes, typically along the line-scratches that are considered noses, but it’s a source issue more than anything else. The show overall has held up really well over the years with this transfer and it looks great watching now compared to how it looked back in ’95 when ADV first released it.

The cover art changes from its 2004 release a fair bit but it still retains a few pieces from it. Taking out all the secondary characters, the focus is on Maki but shifted to the left while the police car is given more cover space as there’s lots of dead space around both of them. It’s a bit unfortunate that the other girls don’t appear on the front because they each bring something different to the show. The back cover has a good looking large shot of Maki looking all violent while the rest of the cover is given over to the usual details. The summary is brief but gets the point across, the screenshots included are good pieces that show off different aspects of it and the bottom is filled with the usual production and technical information. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.

The layout is pretty standard with a static background image of Maki and one of the police cars zipping along set to a very brief set of music and some chase sounds as well. The selections are lined along the left and are pretty minimal since there aren’t any extras or scene selection submenus. Access times are nice and fast and the menus are easy to navigate and fast to load. As is the norm with a Sentai Filmworks release, our language presets were read without problem and the disc played properly.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When they say they don’t make them like this anymore, there are good and bad reasons for that. One of the good reasons is that even as enjoyable as it is, and it is quite enjoyable, it’s a wholly predictable piece that is very emblematic of what so many OVAs were like at this time. One of the bad reasons is that the days of the 45-60 minute OVAs have long since been dead and I think there’s a certain charm to them since they basically act as a self-contained story in one release that’s roughly the same as watching any prime-time drama series.

Burn Up is a show that when writing out the name makes me want to append different letters or words to it as this show has spawned a fair number of sequels over the years and continues to this day to spawn spin-offs. Unlike those spin-off’s and sequels, though, the original was more of a rough and tumble serious piece with some humor mixed in, much like many of the big Hollywood action films of the time as opposed to the overly gratuitous fan service and goofy comedy pieces that followed. With a lead trio of City Police girls named Maki, Reimi and Yuka, there’s a good amount of sex appeal here but they don’t beat you over the head with it. Even when they go into the skintight outfights to fight crime at the end, they’re at least really just layered bulletproof pieces that try to give some respect towards reality.

The plot for the show is very straightforward. A number of girls have been kidnapped as of late in a certain part of the city and it’s believed that they’re retrained and reeducated and sold off to powerful men who then have their way with them as they please. They know who is behind it but they don’t have the evidence to even knock on his door about it just yet so the police are constantly restraining from taking action. The exception for this comes in the form of an attractive blonde named Maki. She’s not an airhead ditz but she does like getting the job done and takes a forward approach with it. When chasing the latest kidnapping victim in a high-speed pursuit, she has no trouble using her shotgun to kill one of the back seat passengers and letting his blood splatter all over the young girl. It gets her grief and the predictable paperwork, but it’s a good insight into how she works.

With two of her fellow officers and her boyfriend Kenji, also an officer, they find that everything seems to be centered on a particular club in the city. Though told not to get involved, the trio get dressed up to dance and head to the club to check things out and see if they can find any clues. Of course, everything goes wrong and Yuka finds herself the latest kidnap victim and the other two get the stuffing beat out of them by the gangster’s hired assassin. With their friend captured deep inside the main complex and presumably the others as well, Maki and Reimi make the decision to ignore orders and take down the bad guy once and for all. Add in lots of action and spread out over forty-five minutes and you get a very enjoyable OVA show. It’s got all the ingredients and other than the predictable factor, it plays them out very well.

One of the big draws here are the very appealing character designs by Kenji Miyazaki. The women are all attractive without going for that over-endowed look, they’re distinct to themselves and there’s a certain life to them since this is so well animated. When they shift to the armor design in the last quarter of the movie, it’s done for fanservice of course but even then they’re designed in a solid way and attempt to actually provide some defense as opposed to being just thinly disguised skin tight clothing designed to titillate. The designs also do well when they go for the sultry side of things such as Yuka’s bra and panties and Maki’s towel. Poor Reimi gets left out of that action, though.

In Summary:
Burn Up is one of the classics of the genre and very representative of what was coming out for a couple of years. The babes with guns genre is easily defined by shows like this though the genre itself ended up becoming so focused on the babes aspect that it went overboard and killed itself. Burn Up avoids being a problem in that department as the women here are characters are not just walking breasts with guns. Though it’s barely forty-five minutes, there’s plenty of time to get to like the characters and have favorites as well as enjoying all the action and gunplay.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 14th, 2009
MSRP: $14.98
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
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.

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