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Arcade Gamer Fubuki Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Anime and video games are usually tied together, but Fubuki takes it to a whole new level.

What They Say:
Fubuki is a girl whose only goal in life is to be the best?at arcade games! In normal life, she?s a total spaz, but when it comes to arcades, Fubuki?s a whiz with special super-powers. When an evil organization steals her powers to gain world domination, Fubuki?s dream of winning the World Championship is in danger! She and her friends must battle the wackiest bunch of video game villains ever in a quest to make playing games fun again.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps as well as the English language mix in the same. The stereo mix is pretty straightforward with some good elements of directionality across the forward soundstage as the characters interact with each other as well as the sound effects from the fighting. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2001, the OVa is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Arcade Gamer Fubuki has some good quality looking animation but one fault that really makes the entire show hard to take in. The four OVA episodes in here are quite good looking in and of themselves, with smooth colors and a really good palette. The show manages to maintain a really great feel when it goes into video game mode, including the classic modes that are intentionally blocky, without it looking like a compression issue. But the episodes are so heavily laced with cross coloration that it was an eyesore throughout. The distraction level for it made it difficult to watch a lot of this. Beyond that, the show itself looked good and was light on things such as aliasing and macroblocking.

Part of CPM’s Collector Series, the Fubuki cover has a nice action shot of Fubuki reaching out while the background is the shot of an open stadium. As with most CPM releases, there’s plenty of text scattered all over the cover. This particular cover isn’t terribly eye-catching but it’s not horrid either. The back cover provides more ‘By the’ blurbs set to one shot of Fubuki in the stadium again. The summary is fairly minimal but does give the basic idea of the show’s premise. With a lot of extras on the discs, they take up a good chunk of real estate here along with the usual production information. The reverse side of the clear keepcase provides chapter listings for all four episodes and several shots of black and white artwork of Fubuki and others. The bilingual cast list and dual production credits fill out the remaining space.

The menu layout is cutely done as it opens with a video game feel of with both a Start mode and a Debug mode. Start lets the player kick into gear in English with sign subtitles while Debug lets you get to the full normal menu, which is also designed to look like a video game to some extent with the fonts and the general layout. The menus are nicely done and pleasantly in-theme, but I continue to wish that CPM’s discs would read the player defaults instead of defaulting to English. It’s not a hard thing since other studios have no problem doing it.

This series is loaded with Japanese language extras, much more than I expected. From various promotional spots, TV spots and trailers, you get to see how well marketed the show was. There’s a couple of music videos included as well for those that really get into the show. CPM comes through with their storyboard to animation sections again and the textless opening makes a welcome appearance, considering how busy the opening is. A couple of the really good things here is the bonus episode (a six minute spot of fun) and an interview with the voice actress for Fubuki. Unfortunately, since the show held little interest, I found little to entice me to do more than glance at most of the extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Held once every four years, gamers come from around the world to compete in the tournament to become the Best Arcade Gamer in the world. These are called BAG Tournaments, and like most tournaments, they start locally and work their way up to the really big ones. With this being anime and video games combined, it’s obvious this will be a very Japan-centric show.

We’re introduced to young Fubuki, the supposed ultimate gamer and the most promising one out there. Fubuki’s a whiz when it comes to video games and is able to excel far above the talents of others. BAG tournaments are something that really go above and beyond what you expect though. As we see one of the regional tournaments, the arena is an elaborate set of skyscrapers that fold down to reveal massive video screens so that the audience can see the game being played. The game? Why, it’s Crazy Climber, one of the classic 80’s games and it’s being projected on a skyscraper. It’s appropriate, it fits and it’s wacky. So Fubuki, in her cute little semi-sweatsuit outfit, goes up against her opponent who is twice her size and slams the controls with boxing gloves – boxing gloves of precision!

But Fubuki has an advantage that nobody else has. When her friend uses her special mini-fan and points it at Fubuki’s ass, it blows up her skirt and activates her white Passion Panties, a pair of panties that infuses the universal spirit of arcade gaming into her so that she can be the ultimate gamer.

Passion Panties!

Fubuki has the power to eventually become a huge threat to the Leader, a mysterious video game thing that has plans to conquer the world. With the threat of Fubuki as she continues to gain power and strength, he instructs his video game minions to head out into the world and stop her. This gets accomplished by bringing in a young Osakan champion girl named Chizuru who will give Fubuki a run for her money. After all, she’s been gifted with the black pair of Passion Panties! Add in a weird secondary cast of characters such as Fubuki’s best friend Hanako who helps her practice to the musclebound hooded Mr. Mystery that offers advice, you have a strange and wacky cast that plays well in this world. The bad guys, the Gulasic Group, are fairly amusing as well. While the lead woman is fairly normal in a way, her minions are all brightly colored video game looking demons, just in human form. It’s hard to explain.

The show also mixes in a lot of actual video game animation. There’s a moment where we see a young Fubuki playing Out Run in her father’s lap, or when she plays a particular game we see the actual game footage itself. Sometimes when the Gulasic Group attacks, the video game world meshes over with them. There’s a particularly good moment when Fubuki and Hanako are walking to school and all of a sudden the screen gets all ’16 bit mode’ and you have huge rolling pins coming at them via a sidescroller perspective and they run up and down to avoid them.

There are a lot of interesting things here for gamers and anime fans that are heavy gamers, but there’s something about the comedy level of this show that just didn’t work with us. With it being such a strong component, if you’re not laughing you’re more than likely checking the countdown timer. The frantic moments of watching the gamers compete here are interesting at times, but there’s not enough grounding in some sort of reality to make it connect. I know, I know, grounding in reality in anime? Especially one with a video game universe? It’s just me, but I have a hard time watching a show where two people compete on their own arcade cabinets while the cabinet itself is riding on a typhoon tunnel while the gamer is hanging upside down in midair playing due to the gaming spirit of the universe being activated by their panties.

Sorry. Ten years ago when these games were already ten years old, maybe I would have found more to connect with and enjoyed it more. But at this stage, I can’t find much enjoyment here, especially since the visuals were so distracting due to the cross coloration that was like a character of its own.

In Summary:
Fans of the show will likely enjoy this release overall, though the video quality will be dependent on your setup. For everyone else, this is a real crap shoot that goes based on your sense of humor. I’ve found less and less comedy anime series to be enjoyable lately so this didn’t surprise me too much. This show just has too much of a frantic nature at times and tries to do too much with too many bits of comedy that I just didn’t find funny at all. While the show is technically well done for the most part, that element that makes a person laugh simply wasn’t there for me.

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Japanese TV Spots, Bonus Episode, Music Videos, Storyboard Comparisons, Textless Opening, Voice Actress Interview, Art Gallery, Festival Promotional Trailer

Content Grade: D+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: March 9th, 2004
MSRP: $29.99
Running Time: 140 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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