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Ariel Anime DVD Review

6 min read

One of the original Authentic Anime shows from Central Park Media’s branded line.

What They Say
Earth is under alien invasion, and it’s time for one mad scientist to unleash his world-saving creation: ARIEL, a huge robot in giant leotards! While humanity scratches its head, the good doctor scrambles to find some reluctant teenage girls to pilot his creation.

The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo and encoded at 192kbps. The track is a basic stereo mix but considering its age, it’s really not much more than a decent sounding mono mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout without any noticeable dropouts or distortions, but there’s also practically no real directionality as everything just fills up the entire soundstage. For what it is, it definitely serves its purpose.

Originally released back in 1989, the show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Outside of a full on HD restoration, what we see here is about as good as it’s probably going to get. There’s very little wrong in terms of the encode, but the print itself is showing some age with a fair amount of nicks and scratches throughout and some other very minor print damage. Colors look good if a bit soft here and there and there’s very little cross coloration. Aliasing crops up during some of the more detailed and fast-panning sequences, but nothing terribly distracting.

The front cover works a really fun design with a very busy late 50’s alien invasion movie poster with the way the characters are posed, the flying jets, aliens and the mix of the city backdrop against the flames. Lots of colors and it stands out fairly well, even though it’s somewhat dark. The back cover has a nice shot of the leads for the series and provides a small summary of the shows premise. The discs features and formats are all nice and clearly listed. The reverse side provides a number of black and white pictures throughout while also providing the Japanese cast and the discs chapter stops and other basic production information.

The main menu uses the trio’s image from the back cover and sets it next to the ARIEL logo and has bits of animation playing inside of that to the marching song that’s just bloody infectious. The menus are nice and clean with no transitional animations which provide for a fast moving experience with good access times.

With older shows it can be a mixed bag whether you get lots of extras or nothing at all. This release has an art gallery that’s menu-driven piece instead of a video gallery and it has a number of good shots from the show as well as some really nice cels. The ARIEL promo tape runs about 2 1/2 minutes that looks like it was used to interest English speaking folks to pick up because it’s dubbed in English and has all sorts of English text mixed onto it. ARIEL’s Tech Files is a 2 minute Japanese video that goes into the technical aspects of the mech, such as height and the type of weapons. The final extra is ARIEL’s song, which also runs just under 2 minutes, and is basically a karaoke music video with the Japanese language along the bottom and CPM soft subbing both the romaji and English translations.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As I said when I first saw this, what a wacky smacky show this.

First off, let’s just talk about the oddball way this show is set up. We start off with Episode IV and that comes in two thirty minute parts. Then we go back to the beginning in two fifty minute or so episodes. But what’s even more amusing is that since this is CPM’s Authentic Anime line, when they show “Episode IV” in the opening animation, it’s subtitled as Episode 1.

Whoosh, authenticity takes a new direction.

Once you get past the herky jerky way the story is told, it’s pretty simple. We’re thrown into the show headfirst here as we’re introduced to the trio of women who pilot a large female shaped mech. Created by Dr. Kishida, who knew an alien invasion would one day happen, he used the National Science Center to build ARIEL and then got his niece and two granddaughters to fight in it. Mia, his niece, is the older of the three as she’s in college. She hates how this all interferes with their private lives.

Aya and Kazumi are sisters are the granddaughters to Kishida. Aya absolutely hates everything about ARIEL and often refuses to even get involved when the aliens attack. Kazumi though is very gung-ho for it and turns out to be one of the best pilots when she’s actually focused on the job at hand. Inbetween the fighting with the aliens, Aya tries to study, Kazumi takes up dating and Mia just tries to keep her life going.

The aliens in this little adventure are a tad odd. From what can be gathered, the Earth has been assigned to a subcompany to invade and take over and then its resources can be properly plundered. The company that got assigned to it is a decent one, but when they ran up against ARIEL, their budget went out the window. Their space fortress encompasses all things that people need in life, including jobs unrelated to taking over planets. So when the budget goes, well, it starts looking like the world today with 10% unemployment, shops closing and the inability to launch new attacks.

The ships commander, Houser, also has the problem of the ships accountant, a beautiful blonde woman named Simone, who insists she has to authorize everything from here on out due to the lack of funds. All of this gets tossed to the wind though when Houser’s old academy chum Ragnus returns from the Frontier and uses his superiority to take over the operation and smash the ARIEL and everything associated with it.

In Summary:
It all sound straightforward and similar to a lot of other shows, but it just feels oh so campy. This is the kind of show that I’d been picking up in the late 80’s that made me wonder if I should continue getting involved in anime if this was all there was. Seeing this again, some thirty odd years after it was originally released, it doesn’t seem as bad and I definitely know more than I did then, but this kind of show just continues to fall flat with me. For those who are fans, this is a great release. With a low price point and more extras than one usually gets from a show of this age, it’s definitely worth upgrading or adding to your collection.

Japanese Language, English Subtitles, Original Promotional Video, Art Gallery, Ariel’s Song, Ariel’s Tech Specs

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

Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: February 11th, 2003
MSRP: $19.99
Running Time: 143 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG2
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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