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Pandora in the Crimson Shell Complete Collection Essentials Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

6 min read
Your mileage is going to vary on this one, kids.

Cute Robot Girls Save the World—with Fanservice!

What They Say:
From Shirow Masamune, the creator of Ghost in the Shell, comes a lighthearted story of two full-body cyborg girls and the unique bond that develops between them as they fight to save their home.

Nene Nanakorobi is your typical girl next door except for the fact that she’s a rare type of full-body cyborg. When she moves to Cenancle Island to live with her aunt, she runs into a wealthy inventor named Uzal Delilah. Surprisingly, this inventor just happens to have a full-body cyborg of her own named Clarion. Nene is thrilled to finally meet another cyborg and hopes that she and Clarion will be best friends. Luckily, this chance meeting is only the beginning of their adventures together.

From that point on, Nene and Clarion decide to team up by combing their powers through a special system called the Pandora Device—it’s Nene’s wish come true!

Or is it?

The Review:
The Blu-ray comes with two language tracks: Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0. English subtitles are provided for the hearing impaired or those who prefer their anime subbed rather than dubbed. I listened to the English track and had no issues with the sound.

Each episode is encoded in 1080p Dolby Digital (HD Native) in 16:9 aspect ratio and this is a very pretty series. The colors pop, and there were no issues with translation that I could see.

The series’ twelve episodes are spread over two Blu-ray discs, with episodes one through nine on disc one, and the rest on disc two. These discs are housed on the inside of the front and back covers, making the case profile nice and slim.

The front cover is a bit busy. Clarion stands in the foreground with Nene hugging her from behind. They’re surrounded by white lines and half-circles representing digital data and menus, and the background is a pleasant shade of pink that goes from almost white at the top to dark pink at the bottom. Not exactly crimson, but it does fit the show’s general attitude.

That color scheme continues on the spine, and forms the backdrop for the show’s title.

The back features your standard show summary, still photos, cast and crew credits, and Blu-ray specifications.

This is the second or third Essentials title I’ve reviewed, and the menus follow the same general design. The background image is the same as the image on the case, and underneath that is the menu options. Interestingly, the color scheme is different for Pandora. The image is the same, but the background color is gray, with the menu bar in a darker gray. The menu options are in black font, except for whichever one you’re selecting, which is in red. It’s pretty minimalist, but it functions well.

Standard clean Op/Ed and trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn is an adaptation of manga drawn by Kōshi Rikudō based on an idea by Masamune Shirow, who is best known for creating Ghost in the Shell. The manga first appeared in Newtype Ace magazine in October 2012 and was adapted into English by Seven Seas Entertainment. It’s a very fan-servicey story about two cute robot girls trying to save their home, and it’s both great and a more than a little cringe-worthy.

Nene Nanakorobi began life as a normal girl, but a mysterious, incurable illness forced her doctors to do a radical procedure and turn her into a full-body cyborg. The process was brutal and isolating, and Nene spent most of her childhood alone. The story begins with her on a cruise ship heading to Cenancle Island where she will live with her wealthy, brilliant, eccentric aunt. On the ship, Nene meets an equally wealthy, brilliant, eccentric scientist Uzal Delilah, and her (ward? Creation?) Clarion, who is also a full-body cyborg. Having never met another full-body cyborg (and certainly not one who has cat ears and dresses like a maid, because anime), and generally being rather naïve due to her life of isolation, Nene immediately becomes attached to Clarion—calling her “Clari” and hugging her every chance she can get. Clarion puts up with this with a saint’s patience, and grows to love Nene just as much as the girl loves her.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

All Hell breaks loose just about the second Nene and the others arrive on the island. A group of terrorists attack Uzal’s lab. Nene, wanting to protect her new friends, goes to save them, and during the fight, Uzal makes some upgrades to Nene’s chassis and A.I. that will help her work in tandem with Clarion.

Deep inside the catgirl cyborg is a device called the Pandora Drive. When Nene “interfaces” with Clarion, she can master any skill for a limited time. These skills can be combat-oriented or mundane. In the course of the show, she temporarily masters marksmanship, nursing, sewing, and even cooking. It’s very video game-ish and reminds me of the “job system” in many JRPGS.

I can’t really go further without describing how Nene and Clarion interface, and this will be the make-or-break point for many viewers. In order to grant Nene access the Pandora Drive, Clarion must lift up her skirt and expose her pantsu. The panties, by the way, are red, which makes me wonder if that’s the crimson shell of the show’s title. It’s probably more likely that show’s creators put about as much thought into the title as did Giallo filmmakers in the 1970s, going more for what sounded cool than what made sense, but I digress.

Exposing her panties opens a hatch just above her crotch, exposing an access terminal that Nene interfaces with her index finger, which I believe has a data port. They don’t physically touch. Instead, an arc of electricity (and, it’s implied, information) jumps from the terminal to Nene’s finger. Nene’s clothes then change to something appropriate to the job and then she’s ready to rock and roll.

So, yeah, even though there’s no touching, the sexual undertones are so explicit that they’re overtones. There are times when Nene and Clarion get close during this act, and they almost kiss. Clarion often gets a look on her face that can easily be construed as orgasmic pleasure when this happens. It’s the most egregious example of fanservice in the show, but hardly the only one. For example: the terrorists are all cosplaying girls, the leader of which dresses like a Playboy Bunny, Uzal is ridiculously stacked and wears skimpy clothes, and there’s a character name BUER that I don’t want to talk about, but have to.

So BUER is the central processing unit of a tool of mass destruction also called BUER. The CPU BUER (which I will just refer to as BUER from now on) is a small robot that looks like a cross between a lion, a sunflower, and a goat. He has five goat legs, including one that extends from his crotch that he often uses as a data interface.

BUER can go die in a fire. He’s annoying as hell and does nothing but talk like a drunk, out of work ham Shakespearean actor and makes gross sexual innuendos. The fanservice I can take or leave, but BUER is aggressively, unredeemabley annoying, so even if you can take the pseudo-masturbatory action of activating the Pandora Device, you might well find that this little sunflower lion goat is your breaking point.

Not surprisingly, the anime is all over the place, tonally. It’s got really sweet moments of cute girls doing cute things, it’s got fun action, and moments of drama, but they’ve been put in a blender, spiced with about a cup of fanservice, and pureed into a weird, often entertaining, often cringe-inducing slurry.

In Summary:
Your mileage is going to vary on this one, kids. While I enjoyed the cosplay elements, and the silly fun of the show, the fanservice got a bit much at times, and BUER—again—can go die in a fire. Dr. J gives this a…

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
TCL 50S425 50 inch 4K Smart LED Roku TV, Sony Playstation 4 w/HDMI Connection

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