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Coyote Ragtime Show: Cliffhanger Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Mister and the others try to find a way to Graceland and face… a few obstacles.

What They Say:
Mister and his misfits are at it again! Their mission: to make their way to Planet Graceland before it gets blasted into the afterlife. Their motive: 10 billion dollars in hidden treasure. But it ain’t gonna be easy. Mister and his band of Coyotes could get busted by the Feds, blown away by Madame Marciano and her bevy of brainy, ballistic, gothic Lolita battle babes, or worst of all, done in by their own bombastic bumbles. On top of all that, the insatiable, sexy investigator Angelica Burns and her plucky assistant Chelsea have a new weapon in their arsenal: the disembodied head of Marciano’s daughter May.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language as well as an English dub and it’s a little unusual both for the time and now. The Japanese mix for this is a solid sounding 5.1 mix at 448kbps that really does a good job of keeping the overall level of immersion in the show. Though the rears don’t get a ton of work, there’s some good fun to be had there during the big action sequences as well as with the subwoofer channel. Dialogue is well placed throughout all of this with a good level of clarity and distinction. The English 5.1 mix is essentially identical and does a very good job as well. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials for the show are obviously in good shape so we have no problems with that in this release and the actual encoding itself looks to have come across well. Colors have a good solid look to them, backgrounds avoid looking like they’re alive for the most part, and typical problems of cross-coloration and aliasing aren’t here at all. The style of the show sometimes looks a little problematic, particularly scenes that seem to revolve around Angelica, as they look a little brighter than they should be which means a slight loss of detail. This overblown look seems to be intentional though as most other scenes are consistently solid.

Packaging:
Not many covers from ADV Films tend to have silver foil on them from this period so it’s fairly noteworthy when they did go this route. Coyote Ragtime Show runs with an orange background but one with the series logo wrapped around it continuously in silver. Overlaid on that is a good shot of Mister and Franca together where Franca stands out in the foreground nicely. It’s not a hugely striking cover for its artwork but the combination of it and the foil forces it to be eye-catching.  The back cover uses the angled style that the front cover background does and mixes in more of the silver foil with some of the taglines as well as adorning the numerous shots from the series. The summary is rather lengthy but it covers a lot of the basics while still giving plenty of space to the production information. A rather nice change-up is that the technical grid is through the center and at an angle but still manages to cover everything in a clean and readable manner. No insert or reverse side artwork is available with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is very minimal which is a shame since there are a number of creative options they could have gone for. While it’s not a static menu, the only thing that’s here is a big area of red for the background and a close-up of a gun from the side that bobs up and down ever so slightly as some fast-paced instrumental music plays along. The navigation strip of episode selection along with the series title is through the center and the extras and languages are down at the bottom. There are some good minimal menus out there that fit the theme of the show well but this one just feels weak. Access times are solid and the disc gets a plus just for the continual fact that their releases read our player presets.

Extras:
The extras are fairly standard here as there’s a selection of production artwork in a gallery as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the show being released in three volumes it becomes easy to view the show in the three acts that it is. The first volume got us introduced to the characters and the overall premise while this one is all about getting to the destination. That part of an adventure story like this is never easy as it’s used to show the strength of the enemy as well as strengthen the bonds between the leads as they go after their goal. Coyote Ragtime Show plays with three different plots as it works towards the destination that will be in the third volume and most of them are pretty enjoyable to watch play out. Each of the three sides that are at play have their pluses to them and in different ways, you can root for all of them even as they work against each other.

The weakest of the stories is the one that has us following Angelica as she continues her pursuit of Mister. The other things she’s learned along the way are being followed by her but it’s her dogged pursuit of Mister all these years that keep her focus. With plenty of leads to follow and a lot of activity going on out there compared to past Mister jobs, she’s able to deduct his plans pretty easily. Having one of the Marciano Sisters in her grasp helps a lot as well and provides for some very amusing scenes. Having her head inside of a birdcage is comical enough but swinging it wildly in a terminal in order to shut her up is a surprising moment that just speaks a lot about her character. Angelica’s lengthy history with Mister means that when she starts to see some of the other things going on during this caper she has to question exactly what’s going on as opposed to what she’s been told.

The Marciano side of the storyline is one that’s a lot of fun to watch as this woman is just priceless. Her cold nature has some surprising warmth to it as she intends to capture Franca in order to get what she needs to find Bruce’s legacy. With so much money at stake, she’s even willing to go against other Guild members to gain it. The loyal following of Sisters that she has working for her makes a lot of her ambitions possible but it’s her reputation that allows for most of it at this point. When her ship arrives at the Big Pink gate, the administrators there are overly eager to give her anything she wants since denying her could lead to the entire thing being blown away. She also has a great moment where she rails against the Guild in general for how soft and “corporate” it’s become, declaring her Guild to be the true Criminal Guild that will inspire others to greatness.

The meat of the storyline though is centered around Mister and his crew. With there being only so much time to get to Graceland before the photonic bomb goes off, they have to work a little magic to get there. The caper involves getting on board a gate terminal and making their way to the Graceland gate. It sounds simple but with that planet undergoing the crisis that it’s in, the gate itself isn’t accessible. So the crew has to work a couple of angles to set things up so they can rig it and force their way through, saving enough time to get there and find the money. The plan is complicated enough with plenty of variables but it all goes downhill when Marciano arrives and her very angry Sisters are out for blood.

Coyote Ragtime Show plays out in a fun if Hollywood manner at times as a science fiction series. It has lots of big bold action moments that sound particularly wonderful if you’ve got a 5.1 setup going with an active subwoofer. While there isn’t anything that stands out in terms of how the show looks as it borrows from a wide range of inspirations, it’s all pulled together well. The animation looks good, the character designs are pretty attractive and the pacing really kept me going from episode to episode without wanting to take any kind of break. If only they hadn’t named him Mister…

This volume has a couple of things worth noting about it in the technical sense. On the downside, the last episode at the end has a bit of narration to it that sets the stage for the next volume. It’s, unfortunately, missing from the English track for some reason. Watching the show in English with the subtitles on has shown a good adaptation all around without many deviations but this stood out as a real surprise.

In Summary:
Coyote Ragtime Show continues to be a surprise with this volume as all the early buzz I’d heard painted it as a terrible show. I still remember how during my first watch of it years ago that anyone that I talked to about it that is outside of online fandom they seem to enjoy it quite a bit and have little bad to say about it. But the online reaction to it was pretty tepid at best toward it. It’s certainly a guilty pleasure on some level but it’s simply so well done at times and has a sense of fun about it that it all works just right. With so many series of this length being either woefully incomplete or having no real plot to them, this one with its set goals and quick pacing is a breath of fresh air.

Features:
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Production Gallery, Clean Opening, Clean Closings

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

Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: March 27th, 2007
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

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.