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Level E: Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 3, 2012 by  



“Level E: Complete Series” should satisfy anime sci-fi fans who are in the mood for fun and crazy comedy and nothing too deep or dark.  Definitely recommended for anime fans who do not want to watch a long series and prefer episodes with shorter story arcs.

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Level E: Complete Series

DURATION: 13 Episodes (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: December 11, 2012

Originally Created by Yoshihiro Togashi

Directed by Toshiyuki Kato

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Script by Jukki Hanada, Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, Masashi Suzuki

Music by Kunihiko Ryo

Art Director: Toshihiro Kohama

Character Design by Itsuko Takeda

Chief Animation Director: Itsuko Takeda

3D Director: Yasufumi Soejima

Sound Director: Hajime Takakuwa

Animation Production: David Production/Pierrot

Background Art: Studio Bihou

Featuring the voices of:

Daisuke Namikawa/Vic Mignogna as Prince

Masaya Takatsuka/Jarrod Greene as Sado

Satomi Akesaka/Lindsay Seidel as Miho Edogawa

Takehito Koyasu/Jason Douglas as Craft

Takumi Asahina/Ian Sinclair as Corinne

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Micah Solosud as Yukitaka Tsutsui

Fumihiko Tachiki/Bruce Carey as Narrator

This extraterrestrial adventure follows the alien genius, Prince Baka as he turns life on Earth into his own personal laugh track. The Prince has the biggest brain in the galaxy, but he’s also a sadistic prankster who loves to make humans squirm. The alien invasion has begun. Prepare to die – laughing.

Back in 1995, mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi (best known as the creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho” and “Hunter x Hunter”) created the sci-fi manga series “Level E”.  The manga was serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump” from 1995-1997 and in 2011, the manga received an anime adaptation by Studio Pierrot and David Production.  And now the anime series will be released on Blu-ray +DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series doesn’t have a true protagonist, but revolves around a space alien named Prince Baka (Prince Idiot) from the Planet Dogra.

“Level E” begins with high school student named Yukitaka Tsutsui who has moved to a new small town from Tokyo to play baseball.  As the town are excited to meet their new baseball player, when Yukitaka arrives to his new place, he finds that his belongs have been rummaged through.

Inside is a man named Prince with long blonde hair who is wearing Yukitaka’s clothes and tells him that he is an alien that crash landed, has no place to go and needed clothes, so he borrowed Yukitaka’s clothes.

Of course, Yukitaka finds the guy’s claims of being an alien hard to believe until news reports on television shows that a UFO did crash land in the area and when Yukitaka is warned not to press a button on a device or it would detonate the spacecraft, Yukitaka presses it and the UFO blows up.

As Yukitaka tries to balance his high school baseball life and having an alien stay at his place temporarily, he meets his new neighbor Miho Edogawa, daughter of a researcher who is studying alien life on Earth.  And the two become friends.

When Prince goes to retrieve a device, he is shot at and nearly killed by men in black.  Prince reveals to Yukitaka that he is Prince Baka from the planet Dogura and despite being wanted by the men in black, Yukitaka and Miho must find a way to protect Prince from his secret of him being an alien coming out and also prevent him from being killed or experimented on.

But things may not appear as it seems in “Level E”.

More crazy adventures are in store for Earthlings and aliens in the crazy and wacky series, “Level E”!

VIDEO:

“Level E: Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  I love the character designs for the series which is actually quite different from any of Yoshiro Togashi’s previous work.  But when it comes to art backgrounds and detail, “Level E” looks fantastic!

The anime series features a good balance of CG and animation.  Colors are vibrant and for the most part, “Level E” is a colorful animated series.  This is probably one of the better looking TV series to come out on Blu-ray.  You usually expect high detail when watching Production I.G. animated series, but the collaborative effort of Studio Pierrot, David Production, Studio Bihou and Studio Hibari is fantastic.

Overall, picture quality is very good.  Black levels are nice and deep and I saw no signs of banding or artifacts.

AUDIO:

“Level E: Complete Series” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  While the majority of the series is presented with English dialogue, there are some scenes with action that actually utilize LFE and surround channels.  But this is more with the English lossless track that has better dynamic range thanks to its 5.1 lossless mix.  Both English and Japanese voice acting is well-done for both soundtracks!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Level E: Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by voice talents Terri Doty (Yoshiki Shimizu – Blue Ranger), Cris George (Kunimitsu Yokota – Yellow Ranger), Caitlin Glass (Osamu Momochi – White Ranger), Leah Clark (Taiyou Akagawa – Red Ranger) and Apphia Yu (Mayo Mayazumi – Black Ranger).  An upbeat fun commentary (more casual talk) especially when you bring all five talents together.
  • Episode 13 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Vic Mignogna (Prince) and Micah Solusod (Yukitaka Tsutsui).
  • Level E: Interview with a Prince – A live interview with Prince English dub voice actor Vic Mignogna.
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs – Featuring the textless theme songs for “Cold Finger Girl” by Chiaki Kuriyama and “Yume – Mugen no Kanata” and ViViD.
  • U.S. Trailer – (1:02) FUNimation trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Level E: Complete Series” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

As a big fan of Yoshiro Togashi’s work, I was curious to see how “Level E” would compare to Togashi’s previous work with “Yu Yu Hakusho” or even “Hunter x Hunter”, but came to realize that “Level E” was not your average anime series.  In fact, it sort of strays away from traditional storytelling and in a “Seinfeld” type of mentality, it’s a series about nothing.

Well, you think the episodes are about something until it’s revealed that it was more or less an elaborate plan to create a reality TV series.  Which situations are real and which are fake?

At first glance, “Level E” was a series that felt it would resemble something similar to the popular sci-fi classic, “E.T.” and revolve around humans trying to protect an extra-terrestrial.  But the more you watch the animated series, you realize that the series is primarily a comedy series that hooks you in with storylines that seem serious about abductions or murders but then you start to realize that the series is more or less how extra-terrestrials have changed the lives of people on Earth.   And you start to wonder are these episodes actual stories or were they made up by Prince Baka who seems to be working hard in creating a reality TV series?

In a way, I enjoy “Level E” for being a series that isn’t too serious and really a series that varies from episode to episode.  But at the same time, with the first three episodes, I really thought the series focused on Yukitaka Tsutsui as a main protagonist but instead, it more or less is an anime series about a spoiled idiotic prince and how tries to use Earthlings (or other aliens of different races) for his own sort of personal entertainment.

After the suspenseful stories, you are then treated to an arc revolving around a group of five kids who become the Color Rangers against their will by Prince Baka and must defeat the Demon Lord, while the final episodes revolve around Prince Baka and his relation to other aliens such as the mermaid alien, Princess of the MacBac or his little brother going to Earth in hopes that Prince Baka marries Princess Luna and become a king.

While some will enjoy the series randomness, some may find the series just maddening because a lot of the plot lines that may have captivated people, turns out to be something else instead.  But for those who enjoy anime series such as “Sgt. Frog” and storylines with no true protagonist, will surely enjoy the crazy, fun episodes of “Level E”.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Level E: Complete Series” certainly looks fantastic.  Studio Pierrot and other collaborative efforts with other studios have made this TV series much better than most anime series thanks to the attention to character animation, detail and just beautiful background artwork.  And you also get a few audio commentary tracks for those who are fans of English voice talent included with this Blu-ray release as well.

Overall, “Level E: Complete Series” should satisfy anime sci-fi fans who are in the mood for fun and crazy comedy and nothing too deep or dark.  Definitely recommended for anime fans who do not want to watch a long series and prefer episodes with shorter story arcs.






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