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Vandread: The Ultimate Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 4, 2010 by  



A sci-fi series anime series with a twist.  Enjoyable from beginning to end, with a lot of humor and action, you can’t go wrong with “Vandread”!  Especially with all 24 TV episodes and both OVA’s in one DVD collection!

Image courtesy of © 2001 Takeshi Mori – GONZO/VANDREAD 2nd Project. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Vandread: The Ultimate Collection

DURATION: 26 Episodes and OVA’s (760 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital, 4:3, English/Japanese Stereo, English Subtitles

COMPANY: GONZO/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 4, 2010

Director: Takeshi Mori

Original Script by Natsuko Takashi

Screenplay: Atsuhiro Tomioka

Original Character Design: Sora Inoue

Character Design: Kazuya Kuroda

Art Director: Junichi Higashi, Takaharu Fujii

Anime Studio: GONZO

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Rafael Antonio Oliver as Hibiki Tokai

Yumi Kakazu/Julie Maddalena as Dita Liebely

Fumiko Orikasa/Julie Pickering as Meia Gisborn

Hideki Tasaka/David Lucas as Duero Mcfile

Hisako Kyouda/Catherine Luciani as Magno Vivan

Mayumi Asano/Jane Alan as Gascogne Rheingau

Megumi Toyoguchi/Dorothy Melendrez as Parfet Balblair

Michiko Neya/Debra Cunningham as Barnette Orangello

Mitsuo Iwata/David Mallow as Pyoro

Sayaka Ohara/Ellen Wilkinson as Ezra Vieil

Tomokazu Seki/Ron Allen as Bart Garsus

Yoko Soumi/Wendee Lee as Buzam A. “B.C.” Calessa

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Williamson as Jura Basil Elden

The battle of the sexes may seem bad on Earth, but in a space colony far, far away, things are even worse. Men and women haven’t seen each other for decades, so they don’t just argue in the future – they go straight for each other’s throats. Enter lowly Hibiki, a little guy with big dreams of adventure who finds himself in the middle of a firefight after stowing away in a top-secret mech designed to purge the galaxy of estrogen!

But as the gender war rages on, a mysterious crystal weapon forever links their starships – and their destinies. Time is running out as men and women explore their sexual differences, struggle to suppress raging hormones, and fight to survive the threat of a deadly common foe!

Contains episodes 1-13 of Vandread, episodes 1-13 of Vandread: The Second Stage, and the Turbulence and Integral OVAs.

What if men and women never co-existed with each other?  And by chance, one day they were to meet and have to work together to ensure the survival of mankind?

This is the premise of “Vandread”, a Japanese anime series from GONZO directed by Takeshi Mori (“Gunsmith Cats”, “Otaku no Video”, “Stratos 4”, “Kimagure Orange Road”) and a screenplay by Atsuhiro Tomioka (“Glass Fleet”, “Pokemon”, “Pumpkin Scissors”) and a script by Natsuko Takahashi (“Hell Girl”, “Baki the Grappler” and “Bleach”).

The first season of the “Vandread” TV series (13-episodes) aired on Japan’s WOWOW Satellite channel in 2000 and was followed by a second series in 2001 titled “Vandread: The Second Stage”.  That same year, the first series was summarized in the OVA titled “Vandread Taidouhen” (Integral) and the second summarized in the second OVA titled “Vandread Gekitouhen” (Turbulence).

The two seasons were released on DVD previously by Geneon but with FUNimation Entertainment acquiring the titles from Geneon and also the rights to the OVA’s, a new Ultimate Collection featuring all TV episodes and OVA’s is now available in a 5-DVD set.

“Vandread” revolves around a third-class laborer named Hibiki Tokai.  Very low in the totem pole and is from the planet Taraak (which consists only men).  Always head strong and never thinks things through, the impulsive Hibiki takes on a bet to steal the high-tech humanoid robot known as Vanguard from one of their male attack forces.  During a skirmish between the male attack force and a group of female pirates (from the planet Mejere), all men evacuate from the battleship but somehow during the battle, Hibiki along with Dr. Duelo McFile and helmsman Bart Garsus (first-class) are captured.

In a last attempt by the male warriors to prevent their ship from being stolen, they send torpedoes to blow up the battleship, a wormhole is created and the female pirate’s vessel fuses with the male battleship and all are sent to a distant part of the galaxy.  Also fused was the mecha that Hibiki tried to steal, the Vanguard which has has fused with a Dread and now is known as “Vandread”.

While the female pirates are distrustful towards the men, the ships captain Magno Vivan has ordered the women to co-exist with the men for now, since Hibiki can control the Vandread, Dr. McFile can use his expertise in helping the women and Bart can uses his skills to pilot the newly fused battleship (the Nirvana).

Meanwhile, Dita Liebely (the first woman who found Hibiki) is a woman who has always believed in aliens and now, wants to be close to her alien (Hibiki) and thus addresses shim as “Mr. Alien”.

The first season deals with the women and men working together to get back home but also visiting other planets and discovering areas where men and women co-exist together, while the second season deals with both the three men and the women actually co-existing and fighting together against an enemy that wants to harvest humanity.

“Vandread” features the following characters:

  • Hibiki Tokai – Headstrong third-classman from the Planet Taraak.  Thinks less of women and impulsive.  Arrogant, always hungry, often naive and doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions.  But is the only person who can control Vandread.
  • Dita Liebely – The UFO believing crew member who discovered Hibiki.  Known for her happiness and making others laugh, Dita wants to be close to the man she named “Mr. Alien”.
  • Misty Cornwell – The new character for “Vandread: Second Stage” who believes Hibiki rescued her and thinks he is her prince and falls for him.  She comes from a planet that has co-existed with men and thus, is upfront with kissing and being near Hibiki which makes Dita jealous.
  • Meia Gisborn – The squadron commander that leads the Dreads.   Always wanting to fight!
  • Jura Basil Elden – Secondary leader to the Dreads but also vane.  She also wants to combine with Hibiki and also wants him to give her a baby.  Often squabbles with Dita as both vie for Hibiki’s attention.
  • Magno Vivan – The captain of the pirates and is knowledgeable of men and women co-existing with one another.
  • Buzam A. Calessa (BC) – The sub-commander of the cew and has a secret that is revealed in the second season.
  • Gascogne Rheingau – Runs the Nirvana’s Registry and third-in-command.  Often being challenged by Hibiki for a game of poker.
  • Parfet Balblair – The Chief Engineer, known for her large eye glasses and always cheerful.
  • Paiway Underberg – The nurse of the ship who works with Duelo.  Observant towards the men and writes down notes about them.  Often carries a frog hand puppet along with her.
  • Ezra Vieil – The pregnant crew member who is often giving motherly advice to Dita and Hibiki.
  • Duelo McFile – The doctor who is curious to be around women (to learn about their health).
  • Bart Gasarus – The weak helmsman who wants to prove himself and to everyone that he is important.

“Vandread: The Ultimate Collection” consists of 13 episodes per season (total of 26) and two OVA’s.  Here is a brief spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Hibiki, Duelo and Bart are captured by the female pirates.
  • EPISODE 2 – An unknown enemy attacks the fused ship.
  • EPISODE 3 – BC assigns duties to the men who become part of the crew.  Ezra is pregnant.
  • EPISODE 4– Hibiki still harbors arrogance towards women which conflicts with Meia’s headstrong Amazon-like behavior.
  • EPISODE 5 – The team explore a desert planet.
  • EPISODE 6 – Meia is injured in battle.
  • EPISODE 7 – Hibiki doesn’t know how to interpret Dita’s kindness and pushes her away.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 8 – The crew come in contact with a man named Rabat.  Can they trust him?
  • EPISODE 9 – The Nirvana orbits the water planet, Anpathos.
  • EPISODE 10 – The crew celebrates Christmas.
  • EPISODE 11 – The women become distrustful towards their male crew members.
  • EPISODE 12 – The women try to fight their enemies without the men (who are imprisoned).
  • EPISODE 13 – Hibiki learns a big lesson from another planet while the crew of the Nirvana try to ignite a star.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 14 (1) – Hibiki, Dita, Meia and Jura have dreams of a red light destroying Nirvana.
  • EPISODE 15 (2) – Misty and her pod carry a message from Earth.
  • EPISODE 16 (3) – The Nirvana tries to give aid to a planet that has been contaminated.  Bart goes through a major transformation.
  • EPISODE 17 (4) – The Nirvana docks in an outpost with a dangerous environment.
  • EPISODE 18 (5) – The Nirvana encounters a Harvester mothership.
  • EPISODE 19 (6) – The crew mourns a fallen crew member.
  • EPISODE 20 (7) – The rivalry between Misty and Dita for Hibiki’s attention intensifies.

DISC 4:

  • EPISODE 21 (8) – The crew tries to plan a surprise birthday party for Meia.
  • EPISODE 22 (9) – While fighting in an asteroid field, Hibiki is separated from the others during combat.
  • EPISODE 23 (10) – The Nirvana gets closer to Mejere and the women celebrate.  Meanwhile, Misty feels alienated from everyone.
  • EPISODE 24 (11) – To the surprise of the crew, both fleets from Taraak and Mejere demand for Nirvana’s crew to surrender.
  • EPISODE 25 (12) – Hibiki meets with the first generation leaders to discuss working together to fight the Harvesters.
  • EPISODE 26 (13) – The final battle against the Harvesters.

DISC 5:

  • OVA 1 – VANDREAD INTEGRAL – A summary of the first season of “Vandread”.
  • OVA 2 – VANDREAD TURBULENCE – A Summary of the second season of “Vandread”.

VIDEO:

Vandread” is an older anime series from 2000 and was presented in 4:3 standard format.  The TV series was one of the earlier space anime series that combined animation and CG.  It was one of the first mecha-based space adventure series that caught a lot of attention over a decade ago and for the most part, over ten years later, both seasons of “Vandread” holds up quite well today. Colors are vibrant and PQ is what one can expect for an anime series on DVD.  You do get seven episodes on one disc and there were times I felt the edge enhancement was strong.

GONZO did an awesome job with the animation, CG is well done and there is a good amount of detail and shading on the artistic backgrounds and also the character design.  Kazuya Kuroda does a great job in conveying Sora Inoue’s original character designs for the anime series.

The two OVA’s have more detail and look much more vibrant compared to its TV series counterpart (which is expected).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Vandread” features the original Geneon dub and for the most part, the English dub is well-done.  Both English and Japanese soundtracks are presented in stereo with the exception of the OVA’s which are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.  I can understand why the OVA’s were not dubbed in English, especially since this series was created over a decade ago and the dub version was created back in 2002.  To keep things consistent and the fact that FUNimation uses different voice talent than Geneon did would probably have angered the hardcore fans if the original English voice talent were not used for the OVA’s.  So, it was probably best to not dub the OVA’s to keep things consistent.

Dialogue is clear and understandable, special effects are front channel driven.

For those who have a modern home theater receiver will probably want to select stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape (especially for the latter episodes of both seasons during the battle sequences).

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Vandread: The Ultimate Collection” comes with no special features.

When I first began watching “Vandread”, I thought this was going to be your usual sci-fi harem animation series.  But how wrong I was when I discovered that the male and females are from different planets and despise each other.  So, needless to say, the harem part of the storyline does not come into full gear but you do get a sense that the men and women who discover other planets where men and women do co-exist, start to become curious about each other.

Although, the storyline does feature on the protagonist Hibiki and Dita, what I like about “Vandread” is that it also focuses on many members of the Nirvana crew.  Instead of having plenty of episodes that could be filler, the writers did a fantastic job in incorporating the characters in each episode and you gradually pulls the viewer in and showing those character’s quirks and personality.

The first season of “Vandread” was more or less, how men and women can co-exist and if they can trust each other during battle.  The second season is how both men and women of the Nirvana need each other in taking on their largest threat to mankind but also in the process, learning about their history and their ancestry from the Planet Earth.

“Vandread” is fun, enjoyable, humorous and upbeat anime series.  Despite the cover of endowed women on the cover of the DVD, this is not a series that really showcases fan service.  Yes, some of the women, especially the character of Jura tends to be a bit flirtatious, the way the men play off of the women and seeing their differences is quite interesting.  Dita doesn’t know why she feels a certain way towards Hibiki, her crew can’t understand why she would care about a man, while Hibiki who was raised to thinking women are disgusting starts to have feelings which he doesn’t know how to interpret quite yet and sometimes his arrogance gets in the way.

Needless to say, after watching all episodes, I was hoping that there were plans for Gonzo to create a third stage and sure enough, it looks like there is interest in continuing the storyline of “Vandread”.

For those who purchased the original series back in 2002 and the complete collection in 2007 and in 2009, one may ask if it’s worth it to purchase this collection just for the OVA’s in the 2010 “Ultimate Collection”.  The answer is probably not.  For one, the OVA’s are not new stories but a summary of each season and for the English dub fans, the OVA’s are not dubbed in English.   Although, if you missed an episode or a season, then most definitely, especially for the fact that owning all episodes and OVA is only around $30, that’s a remarkable deal.

Overall, “Vandread” is an enjoyable sci-fi anime series with a twist!  If you are looking for a fun, sci-fi anime series, definitely give “Vandread: The Ultimate Collection” a try!






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