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"Crusher Joe" is a swashbuckling adventure that doesn't let up the pace until the credits roll.
Review by: Matthew Anderson
1 Movie 2 OVA
Running Time: 4 Hours
Rating: Rating:PG-13 (Violence and language)
In the vast expanse of the universe, there are problems that the United Space Force can't handle. In this dangerous age, there is an elite group of men and women who can handle any challenge they are given. Called Crushers, these jack of all trades can do anything from protecting diplomats, to teraforming new worlds.
Joe is one of the best Crushers out there. Along with the cyborg Talos, Princess Alfin, Ricky, and the robot Dongo, these five is exactly what the universe needs to survive.
This Crusher team has been busy of late. First, they have to transport a mysterious cargo past not only pirates, but the space force as well. From there, they have to prevent an ice prison from crashing into another planet, and even stop the activation of the ultimate weapon.
Even though the odds are against them, nothing can stop the Crusher Joe team!
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: A beautiful looking transfer, AnimEigo has done a fantastic job. The colors are perfect, there are no pixels, no wrinkles, no defects. This looks a lot better than their VHS or laser disc release. The washed out look is gone.
AUDIO: A very rich sounding Dolby 2.0 English audio track. The music is crystal clear, as is the dialogue, and all are blended perfectly. The same goes for the Japanese 2.0, but it is a little quieter.
EDITS: Not a single frame has been edited.
EXTRAS: Pretty thin on extras. There is a trailer hidden on one of the DVD's, but I will be dipped if I can find it. We don't even have the liner notes!
STORY: This is one of the classics. From "Dirty Pair" creator Haruka Takachio, "Crusher Joe" is a swashbuckling adventure that doesn't let up the pace until the credits roll. There is no deep message, no mind bending plot twists. It's just 4 hours of non stop fun!
ACTING: Absolutely fantastic! In my opinion, Japanese is the better of the two tracks. Taku Takemura is perfect as the arrogant Joe, and you don't get any manlier than Kiyoshi Kobayashi for Talos. Run Sasaki voice is cute, and when Ricky goes off, Noriko Ohara is damn funny.
The English dub is pretty good, but there are times where the cast gives a stuttered performance. I do like Saun O'Rourke's teenage voice for Ricky, and I got a real kick with Dongo's voice being done with an Amiga computer.
FAN SERVICE: Fans of the "Battletech" role playing game will recognize some of the mecha used in the game. There are also references to Star Wars, and other Sci-Fi films. There is even a cameo by "The Dirty Pair".
Nothing in the nudity department, although you come very close.
While I was living in Japan, one of the first anime tapes I bought was the "Finial Weapon Ash" OVA. For the next hour, I was whisked away into a universe populated by space pirates, rogue military leaders, and Crusher Joe and his team. The action was awesome, the animation was superb, and the acting was wonderful. When AnimEigo released both "Finial Weapon Ash" and "Ice Hell Trap" on laser disc, I made sure I bought a copy. From there I was totally hooked.
Now, AnimEigo has release the entire series on DVD, and I have never been happier. Like "Arcadia of My Youth", this two DVD set went straight into my player.
First up is "Crusher Joe, the movie". Written by series creator Haruka Takachio, this story introduced us to our heroes. There is Joe, the head strong leader. Young Ricky, a loud mouth punk kid. The beautiful, but temperamental Alfin. Cyborg Talos, the strong man of the team, and Dongo, the smarmy robot.
After the introductions are out of the way, we are treated to two hours of non stop action, as the Crusher team tries to complete their mission, with out compromising their principles. Every step they take, they are confronted by gangsters, petty crooks, and the United Space Force, each one looking to hang a Crusher trophy on their wall.
Next is, "The Ice Prison", or "The Ice Hell Trap". The Crushers have been called in to prevent an orbiting prison made of ice from crashing on planet Ooro. The fact the leader of Ooro is a power mad dictator is immaterial. The team can't sit by while others are in jeopardy. Yet, they should trust their instincts, as their rescue attempt goes south.
The Third and finial installment is "The Ultimate Weapon: Ash" or "Finial Weapon Ash". Major Tanya is transporting a dangerous weapon to a disposal facility when her ship crashes on a weapons testing planet. Held hostage by rouge military officers, and surrounded by dangerous weapons called "Cloakers", her only hope is Joe and his team. Yet, they have to beat the military, avoid the "Cloakers", and make it out alive.
While the plots may not be that deep, the action makes up for any deficiencies. Crusher Joe revels in it's high action quotient, giving us one of the best "popcorn anime" ever made.
I think that the animation has stood the test of time very well. The characters are very distinctive and quite expressive. The animation flows nicely, and care that went into these films shows in every single frame.
I applaud AnimEigo for giving us the entire series in one shot. Keeping the consumer in mind, the company not only has all three Crusher Joe films together, but they didn't jack up the price. Okay, so the extras are weak, but with the excellent video and audio, you can't go wrong.
While not as popular as Haruka Takachio's "Dirty Pair" series, "Crusher Joe" is one of the best anime to come out of the 80's. It's emphasis on action, great animation, and cool characters make this another one that should be on your shelf.
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