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"Mezzo" is more over the top goodness for your TV screen.
Review by Matthew Anderson
13 Episode TV Series
Company: ADV Films
Running Time: 125 minutes (5 episodes)
Rated: R for action, violence, sexual situations, and partial nudity.
Mikura, Harada, and Kurokawa are the three man team that makes up the Danger Service Agency. Kurokawa has the connections to the underworld, Harada is the mechanic, and Mikura....well Mikura is the muscle. They will take any job, so long as the price is right. Recently, they have brought on board the cute Masami. She seems to have a nose for danger, much like her idol Mikura.
Little does she know that as a member of the Danger Service Agency, anything can happen. You might get a contract from a ghost, fight the minions of a psychotic barber, stop an alien invasion, or deal with a vengeful lover of a former enemy.
With crazy friends like these, life certainly isn't dull.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: The DVD quality is very well done. There were no color bleeds, pixels or digital garbage. The image was sharp, with only some slight edge enhancement.
AUDIO: Well done for both the English 5.1 and Japanese Dolby 2.0 tracks. On both versions, the sound is crisp and rich, full of surround sound during the action elements.
EDITS: Clean open and close animation with English
titles have been used. No other edits have been made.
EXTRAS: Clean open and close, a montage of character sketches, and a "poster" on the opposite side of the cover is all you get today.
STORY: The sequel to Yasuomi Umetsu's popular OVA "Mezzo Forte", "Mezzo" is more over the top goodness for your TV screen. Director Umetsu along with series composer Takao Yoshioka cram each episode with non stop action, cool characters, and out of this world situations. While a suspension of disbelief is needed, the whole point of "Mezzo" is that you're supposed to have fun, not concentrate on the plot.
ACTING: These days, it's getting harder and harder to decide which group of actors is better. I really love Luci Christian's cute and bubbly portrayal of our ass kicking, gun toting Mikura, but I find Tomoko Kotani's deeper voice a little sexier. Ahh, it's giving me a headache trying to figure this out.
Stand out performance in this volume is Monica Rial in episode 5. I never would have guessed that she had so much range. Her Sakura is the ultimate in bitchy attitude.
FAN SERVICE: Since this is a Yasuomi Umetsu series, there is plenty of sexy poses of the female lead, Mikura. You also get plenty of peek-a-boo shots, to keep you wanting more. You even get scenes from the "Mezzo Forte" OVA for all you loyal fans to enjoy. Last but not least, you see animated versions of the three girls of Barnabys in the opening credits.
I have been a fan of Yasuomi Umetsu's work since "Kite". The artwork, slick action, and Umetsu's appreciation of the female form in that anime was breathtaking. Everything of his I have seen since then has impressed me. Sure, the writing in "Gatchaman" sucked, but the character designs were pure art (especially Jun). Now, Umetsu is ready to bitch slap the US again with his latest project, "Mezzo" by way of ADV Films.
Not since "The Professional: Golgo 13" have I watched the same anime 5 times in a row. The first two were for reviewing purposes, the other three, for fun. I absolutely love "Mezzo". The action is sublime, matching some of the over the top antics that make "Kite" so kick ass. The dialogue is full of witty one liners and sharp verbal banter. Anything could happen in this show, and it did. Aliens, ghosts, crazy barbers, terrorists, pissed off lesbians, and androids would pop up in the most unlikely of places. It's like they took all the elements from bad 80's science fiction movies and found a way to make it cool.
As this is a sequel to "Mezzo Forte", you may be expecting the violence and sexuality in "Mezzo" to be just as strong. Well, the violence certainly is raw, but nothing to the extent of the OVA. The nudity and sexuality has been toned way down, but there certainly is some stuff that parents might find objectionable, hence the "R" rating. Still, these differences are no reason not to pick up this series.
The animation, for the most part is excellent, full of detail, smooth motion, and stylish poses. The fight sequences are awesome, with tons of explosions, irresponsible gun play, and some martial arts moves that not even VanDamme could match. Of course the character designs, especially when it comes to the females, are hotter than pistol. You can really see the love and care that went into the entire series, especially during the first two episodes.
Episode 3 does show a noticeable change in animation quality, mostly involving scale and detail. The animation does pick back up in episode 4 but the first two really look the best, from an artistic standpoint. Don't let the varying degree in animation quality stop you from getting "Mezzo".
Like "Peacemaker", I am having trouble deciding which group of voice actors I love. The original Japanese cast is splendid, with Tomoko Kotani having one of the sexiest voices in the world of anime. The way she can switch from cute to evil in such a snap is just as good as Megumi Toyoguchi in "Miami Guns".
In this case, the English dub has won out. There are a lot of surprises, vocally, to be found in this one. Once again, Luci Christian has surprised me with her acting abilities. Never in a million years would I have figured that the voice of Tetsu from "Peacemaker" was the voice of our violence freak Mikura. She plays up the cuter aspects of the character, but doesn't go overboard like others might have done. Spunky is the best adjective to describe her reading. Andy Mcavin is a hoot as mad dog Kurokawa, and I can't imagine anyone else who could play Harada other than Jason Douglas. This is a far cry from his Ilplatzo in "Excel Saga".
The biggest shock I received was Monica Rial as Sakura. I never would I have guessed that she had that kind of vocal range. Her voice for Sakura is deeper, darker, and more emotional than any character she has voice at the time of this review. Everyone at DVJ sat there in total disbelief as episode 5 played out. If it had not been for the credits, I never would have known it was her. It was outstanding. There are many reasons she is one of the awesome "ADV Babes", and her reading for Sakura is one of them.
The opening theme is the first time I have ever heard a Japanese Punk Rock tune in an anime. Just like Mikura, Shoko, Ai, and Miyo, the lovely ladies that make up punk band Barnabys, kick some major ass. Their song "Sukimamimaitai" is all about the thrill that comes from getting the snot beaten out of you, and then fighting back. While not exactly a song to live by, it's perfect for this anime title.
"Mezzo" is nothing but fun. It's a fast paced, rip-roaring, shoot em up anime that everyone can enjoy. Just sit back and let the DSA show you a new level of action and danger. You will be so glad they did.
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