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Central Park's "Anime Test Drive" Might Need a Tune-Up

U.S. Manga Corps and Central Park Media have been trying something new recently: a line of single-episode, trailer-packed DVDs to give viewers (as the title suggests) an “Anime Test Drive.” So you not only get to take one episode of a series for a spin around the block, you get to kick the tires on a few more. And if you want more of what you tried out, you can buy the box set and get a ten dollar rebate. So, does The World of Narue (here represented by Episode 1: “My Girlfriend Is An Alien”) drive like a dream, or should I start looking at other dealerships?

Kazuto’s just a normal guy. Masaki’s just his normal friend. Hajime’s your normal girl trying to figure out if Narue, an apparently normal girl, is an alien.

Why, yes; yes she is. Narue’s an alien middle schooler. Sure, she’s a little weird, but she doesn’t have green skin or anything. Well, she does have superpowers, and after she saves Kazuto from a freakish dog-turned-killer alien, Kazuto feels indebted to her. So, after the saving they go to her house, where more evil aliens are waiting.

Mind you, there’s only one episode on the disc, so I can’t get too detailed without ruining the whole episode, nor can I explain what happens later in the series.

As mentioned, the DVD also gives you a lot of trailers. And here’s where the idea could definitely be improved: On this disc at least, the trailers are run all together, so that you can’t pick just one from a menu to watch. And it’s a pretty wild selection of models on display, too, from such oddities as Doggy Poo (yes, a show about doggy poo) to revered classics like Grave of the Fireflies, and even such hentai titles as Tales of Seduction.

So, how was the test drive? The World of Narue is all-ages fun with a lot of potential in the plot. While it doesn’t exactly sway me to splurge on the entire box set, the proffered ten dollar discount definitely makes it an interesting come on.

But I’m not so keen on the idea behind the “Test Drive” DVD itself. They seem more like one of those discs you’d pick up for free at the checkout at Blockbuster, and I think it would work better as a freebie or as an added extra to go with another anime purchase. And carrying a suggested retail price of $8.00 (I lucked out and picked this one up for $6.00), you’ve really got to ask yourself if you want to spend that kind of money for a single episode.

Well, if you’ve got the money and an interest in middle schoolers who fall in love with aliens, go for it. Otherwise, it’s just as easy to pass.

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