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"Zatch Bell": Screwy Editing With Disappointing Extras

Discussion in 'toonzone News Archive' started by Duke, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Duke

    Duke Truer Words Were Never Spoken

    Feb 4, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Oh, cute little <i>Zatch Bell</i>, what a surprise you have been. Many people thought you were going to be a dumb filler series, but you've turned out to be one of the strongest shows on Toonami, and you've certainly been one of the hottest properties Viz has launched on our shores. It's too bad Naruto has basically swallowed up your share of the attention.

    <a href="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/zatchbelldvd.jpg"><img src="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/t-zatchbelldvd.jpg" border="0" align="right"></a>Kiyo Takamine is a genius. Unfortunately, his smarts alienate him from almost everyone in the school. All that changes when a young boy crashes into his room riding a giant bird with a fish strapped to his back. This young boy, Zatch Bell, has special powers, such as the ability to lift a television with one hand and, more importantly, to shoot lightning out of his mouth. Zatch is a Mamodo who's lost his memories, and Kiyo is his partner. With Zatch's spell book in hand, Kiyo must fend off bullies, robbers, punks, and one badass goth before Zatch has to leave forever.

    Zatch Bell's strong point isn't the plot, which is a cross between Shaman King and Digimon, but the characters, specifically Kiyo and Zatch. The two of them share such a joyful chemistry that you can't help but laugh at how dysfunctional they are. Zatch is naive but confident, and like many little kids, believes in an ideal world where anything can happen. Kiyo tries his best to keep up with hyper little Zatch despite his irritation. Zatch is the idealist, Kiyo, the realist. And it works. The duo's constant chatter allows the audience just to have fun.

    <a href="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/zatchbell1.jpg"><img src="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/t-zatchbell1.jpg" border="0" align="left"></a>The episodes on this set suffer from the same problems as most beginnings: in the midst of exposition, the good stuff is still to come. The battles aren't all that intense or interesting, since the two are still learning how to use spells and there's no real rival yet.

    Worse, Viz edited these discs. The biggest edit is in Episode 2, where a shotgun has been repainted to look like a blue Super Soaker modified to shoot laser beams. While it does look better than the black bubble gun seen when this episode was broadcast on American TV, it's still pointless. Viz has also replaced most of the music and deleted the words from the opening theme, another downright odd choice. Zatch also gains some underwear (watch for Zatch putting on two pairs of boxers). Incredibly, they've also covered any hits to Zatch with an exclamation mark. Apparently kids can handle the aftermath of violence but not the actual violence. Ludicrous.

    But it's not a total hackjob like One Piece, and they do a decent job of fitting into the art style. The rest of the video is standard for an anime DVD. There are no major interlacing errors or jagged lines, and the colors are bright and vibrant. You'll have little complaints about the video quality, if you can wrap your mind around the edits. The dub music is adequate and doesn't distract from the action as the music in One Piece or Yu-Gi-Oh! does.

    <a href="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/zatchbell2.jpg"><img src="http://news.toonzone.net/images/2005-01/t-zatchbell2.jpg" border="0" align="right"></a>The English dub is the only one available, but at least it isn't that bad. Kiyo's voice actor at times stumbles through some of the lines, but most of it comes off perfectly. Zatch sounds like a little kid, which, contrary to fan outcry, is exactly what he should sound like.

    I know Viz doesn't have a lot of experience with extras, but this is getting sad. The first extra is a preview of the first storyline from the manga, but instead of allowing you to zoom in manually, everything runs automatically like a video clip. It's always annoying reading manga on your TV, and this fast-moving video doesn't help any. After that, we have a standard trailer for the Zatch Bell video game, a single-screen ad for the trading card game, and trailers for InuYasha Season 3 and Flame of Recca. A trailer menu, a demo of the TCG and maybe some interviews would've been nice, as what we have here won't last more than ten minutes. Commercials do not count as special features.

    Overall, this disc is only for those who simply must have <i>Zatch Bell</i> on DVD at all costs. Folks new to the series might want to rent it and then watch the series on Toonami. Hopefully Viz will enter the 21st century sometime soon and give us a complete release, with the original audio and uncut video.

    Episodes in Zatch Bell Volume 1: The Lightning Boy from Another World:
    Episode 1: “The Lightning Boy from Another World”
    Episode 2: “A Freezing Spell”
    Episode 3: “The Second Spell”
    Episode 4: “The Great Mamodo Battle”

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