Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Level E Review

Level E: Complete Series

I have to commend Funimation right away on the voice acting choice of Jason Douglas as Captain Kraft. Captain Kraft looks very  similar to Cromartie High's Takeshi Hokuto. I assume that is the entire reasoning as why he was chosen to voice Captain Kraft in this Outer Limits like comedy about aliens.

Level E is a sci-fi comedy series created by Yoshihiro Togashi, better known for his other work YuYu Hakusho, Hunter X Hunter and marrying the lady who created Sailor Moon. The stars didn't align for his sci-fi short series and I'd tell him stick to action stories.

The series starts of with the overused premise of a lost alien making friends with an average person. Sitcom situations happen, mysterious government agents and more going on behind the scenes like you've seen dozens of times before start happening. That's what the alien Prince Baka might want you to think, but it turns out everything you thought you knew wasn't correct  and the answer to everything is just silly.

Prince Baka as it turns out is a huge jerk that's both a genius and sadly for us earthlings the eventual protector of our planet. When I was writing Prince Baka was a jerk I was being kind. He's known the universe over as one of the cruelest royals out there. No one knows this better than Captain Kraft who stood up to him once about his actions. Now Captain Kraft is forced on the worst missions possible. He is accompanied by two assistants, one whose by the book and the other a rookie to help him try and control Prince Baka. There story starts off with the Prince meeting and bothering a young human who moved recently to play high school baseball, which aliens love for some reason.

Suddenly, this concept is thrown away in future episodes and the Prince takes a backseat to what's happening for much of the series. Though, he's somewhat the puppet master of a lot going on, it's very odd how much the format changed. I believed I'd get more hi-jinks of the Prince bothering his first victim/friend, but that plot was thrown out quite fast. Instead some sci-fi stories with little relation to the main story happen. Many of these stories are self- contained arcs. Many of them are about the concept of love and how alien it can be.

One of my favorite arcs parodied sentai rangers with the Primary Color Rangers. Young boys were given the power of Power Rangers, seen countless times in other animes.  Power Ranger culture was made fun of and eventually crossed into making fun of J-rpgs. There were some great jokes about  Prince Baka's feminine look in this arc. Yes, the blonde on the cover above is actually a man. When he dressed up as a princess and a bad guy takes him to be his wife some dirty jokes are explored. The Primary Color Rangers was another fun take on the staple of Japanese pop culture.

No ranger team could save this series though. The show throws in some jokes here and there, but a lot of the time the series doesn't know what it wants to be. Sgt Frog was a sci-fi comedy anime, this series wants to be a drama sometimes. One Primary Color Rangers story has an alien kill people with her tongue and having some bad guys shot in front of the grade school heroes. This was an episode episode about friendship? A story about baseball gets very messed up when the personification of a little girl's parents look like monsters out of the film " The Thing" battle in her subconscious mind.

After these arcs we return into a short unfunny-filling arc about the Prince having to get married. It seemed tacked on really. Since it's a character you not meant to like, there wasn't much at stake for the viewer.

Level E, where the name comes from is never explained, is a show that doesn't seem to understand itself. It tried too many things at once and loses it's cohesion. The Prince played by Vic Mignogna gets carried away by doing parody voices of other sci-fi characters. In the extras, an interview that Vic Mignogna has with himself, via editing, reveals the director let him due as he pleased. When he chose to act like Captain Kirk on the spot, the director just said go with it. It was a strange choice to let him have that much power. Vic was just given to much freedom for this one. It's also an odd choice from Funimation to bring this series over. I don't think it had a fan base demanding it.

This is probably my least favorite anime from Funimation this year. I liked Mass Effect: Paragon Lost more. Wait, there was some fun moments with those Primary Color Rangers. Anyway, this one just missed it's mark, even if Jason Douglas pulls off an excellent pissed off character.

The DVD's/ Blu-ray's were provided by the publisher for review