February 15, 2003 / by Anime News Services / Blog / No Comments

Anime News Service-Review: St. Tail: The Enchanted Collection

By: Jay

Saint Tail: The Enchanted Collection

Content: B+ Video: B Audio: B Presentation: B+ Overall: A- Company: TokyoPop Length: 480 min

After nearly a year’s wait, the final Saint Tail collection has been released by TokyoPop collecting the final 21 episodes into a 3-disc set. Saint Tail is a fantastically cute series that is oddly greater than the sum of its parts. The premise of the show is typical magical-girl stuff, except that Saint Tail tends to use skill over the typical magical girl charms. The typical Saint Tail episode consists of Meimi (Saint Tail) finding out about a stolen item from her friend (and nun-in-training – go figure), Seira. Meimi then notifies her crush and official Saint Tail detective, Asuka Jr., about the heist. Chaos ensues, and happiness and cuteness prevails.

This happens every episode. Every single episode. All 43 episodes are exactly alike. Hopefully, you get my point. The question then arises, is this not monotonous? The answer is, it can be, except for the developing relationships in the background. For once, we see a relationship develop over a couple years. Asuka starts off only thinking of Saint Tail, and sometimes, if she moves in just the right way, Meimi. Will remind him of Saint Tail. Slowly, almost so you don’t recongnize it, Asuka begins to see Saint Tail and think of Meimi, as his thoughts and affections turn toward the real personality.

As well, while there are engaging characters, there is absolutely nothing objectionable in this series whatsoever! Not only that, we have the rare opportunity to see parents in anime that are actually in love and relatively normal! They show affection, show concern for their daughter, but don’t overly try to control her life. You see a happy, well-adjusted family.

The video on this set is surprisingly clean since 7 episodes are smashed onto every disc. TokyoPop has done a wonderful job mastering them to lessen the macroblocking and bleeding one would expect. However, one layer on the final disc does seem to have more clarity issues than the other, probably because of the extras on the disc. It is not overly distracting since Saint Tail is very much in the old school of hand-drawn anime, so crystal clarity was probably never there. The sound is equally clean. However, as with all the later episodes of the series, there is no dub track, to those who prefer to avoid subtitles.

There are limited extras. You get the textless openings and closings from the second season that were, for some reason, never used in the TokyoPop release. This was either to save space or money. The bumpers where commericals are inserted were changed, as well. So, purists take note that these episodes are not exactly as created.

These episodes do complete the series, bringing it to an appropriate conclusion. While many episodes are totally stand alone, the last 4 or 5 begin a totally connected story-arc that leads to the conclusion. One has to wonder why the creators didn’t do this more often as that arc and another two-parter were some of the best of the series. Several of the stand-alone episodes were excellent as well, improving greatly upon the mediocrity of the middle of the series.

Pretty much everything in the series (except for perhaps the excellent voice acting and some of the nice character character designs) deserves a pretty solid “B” rating. So, how can it get a higher overall grade? The series is just fun and happy. Sometimes, that is enough. All the parts work well enough that they lift the totality of the show. Having a proper conclusion does a lot for a series, as well. I can, with good conscience, recommend this show to anyone who likes cute things or innocent romances, with a few really good heist capers thrown in for good measure.

Major praise has to go out to TokyoPop for finishing the series after a disastrous launch (edited openings/closings, horrible menus, terrible video quality, only 3 episodes, etc). That launch probably hurt the series more than it deserved, but the second disc fixed every single issue with the first. It is a shame more people did not give Saint Tail another chance. With this final collection, hopefully some anime fans will give the series another chance – as it really is a fantastic value.

A note about reviews: Reviews are graded on a scale from A to F, including +’s and –‘s. A typical good anime score would rank a B. Content refers to the plot, characterization, etc. Video refers to the picture quality as well as the animation. Audio refers to sound quality and music. Presentation includes the case, menus, and extras. Overall is a ranking of the worthiness of owning this DVD. Unless otherwise noted, all DVDs are bought out of pocket by the reviewer. Full disclosure will be made of any reviewables received by companies. Contact me at jayntampa@yahoo.com.