Running Time: 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR, probably R
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Languages: Japanese, English, Spanish
Subtitles: English
Region: 1
MSRP: $29.98

Own It!
Burn-Up W (1996)

It was extremely thoughtful of ADV Films to include all four episodes of Burn Up W on one DVD. Lesser companies might have split it into two or more discs. I couldn't help feeling, however, as the end credits rolled, that here was a series that was woefully incomplete. Directed by Hiroshi Negishi (uncredited director of the Tenchi Muyo TV series and director of 1996's Tenchi Muyo in Love), Burn Up W features the adventures of some very busty women on the "Warriors" SWAT team in a fictional near-future Tokyo. I say that it feels incomplete because it's a very busy little set of stories that put lots of story elements into place and then doesn't make use of them.

The first episode introduces the characters (the women are dressed in uniforms that fuse traditional Japanese schoolgirl outfits with police regalia and hooker costumes) and their personality quirks, as well as the conditions under which they ditch their regular police duties to become the Warriors. They take out a group of goofy "terrorists" with wacky demands in an imaginative fashion and the day is saved.

The second ep features a "kidnapped" artificial intelligence who has the mind a very curious and precocious young girl. At the episode's end, the AI winds up in the body of a prototype combat robot in the Warriors' headquarters, which I assumed was a setup to incorporate her into the team. There's a lot of humor in these two episodes, and not a small amount of animated nudity.

The third and fourth episodes, which are two parts of one story, take a decidedly different path. Suddenly the plot thread that poked its head in briefly in the first two episodes kicks into full gear, beginning with the brutal murder of a young police accountant. The police station is then under assault by high-powered thugs who are determined to retrieve a piece of evidence in the Warriors' possession.

All in all this is a hopping little series, with lots of hand-to-hand and firearms combat, although less robot action than I would have liked. The end of the disc is quite the tease, with promised adventures ahead -- presumably to be had in the upcoming ADV release Burn Up Excess. Let's hope they pick up some of those annoying loose ends.

Anime discs just keep looking better. The visuals here are crisp, bright, and vivid. Artifacts were negligible. One might have asked for Dolby 5.1 Surround on one of the tracks, but it's nice to have Dolby Digital Stereo on all three language tracks. I was especially impressed by the English performances, which are usually so much cardboard when compared to the Japanese language tracks. It's nice to get that hyperactive dialogue feel in English without subtitles obscuring the bottom quarter of the screen.

The DVD's menus employ selection titles that obfuscate their purpose somewhat, but it's not too difficult to figure out:

"Dispatch Lingo" allows you to select the language tracks and subtitles -- and even which episode to play from the same menu!

"Lineup" gives you chapter selections by episode.

"Accomplices" holds trailers from other ADV releases: Ruin Explorers, Ninja Resurrection, Slayers, Legend of Crystania, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

"Evidence" provides stills from the episodes, although the thicker lines on the drawings made me think that these were production sketches of some kind.

All in all, a very solid disc if the sudden change in tone between episodes doesn't bother you too much.

Chris Holland, 5/2/2001