John Waters should direct s-CRY Baby.
It’s the future. A cataclysm has split Japan in two. On one hand is Muraji Special Economic District, a futuristic paradise of gleaming white skyscrapers and high tech wonders. On the other hand is the Lost Ground, a post apocalyptic wasteland where daily life is a violent struggle for survival. Causing a stir on both sides of the fence are the Alter Users, young men and women born with the amazing power to transform the matter around them into a unique form, one specific to each user, giving them incredible superhuman abilities.
Kazuma is an Alter User living in the Lost Ground, who can turn his right arm into a power-punching, annihilation bullet-firing super arm. He barely gets by, using his powers for profit. He eventually runs afoul of HOLY, the government’s group of elite Alter hunters from the Special Economic District. The thing is, HOLY members are also Alter Users, using their powers to track down others of their own kind.
This “Anime Legends” release contains the first two volumes of s-CRY-ed in an affordably-priced two-disc set, containing the series’ first 10 episodes, in the hopes of attracting new anime fans without creating vacuums in their wallets. If you’ve already bought Bandai’s previous two “Platinum Edition” releases, you’ve already got what’s here.
That being said, let’s talk about s-CRY-ed itself.
What I liked:
• The big selling point here is the action, and it’s some pretty sweet action. The fight scenes, and there are many of them, are kept interesting throughout, rather than just repeating the same type of battle over and over. Expect a lot of big leaps through the air, magical shimmering colors, and generous amounts of destruction.
• Although the characters, especially the HOLY members, are written somewhat simplistically, there is some nice character development throughout. We learn more about them as the series progresses, making them more interesting as events proceed. The Alters of HOLY aren’t just enemies for Kazuma to duke it out with. Instead, their battles come out of misunderstandings and differences in their philosophies.
When s-CRY-ed left me s-CRY-ing:
• The beginning throws viewers right in the middle of the action with very little context. I kept checking the packaging to make sure this was volume one, because it felt like I had started with volume 27.
• The characters have that anime/video game habit of announcing their fighting moves just before unleashing them. For example, just before taking someone out with an annihilating bullet, Kasuma just has to yell out “Annihilating Bullet!” I know this is supposed to make the characters look cool, but, really, who would actually do this?
• I don’t know what the titular “s-CRY-ed” means, either.
Video quality here is great. There are a lot of bright colors on display, made especially vivid on these discs. The stereo sound is not as booming as it could be, but that might be a good thing when the peppy theme song starts. Extras include the usual textless openings and closing, as well as some trailers, character files and videos, and an interesting recreation of the s-CRY-ed manga, with the artwork on screen supplemented by new audio.
So, it’s an action series with not a lot of depth, just enough to keep things interesting. It sometimes overwhelms viewers with a fast pace, crazed battles, and overpoweringly hyper music. This release is intended for the anime curious, and it could indeed be a good place to begin.