Saturday, January 2, 2016

Next Senki Ehrgeiz

Here's another from Erik's Pile of Laserdisc Goodness: Next Senki Ehrgeiz, also known as just plain Ehrgeiz, probably to maximize confusion with the fighting game of the same name and year. This 1997 series was one of the first mecha shows on late night anime. It was licensed in the US by AnimeVillage (the predecessor of Bandai USA) and released with subtitles on six VHS tapes. After that, it slipped through the cracks. The show was released in Japan on Laserdisc, and a DVD version was promised, but nothing happened. If people know the show at all, they know it from the mrips encode of the US VHS tapes.

Next Senki Ehrgeiz draws its plot straight from the Gundam cookbook, with the Earth government embroiled in a war against the Next space colonies, using mechas called Metal Vehicles or MVs. Complicating matters are a party of Earth revolutionaries, known as Terra, who want to create peace by waging war against the Earth government; and a band of outlaws living in an abandoned space colony, Next 7. All are catalyzed into action (although the Earth government disappears from the story early in the show) by the appearance, or reappearance, of a super-mecha with a mind of its own, the System with Absolute Consciousness, called SAC, or S for short. For a more elaborate exegesis of the plot, I refer you to this review.

I don't usually like mecha anime or work on it; the last one I remember before this was Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and that was only because of Youko. Nonetheless, I found Next Senki Ehrgeiz a pretty good ride, despite its lack of originality. Each faction has compelling characters to capture the viewers attention. For Next, it's the ambitious Captain Akane Aoi and the mysterious cyborg Mr. Arnold; for Terra, their psychic leader Hal and his loyal lieutenant Galbraith; for the outlaws, the energetic free spirit Jay and the veteran warrior Balzak. The show spins the parallel stories of the Next military, the Terra revolutionaries, and the outlaws together to provide narrative momentum. The central mystery of the nature and intentions of S remains unknown until almost the end of the show. And there are LOTS of explosions. What else do you need?

Well, one thing I don't need quite so much of is the Next 7 orphans, Ken and Ann. They're used too often as plot crutches. For example, an early episode revolves around getting critical medicine for Ann, while a later one is about getting critical medicine for Ken. They're fine in small doses, but they're nowhere near as interesting as the Next 7 adults (sorry, kids).

This release uses the R1 subtitles from the VHS release. They seem pretty good (aside from a few obvious clunkers that have been fixed). macros74 transcribed and timed the subtitles; OCR didn't work on the sickly green VHS subtitles. deltakei translated the signs in the specials. I edited and typeset; Juggen did the karaokes; Calyrica and konnakude did QC; and Erik encoded from his own Japanese Laserdiscs. The result is notably better video and more readable subtitles than in the VHS version.

Speaking of karaokes, the opening song, Dream Jack, is a knockout, a hard rocker by Humming Bird that's perfect for a mecha show. The ending song, One Voice for Ehrgeiz by Mariko Fukui, is a soothing slow number for decompressing after the action. The background music is serviceable and appropriate. The original soundtrack hasn't turned up on the Interwebs yet.

The lead seiyuu were all veterans. While Iwata Mitsuo (voice of Jay) had lead roles in Akira and Onegai Teacher, Sasaki Nozomu (voice of Hal) and Ichijo Miyuki (voice of Aoi) mostly had featured roles; for example, Miyuki provided the voice of Jody Rockwell, the Canadian heavyweight judo player in Yawara! The voice cast is uniformly good.

This release also includes the six specials that were included with the even-numbered episodes. These specials use footage from the main episodes; there's nothing new. The first special, in episode 2, acts as a teaser and combines scenes from many different episodes. Later specials are basically just recaps. The episodes are chaptered, so it's easy to get to (or skip over) the specials.

So here's Next Senki Ehrgeiz in as nice a version as we're going to get unless some Immense Power (as S is referred to) decided to rescue it from oblivion and make a remastered DVD release. Hope you like it!


  1. I was wondering why my old review suddenly appeared in my blog's "most read of the week" sidebar. I appreciate the link, and it's nice to see another person pleased with Ehrgeiz on the whole. I completely understand why & how it's become so forgotten, but it was a show that just clicked with me, so I've tried championing it whenever I feel I have the chance to do so.

    I actually managed to get all but Vol. 5 of the LDs, all for good prices, but it's cool to see this release happen, especially since you included the extras. I know that the show is available for streaming in Japan via Bandai Channel, though, so I wonder if that version looks any better. Now I just have to find a nice, big scanner to use so that I can have high-quality, digital copies of those sweet posters that each LD came with.

    Oh yeah, since you mentioned the confusion between the anime & the unrelated game, here's my silly "Vs. Battle" between the two, where I go even more in-depth about the anime:

    1. Way ahead of you.