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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Complete Series


Starring (voice): Mamiko Noto, Mitsuhiro Ichiki and Eri Kitamura
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 17 December 2012

Eager to follow in the footsteps of his fallen sister, Kazuya enrolls at West Genetics Academy, a training facility for buxom heroes known as Pandoras. These courageous schoolgirls are genetically enhanced with enough sex appeal to cripple a man - and the superhuman strength to slaughter aliens by the dozen. Kazuya's role is that of Limiter, a Pandora's battle partner, and he quickly sets his sights on the most feared beauty in school, Satellizer el Bridget. This full-figured annihilator of aliens is as desirable as she is deadly, but rubbing her the wrong way could lead to gross bodily harm. Can Kazuya forge a bond with his new partner and rise to the top of the ranks at West Genetics? Or will he fall victim to the mysterious bloodlust lurking within Satellizer...?

Freezing is the latest in a less than exalted line of anime series openly devoted to showcasing large casts of buxom girls engaged in bloody physical combat, sometimes with one-dimensional enemies but more often with one another, with maximum attention given to shredded clothing and heavily eroticised violence. While the content of such series - Ikki Tousen, Queen's Blade, Sekirei and Samurai Girls are a few other titles in the same vein - is generally fairly shallow and objectionable, their relatively high saleability in a shrinking anime market can sometimes attract a surprising level of talent: thus Samurai Girls and High School of the Dead were visually far more impressive than the content warranted, while both Queen's Blade and Freezing have stellar voice casts drawn from the ranks of Japan's most popular voice actresses.

While Freezing's not too distinguished visually, with a generous amount of corner-cutting animation on display, the voice cast act with gusto, lending spirit to the odd and questionable storyline. Though the extensive cast of scantily-clad women are notionally meant to be deployed against an extra-dimensional menace, in practice they spend most of their time enforcing the cast-iron social hierarchy and student council rules of West Genetics Academy, often with a high degree of violent, sadistic pleasure. Heroine Satellizer not only has to cope with the ruthless ways of her peers, but with the irritatingly persistent Kazuya, who takes out his disturbing complex over his deceased elder sister on Satellizer in complete disregard of her well-known aversion to being touched.

While the majority of the cast is female, featuring girls and women in a variety of positions of authority and expertise, any potential for female solidarity - as seen in the similarly Amazonian battle series Claymore - is undermined by the viciousness of the characters' physical and moral attacks on one another as much as the flagrant nudity and fanservice on display. Kazuya is as personality-deficient as male leads in anime of this genre come, while Satellizer seldom displays much charm or depth of her own - the revelations of her aversion to physical contact coming from a history of abuse play like more fuel for the male audience's voyeuristic appetites rather than any real attempt at characterisation. An abrupt climactic battle against the otherworldly intruders, together with hints at a grander design behind the scenes, close out the series and seem designed to point the way to a sequel, but the story is clearly of secondary importance to reeling in the audience with the promise of continued violence and fanservice.

Though Freezing has little to commend it and plenty to object to, in an anime market where sales are falling its formula of softcore titillation and violence is bound to surface again and again. Even in this genre there are highs and lows, of course, yet regrettably Freezing is one of the less well-executed or memorable examples to date. A poor showing.


Richard Hunt

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