Review for Freezing: Complete Series Collection
I had a quick read of the PR blurb for Freezing and I have to admit that my enthusiasm for this show, already weakened by the fan-service artwork, had a bit of a plummet. “Set in a slightly futuristic world where Earth has been invaded and is at war with aliens from another dimension called the Nova” and “genetically modified girls called Pandoras who battle the aliens, and their male partners, called Limiters” are two points that stared me in the face. Actually the two points were the main protagonist’s unfeasibly large breasts, but that’s beside the point. I was asking if Manga Entertainment had already released this series. ‘Girls fighting extra-dimensional aliens’ equal Strike Witches, while ‘girls empowered by male partners’ equal Sekirei. There’s only so much room in the UK release calendar to start releasing clones of previously released shows. But when I watched the first two episodes, I realised that this was no simple rip-off of two previous Manga released shows. Freezing rips off a whole load of other shows as well. But that’s long been the state of the anime industry, and aggressive homage is perfectly acceptable as long as the show is good.
It’s the near future, and extra-dimensional aliens called Nova are attacking the Earth. With their ability to ‘Freeze’ their targets, conventional weaponry stands no chance against them. Fortunately for the fate of mankind, there are the Pandora Warriors, genetically engineered girls with super powers and an ability to heal rapidly from wounds that would prove fatal in others. But these girls’ true powers are revealed when they bond with Limiters, young boys with whom they share senses, and who can cast the same Freezing ability as the enemy, stopping them in their tracks long enough to be destroyed. These young men and women attend an Academy where they are trained through competition to fight this dread foe, and where the Pandoras first choose their Limiters.
Satellizer el Bridget is the most promising Pandora in the second year, whose ruthless ability to scythe through her foes has given her a fearful reputation on campus. But it’s her refusal to take a Limiter that has dubbed her the Untouchable Queen. That changes when Kazuya Aoi transfers into the academy. His late sister was a Pandora who died in battle against the Nova, and when he first sees Satellizer, he’s stunned by the resemblance. Against all advice he decides that he will be her Limiter. Twelve episodes are presented across three discs from Manga Entertainment.
1. Untouchable Queen
2. Pandora Mode
3. Accelerating Turn
4. Tempest Turn
5. She is Rana Linchen
8. Pandora Queen
9. Godspeed of the East
10. Nova Form
11. Ambush! Ravensborne Nucleochede
12. Satellizer vs. Pandora
Freezing gets the usual 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer as afforded to modern anime on DVD. The image is clear and sharp throughout, the animation is smooth, and being a native PAL transfer, is free of any motion artefacts or judder. Colours are strong, detail levels are high, and the show’s action sequences and fan-service come across with full impact. About the only complaint I have is some aliasing to a degree greater than normal for anime. You’ll notice that the title cards for each episode have a lot of text on them, apparently summarising the episode to come. I say apparently, as it’s not quite legible on DVD. You’ll have to get the Blu-ray to read it with ease. Unfortunately the UK doesn’t get a Blu-ray release for this title.
Freezing is a quality animation, with higher than usual production values, excellent action sequences, some nice special effects, and agreeable character designs. There are a lot of big, busty girls, and a fair few weedy teen males, and for some strange reason, the prominent colour for tongues is orange in this show.
You have the choice between DD 5.1 Surround English, and DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional translated subtitles to go with the Japanese audio. The Japanese audio is quite appealing, with some notable actresses in the main roles, including Mamiko Noto as Satellizer, Kana Hanazawa as Rana Linchen, and Akeno Watanabe as Yumi Kim. I can’t say the same for the Funimation dub, although it speaks more to my personal tastes than it does for the quality of the English language track. I couldn’t bear five minutes of the English Chiffon Fairchild. However the English track does give the action a lot more space, and in a show like this that makes it worthy of trying at least once, even for sub only fans. The subtitles are accurately timed, and free of significant error, although I wish they could be consistent with the spelling of Elizabeth Maybury/Maybry/Mabry’s name.
Over the last year, Manga Entertainment have authored a couple of shows, resulting in differing presentation to Funimation and Madman. They did it with Strike Witches 2, and they did it with Panty and Stocking. They do so again with Freezing, and once more you get less than what you would have if they had simply just re-packaged the Madman discs as they usually do. For Funimation and Madman however, animated menus are a thing of the past, and what they do on two dual layer discs, Manga do on one dual and two single layer discs.
So we have three discs with very animated menus, but the chapter breaks have been stripped out, and skipping now advances to the next episode, and as is Manga authoring policy, we don’t get a signs only track to go with the English dub. We are also missing the Funimation audio commentaries on episodes 6 and 11.
Disc 1 has the OVAs for the show, six in total running to a combined 17 minutes. This is the show with the violence taken out, leaving in the fan service, nudity, and neutered sexuality. It’s the anime equivalent of softcore. There’s an odd bit of double standards from the BBFC here, as they have no problem passing this, but MVM’s Ikki Tousen Dragon Destiny release had tamer OVAs banned.
You’ll also find 5 minutes worth of promos for the show here.
Disc 2 has a minute or two more of original promos for the show, as well as the textless credit sequences.
The OVAs would have been better placed on disc 3 to watch after the show, rather than on disc 1.
I hate this! You never know where it will strike, and sometimes a show just happens to catch you in the wrong mood, or on the wrong week, but it wasn’t long before I was loathing Freezing with a passion. It’s not because it wears its influences on its sleeve. I’m perfectly happy with its similarities to Strike Witches; with girls fighting extra-dimensional aliens, or Sekirei, with weedy teen males bonding with hard hitting Amazons. I wasn’t even too bothered with the religious aping of Evangelion, a nun apparently running the Academy, the Nova appearing from time to time like Angels, the Pandora gifted with Stigmata to which they owe their abilities, or the sacred relic hidden in the basement. I admit to being somewhat irked by the Battle Royale situation among the schoolgirls, although that’s mostly in the execution, not in the copying. It certainly not because of its production values, as in terms of looks and sounds, Freezing is one of the higher quality anime to come from Japan. No, I loathe this show because it’s a nasty, exploitative piece of work, a high budget Ikki Tousen designed simply to cater for a certain anime fan demographic.
Like so many anime I have seen in recent years, it ticks the boxes to appeal to a certain kind of male otaku, and story, character development, any kind of meat to the show is left by the wayside. Unlike shows such as Sekirei or Strike Witches, it doesn’t even have the strength of writing to offer an appeal beyond its baser assets. It’s titillation and fan-service pure and simple, and that of a sort that makes me worry about its target audience. If you’re a teen male, and typically your brain cells will be closer to your genitals, then I can understand Freezing being right up your street. But the anime buying demographic in Japan is older than that, and they should really know better.
Extra dimensional aliens invade, and it turns out that only girls can fight them, girls with super powers as a result of genetic engineering and implanted Stigmata. All well and good. These girls all happen to be tall, big bosomed Amazons, which can have its appeal. Their powers are only truly awakened when they bond with a Limiter, typically a weedy teen male. The main protagonists in this show are Satellizer el Bridget, and she’s introduced as a lethal killing machine, scything her way through a bunch of foes, dismembering and slicing and dicing as she goes. Except this is a training exercise, and the Pandora are engineered to heal quickly, so her foes aren’t permanently maimed or dead. She refuses a Limiter, because she hates men, and has a tragic past which caused that. Except along comes Kazuya, a weedy, ineffectual male, like all the others in this show, proxies for the viewer who are probably also weedy and intimidated by women, hence the Amazons. He bumps into Satellizer, and unlike all the other boys who’ve wound up hospitalised, he alone melts her heart and reveals her to be a total tsundere. He alone cures her frigidity. Of course she isn’t the only girl who he charms, but when it comes to actual sexuality, he’s as reticent as the rest of the target demographic (Japan, the greying nation).
Anyway, the Pandora powers mean that they don’t need to wear clothes. They can generate their own armour, and indeed their clothes through something called Volt Texture. This is the best of all worlds for our target demographic. During battles with the Nova, and especially each other, they will beat the clothes off each other, there are a whole lot of boobs on display here, but once a Pandora recovers, she can re-equip her clothes, only for them to be stripped bare again. Girls will be stripped bare five, maybe six times during a battle.
The first episode sets up the situation with the Nova, and the battle against the invaders, and then forgets it for the next seven episodes. What we get here is two-thirds of the series devoted to high school bitching, as the various girls battle each other to the naked for class superiority, and it’s a whole lot of abuse and humiliation. Satellizer is the strongest Pandora there, which the upperclassmen in particular can’t countenance, so they spend most of the series devising new ways to defeat her, abuse her, humiliate her, through battle or otherwise, and somehow weedy little Kazuya keeps coming to her rescue, making her melt a little more each time. Just when it looks as if they might bond, along comes a rival in Rana Linchen, who decides that Kazuya is her perfect partner, which makes things all the more complicated for them.
If you’re in any doubt as to the aims of this show, just look at the eye-catches, with a significant girl of each episode in a sexy pose, with her vital statistics listed, and significant erogenous zones. Deep and meaningful storytelling this ain’t. Anyway, after seven or eight episodes of humiliation and fan service, they suddenly remember the plot, and some Nova attack, and all the girls that have been hating on each other for the last seven episodes suddenly become the best of friends as they unite to face the threat. The series ends on an open note, probably looking to a continuation, and knowing how the anime industry is right now, playing it safe and gazing at its navel, there probably will be one.
Freezing is a high budget and glossy series that looks very nice. Freezing is also cheap, nasty and exploitative. That it’s demeaning to women goes without saying. After all these years of watching anime, I’ve become used to making allowances for different mindsets, and sometimes a lack of political correctness can be refreshing. But Freezing is also demeaning to men, as it makes assumptions about its target audience that are insulting. It doesn’t even make any pretence to story or characterisation beyond the basic stereotypes. It’s selling pure fan-service and I hate it. Thankfully there are a lot better anime out there, or I would be seriously looking for another obsession right now.
But what do I know? If you’re just morbidly curious about the series, then this Manga Entertainment release has good audio and video, even if the disc specs aren’t up to the standards of Australian and US publishers. But if you are a fan of Freezing, then go for the US Blu-ray DVD combo release. Apparently the Blu-ray is region free, and it also has the commentaries that the UK release lacks.