Over the course of the last couple of volumes, Burst Angel had proved itself to be more enjoyable than its average opening episodes had suggested. Unfortunately, as we move into the second half of the series, the fourth instalment in the series proves to be a weak link in the chain.
The first order of business is to resolve the Osaka storyline from last volume, and unfortunately, it is a rather anticlimactic conclusion to the arc, consisting of half an episode of everyone doing very little, before suddenly attacking the enemy in a series of action scenes that are ridiculous by even Burst Angel’s standards. Even the villain of the arc reveals himself to be particularly shallow and two-dimensional, whilst Meg manages to get herself kidnapped yet again.
Next up is the disc’s best offering, a past episode explaining how Jo and Meg first met whilst dropping some tantalising hints about Jo’s origins. Unfortunately, the quality goes downhill again in the volume’s second half, which begins with the inevitable fanservice-filled beach resort visit, before embarking on a new arc that sees Jo haunted by memories just out of her reach even as she tries to progress with her latest mission. This episode is a somewhat slow-moving one that delivers little in and of itself, but it does promise an interesting confrontation for Jo in the next volume that will reveal more about her hidden past.
Whilst most of the content of this disc is throwaway fluff, the long overdue past episode does deserve extra mention as being the volume’s one saving grace. Although there are still unanswered questions about Jo’s origins and how Sei and Amy came into the picture, even this much background information is welcome, and is another small step on the path to making the main characters more developed than their initial, two-dimensional selves.
This volume also proves very inconsistent on the visual front; the first episodes is detailed and well-drawn, but the next few seem to be more of a budget saving exercise, relying heavily on the use of flashbacks, pans across static backgrounds or looping animation whilst the implied events take place off screen. Just as with content, it is only the past episode that delivers on the action front by offering some well executed Jo-centred combat scenes; other episodes offer less satisfying efforts such as a rather bizarre segment in which a man shoots a giant fish head at the oncoming enemy. The background music is equally varied here; all tracks follow a simplistic arrangement, but where some are catchy, others are just plain dull.
A disappointingly weak entry in the series, Burst Angel #4 manages to save itself from complete mediocrity by including an entire episode dedicated to unravelling Jo and Meg’s history. Nonetheless, it looks as if the worst is over now, with the preview for the next episode promising an interesting new adversary and an intriguing glimpse into Jo’s origins.