RATING
POSITIVES
 
Lives up to its reputation for action.
 
NEGATIVES
 
When it’s not too busy fumbling line delivery, plot progression, and character development
 
NOT ON US TV BECAUSE
 
Grade school bully girls suggesting the victim peddle herself to a pedo.
 
High school rape scene goes a little far, though unsuccessful.
 
Grade-school girl kills with gun, even though it’s part of a VR dream.
 
Visible, though non-sexual, panty shots of said grade-school girl.
 

Mezzo: DSA has all the elements to make a smash anime – a technical mastermind (Harada), a kick-ass gun-toting babe (Mikura), a shy young girl who lets herself get pushed around way too much (Sakura), an ex-detective (Kurokawa), and a black-market gang whose leader runs a “barbar” shop and is more devious than criminal (Mugiyama). But for whatever reason, Mezzo ends up flubbing things again and again. It’s supposed to be a light-hearted action series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the funny just comes up tasting flat and the action becomes standard anything-can-happen-in-animation affair. Maybe it’s resting on the laurels of it’s cinematic predecessor, or maybe I’m missing out on something by not having seen the movie, but Mezzo: DSA just doesn’t add up.

Let’s take the opener for Episode 1. Right off the bat, you’re in the middle of a black-market deal. It’s not long before Harada and Mikura of the DSA show up to break things up. After a bit of fighting, the scene changes to an abandoned building with two grade-school girls beating up Asami for money. If the creators wanted us to despise the bullies and feel sorry for Asami, they could have stopped there. But no, the grade-school bullies suggest Asami peddle herself to a pedo to make more money. (The English dub lightens it up a bit, trading “pedo” for “perverted old man.”) Fortunately, this what-the-serious-fuck moment is brought to a screeching halt when one of the bad guys comes flying through the brick wall. The bullies run off and we’re back to the action. After Mikura gets her hands on the item in question, it’s time to make an escape and save the bullying victim left behind. At this point Mezzo flubs again when the Mikura throws Asami out of a window and proceeds to beat Asami’s free-fall decent with her ripcord-assisted one.

All of this before the opening credits of episode 1 rolls.

The first two episodes deal with a ghost and extra-terrestrials, which is just a bad way to start a series that really isn’t about that. I don’t mind it when action veers down the spooky path every once and a while as there’s only so much ass-kicking, politics, and dementia to go around before it gets boring. But to start things off this way gives the the impression that you’re going to continue down this path and that you don’t have much to go on otherwise. Unfortunately, only the former is false.

Later on in Episode 3, Mikura runs into Asami again when Asami waits for Mikura outside of a store. As Mikura passes, Asami calls out her name. Now at this point I want you to stop and think about how you would react in this situation. What would you do if someone called your name from a doorway you just passed through? Would you turn around and ask aloud “Someone call me?” or “Who’s that calling me?” I bet not. Maybe you’d think it to yourself, but you wouldn’t say it. At this point I switched to the Japanese voice acting and subs in the hopes that English dubbers were just fouling things up. Turns out they didn’t have much to work with.

I can see what Mezzo: DSA’s vision is, and I would love that vision. But that vision is a far cry from what is actually delivered. It isn’t until Episode 5 that I saw any real craftsmanship in presentation, when Mezzo: DSA goes over the same time frame as Episode 4 but from Mikura’s point of view. However, by this time I was a bit burnt out (which is really bad considering this is a shorter 13-episode series) and realized there’s only 8 episodes left. That’s not much left to give me insight into the remaining characters and move everyone and everything forward.

The remainder of Mezzo: DSA straightens its act up and actually delivers something worth watching, but it still can’t stop fumbling. There’s some really great episodes towards the end, but there’s too much deluge in the way. The creators had some good ideas, but not enough to fill up 13 episodes. The result is a run-of-the-mill experience over-all that’s better as a time-slot filler on late-night TV than a main attraction worth buying DVDs of.