Funimation’s release of Spiral has been somewhat anticipated by the Otaku community from what I can tell. I have found a scarce smattering of reviews, but I did manage to find that a couple of torrents for it were still up, that shouldn’t have been. (Yes, I reported them to the site maintainers and they are being pulled down.) The torrents were pretty popular, so… I must not be the only person who was curious about this release.
Animation: I could be happier with the quality here. The character art has been done well, but the backgrounds are a bit lacking in the detail that really makes a series pop for me. Even lacking that detail, the artwork in this series isn’t bad. It’s just not spectacular or outstanding. In other words, it’s good but it could be better.
Soundtrack: Ignore the opening and ending theme songs. They um… quite frankly… suck. The opening titles are kind of cute, and a little punchy but that opening song turns you off immediately and you find yourself flipping past the titles just to get past that annoying voice. The ending theme is not half so annoying, and the titles are very well done here. I have to wonder what the animators were thinking when they put together those opening titles though. I guess they tried to be clever and cute, but they don’t really fit the theme of the series at all.
English Dub: I’m going to call this one adequate. Not at all like the English dub of Excel Saga, which I couldn’t even watch more than five minutes of before I was ready to find the guys that cast her and ask them what kind of crack they were smoking. Instead, the English dub here is actually quite servicable and tolerable. Borderline pleasant.
Japanese dub: Superior. In so many ways, it’s not funny. And it should be noted that I am not a purist here. Some series I watch in English, some I don’t. This one is better in Japanese with the subtitles on.
Subtitles: I might have chosen a higher contrast color to put the subtitles in for this series, but still they are very legible and do not detract from the animation. Translations seem to be better here as well. They make a lot more sense than the script for the English dub.
Story: Since we’re watching this on DVD, we have the wonderful advantage of being able to skip past all those horrible songs and get to the meat of the series. This is where Spiral shines. The story is entertaining and engaging, but not spectacular. It keeps you wondering, but not so much that you are absolutely dying for the next episode. Still, all in all, this is one of the most interesting mystery series I have seen so far. It’s also kid appropriate, which is a major plus in my book. The underlying story in this series leaves a lot of room for growth. I’m interested in seeing how this one turns out, and that tells us something right there.
If you want a fun mystery series, that’s not too cerebral, but still entertaining, Spiral is for you.