Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Arc the Lad
Arc the Lad Vol. #1
By Chris Beveridge
April 17, 2001
Release Date: April 17, 2001
Arc the Lad Vol. #1
What They Say
© ADV Films
Join Elk, the youngest member of the Hunters Guild, who finds himself propelled into an epic odyssey across a mysterious world in search of the enigmatic outlaw known as Arc The Lad. Together with the mysterious Lieza and the powerful warrior Shu, Elk must defeat a sinister organization that's creating half-human monsters and find his way to Arc, whom Elk believes responsible for the destruction of his village!The Review!
For a lot of the more hardcore anime fans, "Based on the hit video game!" is like the kiss of death for a title. Very few titles make the grade if they're based on video games. The list of poor ones is a long and ugly one. For the opening episodes, Arc the Lad doesn't seem like it's going to join that list, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be a real standout either. Audio:
For the purpose of our primary review, we listened to this in its original language of Japanese. Being a TV series, there's little surprise here in how it sounds. The opening song is strong and probably the loudest part of the show. Dialogue is crisp and clear with no noticeable dropouts or other distortions. There's some rather good directionality across the front soundstage through a couple of scenes that works really well.Video:
This is quite the great looking disc. Being a recent show from Sony (1999), the animation is very vibrant with lots of strong solid colors and some very fluid sequences. The opening sequences are always the highlight of many series and this one is no exception. There's a few rainbows here and there and some color banding in a few areas, but when the deep blue night skies come out looking nice and solid with only a few hints of blockiness, I've got little to complain about. Packaging:
This is a nice looking cover by all accounts. The colors are pretty bold and the cross section of it using the spear helps make it more eye-catching with the solid band of white across the bottom right. The back cover reverses it with some nice animation shots and the show summary and technical/staff information. The insert art is different and also contains the episode chapter listings. On the unfortunate side, there's no disc numbering and there's no episode numbering anywhere on the exterior package. Good for retailers, truly bad for customers.Menus:
The menus are pretty simple since there's little to do with the disc beyond watching the content and the trailers. The main menu is done in a similar cut style as the cover with one section playing part of the opening music and animation. Access times between menu selections are pretty fast and without issue.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The show starts off pretty fast, with the hijacking of an airship. A group of bounty hunters arrive on the scene in their own aircraft, and the two young Hunters named Elk and Cougar make their way down to the airship on a cable shot at it. Their entrance onto and into the airship is done in both a cautious and risky way, with Cougar taking the risks by just jumping into various rooms and Elk taking the more cautious approach.
They discover all of the passengers in one room, unharmed and unguarded. They learn from the passengers that only one hijacker is onboard and presumably in the command room. Cougar dashes off to there while telling Elk to search the rooms. Miffed at his partner, Elk goes off to check all the rooms to find more passengers, but ends up coming across something more unexpected; a young girl who can talk and control a monster (that looks suspicously like a monster from Monster Rancher).
Elk isn't really taken by the girl (though she is rather well drawn) and is more interested in her ability to control the monster. During all of this, Cougar makes his share of mistakes up in the command room and the ship begins its crash landing descent...
Once the airship encounter is over, Elk ends up meeting up with his old friend Shu, the man who found Elk when he was five years younger, sometime after his parents had died in an assault on his village. Shu's looked out for him like an older brother/father figure, and Shu's rather proud of how Elk's turned out. While catching up in the bounty office, Elk comes across a bounty for the monster he met the night before.
Shu and Elk set off to find the girl and her monster. Elk doesn't believe the monster could hurt someone while under her control, and he manages to convince Shu that they should try and find her before the other bounty hunters do. The eventually catch up to her and the monster and hide her away while they figure out just what's going on. And there are various forces at work here. Besides the regional mayor whose introduction of the huge Goddess statue seems to be more than what you see on the surface, you also have a mysterious group of power enhanced folks from the White House that are involved.
The first three episodes of Arc the lad are quite nicely animated. The character designs are a mixed bag though. The girl, Lieza, is probably one of the better designed characters both in character and outfit. Shu's minimal look works well, but the main iffy one is Elk himself. The design seems to fluctuate a bit between decently done and cartoonish/childish. It's almost like they couldn't really nail down how he should look. And of course, the monster Pandit looks like the critter out of Monster Ranchers.
The show's setting is pretty hard to define as well. It's set in a Final Fantasyish setting with a modern day city mixed with fantasy feel and European backdrops. There appears to be some level of science with the airships and other vehicles but then we also get more basic fantasy aspects of the monsters and the various magical powers of a few of the characters. This may all be an obvious setting to those who've played the game, but trying to get a feel for it is kind of hard to do. One thing that will stick in your mind is Raiders of the Lost Ark though, as one of the items brought to our attention early on is the Arc of the Lost Covenant.
With little to really go on so far, the show does seem to hold some promise. The animation style is definitely pleasing and the opening hints of larger things to come. Lieza's character alone will probably keep me entertained as well as wondering what the priestess-like character from the opening segments is all about.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.