Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- 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 Roman Martel
February 06, 2002
Release Date: April 17, 2001
Overall Rating: 3.2
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 3
Fantasy and adventure stories are really hard to pull off. It's takes a special magical mix of action, characters, a few twists and a fun sense about it. Sometimes it all comes together and sometimes it just ends up being something that we've all seen before. You know what I'm talking about, Arc the Orphen: Secret of the Legend of the Lost Maze, or something like that.
As usual we've got high sound and picture ratings. Everything looked and sounded pretty good on my set up. The menu is standard. It's functional and plays some music while you make your selections. The presentation got some lower marks here. The cover isn't too bad; it's looks kinda adventury and fun. On the back you got the rating, the region coding, the number of languages and length of disc. It's missing the volume number, how many episodes are on the disc and number of channels of sound. Of course there is a screen shot of the menu. That shows the number of episodes and lists them as 1,2, and 3, but I'm not gonna count that as actually being part of the keepcase copy. As for extras... nothing at all. Kinda sad really. Overall it's gotten a lower grade than most of its fellow ADV discs, mostly because of presentation and lack of extras.
The trailer for Arc the Lad made it look pretty good. I didn't know it was based on a "hit video game". If I had known I might have been a bit more cautious about getting it. But the trailer and the fact that I was wrapping up a few series made me take a chance. How was it? Well let's just say, LadyCat and myself haven't had this much fun giving a Mystery Science Theatre treatment to an anime since Legend of Crystania.
Here's the plot, Elk and beloved character Cougar are bounty hunters (big surprise). The sneak aboard an endangered airship to find and capture the hijackers. Instead they find (bum bum bum!) more than they bargained for. Elk (the pointy haired chap) finds a young girl (Lieza) and her pet beasty. Lieza is cute and moans a lot in a breathy kinda way. Anyway Elk finds the hijacker and a fierce battle erupts. The second episode begins with Elk returning to his home to collect his bounty. He runs into Shu. Elk and Shu decide to find the beasty that was hanging out with Lieza. There is an insensitive ponytail man that sends some goons to kill them. And a mayor (or something like that) talks with a generically evil glasses guy. In the final episode Elk and Lieza get to know each other, Shu goes to a bar and insensitive ponytail man and generically evil glasses guy talk. It's real video game action in Arc the Lad. You keep waiting for the cut scene to end so you can play.
Animation-wise it's pretty decent. The style is similar the Final Fantasy look where you combine modern 20th century technology, with futuristic technology and some medieval flare to costumes and weapons. It's not too original but it drawn well and the action sequences are pretty smooth. Almost all the characters look the part. The glasses guy and the ponytail man look evil. Elk looks like the heroic boy, and Shu looks like the competent mentor. And Lieza is so cute you want to puke your guts out. Anyway...
The sound is pretty standard. It lacks some of the variety that you had in the animation. Most of the time it fit the visuals but nothing ever really pulled me into the world of Arc.
The story is really typical. I mean it's so typical that within the first couple minutes you can start calling what's going to happen in the rest of the episode. Some parts seem kinda rushed and not really planned out. Such as the death of a character so beloved that Elk has to go and avenge him. Why? I couldn't tell you. This "beloved" character was a jerk in the few minutes of screen time he had. And then there is the cute helpless girl and her beasty that need protection. Never seen that before. None of the characters are interesting enough for you to care about them and the plot isn't interesting enough to keep you watching either. After a while it becomes one video game or anime cliche after another. Like I said above, you feel like you are watching a huge, long cut scene.
The English cast does a pretty average job. The actor portraying Elk is one of the better ones. He captures the typical "young hero" character pretty well. Lieza also does a good job. She sounds vapid and breathy and moany and cute and feeble all at the same time. The rest of the actors do a decent job.
The opening theme is loud and bombastic. It sounds pretty adventurous and heroic. The end theme is J-popy and fun. The rest of the score is pretty bland. It's about as typical as the plot of the series, so I guess it works in that way. Nothing really stands out in the music department.
I can't say we didn't have fun watching this disc. But I will say that if the disc had been more involving we wouldn't have made fun of it all the way through. It's not a horrible effort, but it's not a great effort either. There are other shows out there that grab you right away and make you want to watch more. This isn't one of them. Arc the Lad biggest problem is that it takes itself so seriously that the fun adventuring aspect is lost. To see how a real adventure show is done check out Outlaw Star or Nadia. And if you are in the mood for some good serious fantasy Record of Lodoss War is a good series. But I think we'll be passing on getting any more of this series.
Roman J. Martel
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General Electric Performance Plus (25 Inch), Sony Playstation 2