Argentosoma Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Argentosoma

Argentosoma Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 04, 2003
Release Date: April 08, 2003


Argentosoma Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The alien attacks continue and the soldiers of the elite anti-alien unit 'Funeral' are called out to defend the Earth time and time again. With tension mounting, Ryu and Dan's dislike for one another explodes and lands them both in the brig.

Meanwhile, some of the members begin to question the idea of using Hattie, who is just a child, to control their alien weapon. Breakthrough! Ryu figures out how to stop a new breed of alien and for a brief moment, he reverts to his former personality, Takuto. Is he really committed to his goal of revenge?

The Review!
After a rather odd and jumbled first volume, things settle down a bit more here and some time is spent with most of the characters, allowing you to actually get a real feel for them.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though it’s very recent, it’s a pretty basic stereo mix with only a few areas of really good directionality, mostly during the combat sequences, across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout without any noticeable dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The transfer here continues to look very solid. Colors are spot on, cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is extremely minimal during panning sequences. There are a few areas where some dark scenes with blues in them look a little grainy, but it looks to be by design for atmosphere. Bandai’s approach has changed a bit with this release in how they handle things though; the opening sequence retains the original Japanese credits (which we like). The end credits, which used to be untranslated as well, are now done in ADV-style, which means we get fully translated credits in the rolling up format. I’d personally rather have that at the completion of each episode and retain the original Japanese credits, especially since some shows do them up so nicely.

Packaging:
The front cover provides a similar style to the first with its design/blueprint style against the background while the character artwork, more painted than anything, of Ryo and his main “rival” catch the eye with the colors. The back cover provides some very small shots of animation and several paragraphs of show description. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed (with volume numbering on the spine and the front cover) as well as the discs features and production information. The insert has another shot of the cover while it opens to talk about Maki and Harriet, as well as providing some nice artwork. The back of the insert provides the full production information including bilingual cast listings, something we very much like having now. Bandai also went the extra step and did this release as a reversible cover; the front of it has Hattie and the commander in the same stylish format as the main front cover while the back cover goes minimalist with just the artwork pieces and a Shakespeare quote.

Menu:
The menu design here is really nice and reflects well the shows opening mentality, as everything is set up like mirrors, which shatter upon loading and then reform in a crooked way when you go to submenus. Moving about is nice and easy and the layout is pretty standard and access times are nice and fast for the most part.

Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal, but still provide some good stuff. The Tech Files has a number of blueprint images and background on some of the new gear and vehicles that show up in these episodes. There’s also the inclusion of a textless ending sequence with this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a first volume that left is pretty cold and uninterested, they managed to salvage things a bit better here by moving forward with the plot and providing some good character detail. Though several of the believability factors are still present, they were barely touched upon here, letting us forget how silly some of it is.

A lot of the focus throughout these five episodes is more towards Hattie and her relationship with Frank, now pretty much known as just EX-1, though Hattie continues to call him Mr. Elf. Hattie’s own issues with the gunfire and violence continues to be a problem, so much that she has a breakdown of sorts during a life fire training session that they put EX-1 through. The commander was amusingly tired of the doctors reasons behind why his efforts aren’t producing the results she wants that I almost expected her to just kill him.

An interesting tangent that gets lightly explored, and will likely have impact later on, is something that Commander Ines has in relation to Hattie. During a sequence where Hattie has escaped into the ducts in the base, she has memories back to when she ended up apparently leaving her family to serve in the military, which lead to her losing her only child. With Hattie now in her life, even though she’s mostly viewed her as a tool up until now, she finds herself thinking heavily of those times and what happened at the end. It’ll be interesting to see whether they explore this more and do something with it or just let it lie.

Ryo himself figures nicely into most of the episodes, though he has an amusing one early on where he’s been smuggling out info on the SARG craft in return for a favor he had gotten previously. While his actual distribution of information to someone else doesn’t get him caught, he ends up in a situation where he’s researching more information and gets into trouble when Dan ends up setting off the alarms. This gets both of them thrown into the brig with time to think and reflect. Dan uses it to reflect on when he left home and joined the service against his fathers’ wishes while Ryo more or less shuts down throughout it, though he gets reminded of his past as well.

Ryo’s time spent with most of the cast through these episodes, particularly Hattie, end up getting him to be more comfortable with everyone, though he’s certainly not opening up by any stretch of the imagination. He’s ending up in a number of combat situations and comes up with some unique ways of saving the day, since we do have a few alien-of-the-week moments throughout these episodes. But we also get some nice flashbacks to his past life and where he was going with it. Ryo’s less of a cipher this time around, though he does continue to be a hardass.

With the basic setup out of the way on the first volume, things moved a bit more smoothly on this volume and we learned more about the Pilgrimage Point where all the aliens mysteriously seem to want to go and the way of the world in general. A few more episodes of actual information and this might actually be somewhat interesting.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Tech Files,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 10:01:20 PM

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