Argentosoma Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • 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: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Argentosoma

Argentosoma Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 04, 2003
Release Date: August 05, 2003

Argentosoma Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
After another fierce battle, the men and women of Funeral work diligently in their attempts to repair the base while at the same time struggle with attempts to try and revive Frank from it's coma. Coming under heavy fire from another attack by the aliens, Ryu must deal with his past, present, and future with a startling secret threatening to destroy the pilots' faith in Funeral.

The Review!
Moving into the second half of the series, things become very interesting here, providing you’re able to overlook all the shortcuts taken in the first half to get here.

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.

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.

The front cover continues with the same graphic design of the previous volumes, now with a brownish gold background, while having the nicely painted images of Hattie and Takuto on top of it. 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 Ryu, Steiner and the aliens themselves, as well as providing some nice artwork. The back of the insert provides the full production information including bilingual cast listings. Bandai also went the extra step and did this release as a reversible cover; the front of it has a very fanservice-looking shot of Hattie stretching about, 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.

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.

The extras are pretty minimal here, with another segment of the basic tech file areas that provide some more minor bits of background information and a small character gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed parts of the first half of the series, while being annoyed at some of the “unbelieveable” moments as well as the poor science that makes it into science fiction these days, the dramatic side of the story has gone along fairly well. That all becomes much more important as the second half kicks off with the revelations from the previous volume plus a slew of new ones here.

After the massive destruction caused on the base after the last alien strolled through, the remaining members of the team on site find themselves starting to work together to do some of the clean-up, even though they’re supposed to be off-duty and resting. The sense of camaraderie is growing stronger among them and is getting noticed at higher levels, which is potentially both good and bad. While most of them work on this, Ryu and Hattie find themselves very drawn to Frank, laying dead/comatose in his chamber.

With Frank being as bad off as he is, it’s decided from those higher up in the organization to send him somewhere else to be worked on. After being loaded up, Ryu and Hattie head off in his SARG to provide cover on the journey. Of course, a journey like this won’t be incident free and we get a new alien that arrives to try and take down the transport craft. What’s surprising is that it’s in the form of an all black and very capable SARG. Ryu and Hattie end up in a very difficult battle, one where Ryu realizes there’s no limiter inhibiting the pilot of that other craft.

While with most journeys, it’s the trip that makes it interesting, the destination of this particular one is much more interesting. Much to Ryu’s surprise, since he was never given the location they were taking Frank, he’s almost in shock to find out that they’re back at the MORGUE building where he lost Maki and Frank came to life. Though he manages to compose himself enough to not give away that he’s been there before, he’s analyzing and reliving every moment of his time in there.

The latest group of scientists working on Frank are little different than the ones we saw during the briefing of the command structure a few episodes ago. They have the feel of isolated and inept, two things that always cause trouble when mixed together. And their plan is brilliant; take four existing dead shell alien heads and see if they can connect and reactivate a piece of programming that Frank is missing that will help revive him, though without any of his previous memories (or data as they call it, since none of the scientists consider him living in any form). Stupid, stupid, stupid scientists.

There’s a lot of very interesting revelations here that make going back to earlier episodes intriguing to see if the hints really are there. There’s also a rather good episode that has one of the Alaskan border pilots, the kind who hit sub orbital arcs to defend the planet, who ends up spending some time at the base and reminiscing about his youth and a friend of his who died some time ago. Between that and the other revelations, things really pick up nicely here and the story progresses ahead. While you do get insanely stupid scientists, you get a really nice sequence that provides some hints about what really happened during the first test.

Argentosoma is becoming more interesting, but I still stand by the fact that the first half is pretty darn jumbled and chaotic, not making for an easy series to get into. Things are shaping up nicely here though and those who have stuck it out may start finding more payoff here than they expected, like I am.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery,Tech Files

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.


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