Arjuna Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • 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: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Arjuna

Arjuna Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 07, 2002
Release Date: December 03, 2002


Arjuna Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
After her fierce battle with the Raaja at the nuclear power plant, Chris decides that Juna is "impure" and needs to go through some survival training. As Juna and Tokio ponder their new relationship and situation, Tokio suddenly falls ill. And just when things seem their darkest, Chris also falls seriously ill - Desperate, Cindy turns to Juna to save them, no matter who pays the price!

The Review!
Going by word of mouth, I was told to find these episodes plainly offensive to my sensibilities. Of course, we were told that about the first volume and I enjoyed that quite a lot.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese and in the 5.1 mix of it. The amount of dialogue and sounds in general sent to the rear speakers really increases with these episodes and the added clarity of the 5.1 mix helped bring about a warmer feel to the program. Dialogue is nice and crisp and the music sounds fantastic throughout. Also included, in addition to an English 5.1 track and 2.0 tracks for both languages is an isolated music score in 5.1, which was what we listened to while writing the review.

Video:
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for widescreen sets. This release also utilizes the directors cut of the show, as the original broadcast version has not been released in Japan. This provides one immediate inconsitency in that the original previews from the first two episodes were removed and placed in the extras section, which also happens here. The transfer itself is as flawless as I can find it to be. Colors are rich and vibrant while the darker sequences, such as at night in the forest during a rainstorm, maintain a very solid look without any macroblocking. Cross coloration and aliasing are non-existent. If everything looked this good, I could eliminate this part of the review process.

Packaging:
The front cover here makes out a bit better than the first one, but the covers for this series seem relatively weak in general. The image of Juna in the fields with the massive butterfly image behind is good, but overall feels just a bit too soft. The back cover provides a small collage of animation images as well as the discs features. There are several paragraphs of summary and the usual listings of production and technical information. The insert provides the front cover artwork again but without the border while it opens to provide summaries for each individual episode. The back of the insert provides the main credits for both languages, but once again fails to match up the English actors to their respective roles.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice if simple piece, with a flowing array of colors in the background while the centerpiece is the “power stone” or seed where animation from the show plays. Selections are lined around it, though there’s only one pattern of movement. The layout is pretty standard and access times are good.

Extras:
There’s a small but nice selection of extras included in this volume. The first is the original previews, which were moved here due to the reworkings done on the home video/directors cut version. There’s also about a six minute interview with Shoji Kawamori done during Anime Expo. This particular extra is a real treat for me since two of my friends are in the background for a good part of it (cosplaying as Merle from Escaflowne and Rennamon from Digimon). Both were “waiting in line” to interview Kawamori next and didn’t realize they were being filmed. The final extra is a rather filled dictionary of terms for the show, which helps to flesh out some of the concepts Kawamori tosses into the mix.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a brief recap, the series lurches forward again into a time of mental expansion as well as a general slowing down of the pace. The first volume had a fair amount happening; Juna died, was reborn, brought into SEED and dealt with a few Raaja, including that rather nasty one at the power plant. There was quite a bit going on there and a lot to take in. Things here go into a much slower pace.

With Juna and Tokio looking for their way off of the mountain so that they can make their way home, they eventually come across an old man whose living in a solitary life up here. He’s likely been predestined to be here at this time, and having cast off the shackles of his past life many years prior of career and family. In his time since, he’s helped to maintain the natural growth of a small area of the mountainside where there are now rice paddies, vegetable gardens and a very tight gathering of nature, almost a pure nature. The old man’s presence is key, because as Juna and Tokio decide to spend time there to figure out what’s going on, he serves as a guide to some of the mysteries she’s trying to unravel.

Most of this goes over Tokio’s head, though he’s told that he will have one of the hardest times in the coming days, as he’s going to have to protect her not only from others, but from herself. Tokio’s still having a hell of a time dealing with everything that’s going on, never mind the potential competition of the younger Chris from SEED. But for Juna’s benefit, he lunges right into the lifestyle that the old man has after a bit, and treats it as something to get through with a smile on his face. Sort of, “it’s nice for a few days, but not for a lifetime” mentality.

Juna on the other hand absorbs so many information from this area that she starts to not see things as they really are. She ends up taking such a strong feeling from the land, as the soil and the life here is not weak like it is in so many other parts of the country, that when a dustcropper helicopter comes flying through, she can only see it as a Raaja and tries to deal with it as such. Of course, in the back of her mind continues to be Chris and the old man, each saying “Why do you kill?”. This continues to be one of the key themes to this, though it’s not making much of a dent in Juna’s sometimes overly thick skull.

So much more is covered in the later episodes, as the two return to civilization and attempt to reconnect. After so many days of eating so naturally, both end up having dire reactions to eating fast food or even healthy drinks at this point, almost to the point of causing death. But what I found really effective and engaging to watch is what happens with Juna at school. As the larger concepts of efficiency and automation start becoming more apparent to her in everyday life as opposed to just factories and fruit and vegetable growing, she finds that her teacher is doing much the same with the class. She yells at him to stop reading the textbook and to speak his own true voice.

That, I think, is a powerful and strong statement that can be applied to so much of society. So few people, in person to person contact, rarely speak their true voice. When she presses him on the issue later, he begins a dialogue with her that continues to bring out the why’s of society and why things are they way they are. It’s all plainly obvious, but sometimes since it’s hardly ever said, it doesn’t really click until it’s so plainly spoken. But when he shifts from that to his true voice, his true passion, it’s simply a great visual moment that really grabbed me.

There’s so much that can be covered here, so much to talk about, that I find myself at a loss where to even begin. This show really has grabbed me hard, both in entertaining me and in providing me with something that I haven’t seen in anime before. Both aspects of it are drawing me more and more into it, as the show goes after concepts and ideas that are both plain and obvious, but again, generally unspoken. Some of what it jars in my own head, when the questions ask, prove to be illuminating as to my own state of mind. And any show that makes me question my own beliefs is one that I will really pay attention to. Arjuna definitely went up a few more notches with this volume and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

Features
Japanese Language 5.1,Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Language 2.0,Isolated 5.1 Music Score,Arjuna Dictionary,Previews Collection,Shoji Kawamori Video Interview

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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