The final push towards Galveston happens as the Earth forces pummel the dying race.
What They Say
With the age of this show and likely some issues with its previous adaptation, this release contains only a single language track on it. The original Japanese language mix is presented in mono to two channels encoded at 192kbps. The show doesn't have much of anything to it due to its age as we get a full sounding mix that feels more center channel than anything else. There's obviously no discernible directionality for this show but it's reflective of the original production. The show has a good balance between the action effects and the dialogue as neither overwhelms the other. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the show avoids any issues with the highs and is problem free overall.
Originally airing in 1982, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This set contains eighteen episodes spread across three volumes with six episodes per disc. For a lot of the show, the bitrate is pretty high which is needed to deal with the source materials since there's a fair bit of expected grain here. By and large the show looks good when you consider that it is nearly thirty years old and the source materials themselves may not be the best of the best depending on where they were gotten. The grain is the big issue here as it does liven up a number of things across the set but the colors in general look good and there aren't any obvious instances of blatant cross coloration or blocking. There's a fair bit of line noise in the show which isn't a surprise during panning sequences but it's not often that it becomes very distracting.
With a show of this age, there's likely little to be had for materials they can use to work with the covers so I don't have much in terms of expectations. Thankfully, they aren’t just using Dairugger art for each of them as this one features Teles being supported by Sirk as everything falls apart in smoke and flames around them. It's almost a sad cover with the way Teles comes across. The logo is decently done along the top while the bottom includes which collection it is. The back cover fairs well as it uses a fleet action shot along the top and a planetary shot along the bottom to push more of the space angle for the series. Two strips of shots from the show bring in some clearer animation from the show which is good and there's a really solid plug for promoting this show as something Voltron fans haven't seen before. The summary deals with the large scale ideas easily enough and where the show will go while the rest is given over to some minor production credits and a solid technical grid. No shows related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus are pretty simple and identical across all three volumes as it uses the image of the crew members from the front cover set against the fire and ruins around them. With a bit of simple music to it and minimal navigation selections on the top level menu, it's a clean design but one that's really just designed for you to go right into the show. Language selection is just for subtitle selection and with no extras on the disc the only thing you might see is a spot for trailers. Submenus do load quickly when you see them but I continue to wish Media Blasters would provide top level episode access with their releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Armored Fleet Dairugger draws to a close with the final sixteen episodes of the series and it's largely the culmination of events that we've seen throughout. The back and forth pushes Over the course of the first two sets we saw a whole lot of engagements across numerous worlds and places in space between the two sides and it turned brutal at times. Characters died, though largely secondary ones, and the way the worlds were ravaged was pretty intense at times. There's even a segment in here where the Dairugger is fighting underwater against a Galveston suit and the enemy causes the death of a whale-like creature. You usually expect them to escape, but here it dies and its partner charges in to its death trying to avenge it.
Over the first twelve episodes here, the main focus is on the push to find the Galveston home world. There's a two prong approach to what's going on at first where one side of the fleet is continuing on with its survey missions, which does bring us to some decent worlds, while the other digs deeper into Galveston territory to try and find the homeworld. The survey side has a few interesting missions along the way, such as a world where the indigenous people shows them a lot of possibilities when it comes to stopping Galveston technology, but largely it opens up a dialogue that has them making friends that are spread across numerous worlds. There are also some good scenes early on that shows us some of the Galveston people that were planetside with the Earth forces playing games together and having a good time until everything goes up in flames. There are no real surprises with the survey side other than showing us yet another Earth-like world that both sides arrive at at the same time and end up having a conflict over.
The military side of the adventure is decent overall as the Galaxy Garrison forces have a good push towards the home world. Though it's all done with a numbered approach, they make solid progress through numerous worlds that takes them closer and closer. In the midst of this, the Galveston hierarchy makes changes since they are furious with Teles over his attempts at making peace and they set more aggressive commanders in place. The usual array of rank seekers are there always trying to gain more power by taking down the Earth forces but nobody ever really seems like they have a concrete plan. Watching them in action always leaves you wondering how they got as far as they did considering the way they're so self-serving and avoid looking at the bigger picture.
When the series reaches its finale by having the fight focus on the home world itself, it's the kind of event that's sadly too true in a lot of ways but highly annoying because of it. The home world is on its last legs, literally at the point where it will be destroyed completely before they can do anything significant, and it all comes down to more fighting and some truly cowardly moves on the part of the Emperor and other military members. There's a decent little revolution that goes on here and Teles shows that he was largely right from the start, but I truly disliked the way the Galveston people surrendered with white flags and that the Earth forces accepted it. On the hope of them starting up again on another world with those that can be rescued, a small number considering the overall population, having them start off a new history with a surrender is bad. You want to smack Aki to get him to say that they won't accept a surrender, that they're there to help. But it's all very pro-military conqueror material from them for the most part with a few dashs of compassion that grate because of the whole situation.
Armored Fleet Dairugger is a largely frustrating show because it has so much potential but falls so short of it. There never was a good balance between the big Dairugger fight sequences and the exploration aspect, especially since it continually ran into conflict. A whole lot of this goes back to the time it was made, the formula needed to sell toys and other considerations of business. The fact they have a good story to tell in there makes it worse because it never gets the chance to reach that potential. It turns into such a lengthy series of back and forth that it can get frustrating since you want to see them move to the next level. The ending to the series was like a twist of the knife in the story overall though and while I do like dark endings when you don't expect it, but with the scale of destruction and devastation in the series, I had hoped there would be a bit more positive material to it. Similar to the first two sets, there are large parts that I like, but the other parts drag it down considerably.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.