Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Aura Battler Dunbine

Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #03

By Chris Beveridge     October 16, 2003
Release Date: October 07, 2003

Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #03
© ADV Films

What They Say
Show Zama and his comrades are witness to what seems to be the inevitable conquest of Byston Well by Drake Luft's massive army. Kingdom after kingdom falls as Bern Bunnings pushes Luft's troops closer and closer to a final showdown in the Land of Ah. Personal relationships are strained; while more mysteries are revealed as both good men and bad fall victim to the relentless appetite of war.

Aura Battler Dunbine is the stuff that legends are made of. An epic, one-of-a-kind adventure that dives headfirst into a rich, fully defined world to create one of the most unique anime experiences ever envisioned.

The Review!
As the war continues, the casualties start piling up and other kingdoms are forced to start making the hard choices.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The mix here is about as basic as you can get but it sounds good. Nothing really feels out of place here, dialogue is nice and clear though there’s pretty much nothing in terms of actual directionality. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing way back in 1983, the transfer for this show comes out quite good. There are the basic inherent problems with older shows like this, where there’s some jitter in the animation itself, some grain in the backgrounds such as the darker blues and a few minor nicks ands scratches here and there. The print is otherwise pretty clean looking, hardly any noticeable cross coloration and very little in terms of aliasing.

The artwork and the style used for this series release continues to look gorgeous. The front cover of the keepcase has the logo nicely set across the top while the center of the cover has a circle wherein we have an image of one of the Battler’s and an action pose by Marvel in her red outfit (which looks better here than in the show itself). The back cover provides a nice layout with the continuing blue from the front cover offset by a slice of the dark yellow. There are a number of shots from the show and a good summary of the premise and the shows history. The episode numbers and titles are listed here as well (the only volume numbering is on the spine) while there is also a good clear listing of the discs extras and production information. The basic technical info is a bit set off to the bottom and not quickly visible, and the languages are a bit small to read. The insert uses the yellow coloring from the back cover to do a similar image to the front, with a painted image Show and Garalia showing some interesting concepts for the way they look. The insert opens up to two panels that provide a summary of the show so far. On the reverse side, the final panel has a summary of each episode with an animation shot next to it.

The main menu is a nice simple static piece that has the map of Byston Wells laid out before you. With part of the opening song playing along, you’ve got individual episode selections along the left while the usual array of other selections are scattered about the map. Access times are nice and fast and moving about is easy and intuitive.

The extras on this volume are likely representative of what we’ll see on remaining releases. That means we get a new production portfolio, this time running about 90 seconds, showcasing various conceptual designs from characters to buildings. There’s also the continual inclusion of the textless opening and ending sequences, a feature I continue to like a lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dunbine rolls along with four more episodes here and continues to follow Show and those following Neal as they make their way across the countryside looking for both refuge and the chance to try and stand against Drake and his oncoming armies. Unfortunately, Drake’s previous efforts and sowing distrust continues to work against them.

One of the themes of these episodes comes down to the betrayal of the inner family members of several groups. Each family has its own dynamic, but the onslaught of war in Byston Well has a different effect on them. While much was given over to Neal and his fathers’ relationship prior to that death, it feels more focused and concentrated here in these episodes. With Keen Kiss being a part of Neal’s group now, it’s only natural that her relationship with her father will come to some trouble. When the two finally do meet, in a chance secret encounter with others from both parties nearby, Kibitsu insists that she’s essentially dead to him and that Show must make sure she’s taken away. It’s the only way he’s able to protect both his daughter and his House. In a set up like this, the House becomes more important the individual members, and the House does what it has to in order to survive, even becoming part of Drake’s group.

Part of the journey that Show and the others take brings them to Kiron Castle, one of the more defendable positions along the path of Drake’s army. The castle is one of the front lines of defense for the larger kingdom behind it where the king of Rau there is a firm believer in technology and has his own variation of the aura battlers being built. Kiron Castle is also home to two of the larger scale warships, such as the one Neal has, that were bought when Lord Shot was first creating all of his wonders for this world.

The King of Kiron Castle, Pinegan, has his own familial issues to deal with as well. His wife eloped with him years ago from Rau and they’ve lived happily since with their daughter Elle. But now that some need of Rau’s power and backing is required, they realize that her father will still consider them both dead to him and won’t provide any help directly to them. With the castle becoming the next focal point of the war, we watch as another family, this time a royal one, gets torn apart as the need to fight and defend ones kingdom conflicts with the need to protect ones family.

Even further up the line, when Show and the others meet with the King of Rau, we get to deal with more family issues as he deals with his daughter and granddaughter. While this look at family bonds in times of war doesn’t come across as strongly during the show itself, it does provide a lingering mental presence later on when you look back at the episodes. Each of the episodes is very much filled with action and great moments, but at the end I find myself reflecting back more on the bonds of the characters than the action.

The battles do continue to pick up nicely throughout here though. Each time things move on and repairs are made, the battlers find themselves being upgraded or trying something new. With various pilots also getting better at flying and manipulating their craft, the battles are getting more complex. And with the rivalries growing as well, they’re becoming fiercer and more violent.

There is a lot going on in these four episodes that they almost go by too fast. The cast continues to grow though the main groups get plenty of focus, but it adds a really intensive layer to the show in trying to keep up with every little plot and plan they’re all hatching. The continual changes in the cast as Tomino moves further into his usual style of killing someone in the show and that alone helps elevate the show up above a lot of other fare.

Dunbine continues to be a real joy to watch. Thankfully there’s a lot more to come.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production portfolio,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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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