Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #07 (also w/box) -

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: 19.98/24.98
  • 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. #07 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     July 19, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004

Aura Battler Dunbine Vol. #07 (also w/box)
© ADV Films

What They Say
Massive Aura Ships and squadrons of Aura Battlers take to the sky as Drake Luft and King Bishott accelerate plans to conquer their complex and diverse home world. The rebels have no choice but to bring out their 'big guns' as well. So now, what was once a small-scale attempt at territorial expansion has become a deadly global war.

The Review!
Getting past the halfway mark of the series, the struggles get more serious and the world even stranger as Show encounters new lands and new battlers.

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. Colors look good if somewhat flat at times, but the varying brighter shades work to bring more attention to what's otherwise a very earthy show. 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 continue 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 a great shot of Todd being cocky as usual. This piece just looks really slick and lets Todd look less like a goof. 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 illustration of Ceila and Show. 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.

With the seventh volume, there is also a disc + box release that will hold the remainder of the series (or can be used to hold the entire series if you're thinpaking). The box for this release is not as solid as I would have liked, but thankfully not as puffy as some of their earlier boxes. Each of the panels has a great piece of painted artwork of the characters with the sublogo of ?Memorial Box 2? along the bottom, indicating that there will be two boxes for this long series. The spine panel is a bit more anime-like in its artwork with a great shot of the cast. I love the overall art style and layout of the box, but I wish it had been more solidly built.

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 all that we'll see on these releases. That means we get a new production portfolio showcasing various conceptual designs from characters to buildings and to the mecha. 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)
Now firmly into the second half of the series, Dunbine's conflict and continually growing cast only become more and more fascinating. While the overall pacing of the show is somewhat awkward and indicative of the time it came from, there's so much going on and so much plot moving forward between the various sides that it's something that just keeps drawing me into it. The first few minutes end up being a quick catch-up to remember where we were but then it's just complete absorption into the show.

Much like any volume of this series, the four episodes here really move things along in a number of directions. Show actually manages some forced growth during the course of these episodes though, something he's been needing to do for awhile. A lot of the focus of things comes down to the defense of the kingdom of Rau and the Noburo castle where King Foizon has his armies being readied. Amid disputes between some of the ranking soldiers and their lack of wanting to help the Zelana's crew, Foizon is coming to the realization that the way battles used to be fought across Byston Well aren't going to suffice anymore. While something like Noboru castle may have made the perfect defense against invading hordes for centuries beforehand, it's inconsequential against the type of weapons and craft being used now. Foizon starts taking the long view of sacrificing the castle and taking the battle straight to Drake by using his new massive battleship that's been built in secret.

Battleships are the name of the game as the battles continue to spread across the realm. Drake's Will o' the Wisp battleship is the pride of his fleet but he's still wary to use it much. His intent is to still use others to do much of the grunt work, such as waiting for Bishott's forces to arrive and send them to the front lines to do the dying. But Bishott knows exactly what Drake is up to and serves him up rather well with only a few forces at first. Unfortunately for the viewer, one of them is Todd and we get to have more of his vengeance driven dialogue. Todd's acts really show what his core personality it, especially when he and Show end up getting transported mysteriously to the Sphere of Tempest. The excursion there has plenty of reason to occur since it brings in Ceila and what she's able to bring to the table as a queen, but it really just gives Todd a chance to show how single-minded his focus is. His near crushing of a Ferario just to learn Show's whereabouts is ample proof of that.

On a character level, there's plenty to match the action. On the lighter side, it was quite good to see Chum get a bit more screen time in a light way with her changing of costumes at long last. The amusing bits with her in the long dress and the birds that peck at her were good but it's when she mimics Show's combat uniform, complete with helmet, that it really kicks in. A lot of character time is also spent with Elle, Foizon's granddaughter. Her spiritual powers that foreshadow the future weighs heavily on her and she's only seeing more death and destruction and can't help but to express it. The weight of what she sees is plain, especially when much of it involves the destruction of her homeland. Foizon himself comes across well during these episodes too, from his realization about how war has changed to some of the old ways he still holds on to. Show gets some changes as well, though his tend to feel more forced at times than anything else. Ceila brings some of the changes in Show to the surface in how she views him, and he reflects on some of them after his battle with Todd, but the really surprising one is his forthrightness with Marvel about their relationship. There's always been the given that the two of them would be an item of some sort just based on typical storytelling, but it's interesting how it's actually approached here with his reasoning for keeping things as cool as they have been.

In Summary:
Dunbine is so completely my kind of show. While I would like some of the smoother pacing and dialogue of some more recent shows, I'm still thrilled to be finally seeing one of the classics that I've wanted to see for so long. This batch of episodes pushes a lot of the action plotlines forward and brings some smaller character plots up to date. At some points it seems like there isn't any real shift in what's going on with the war but then it'll change so completely that you see Drake's forces pushing harder and harder as the good guys lose more and more ground. The series isn't the most upbeat there is out there and this only continues that since more ground is lost, but there's a good shift in power as well here as the battleships start to take the stage. A lot of small changes are introduced here that will slowly turn the tide I think as we move more into the next several volumes.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 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 Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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