BASToF Syndrome Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • 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: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: BASTof Syndrome

BASToF Syndrome Vol. #4

By Luis Cruz     November 09, 2004
Release Date: September 07, 2004

BASToF Syndrome Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Spearhead Dream Team is getting closer to the truth as they discover Mayor Hadim's connection to the Lemon Game. There's no time to think about that because the secret police are hot on their tail! With so many questions to this exciting mystery, the Spearhead Dream Team must stay focused in order to save the city from another major disaster.

The Review!
The mysteries of the Lemon Game deepen as we trudge through another volume of BASToF Syndrome.

The original Korean language track was used for my primary viewing session. The track was crisp and clear with no noticeable distortion or dropout. Dialogue and music were mixed well with neither overshadowing each other. Most of the volume is dialogue, but the few action scenes played across the front soundstage quite nicely.

Produced in 2001, the video is from print defects, grain, or scratches; the transfer looks very clean and sharp with very rich colors. There are scenes of quick movement that look like they might be suffering from some aliasing. However, I am not certain if the effect I am seeing is a style choice made for the artwork or an actual defect. The only other quibble with the video would be the backgrounds of certain scenes. While characters are moving, the way the background moves behind them does not feel natural and comes off as too "digital". Overall, the video is sharp and will not detract from the viewing experience.

Tiel and Pseudo's virtual persona take up the majority of the front cover; in the background are a greenish sky and the temple area. The only other touch on the front is the series name and volume title near the bottom. The back cover contains the requisite screenshots, synopsis, episode listing, and disc specifications. Inside is a one-page insert containing the front cover art on one side and a listing of the disc contents on the other.

ADV keeps the menus nice and simple; a static image of one of the characters appears in each menu, as does a sample of music from the theme songs. Each image has the erupting volcano scene in the background. There are no transition delays switching between menus.

Clean versions of the opening and ending animation are the only extras included on the disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
BASToF Syndrome has become a bit of a conundrum as a series; it features the standard elements of a show that appeals to young adults -- mecha, a virtual world, identifiable characters their own age, and more. It also contains an interesting plot underneath it all that revolves around events of the past and how they are connected to our heroes. However, the series just does not seem to blend the two together well.

We start off this volume back in Pluto's burned out house; Moderato manages to finally revive Pseudo but has no time to ask him what just happened. The Lemon Game is calling, and they must answer. Mint and Bebefau arrive at the game headquarters first, and Bebefau enters the game and finds himself in a world filled with virtual blocks.

The Lemon creature is eventually defeated by Bebefau, and the audience is given another clue about the mysterious PX-1 project. The rest of the volume continues this pattern; Pseudo or Bebefau enters the game, beats the Lemon, and we learn a few more clues about the past. Most notably we begin to learn how much Riddle and Mayor Hadim are involved with the girl in the game and the events ten years ago.

These are all interesting puzzle pieces, but the frustrating part is the tepid action one must sit through to acquire them. It is like the writers have a cookie cutter and are just substituting characters and locations for each episode. "Log into the game; there's the Lemon. Attacking it does not seem to work. Try this weapon; well, that did not work either. Think, Moderato, think. Try this! Yea! It worked!" This has been the formula for four volumes, and it is getting quite stale at this point.

The actual plot behind the Lemon Game continues to be intriguing though; it shares a lot of elements with other titles like Ghost in the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain. It questions the nature of technology and its role in humanity, but underneath all of the philosophical elements is a good, old-fashioned mystery. What exactly did happen ten years ago, and why are Pseudo and Tiel tied to this past?

When the series is pushing these elements to the forefront, it becomes significantly easier to sit and watch; these elements draw you into the story and make you pay attention. Sadly, your attention is soon broken by yet another token Lemon Game battle; while the stakes have gotten higher in the game, the action just grinds your interest to a halt.

In Summary:
This volume of BASToF Syndrome reveals a bit more about the mysteries behind the Lemon Game, but the battle sequences are wearing thin. It is difficult to entirely dismiss this series; perhaps if I were a bit younger, I would find it more engaging. It certainly has a deeper plot running through it than most other titles aimed at the same audience. It is this conspiracy based mystery that manages to salvage what would be an otherwise forgettable title. While I cannot heartily recommend it, I cannot also dismiss this series; it is worth at least a rental to see if it clicks with you a bit more than it has with me.

Korean 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable


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