Beat BtX Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: D
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Illumitoon
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series:

Beat BtX Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     July 03, 2007
Release Date: June 26, 2007


Beat BtX Vol. #02
© Illumitoon


What They Say
Captured by Lieutenant Fao, Tepp and X find themselves unwitting allies in a battle against his would-be assassin, Crow. Armed with a lethal whip and a deadly demeanor, Crow sets out to destroy everything in his path, including the orphan children in Fao's care. However, the greatest threat comes in the form of a dastardly desert pirate, Captain Claw! This bold buccaneer commands a fierce hook as well as a B'T with an insatiable hunger for flesh. Tepp must keep his wits, for Claw aims to end Tepp's journey in one bone-crushing attack!

Contains episodes 5-8:
Deadly Alliance
The Desert Pirate
Wrath of Captain Claw
Camilla, Mistress of Illusion

The Review!
After gaining a working relationship with B'T X, Teppei now has to contend with understanding how the Machine Empire is setup.

Audio:
Illumitoon has put two stereo mixes onto this release that are both encoded at 192 kbps. The Japanese track sounds decent for what it is but with its age and at the time average materials there isn't a lot to expect here. There are some differences between it and the English track however. Though the English track is done at the same encoding level, the dub for it has all the audio bumped up a bit in volume. The English track has also redone some of the music, most easily noticeable is the opening and closing songs which are now slightly altered instrumental pieces. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 1996, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this being an older show there wasn't a lot of high expectations for the visual quality especially after seeing some other launch titles from Illumitoon. The worst part of the release comes in the opening sequence where it's littered with dot crawl, aliasing, edge enhancement and a fair amount of motion blocking going on. With a number of very fast paced animation sequences in it the visuals simply don't hold up. Within the show itself it tends to do a little bit better with less break-up but there is still some blocking to be seen. Dot crawl comes up in a number of sequences as does a fair bit of aliasing at times. The overall visual quality of this reminded me more of what I would get from some decent looking VHS copies after a couple of generations.

Packaging:
Though far too dark for my liking, the cover art is fairly decent in what it is considering how little material is likely available. The design for this one is given over to Fao in the foreground with mostly a headshot while a very murky J'Taime is in the background. The logo looks decent as it uses the original one from what I can tell but overall the cover just feels too dark. The back cover brings in various shots from the show to form a collage which is fairly well covered by a lot of text. The episode numbers and titles are very prominently listed and the summary uses some surprisingly large text to convey the basics. The bottom portion of the cover has some of the production credits or both sides and a very minimal amount of technical information, with its dual language status practically hidden. The runtime also lists it as 80 minutes which isn't close at all considering each episode runs twenty-four to twenty-five minutes. No insert is included with the release nor is the cover reversible.

Menu:
The menu design is simple but works fairly well as it's laid out in a faux letterbox style. The bottom strip has the navigation strip while in the middle there's a brief bit of flashing animation from the opening sequence set to some somber instrumental music. The language section however is a complete travesty in design; when you make a language selection, be it subtitles or audio, the menu freezes on it until the thirty second or so loop is finished. Doing this twice to change to what you want and you'll spend far too long in here. This design is simply embarrassing to see in a release ten years after the format was launched. This happened on both our PS3 and our Panasonic DMP-BD10 player so it's not an isolated event.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a first volume that was difficult to get into since it was dubtitled, the second installment manages to come across better on that front. The English mix isn't something that I found all that appealing, particularly with the music changes in the opening and closing sequences, but it was the only choice since the Japanese language was impossible to watch with the dubtitles.

B'T X shows its shonen roots a bit more this time around as it is focused mostly on a series of fights between a few opponents. With the basic setup out of the way in the first volume by having Teppei's older brother kidnapped by Machine Empire, Teppei is squarely set in his plan to rescue him. B'T X continues to try and sway him from pursuing this course as the Machine Empire is heavily protected by numerous Points to where his brother is. Of course, Teppei is dead set on rescuing him and won't listen to Fao either as he tries to warn him away from this course of action. Teppei doesn't get to plan too much though as Fao's false report of Teppei's death is learned and the intelligence division has come to correct things.

In a rather good twist, they're actually given something of a visual cue to that of crows which fits with what they're doing. All clad in black along with their B'Ts, they swoop down on Fao's church and reveal themselves before heading off to return the information. Apparently even as advanced as the Machine Empire is they don't have radios or other communications devices. That leads to a series of chases which then leads to another setup for lengthy battles between Teppei and the first of the Points he has to cross in order to get to his brother.

This is where B'T X really pushes its shonen roots as it deals with the lengthy fight sequences with loud villains. The intelligence division wasn't so bad in that it kept focused on one of the members and as bad as he was it was fairly straightforward. The guard at the first Point, the real one that is, goes by the name of Captain Hook and even feeds into the classic role a fair bit with the outfit and the inclusion of the child Gaku. Using a lengthy hook that can do a lot of damage, he's a cold and ruthless type with a devilish B'T under his control but he also has that penchant for not getting killed when he should. Like the bad villain that just won't stay dead he keeps coming back. The first Point encounter which we get on this disc if you don't include Fao sets the stage for many more uninteresting ones to come.

B'T X isn't so much a show that's badly done but rather one that's just keeping to its roots. There isn't any sense that the show will really progress anywhere anytime soon other than with a series of fights against various opponents. The four episodes here contain two basic fight sequences that are two episodes each. There are some other interesting moments to be had throughout, particularly with Teppei's brother as he gets deeper into the Machine Empire, but these are more tantalizing than fulfilling. Teppei does have some good scenes early on with Fao as we get to understand his position in the grand scheme of things but this is something that ends up being cut short due to the arrival of the Crow.

One of the biggest changes over the previous volume is the shift from dubtitles to proper subtitles. The dialogue is fairly different between the two though I'll leave it to the more fluent to determine its accuracy. What is still needed however is someone who understands proper subtitling. Timing is for the most part decent but there are still many lines in each episode that begin and end too early. Sentence structure is also needing a lot of work as the last word in some sentences is carried over to the next set of subtitles. It's providing nothing but awkward and stilted reading. This is the kind of subtitling that wasn't even the norm ten years ago when this show was produced in Japan.

In Summary:
With the subtitles now properly done the show is something that I can actually watch in my preferred language. We did still watch it in English as well and it simply reinforced my disinterest in that presentation with the small various changes throughout. B'T X has a number of concepts its working with but they're not fully formed for the viewer yet and in some ways feel like a bad mishmash of ideas. It's a traditional shonen show however so it's easy to see what's coming as it keeps to the traditions of the genre and of the time it was made. Nothing here has really excited me to watch more but in some ways it's a stronger move forward than the first volume was.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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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