Big O II Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Big O / Big O II

Big O II Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     March 13, 2004
Release Date: March 16, 2004


Big O II Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. Roger Smith's self-proclaimed greatest nemesis, Beck, is back for revenge... again! This time, he's enlisted the help of a Japanese company to help him in his quest for revenge! Roger's only hope of rescue? Dorothy... Negotiator-in-training.

While Angel provides a comforting ear for Paradigm City's hero, trouble begins anew within the town without Memories ? In between hunting down android killers and a terrorizing Megadeus, Roger Smith will be forced to make a terrible choice.

The Review!
With three more episodes, Big O continues to show that it is simply one of the best series of the past decade.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. We noticed a bit more sound going to the rear speakers in these last three episodes than most of the previous ones. Dialogue continues to be nice and crisp and clear with little in the way of directionality for the main speaking characters, though a number of background voices got sent to the rears. This is a solid sounding audio track all around.

Video:
Originally airing in Japan in late 2002 and then in the US, this series looks fantastic. With the fresh materials and the vibrant designs and color shading, this is a standout piece of work that really impresses. We noticed no cross coloration or macroblocking as well as no aliasing during camera panning sequences. With a transfer as good looking as this, it's very easy to just get absorbed in the show.

Packaging:
Highlighting a number of areas, the cover for this volume looks good but doesn't quite achieve the same feel as some of the earlier ones. Big O is the centerpiece while the combined Megadeuses from earlier in the series make their return here set against the cityscape. The back continues the same style as seen previously with a lot of animation shots and a good summary of the episodes inside. Episode titles are listed but no numbers, though the spine at least lists the volume number and appears to match the original series layout so it looks good on your shelf. The insert provides an array of shots from the episodes on both the front and back while the center two-panel piece is a larger version of the front cover.

Menu:
The main menu is setup as the central viewer for the Big O robot itself and looks snazzy. The layout is identical to the previous series so there's little problem with figuring out the ?blank? menus if you've seen that. Access times are pretty decent overall and things are laid out in a straightforward way once you know where they are.

Extras:
The only extras included are a series of design sketches, which is conveniently broken down into two sections of characters and mecha.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Once you get past the slightly different than usual designs, the almost seemingly simpler animation and the quirky bits to how the show feels like an American comic book come to life, at the heart of this series is just some of the best writing out there and one of the most engaging series of recent times. While it plays up heavily the episodic nature of its story, all of it continues to build the larger tapestry that is Paradigm City as woven through the eyes of Roger Smith and Dorothy. It's a fascinating piece of work on many levels.

The three tales on this volume bring more of the mysterious background of Paradigm City into play, though much of it continues to obscure in a lovely manner. Roger continues his flashbacks to what he believes is some time before everything went wrong with people looking different and him being part of a crowd of children that are all clean shaven and bar coded, all part of some larger experiment going on. The mixture of the imagery with the destruction of everything around them is compelling to us and rather upsetting to Roger. His investigations into the past bring him into contact with people such as Alex Rosewater's father who lives in retirement of sorts in the countryside just dealing with his tomatoes. There's some great dialogue as the two play their cat and mouse game over what's going on.

One area I was glad to see revisited is that Beck gets to return after his escape from the Arkham Asylum-like prison cell he was in with his cohorts. With an amusingly maddening plan to short circuit the place, he and his trio escape and he begins his machinations against Roger and Big O that ends up drawing Roger into capture. Beck uses this time for the construction of a robot Roger that tricks him into obtaining the nuances of Rogers's voice, allowing the partial body robot to control/call for the Big O and lead it into destruction. But beck needs the device that will let Roger make the call, so he agrees to a negotiator to bring him what he needs. This turns out to be the lovingly determined Dorothy who wants to see just how difficult a job it is to be a negotiator. With the butler in tow, they head off for a daring escape and a highly comical chase sequence. There's a beautiful moment where Dorothy's seat rises so that a missile launcher can launch and she just casually spreads her legs so they can fire that's just so priceless.

One of the other episodes brings more of the Robot aspect into play when a series of robot murders start happening in the city. Paradigm's higher ups want to get to the bottom of it by sending in their own man for the job, so they send in R. O'Reilly, the first robotic detective I believe. His presence throws Dastun for a loop as the two are forced to work together and O'Reilly is a rather interesting fellow to follow around to see what he observes and doesn't observe as the investigation moves forward. Of course, Roger and Dorothy end up involved when the killer targets Dorothy, so there's some fun found down that avenue. Most of the enjoyment for me came from seeing Dastun deal with O'Reilly as well as watching the little quirks given to the character to see if they made any similarities to a much more famous robotic detective.

In Summary:
When watching this show, I continue to find it very easy to get caught up in the visuals and the great dialogue used to propel the otherwise standard stories forward. There's plenty of substance here but there's just a wonderful flair to it that makes it all the more exciting and interesting to watch, particularly as elements from earlier episodes are coming back into focus and making some noise. Konaka's scripts simply bring a smile to my face and these episodes do not disappoint in the slightest.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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