Big O Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • 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 Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 21, 2001
Release Date: August 21, 2001


Big O Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
As Paradigm City's top negotiator, Roger Smith lives a very exciting, but dangerous life. When a series of mysterious accidents begin plaguing the city's police force, all clues point towards a "ghost".

Fed up with Dorothy's piano playing, Roger takes her to see his friend Instro, an android who is a very gifted concert pianist. However can Roger protect the City from Instro's creator while keeping his identity as the pilot of the Big O a secret from the inquisitive Angel.

The Review!
Another foray into Paradigm City with this volume bringing three more episodes of one of the coolest anime opening sequences in ages. I can just watch it play over and over and over and over...

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The soundtrack continues to be very dialogue based with a smattering of action moments that make good use of the front soundstage. The opening song is probably the best workout your speakers will get (and your lungs if you sing along loudly). We didn't notice any dropouts or other issues with the Japanese track and were pretty pleased by it.

Video:
Much like the first volume, this show is a visual treat. The city is still seen mostly during the night or most of an episode underwater, so there's lots of dark colors and blacks and blues. There are a few rainbows that snuck into things here, and on occasion there's some slight jitter along the edges of some of the characters eyes, but it was pretty minimal overall and only annoying if you're really looking for it.

Packaging:
Another good cover, though a bit misplaced as the "villain" robot shown here is from the first disc and doesn't appear here. The style works good though, with the grainy black and white character images along the bottom of characters relevant to this disc. The back cover provides an array of shots from the show and a good summary of things. The features are clearly listed and the episode titles below them. While no episode numbers are included, it's not that big of an issue since the volume # is clearly labeled on both the spine and the front cover. The insert provides another shot of the cover while the interior of it provides the episode numbers and a summary of each of the episodes.

Menus:
The main menu is setup as the central viewer for the Big O robot itself and looks snazzy. If anything, you'll wonder where the selections are as they don't light up until you move the cursor over them. A bit disconcerting at first, but that may just be my old age and this newfangled technologies the whippersnappers are coming up with these days. Access times are pretty decent overall and things are laid out in a straightforward way once you know where they are.

Extras:
Another round of good extras are provided here. The first is the textless ending, which without all the credits lets me focus in more on the vocal track than during regular playback. The production art gallery provides some interesting character design pieces, but it's again the text interview with the creative team that takes the cake in being the best extra. The font also looks pretty well tweaked for easy reading.

Content:/ (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Big O continues doing what it does best from the first four episodes in going forward in its fairly episode nature. Each episode gives more insights into how Paradigm City operates as well as the more subtle nuances of the four main characters of the series.

Bring Back My Ghost delves into some of the past of Paradigm City with a member of the Military Police who was killed during a riot a year ago. The riot, fought on one of the long bridges that connect the domes, was between the Military Police and the seedier side of the cities residents who were upset with a particular policy set forth by the upper echelon of Paradigm City.

With the anniversary date at hand, Roger finds himself taking the job of the deceased cops mother, who wants to see her boy. As no body was found, Roger takes the job and begins researching what happened. The timing also coincides with a series of recent Military Police deaths, people who were intimately involved in the rioting from a year ago. Add in a mysterious ghost haunting the docks of the city, and things are all over the place yet nicely tied together.

A Legacy of Amadeus provides a fairly good episode that deals with R. Dorothy. Being her usual self, she kicks off on the piano whenever Roger sleeps in late. And with Roger not wanting to be wakened by a racket, he decides to take her to see an old friend of his, R. Instro. R. Instro is the creation of a scientist friend of Roger's who died a number of years ago. R. Instro is now managing a small club and playing piano there, helping time pass by for others. Roger's decision to have R. Instro teach R. Dorothy some of the soulful feeling of his music ends up leading him into more betrayals from the past that come back to haunt the city.

The final story is probably my favorite though, as it tells its tale somewhat backwards and forwards, jumping between the beginning and end to bring about a tale of Memories buried within the harbor where the old city used to lay. We find Roger essentially marooned under this harbor in one of the old buildings that still contains air and electricity. And we find him in the company of an attractive blonde named Angel.

Roger was working a mystery about a cult of the sea god who had scared off all the fishermen from the bay. These sea god creatures, men inside of froggish-like scuba suits, are searching for something in the ruins below. When Roger manages to secure a submersible (an untested one at that), his plans go awry when he goes to take it out and is apparently outbid, finding it already in the water and speeding along under the control of this attractive blonde.

Roger being the accommodating man that he is, jumps right into the cramped submersible and forces his way underwater with her to figure out what's going on. Her cause is less noble than his, as she's searching for precious Memories from a bygone time that she can sell for profit. Seeing these underwater graveyards of sorts is quite interesting, especially with the revelation that many of them still have power.

While only three episodes are here, they're very engaging episodes, much like the first volume. R. Dorothy continues to be a standout character, essentially stealing every scene she's in with her quite view of the world. Norman gets a couple more humorous bits to do this time around and grows on you a bit, and even the cop gets a little softer in appearance and skirts with being likable. If you enjoyed the first volume, there's only more of the same here. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Creator Interviews,Production Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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