Big O Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 18, 2001
Release Date: December 18, 2001


Big O Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
It?s Heaven Day and all of Paradigm City will be celebrating! But the city won?t be celebrating long - a monstrous plant takes root across town!

Then, the return of Roger?s old nemesis Schwarzwald can only mean trouble, and this time it comes in the form of another Megadeus, the Big Duo! The battle between the Big O and the Big Duo is on, but can the citizen?s survive this clash? Can Rodger survive the mysterious assassin with the initials "R.D."?!

The Review!
The concluding volume is probably one of the best setups for the second half of a season I'd seen in a long time. Of course, the kicker is that there is no second season, leaving one confused about how to feel about the way things are left. Of course, having had so many of my favorite series on US TV canceled in much the same fashion over the years, it phased me less than a lot of other people.

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:
Much like the previous volumes, the video transfer here is just 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 artifacting as well as no jaggies during camera panning sequences. With a transfer as good looking as this, it's even easier to sink into the show.

Packaging:
The striking covers cap off here with a great one of our three principals of the Smith household and a nice overly white cover, something we don't see too often with anime covers. The look is definitely eye-catching and slick looking. 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, but the front cover and spine both list the actual volume number. The insert provides another shot of the cover while it folds out to reveal the three cases/episodes for this disc in the Big O fashion.

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:
If there's one thing the people behind this show like to do, it's give interviews. There's another set of Q&A on this disc that took place during the recording of a drama CD last year, presumably after the show had ended. There's also another set of good production images included this time as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yes, this is going to be a frustrating disc for some people. The episodes are among the best so far and the story kicks up several notches, only to abruptly end. But it's definitely a ride worth taking as far as I'm concerned. This is just great stuff.

The opening episode presents an interesting twist on Christmas as Heaven's Day with it being a tradition started by Paradigm. There's a plot involved here regarding a musician and his blind girlfriend, but the real treasure of the episode continues to be the banter between Dorothy and Roger. While she's shopping for a present for him, a tie to be specific, she requests one in black. The counter girl says that they don't have anything festive in black, just in the funeral section. Dorothy just replies that the recipient has no sense of style anyway, so it doesn't matter. It just nails their relationship so well but allows it to be expanded nicely here.

The remaining two episodes are where all the really good stuff is though. My favorite villain of Schwarzland returns and this time he's packing something seriously bad to take against Roger and his Big O. While Roger thought he was dead from their last encounter, Schwarzland was actually out there in the real world looking for something, and he returned with his own Megadeus. And in a moment of pure genius, he named it the Big Duo. Simply brilliant and had me rolling with laughter.

The two make their first fight at JFK-Mark in the outside world where there's tons of broken wreckage of ships and planes. The military police watches from the sidelines and the two Megadeus' go at it like crazy. Roger ends up being rather off balance from the surprises that the Big Duo has for him and then gets completely shocked when it takes off into the air and flies off.

When the battle eventually resumes inside of the dome, much to the dismay of many people, the battle gets truly intense. The visuals of the two machines battling it out and the massive amount of destruction that gets caused is nuts. Watching the Big O riding down a crater impact hole on top of Big Duo and essentially banging the crap out of it is both comical and deadly serious at the same time as we see Roger get into a "no more!" mentality.

Things taper off a bit from there and Roger moves into working on a case where people who claim to have been born outside of the city and have their memories of 40 years ago start getting murdered. Various pieces of the worlds history start to come to light as we see a variety of Megadeus' strolling over the land and destroying cities left and right. There's a lot of World War II imagery going on here as well with the massive flying ones looking like old film reels.

The story revolving around the murders leads to a good number of interesting revelations about those in control of Paradigm and the city itself. A lot of experimenting appears to have been going on in the background over the years and the children of those experiments have grown up and are now being targeted. And we also get a rather surprising revelation about Dorothy herself, who was fairly well absent from a good part of this episode.

Big O is something that's really unique in how its done with its visual style and pacing combined with an unusual pair of lead characters. I found the series to be quite a bit of fun and enjoyed just about all of the episodes that were made unlike a number of series that have sometimes more filler than content. It's unfortunate that it never got properly finished, but I'm glad I got to go on part of the ride. Recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Creator Interview,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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