Brain Powered Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • 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: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 44.95
  • Running time: 225
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Brain Powered

Brain Powered Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 08, 2002
Release Date: July 23, 2002


Brain Powered Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Orphan continues recovering the planet's organic plates, which are essential to its secret master plan. Hime and Yuu's fight against the mysterious organization known as Orphan intensifies even after the disappearance of Captain Anoa.

With Irene as the new captain, Novis Noah and her crew continue to face even more challenges while battling the aggressive Grand Chers. Will Yuu continue to work independently of Novis Noah? A shocking revelation is at hand!


The Review!
The second installment of Brain Powered brings nine more episodes, getting us through the central arc episodes and getting us close to the final arc of the series. However, the time between the two installments haven’t helped…

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Only a few years old, the show features a very good pro-logic soundtrack that makes great use of the rear channels when it comes to the music. Dialogue doesn’t get much sent to the rears beyond a few lines here and there, but is well used along the forward soundstage providing some solid directionality at times.

Video:
The transfer for this release manages to look much like the first volume. The shows colors are bright and vivid and things such as skylines and water sequences are nicely layered. The transfer brings all of this out quite well. The only problem we really ran into it over the course of the nine episodes (five on disc one, four on disc 2) is some cross coloration that shows up. It’s not massively all over the place and is generally limited to some really tight line work or around the edges of characters hair, but it’s not constant like some other shows.

Packaging:
This double disc set comes in a single Amaray keepcase with a flipppy hinge installed in it, giving enough room for both discs to fit snugly while only taking up one slot on the shelf. The front cover features rather busy image of Yuu standing in front of a couple of Grand Cher’s that are quite bright in their yellow and orange exteriors. The back cover features a number of screenshots and the basic information on what’s on the disc. There’s a nice summary and the usual production information. The insert features the same artwork from the cover while it folds out to give a rundown of the episodes on this disc. The back of the insert has all the production information and the cast listings for both languages.

Menu:
The main menu for both discs uses a piece from the opening animation with the CG DNA animation combining together with pieces of the shows animation floating out underneath the simple menu selections. There’s not much to these discs other than the show, so the menus are nice and basic.

Extras:
There’s some good extras included with the second disc of this release. There’s a nice production art gallery and a karaoke version of the opening song (hard subtitled in English, Japanese romaji and kanji). The big extra is the text interview with Tomino about the show, that gives you some insights into the whole process of this series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While it’s only been about three months between the time we watched the first batch of episodes and this one coming in, what amount I managed to understand the first time around apparently isn’t all that needed here, or I ended up just getting dumber during that period of time.

There’s a lot going on during these episodes, with a number of the central episodes being somewhat fillerish and feeling just rather poorly done. The opening thrust of this volume deals with the fallout from the end of the last one, after Jonathan’s entry onto the Novis Noah and his confrontation with his mother over his past. The captain has not handled it well, and it really shows through her actions here. With the show focusing heavily on parent/child relations, and this one practically jumping up and down saying “look at me”, you just have to look at it and then be glad it’s finally over.

A good part of the central arc then shifts to deal with putting everyone in new situations, with a new leader of the Novis Noah and most of the primary characters attending a scientific conference about the entire Orphan situation. Including Yuu’s father, whose wrangled his way in there even though what he’s trying to do could cause the end of the world. It’s politicking at its best in that respect. The conference brings to light a number of new aspects about the entire process of what Orphan is trying to achieve in getting into space and how it’s going to do it. But as with any situation in a show like this, it’s all going to devolve down to chase scenes, battle sequences and an array of similar situations, with father and son arguing and brother and sister going at it. Hime does an admirable job of trying to keep it all civil, but that’s just not Yuu.

One of the more regular aspects of the show that we have come to expect is the fights between Yuu and Jonathan. This takes on a slightly different aspect after we see more of his past, from when he joined up, as well as some new secrets about the women he’s been having affairs with since joining up with Orphan. The fights between him and Yuu are among the more interesting, as the two do take the time to come out of their cockpits to yell and argue with each other. But even for these two, things can go too far and they get caught in the vast global net, and end up being thrust into a completely different area of the world.

It makes no sense to me. I must have slept through entire episodes. Of course, that sums up a good amount of the technospeak that fills this show. What it means in the end though is that Yuu and Jonathan are thrust into an apparently contained area where it’s all snowy and mountainous. Another woman is there with her own Brain while Jonathan is taken under the wing of a mysterious masked man who has larger plans for Orphan and the Novis Noah. These aspects feel so disconnected from the rest of the show, but taken in and of themelves, they work. When connected to the larger picture, it feels like they were just dropped in to provide a change.

While I was growing fond of parts of the series at the end of the first release, this one has left me somewhat colder and less attached to it. The overall package itself is solid, great price, lots of episodes, solid quality. But the content is just leaving me with a stupefied look on my face.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Text Interview with Tomino,Karaoke Opening,Production Sketches

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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