Brain Powered Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D

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  • 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: 44.98
  • Running time: 200
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Brain Powered

Brain Powered Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     October 05, 2002
Release Date: September 03, 2002

Brain Powered Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Novis Noah and Orphan remain locked in mortal combat with the planet hanging in the balance! It’s the end of the world as we know it! Or is it?

The battle between Novis Noah and Orphan draws to a fever pitch as brother fights sister, parent fights child, and machine fights machine. All for the fate of the world and everyone on it. The mystery of the Brain Powered is finally at hand. The spectacular conclusion – with some twists you won’t believe!

The Review!
The final eight episodes of Brain Powered bring this confusing and scattered series to a close, but not without making me feel even stupider.

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.

The look of this transfer is pretty much on par with the first two releases. 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 eight episodes is the aliasing, which you notice mainly on the headshots and certain close-ups of the “mecha”. They have so much linework in areas, it’s not surprising they don’t retain a more solid feel at times.

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 Kannan standing in front of the highly evolved Baronz set against a cloudy mountain valley. 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.

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.

There’s a few extras included with this final volume. The main one is a multi-page interview with Tomino and Kanno that’s continued from a previous release. Most of the discussion focuses around the music side of the show and has some interesting bits to it from both creators. There’s also a nice gallery that showcases most of the Brain’s and Grand Cher’s from the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When I first finished Neon Genesis Evangelion, I felt confused. I knew something big had gone on, but my feeble mind couldn’t quite grasp it at that point in time. When I first finished Revolutionary Girl Utena, I felt confused for much the same reasons. I haven’t had that feeling again until I started watching Brain Powered. The difference between it and the two series before it is that I had no grasp of Brain Powered from the beginning, while the other two teased me along well enough that I thought I knew what was going on.

With the final eight episodes here, spread across two discs, I was basically scratching my head right out of the gate. Each episode almost feels like a show unto itself and linked only very tentatively to the episode the came before and follows after it. It really does feel like it’s made up on the spot every week. Improv anime.

With all that had gone in during the previous volume with Orphan surfacing more and more into view and into the atmosphere, one major change has occurred. The US has decided that they want it. And to keep things from being a sovereign issue, when they military takes it over, it’s not claimed as US property but as a religious property, which gives other nations pause in interfering. So now Orphan is all decked out in US flags and symbols while people plan for the leap into space.

All of this is orchestrated by the Governor, whom we’ve not seen until this point. We do finally get to meet him, only to learn it’s Geybridge. Geybridge?! What the hell. He’s there with Naoka and dressed up in some Gundam-like outfit and seems to be in firm control of things. Midori and her husband seemingly have no troubles obeying him. But I’m not even concerned about that, but rather how he managed to attain this position while still being on the Novis episodes earlier and being crucial to that family of people. It’s explanation never really surfaces, even when Hime finally finds out and confronts him. It was truly a moment where the writing showed just how bad it had fallen.

To complicate the entire Orphan situation even more, Jonathan and the Baron arrive on the scene and start mingling with the crew. For some reason, people have no issue accepting this masked man or the wildly configured boy that Jonathan is in control of. When we learn who the Baron truly is, it again turns into a situation where it makes no sense. Between the time of the characters origin and the end scene on Orphan, it’s confounding trying to figure out how the character could know as much as they did. It turns into another huge bad plot point.

But this is problematic with the entire series. The Vital Net is never explained, the situation of the world, where a lot of it appears to be underwater, is never explained. The way things shape up after the first arrival of Orphan is never truly clear, and things just get more and more mired. Tomino has a story to tell, one that focuses on relationships that seem to be maternal in nature, but it’s told so incredibly haphazardly that it only gets worse as the episodes pile up. And with as large of a cast as there is, the main characters continually get pushed off for little things here and there that you don’t get a real feel for them and the secondary characters end up feeling paper thin.

When asked what I thought of this release on the chat after I finished it, all I could say was, “…”. I really have no opinion of it anymore, because now I can tell there’s nothing to really have a thought on in regards to the show itself. There’s plenty to talk about in how its structure is done, but the show itself simply leaves me without words. There are certainly concepts that I found intriguing and there were moments over the 26 episodes that I thought I knew what was going on, but the big picture truly evades me on this one.

I’m quite glad the Bandai went to finish the dub and release it however, as I had been wanting to see it to judge on my own about it. To hear the simply gorgeous score alone has made it a worthwhile journey, but I know that won’t do it for most people.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Mecha Gallery,Interview with Tomino and Kanno

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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