Queen's Blade Vol. #3 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, February 04, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The various forces at play all start coming together but Leina isn't quite ready to face it all yet.
What They Say
Leina has been training with Echidna for the Queen's Blade tournament, but when it comes time for her first real fight, her target is her first friend, Risty! Determined to prove her worth as an equal, Leina goes all out, but Claudette gets to Risty first.
Meanwhile, Menace, Airi, and Melona lead the Swamp Witch's minions in a full-scale attack on the Queen's Gates. It's up to Leina, Tomoe, Nowa, and the others to defeat the evil forces and gain entrance to the final rounds of the Queen's Blade!
Queen’s Blade is a show that Media Blasters has some faith in, hence it getting an English language dub adaptation. The show has a decent pair of stereo mixes to it encoded at 192kbps that convey the material well. The forward soundstage has a clean sound to it with an expected layout where we do get some directionality, mostly during the fight scenes and the music, but also some decent dialogue placement throughout as well. The show isn’t one that stands out hugely in the audio sense but it’s a solid mix that works well and is free of problems. The opening and closing songs tend to make out the best overall in providing a good full feeling.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Each volume contains just four episodes of the show and some extras so it works within a decent bit of space to provide a very good looking result. The series is one that has a pretty good budget to it and it’s all on the screen with some very lush visuals at times and a whole lot of pop when it comes to the color. The encoding for it is solid across the board with only some areas of standout noise in the background, often in dark scenes at night, but generally a very pleasing look. Or it could just be that all the fanservice is highly distracting. The release is free of issues like cross coloration, halos and line noise during panning sequences which leaves it to just look really attractive.
Similar to the first two volumes, the cover here is good but definitely feels tame compared to a lot of the content on here. The artwork used here is of Claudette in the foreground with her chest being quite apparent in her skimpy outfit while a softer version of Leina is behind her, though mostly from her upper chest and up. Both look good but again, it's very tame. The logo is definitely old style along with the volume name along the bottom to the point where I’m sure some won’t read it clearly the first time. The back cover comes across as pretty tame as well with just one shot through the center that’s a collage of different characters that again don’t show off anything too extreme. The summary takes care of the premise of the show rather nicely while the bottom is fleshed out with the episode count, the discs features and production credits. The technical grid is nicely done as well with clear and clean listings of exactly what’s involved with the release. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover. I had hoped there might be one like some adult releases that have a hard and soft version.
The main menu uses the artwork and background design from the front cover as its main image, set to the right, where it has a nice bit of vibrancy to it and a very solid look. The character illustrations show off their detail well and the bit of music to it sets the mood fairly well as well. The left side has the navigation strip with the logo while using the various text designs from the front cover as well. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and Media Blasters continue to off both sign/song subtitle tracks alongside full subtitle tracks which is very welcome during a time of corners being cut. The layout is easy to navigate and submenus load quickly, though the disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets and defaults to English with the sign/song subtitle track.
The third volume of the series has a couple of nice extras to it. The final two OVA episodes are included, which run just under three minutes each and involve the girls at school with more very naughty sequences. We also get the clean versions of a couple of the ending sequences as well as a twenty-four minute piece from the Tokyo Anime Fair with a pair of the voice actresses talking about the show in front of an audience and being generally enthusiastic. It's not a cosplay event or anything and it's interesting at times, but it's a piece that doesn't really draw you in all that wlel.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end of the first season of Queen's Blade isn't all that much of a surprise since it's the end of a first chapter overall. Over the course of the season we've been introduced to a lot of characters who have fought in battles with each other and several of them have added to what Leina as the lead character is capable of. The bad characters have been introduced and we got a look how things operate in the heavens while spending a lot of time with a particularly bad angel. Nanael had a greater focus in the second volume but here she's pushed to the side in order for everyone else to stand out.
With the four episodes here, Queen's Blade covers a fair bit of ground for getting us to the point where they're ready to enter the capital and begin the real fight to determine who the new queen is. There's little in the way of new characters and fights related to that here, but there is at least one, and one of the weaker ones at that. The opening episode introduces us to a dwarf named Ymir who has come to seek revenge against a weapon maker named Cattelya who she claims is making inferior materials. Ymir is certainly cute and all but Cattelya really takes it down a few notches by having breasts that are bigger than, well, Ymir. There's no surprises with story here as they end up fighting, but it's hard to watch Cattelya. The women of Queen's Blade all generally have large breasts, but ones like this just make you cringe and wince.
Where Queen's Blade goes after this is really quite a lot of fun as everyone is getting closer to Gynos and end up coming across each other. There's a good bit of tension to it at times, but in general they all know that it's not the right time yet. Where it gets interesting is that Leina asks Echida to help train her for what's about to come. It gets quite dirty at first with Echidna stripping both of them down and covering them in a protective goo so they can fight, but it's layered with more meaning as well. With just three days to go, there's not much Echidna can teach her. But it's about teaching her that she needs to have a reason to really fight, to take it truly seriously and realize that it is a matter of life or death they're going to be putting them through. The episode as a whole really does a nice job of letting both of them come across well here as Leina seems to really stand as tall as Echidna does.
Beyond that, the final two episodes brings everyone to the gates of Gynos where things are ready to start moving forward as nearly everyone who has shown up in the series arrives, including the bad girls. What sets things off to start though is that of Claudette arriving as she's come to deal with Leina as she harbors quite a lot of grudges against her for their past. We saw some of it much earlier in the series but it all comes home to roost here pretty well, especially with Elina in tow as well. Coming after Leina has spent her time training, it's good to see her stand up as well as she does but also to see just how serious Claudette can get about it. With this fight and the subsequent ones involving more of the cast of warriors, the show ends on a good note here and feels very much like the end of a first book of a larger storyline.
The fights for this set of episodes all come across well, at least outside of the Cattleya piece, and the show continues to remain as strong as it has in the past. The segment between Echidna and Leina runs over the course of three days within the episode and it's really neat to see the changes in how Leina is portrayed throughout it and how those watching see the changes as well. The final episode has a fairly big mishmash of events going on, especially as Queen Aldra gets involved in everything. While it doesn't get truly epic, there's a good rise to events here as it goes on and with Nanael involved, it all has the grandeur that you'd expect from a Queen's Blade fight.
The final four episodes of Queen's Blade was about what I expected as it sets the stage for what's to come and it does it well. There's plenty of smutty moments to be had here throughout it, some more than others, and it's well balanced against all the action, which isn't as smutty as it could be since much of it gets serious. I enjoyed Queen's Blade as a whole, reveling in all of its smutty nature and the scantily clad women where nary a man is ever seen, and I'll even admit it has me interested in a figure or two as well. The show is one that never took itself completely seriously, but knew how to find that right balance. Sometimes a show can find a path to being so overtly sexual and still deal with a larger storyline that ties it all together. That they do so with really great looking animation and some fantastic fight scenes only makes me grin even more broadly as they say you can have your cake and eat it too. Queen's Blade isn't for everyone, but it made me happy with each installment.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, OVA Episodes 5 and 6, Clean Ending, Clean On-Air Ending
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Queen's Blade