An intriguing, yet action packed adventure that has a little bit of everything.
What They Say
One Girl. One Tank. No Problem. In a devastated world overrun by monstrous bugs and ravaged by outlaws, there's only one person to call when you really need a job done right: Honoka. With a sixth sense for danger, sword skills that are second to none, and a smart-aleck A.I. tank by the name of Bogie, she's ready to tackle any job and solve any problem for her clients. But while crossing the desert one night, she finds a young man alone in the wasteland. It's the first step of a journey that will challenge even Honoka's amazing skills to their very limit! Contains the complete 24-episode TV series!
The audio for this series is presented in an the original Japanese stereo mix as well as an English stereo mix. The English format is the stronger mix and is what we reviewed for this collection as it is in the 5.1 at 448 kbps. While not always necessary, a surround mix adds a special emphasis to the overall presentation and makes a show that much more enjoyable. During playback, there was no noticeable issues with dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It also was a landmark event for Right Stuf as it was their first time working with anamorphic playback for the anime. With that, I am sure they have improved on their process as you can find quite a few flaws with the video quality. Some of the flaws may not have necessarily been with their processes, but with the source material. Blocking is very apparent with this release especially with the night-time scenes cast with a blue shade or when various color gradients appear all at once. Cross coloration is a non-issue and aliasing is very minimal. The main issues that I have with series involve the latter half where it appears that a change in animation and artist may have taken place. It is pretty distracting as some characters, especially Honoka, can look quite different. This really takes away from the stronger visuals that occur at the beginning and at the conclusion of the series.
The packaging for this collection is provided by the means of six thin cases house in a chipboard box. While it would have been nice to have cases that hold more DVD's the box will take up less space on your shelf than the single releases. The artwork on the front of the box features Honoka, along with the various supporting cast members and main characters on both sides. The logo of the series is prominently displayed on the spine of the box. The collage of characters and artwork in a blue and red format are definitely attention getters. The six thin cases contain artwork that appears to be very similar to the single release artwork. On the back of each case you will the a summary and technical specifications for the series. Overall, this is a nicely assembled thinpack, but it would be nicer if it was thinner!
The menu design for the series is simple, yet effective. Probably like the single releases, the main menu uses the front cover artwork along with a few visuals and a navigation strip. The theme music loops appropriately in the background and the animations work smoothly. Navigation in the menus is quick and easy while transitions to the episodes are fast. The discs also correctly reads the language presets.
This collection has a pretty good amount of extras that one would expect from Nozomi. It contains all of the digital extras that were included in the single releases. In this collection, you will find character artwork as well as character bios. Also included in this collection are staff commentaries with the various Japanese voice cast including Megumi Toyguchi. Voice commentaries are great, but I would like to have seen some commentary from the English staff get their perspective on the show. Rounding out the extras are trailers and music tracks for the series which is another nice perk.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
The Third is a anime that follows a road less traveled when it comes to plot. It tends follow its own unique path of storytelling that is a bit rough around the edges, but still manages to keep you hooked. You won't find a lot of commonality with other anime series, which is always a plus.
The title can deceive you a bit as this story really isn't about a girl with three eyes who has mystical powers, nor is it a story about a misfit who has lost her way. Rather, this story is an adventure about a young girl and her robot companion who are making their mark in a post apocalyptic earth by working as mercenaries, couriers, escorts, etc.. Honoka happens to have a third eye with super natural abilities, but that is not the primary focus of the story.
Much of the earth has become a vast expanse of desert where giant ants, worms, and spiders roam freely. It's a dangerous place where all types of mercenaries, caravan owners, and scrappers roam. To complicate matters, an alien race known as The Third govern what little is left of the human race. The uniqueness of this story is anything but your atypical post apocalyptic plot.
After the Great War, the Third established their reign over the earth. The Third are aliens who have a red eye in the center of their forehead and have elvish looking ears. Their astral eye allows them to interface directly with many types of technology that only they can operate. They operate remotely and are seldom seen by humans as their mecha enforce a law called the Technos Taboo that is designed to prevent humans from developing high level electronic systems or machines.
The heroine of our story, Honoka, is making it by in this occupied earth along with her trusty sidekick Bogie. Honoka fits the typical role of a spunky young teenger capable of holding her own in just about any fight while wielding a blade that she calls Sword Dancer. Her ability to fight and make her way in the world is aided by her bright blue eye. Her eye is very much like that of the Third which she keeps hidden under the bandana she wears. She is thoughtful and has a great sense of responsibility for those whom she holds in high regard. Bogie is not your typical AI as he has quite the personality which can be a bit sarcastic. He means well and is a very reliable companion who is like a father-figure to Honoka. A capable fighter, he is most effective when he is command of their battle tank
Honoka befriends a lot of people through her journey. There is quite a sizeable supporting cast in this collection. Honoka befriends Iiks who has a very mysterious persona about him. Iiks and Honoka make an instant connection that will play out in a very interesting way by the conclusion of the series. Iiks also bears mysterious powers that allow him to heal the wounded. They are soon joined by Millie who is the young daughter of Zankan. Honoka and Millie have a strong sister-like bond. Rounding out the main supporting cast is the annoying yet voluptuous nurse, Paife. Her affection for Honoka is nothing more than annoying distraction from the story.
The villains in this story are easy to identify and are self contained in several small story arcs. One would think, by looking at the cover, that the Third are the real enemies. In fact, they are more passive than aggressive and tend to sympathize with the plight of the humans. Joganki, a high-ranking member of the Third is often at odds with Honoka, but holds an understood relationship that gives and takes all the same.
The first story arc does a decent job establishing the main characters. However, the plotline drags and is not really engaging. In this first arc, we learn about the relentless and undefeatable soldier named Blue Breaker who will shadow many of Honoka's travels. The Gravestone arc is the second story arc that involves as a doomsday machine from the past. This decive culminates itself in the form of a young child that decides to execute a path of destruction bent on destroying the earth. We see lots of action with Honoka and Paife, which focuses more on their partnership in accomplishing the mission at hand and not Paife's annoying affections for Honoka. This is one of the stronger arcs and had us guessing the whole time about how it would end.
The Desert Phantom arc is the next major arc and fizzles out in comparison to Gravestone. Another weapon from the past makes its appearance and is hell bent on capturing a desert fairy that holds the genetic codes for all forms of life in the universe. The villain was convincing, but the mystical aspects of the desert fairy, the wolf, and Iiks just didn't do it for me. I think I am a bit confused about the circle of life aspects that it tries to present.
The final story arc, like the Gravestone arc, is action packed and intense. A mysterious member of the Third has gone rogue and intends to destroy the Earth. Her motive involves kidnapping Joganki in attempt to requite the love that she has lost. This hostage situation makes out of for a very interesting story that concludes the series on a high note. Plenty of action is to be had, especially the showcase duel between an attack helicopter and Bogie.
The Third is a decent compilation of stories, but it fails to gel as whole collection as the rotating cast of main and support characters appear to leave plot wholes. This is best exhibited by Iiks. There are episodes where his absence is dismissed and nothing is revealed about who he really is or what he is doing. I suppose it makes sense in the final episodes, but the mysterious absences tend to distract. The Third are always on the outskirts of the main story line and we really don't learn much about them except for Joganki. The last story arc and the final two episodes help, but I am still left scratching my head about who, what, when, where, and why when it comes to the Third.
One last thing to mention about this collection is the fact that this show suffers from a lot of abrupt starts and stops. Perhaps it tries to be a bit overambitious. When you blend action, sci-fi, and bit of fantasy together, you need to have a very tight plot and a very convincing cast. While Bogie is a stable mainstay, Honoka can be downright annoying with her blundering. She just doesn't hold her position as a strong main character well. With these things aside, I did manage to enjoy the show, but were a bit let down as it did not fulfill my expectations.
The Third attempts to blend action, sci-fi, and bit of fantasy together. It can be an enjoyable viewing experience, but frustrating as well. Not all the story arcs are well written and the abrupt changes in animation style cause significant distractions. However, the premise for the series is intriguing, and it does provide a refreshing break from the 'typical' anime story-lines.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Character Bios, Japanese Voice Actor Interviews, Music Videos
Samsung UN46B6000VF 120Hz LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p