Escaflowne Vol. #7 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 24, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001
What They Say
Hitomi surrenders to the fortune-enhanced soldiers Naria and Eriya, but the process has some unpredictable side effects. After her escape, Hitomi and Van are summoned to the ruins of Fanelia by Folken, where they face the menace of the dragons and the shadows of the past that have haunted Van's older brother since the days of his dragon-slaying ceremony. Episodes 21-23.
The penultimate volume of the Escaflowne series brings some of the more dramatic events of the series to the forefront and the pacing continues to move briskly. Essentially, the enjoyment only goes up here.
For our primary review, we listened to the Japanese track. Throughout it, the audio was definitely a solid stereo presentation. Dialogue was clean and undistorted and the music continues to be the bright spot. There's a fair amount of directionality across the front soundstage here and it sounded very good.
Overall the video does continue to improve here over the early volumes, though the rainbows are still visible in a number of scenes. The animation for the last batch of episodes also appears to be higher than in the middle of the series, which adds to the good looking transfer. While not perfect, it's quite good.
While Hitomi does occupy center stage (again) on this cover, it's the bad catish girls that give the cover its oomph as they drop down from their Guymelef's. The colors look good but for some reason just feel somewhat un-animeish. The back cover is in the same style, offering a few animation shots as well as the summary, features and episode numbers and titles. While the outside of the insert contains the same as the front cover, the interior goes into a nice summary about the Knights of Asturia and their background.
The themed menus look wonderful. The main menu is similar to the opening of each episode with a tarot card in the middle where you select each episode. Access times were pretty decent throughout, though there are a few slowdowns in returning to the menu and selecting the next episode due to the odd way Bandai puts each episode on its own title.
The main extra again this time is the final installment of the Club Escaflowne, which talks with Kazuki Akane, the series director, and Shoji Kawamori, who served as the story editor/supervisor. These two gentleman bring some interesting things to the table in talking about how stressful animation series can be, the quirks of Escaflowne as well as what they thought worked best about it. I do have to admit though, in this final installment, I wish more of the Club Escaflowne pieces had been done similar to the earlier ones with Seki behind the bar. The brashness of it all was great to see. Of course, that may be why he wasn't involved in interviewing the creative staff outside of his fellow voice actors.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The show picks up fast in dealing with the intensified luck soldiers, known as Eriya and Naria, finish their rampage on the city post-wedding. Hitomi ends up with one of them as they retreat off while being hunted, and does her best to try and understand this woman. Hitomi finds herself a captive of Naria, whose been bleeding since her escape during the battle and is considerably weakened. Weakened to the point where Hitomi could simply walk off, but Hitomi insists on figuring out Naria's motivations. This leads us into some new revelations about the girls past and how they ended up in Folken's service, which does help us to empathize a bit more with the characters.
A large portion of time is devoted to another reunion between Van and Folken, as they both end up in the ruins of the kingdom of Fanelia. While they begin to talk about their differences, Van being more heated about it, the dragons that once were relegated to the outlying areas have decided to settle within the ruins themselves. This leads to some fun and dramatic moments as Van tries to keep Hitomi safe from the dragons while Folken plays things cool as he usually does. We do get some good glimpses into Folken's past as well, from his point of view.
We also start dealing more with the feelings between the three main characters of Hitomi, Van and Allen. Since this isn't a yaoi show, the feelings are of course the two men directed towards Hitomi. During the moments of quiet before the war against the Zaibach picks up again, the three begin to confront the various feelings they have with each other, to the point where Allen manages to actually tell Hitomi his true feelings. There are a number of very good moments during these quiet scenes where the characters really shine.
There's also some truly good combat sequences here, as the war begins to pick up. The hatred between Dilandu and Van only intensifies here, and their battle scenes are brutally violent just in their expressions alone. Dilandu's character continues to impress me as we rarely see psychotic villains who are over the top without truly being cartoonish in nature. Dilandu has earned a certain level of respect to be sure, and these episodes that begin to unravel his past are real highlights.
While some of the middle segment of the Escaflowne series sometimes felt like they slowed the series down a bit, the final overall arc that began with the last disc pushes through hard and fast here, and makes you want the final three episodes to be loaded up quickly. This is great stuff.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Club Escaflowne
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2