Angel Links Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2001



What They Say
Change is in the air at the Links Group, and everyone’s life seems to be at a turning point. A shipment is stolen right outside the gate of the Links Group, and Meifon is determined to get it back. This time, however, it’s strictly a ground caper and she and Kosei set off alone, and face a Tao Master!
And later, Valeria, who was once a protégée strategist for the awesome Einhorn Empire comes face-to-face with an old comrade who offers her a deal. Meifon receives a visit from a long-lost Uncle, but this family reunion ends in tragedy. And, once again, Meifon struggles to come to terms with the terrible destiny that is unfolding before her.

The Review!
The third of four volumes, Angel Links dips a bit into the filler pool as well as the cheaper talent pool to get a few of these episodes done. On the plus side, the third episode kicks off the final story arc with a massive bang and some surprises.

Audio:
For the purpose of our review, we listened to this in its original language of Japanese. The series continues its typical TV audio stylings, with the majority of dialogue coming through the center channel and a few ambient effects in the left/right. The music makes the most use of the soundstage and the ending song continues to be our favorite piece so far in this series. A solid audio presentation overall.

Video:
The video presentation here is pretty similar to what we saw on earlier volumes, with lots of great looking colors mixed in with some great looking black space sequences here and there. The rainbows are again present, but a bit less than before. The opening sequence is still where they reside the most, but at least the episodes themselves are becoming less overwhelming. The only downside is that during areas where the animation looks to have been outsourced to get done cheap, things don't mesh quite as well.

Packaging:
The layout is setup the same as the previous discs, which is good as seeing more consistency among cover design is getting to be more important. The front cover has a nice light and carefree picture of Meifon in a startled Kosei's arms. It's not the same darker styling as the first two volumes. The back cover layout is the same as past volumes, with some nice small animation shots, episode numbers and episode titles. The summary does a decent job of talking about the episodes, and the overall layout is pretty slick looking. The insert provides another shot of the cover while opening it up, we get the background and biography of Valeria, though I'd recommend not reading it and watching these episodes first.

Menus:
The menus are identical to the first volume but thankfully without the weird looping problem I had with that disc. Access time among the menus is pretty good and things are laid out in a nice and simple but effective way. Shiny simple menus are nice!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the three episodes here, you get three very distinctly different episodes.

The first episode, My Ship, is essentially a filler episode that focuses on Meifon going off on a pirate whose nabbed some goods that they were about to transport. The goods themselves are generally not known, but there's a guess that things like gifts and mail are included, which is one reason Meifon is keen to take it on. The other is that she just really feels the need to go kick some ass around. And with this Tao pirate running a massive planetbound ring, they fit in nicely to her plans.

This episode suffers the worst in terms of the animation, with the characters at times not looking anything like themselves and looking very flat. When a show is low budget to begin with, when you go lower, it shows. This is one of those episodes.

The second episode is a character focus episode. This one settles its sight squarely on Valeria. The show goes into her background and past quite well, when one of the battleships from the Einhorn Empire arrives in their vicinity and the captain is an old acquaintance of hers from her days serving aboard an Einhorn ship. It does seem that the Empire is being manipulated though, as the ploy is to use Valeria's possible desire to return to her military ways to gain her trust and to get her to spill various secrets about the formation of the Links Group and about Meifon.

This episode works pretty well in getting to know something about Valeria, even if it is fairly predictable and a bit forced. It does provide some expansion into the powers in the galaxy as well as providing some interesting new information about Meifon's family past history. It does feel sorta fillerish and could go that way, but does enough to push things forward. The animation continues to be somewhat off, but not as bad as the first episode.

The last episode on this disc though, "The Ones Who Were Left" firmly kicks things into high gear with the storyline. We're introduced to a great-uncle of Meifon's, one who was close to her grandfather, Chenho. He's contracted the Links Group services for transport off of Altair, along with his granddaughter. Other than the really oddly way she's drawn, noticeably the face and hair along her forehead, we've got the cute if socially inward girl in a dress. Meifon takes her out on the town, but finds herself horrified and disgusted when she discovers that this granddaughter is actually a robot.

This leads to a number of far more interesting discoveries and revelations as the episode progresses. SPOILERS FOLLOW: With Leon Lau now firmly established as the villain whose gunning after Meifon, we learn why he's gunning after her. The revelation of Meifon being a programmed assassin wasn't completely unexpected, but the drastic change she made when Lau did his red-eye of persuasion on her was quite well done. Her transformation into something not really angelic but similar was interesting as well. The change in voice worked good as did the overriding sense of something she must do above all else. END OF SPOILERS.

This episode worked really well to get me primed for the conclusion to the series.

While this series hasn't knocked my socks off or been as enjoyable as Outlaw Star, it's kept my interest and has had me looking forward to subsequent episodes. Sometimes the simplest of shows can be the most enjoyable. Angel Links is nice and simple, and this batch of episodes continues with what's come before it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Launch Clip

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.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angel Links