Big O Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2001



What They Say
Life gets more and more interesting everyday for Paradigm City's top negotiator. But when Dorothy finds a stray cat and brings it home - it makes everyone happy, until an older couple shows up claiming to be the parents of the cat - the cat isn't really a cat at all... but a boy!

When the cat/boy is kidnapped, Roger and Dorothy come to the rescue and discover that someone has been genetically engineering these creatures. How does Roger go from rescuing kidnapees to becoming a kidnapper himself?

The Review!
Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The soundtrack continues to be very dialogue based with a smattering of action moments that make good use of the front soundstage. The opening song is probably the best workout your speakers will get (and your lungs if you sing along loudly). We didn't notice any dropouts or other issues with the Japanese track and were pretty pleased by it.

Video:
This series continues to look quite solid in how the video presentation is. There's a lot of blacks and grays throughout as well as misty/foggy scenes, and all of it is just presented as you would expect with minimal amount of artifacting. Colors are nice and solid, though they lack the vibrancy of other recent shows, but keep in style with the show itself. Flesh tones look particularly good. We didn't notice much if anything in the way of cross coloration and there was only a few brief flashes of shimmering during camera panning sequences.

Packaging:
The cover art for this volume looks like it came from the Japanese Vol. #6 release, and provides a good looking picture of Roger and Dorothy as well as the Big O flashing his headlights at the enemy. The back cover provides a lot of animation shots as well as a decent summary of the show. Features and technical information are all clearly labeled as well here. The insert folds out to provide a briefer summary of each of the individual episodes with additional character artwork.

Menus:
The main menu is setup as the central viewer for the Big O robot itself and looks snazzy. If anything, you'll wonder where the selections are as they don't light up until you move the cursor over them. A bit disconcerting at first, but that may just be my old age and this newfangled technologies the whippersnappers are coming up with these days. Access times are pretty decent overall and things are laid out in a straightforward way once you know where they are.

Extras:
The big extra included here is the second part of the text interview with the creative minds behind the series. The things that these folks talk about is definitely interesting and enlightening both in how a series gets created and produced but in how the concepts for everything come together, as well as what they didn't like or felt was a mistake to do. There's also a brief black and white production art gallery that provides a number of shots of the enemies.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I had wondered, after getting through the first half of the series, whether the way the show is paced would finally get to me and turn me off from it. Thankfully, having taken in the third disc and its three episodes, I'm still enjoying the way this shows mechanics works.

Probably my favorite episode on the disc is the first one, mostly because it revolves around Dorothy and her almost-human feelings that surface. While walking home, she comes across a little puppy out in the rain. She decides to comfort him and then to bring him home, naming him Pero. Pero does what any dog does in a new home and tears up the place. This drives Roger nuts until he learns that it's the dogs doing.

Dorothy's quite intent on keeping the puppy, and Roger finds himself in a position where it's really hard to deny her. She's acting differently with the puppy than with anything else living she's interacted with, and Roger's feeling that there's something in her memories that's letting her be more than she usually is. When the real owners, the Ferry's, come along and want their puppy back, Roger does his best to try and buy the animal from them.

In this day and age of Paradigm City, cats and dogs are rarer than anything else and can command huge amounts of money. Dastun even makes a comment at one point that a particular dog is worth more than his departments budget for an entire year. So when the real owners arrive, and the animal is essentially one of their family (as it is with many people this day), Roger finds himself unable to sway them. He takes them out onto the patio where Dorothy is with the puppy, and to get her to give it back.

Cue the entrance for the mad villain who looks like he came from Giant Robo, and needs the puppy for his mad genetic experiments. Using his single passenger mini helicopter, he manages to throw the entire mansion into confusion and scoops up the puppy. The butler does get an amusing moment of screentime during this sequence though, once again making me appreciate the character even more.

This episode just proved to be a lot of fun to me, moreso than the other two. The second episode was a fairly interesting story about a villain from the past coming back (Beck) and trying to get his revenge on Roger and Dorothy. The third episode was a great one dealing with flashbacks and the power of mysterious women, and since it dealt with Dastun more than any other character, it provided some more much needed insight into his character.

The episodic nature of this show serves the style well, and the characters continue to develop nicely throughout them without it feeling overly forced. And as always, the giant bad guy robots are just hilarious to watch. Coupled with great looking animation and a solid voice cast, this is an easy favorite in my book. Recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Creator Interview (text),Production Art)

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: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
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: Big O / Big O II