Blue Seed Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2001



What They Say
Not so long ago, Momiji Fujimiya was a typical teenage girl. But that was before a monster straight out of Japanese legend destroyed her school, and she learned that her blood contains the power to hold the nightmare demons at day.

Now, she fights for her life and the survival of mankind on an almost daily basis. Fortunately, Momiji is not alone in her fight. Joining her are the agents of the TAC, a super secret government agency equipped with the latest technology. But will even the most advanced weapons be enough to stop the Aragami before Momiji is required to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Contains 7 episodes.

The Review!
The second disc of Blue Seed starts to hint at the bigger things to come in the series, as the episodic nature of things starts to fall off much like the skin of some of the Aragami herein. As these parts start to fall away, my interest is finally starting to take hold.

Audio:
For our primary reviewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The disc continues to sport three audio tracks, giving more fans a wider ranger of choices. The Japanese track had no noticeable problems, though the majority of it does feel to be very center channel based. The music is definitely one of the wider feeling parts of the audio track, and both the opening and ending songs sound great here. We only spot checked the English and Spanish tracks, but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary with them.

Video:
With seven episodes, three audio tracks and two subtitle tracks, it's definitely a dual layered disc. The shows animation continues to not lend itself to being a very shiny show, but this probably helps a bit in getting it authored. The plain and slightly drab feel of the show looks good here, with only a few scenes that stand out as somewhat soft. Some of the backgrounds are a bit problematic with a fuzziness to them. There were no visible rainbows and line noise was at an absolute minimum, which always makes us really happy.

Packaging:
The crowded looking covers continue, with the entire team all doing various poses, while the big bad guys are pushing up from the bottom to give it a bit of a sinister look. Poor Kusanagi looks like a boob here though. At least Momiji looks good. The back cover does the best it can in covering seven episodes worth of content while also giving some screenshots and some menu shots. The insert is a massive list of the episodes and all their chapter selections, so the artwork is pretty minimal here in just a dark shaded seed.

Menus:
The menus are pretty well laid out here, with music playing along with static menus. Episode selection can be done right off of the main screen, which is great for those who set their language defaults like myself. Chapter index layouts are nicely done as well with each episode selectable from the right and then the chapters listing on the left. The Extras are laid out in a fairly similar way. Access times are pretty quick with no noticeable issues.

Extras:
There's two kinds of extras here, the kind I can't read yet and the kind that I really can't wait to check out. The kind I can't read is the character bios for fear of spoilers being given away, but the kind I can check out is the omake theater. The omake this time around is a lot of fun, especially the segment with the characters walking around avoiding traps by pointing out their animation level and how it interacts with them. The omake is pretty sweet.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second volume, bringing us up to episode 14 out of the 26 it'll run, starts laying the groundwork for the bigger story by introducing a more consistent villain than the Aragami of the week. While that's one of the main focuses of these episodes, the other is relationships.

The main relationship that's brewed here of course is the one between Momiji and Kusanagi. Kusanagi is typically blind for the most part to Momiji's feelings, and Momiji is a typical high school girl who can't express her feelings for him. What's a girl to do? Well, after letting it slip to her co-workers, a pair of "I love you" panties are born and thrust onto Momiji by Yaegashi (who simply never explains why he has a pair of them, nor do any of the women give him a look), giving her the perfect way to let Kusanagi know.

Frankly, this is something that needs to be done in real-life worldwide.

Anyway, this back and forth between them and their feelings makes up a the character driven part of the first couple of episodes, but is relatively pushed to the side when the bad guy shows up, and we learn just whose working with him, causing Kusanagi to become exceptionally distracted by it all.

The introduction of Murakumo brings a decidedly new and needed element to the show. Murakumo is some form of Aragami supposedly, but more similar to Kusanagi than the Aragami itself. It's learned that he has one more mitama than Kusanagi as well, enabling him to perform a wider variety of skills and powers, thus making him more dangerous (and reckless at times as well). Murakumo's plans are shrouded fairly well during his first couple of appearances, but as we begin to learn about him while he's off on his own, his plans begin to really take on a sinister feel to them. Especially so when we see who he's working with/for.

Murakumo brings to the show more of a serial feel, as his plans continue from episode to episode and build upon previous events. He's also a formidable (and overpowering) foe for Kusanagi, and has the emotional angle to work Kusanagi over with as well. Also bringing something new to the show is the introduction of Sakura, a Japanese who spent most of her life in America (whee, look at how American's are portrayed again) who has returned to Japan to begin her career as a faith healer and spiritual warrior. The target of course are the Aragami, so she, her arrogance and her bouncing bountiful breasts make their way into several of these episodes to add more mayhem and skin. There's even an idol face-off contest between her and Momiji (and yes, it's dubbed into English as well. Flee!).

The second volume of Blue Seed was definitely more enjoyable than the first, to the point where we watched all seven episodes in a row. Though the cast is larger, the new additions do bring something new and useful to the show. And moving beyond the Aragami of the week feel is also definitely a plus in its favor. We're now actively looking forward to the next volume (and more omake!)

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,Spanish Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Omake Theater

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: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 175
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Blue Seed