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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, October 02, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, October 02, 2001



What They Say
As the general population becomes increasingly aware of the Aragami and the danger they represent, the Japanese government has come under pressure to take the one measure guaranteed to relegate the Aragami to the realm of legend once more.

Now Momiji must be protected not only from the Aragami, but from the people who would sacrifice her to save themselves as well. The TAC moves underground to continue the fight, as the country surrenders to the natural forces released by the rebirth of Susano-o.

The Review!
With the final volume bringing in the last six episodes of the series, the storyline races headlong into the final arc and gives us an almost classic Japanese "everything must go boom" series of action sequences. While the devastation in earlier episodes wasn't anything special, things here take on an interesting twist.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though like previous discs, we did give a brief listen to both the English language and Spanish language audio tracks. The show continues its center channel feel with the dialogue and using the front soundstage in a more full way with the action and music. There's no real standout sequences here, but the track is serviceable and gets across what was intended.

Video:
Things continue along much like before, though things do vary in terms of the grain. Sometimes it's a bit less than the usual we've seen, sometimes it's a bit more. The colors continue their drab style and rainbows are thankfully non-existent here. We didn't notice any nicks or scratches, and the Skyworth did a fairly good job of handling the grain and keeping it from artifacting up in things like dark blue skies.

Packaging:
The final cover again has a large cast on it that's overshadowed by a "sleeping" Kusanagi pulling a cross form. Amusingly, both Kaede and Susano-oh are smiling while Momiji looks like she's have a tough time with a bowel movement. The back cover replicates the style of the previous volumes with a couple of pictures and some of the menus. The summary is pretty decent and the features and technical information are nicely listed. The insert again has box art advertisements on the top side and chapter listings on the back.

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:
After a brief flip-through of the character bios, I was off to the real meat of the extras; the omake theater! Again we're treated to some hilarity at the expense of our characters. Seeing Kunikida and Kusanagi wearing only overcoats and having the floating black dot follow them is just too hilarious, especially when they start trading soft-core pictures of Momiji in various states of undress. The "Susano-oh, uh oh!" segment was particularly hilarious in just the characters expressions in this super-deformed mode. The omake theater continued to be highly enjoyable down to the last one.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Susano-oh continues his aging process under the hand of Kaede and he finally enters something resembling adulthood. Taking up residence in the hidden cave and cacooning himself inside what looks like a gelatinous mitama, Susano-oh begins to communicate with the pods that have been scattered throughout Japan during the various Aragami attacks, attacks which have begun to cripple the cities supply of power and water.

We also start to move into the fiercer fighting between Murakumo and Kusanagi. Kusanagi finds himself to be more empowered against Murakumo now after recent events and manages to go toe to toe with him as their fighting intensifies. The engagements are fairly well done with some moments where you get to see them use their powers well and freely as opposed to being restricted by protecting others. The results of the battle seems to sit between predictable and surprising.

Where we see the most damage is throughout Japan itself. The population centers have evacuated most people, forcing them into countryside shelters or just wandering about. The government is working with Washington to set up possibilities, but the sense of the country is confusion and uncertainty. In the government itself there are two opposing forces brewing as well. With the country collapsing, one group has decided that it's time to stop allowing the TAC to do what it wants and insists upon bringing Momiji in and sacrificing her. The Prime Minister and his group however try to keep control of things and hope that the TAC can figure out a way to save the day.

Of course, in times of crisis, things rarely go as those in charge want them to go. The TAC finds themselves disbanded and hunted and Momiji ends up being chased by the men in black suits from the government. With them on the run and the country falling apart, the government does the unbelievable and actually puts out an announcement about Momiji and her role in the events playing out and the necessity of her being sacrificed. And as happens in times of crisis, the scared and confused begin to fall into line.

The end of the series spends roughly three episodes bringing the conclusion about as the various forces fight against each other and some interesting revelations about the true purpose of the Aragami's mission is brought to light. The destruction falls into line of what you used to see in the big monster flicks of days gone by with buildings being smashed and people running in huge crowds to get away. One thing Blue Seed has done in its favor is have a casual affair with background characters. Be they civilians or military, people get killed very quickly and easily here by the Aragami.

In the end, Blue Seed proved to be an interesting series that took its time to get to the meat of the story, but pays off with a well scripted ending and an ending with some sense of finality (even though there are some OVA's out there that follow-up). The show can be watched to the end and you can feel it's definitely concluded, which is a big plus in our book. Other than the issue of the grain in the master material, this series has been a solid release from ADV with plenty of bang for the buck. With the great omake, it's a sweet deal and one hard to pass up.

Features
Japanese Language,Spanish Language,English 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: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Blue Seed