Ceres, Celestial Legend Vol. #3 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

What They Say
As the direct descendant of a celestial maiden, Aya has been branded as an enemy of her own family?but now, she may actually be an asset! To unlock the secrets of the Celestials and gain eternal prosperity, the Mikage family enacts "Project C," and Aya may just be the specimen they need to complete the project!

Then, Aya's ruthless cousin Kagami catches on to the activities of the Aogiri family and how they have given Aya sanctuary. Will Suzumi become a target of the Mikage family as well?

The Review!
Just when things couldn't get any stranger, the overall size of the project starts to take shape as Kagami begins talking about the C-Genome and implementing it within parts of humanity. And the initial attempts are already causing quite a stir...

For our primary viewing session, we watched this show in its original language of Japanese. The show continues to be very much dialogue driven, using the center channel with hardly any directionality across the front soundstage. Some of the action effects sounds make use of the the left/right speakers, but only sparingly. The music continues to be the main user of the stereo effect, to good effect at that. The opening song is still one we listen to each time. It's unfortunate that there's no subtitles to go along with it still though.

This volume was less of a mixed bag than the second one. The cross coloration overall is down across the board, but you can still notice it along the edges of characters hair on occasions. But it's still very much reduced from the first two discs in general. The colors look good, blacks remain solid, but there were a few close ups of Yuhi in the final episode that looked as if there was a fair bit of macroblocking going on. Otherwise, things are pretty decent looking here.

The manga covers continue, though I really like the colors and look of this one. Of course, blue being my favorite color helps. Aya certainly does have massive eyes here though. The back cover provides a few screenshots in an different style while a large picture takes up most of the background. While we don't have volume numbers, episode numbers and titles are thankfully provided. The summary is a bit brief, but combined with the good listing of extras and the technical information, there's little to really complain about. The insert folds out to a poster with more great looking manga artwork, while the back side of it contains the chapter listings for each episode.

The menu layout manages to pull off the right balance of music, animation and design so that it accentuates the material and isn't overbearing or out of place for the show. Menu selections are quick to access and the language selection area shows easily what languages are set for default. Very nicely done.

We've got a nice helping of extras again on this disc. The conceptual artwork in general provides some interesting bits, especially with descriptions given for them. The character design gallery is quite extensive, listing many characters. The big draw is the 2nd part of the video interview with Yu Watase. While it suffers just as badly as the previous volume in layout, it makes up for it in interesting comments on why she draws such pretty men to what she thinks of US fandom. Very interesting things here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There's some interesting revelations afoot here. Kagami begins to layout his plans to an assembled group of what appears to be backers to his Project C experiments. We learn about the legend of the celestial being and how there are many variants of the tale all over Asia and Europe, and that Japan alone has 50 different versions of it.

It's also discovered that the thing that makes up a celestial being has been taken, the C-Genome. This genome is now being placed in varying people throughout the country to see what happens. One episode focuses around a school doctor/student love relationship where the doctor has given the student some of the C-Genome, which has given her the ability to create and manipulate fire. This goes off quite poorly, since it wipes her out and she comes into contact with Aya and Yuhi. With her inability to really control the power and the psychological pressures of keeping her affair with the doctor secret, it doesn't take long before she simply snaps and breaks down, taking out anyone near her, like Yuhi.

This then starts bringing into play the relationship between Aya and Yuhi. With Yuhi somewhat down after being burned, Aya takes it upon herself to take care of him and get him better. Yuhi, in a rare anime moment (especially this early in a series) decides that he simply can't hold back his feelings and tells Aya how he feels about her, that he loves her. The reaction is definitely mixed, but the encounter in general was rather different than the norm.

Aya then spends some time trying to figure out her own feelings, in regards to both Toya and Yuhi. Splice this with footage of Toya being chained by Kagami and you've got some serious tension building up for the future. But this doesn't go on too long as we learn that Suzumi has been kidnapped by agents of Kagami. Apparently she's next on the list to be tested with the C-Genome.

Through this encounter, we learn a surprising amount about Suzumi, a woman who seemed somewhat flighty before to me. A new depth to her was definitely added here as we go into her past a bit as well as her relationship with the main family branch and her brother in law as well as her father in law. The men in black moments were pretty decent in their tenseness, but I'm surprised that they'd go after someone so obvious so early on.

Ceres is still an interesting series, but after nine episodes I'm still not exactly sure where things are going or what the over plan is. That's actually something of a bonus since I can't plot out the end of the series from the first episode. There's just enough mix of mystery, action and revelation across the three episodes that you can feel things progressing, you just don't know where.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Conceptual Artwork,Character Design Artwork,Exclusive Yu Watase Interview

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: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ceres, Celestial Legend