El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, February 03, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 1999
What They Say
What is this past that Gilda has with the Emperor of Creteria? And what does the Eye of God have to do with the Spring of Life? Meanwhile, Jinnai has his own problems understanding just what these new type of Bugrom are thinking.
I must admit, I was rather giddy in seeing this disc arrive in the mail. I've been really enjoying the Alternative World series and getting closer to the final act always brings a lot of excitement in the El-Hazard world.
On the audio side, we have a solid presentation of a stereo TV mix with no distortion and clean clear dialogue. Directionality isn't used as expansively as it has been on several other recent TV series discs, but it's there and well used when needed.
Unlike the previous disc, the video is top notch here with only the very immediate opening sequence having any serious kind of jitter/pixellation, and that itself is due to the source material rather than the encoding. The vibrant and distinct colors used in the El-Hazard world, even in this darker spin-off series, are a joy to watch with the level of clarity and crispness DVD affords the show.
The cover for this release goes against the grain a bit in not featuring any of the "regular" characters from the El-Hazard world but instead Gilda and the Emperor. With the darkening cloud coming from the lower right tied into it, it does give a good indication of how things go on the disc inside. The back cover is pretty minimal with only the basic information since they don't want to give away anything inside, but it does have all the standard things we've come to expect.
Also opposed to last months review, the menu system is very much improved over volume 2. Whereas before you couldn't tell what you were selecting, it's very obvious and well done with this release. The main menu artwork is very pleasing on the eye and the style used for the selections fits very well. Everything is quickly accessed and works without issue.
One treat included on this disc is a section called Jinnai's Rants. Essentially there are six selections where you can hear Jinnai rant about his favorite topics. Some may complain that they're only in English (since there are no visuals, just the rant itself), but I've found the voice actor for Jinnai to be one of the best Pioneer's had in its dub history. A welcome bonus indeed.
This third disc in the series, containing episodes eight through eleven, conclude the second act of the story arc and begin the third and final act. All the characters who have been scattered about now begin to have the reason for the location come to light. And with the third act beginning, the action begins to pick up and there are several really well done sequences.
There's also some good character development (gasp!) with Nanami and Qawoor in regards to their mutual attraction to Makoto (which basically means Shayla Shayla hasn't put in her two cents yet). The history behind Gilda and the Emperor begins to be unmasked and the Spring of Life gets more screen time, but most of it off screen. It doesn't make sense, but it does work.
So far this series has been a real treat to watch. I can understand the difficulty some first time viewers may have with the show and hope they're sticking it out. It's worth it in the end, especially when the OVA box set gets released. El-Hazard is truly one of the gems in the Pioneer library.
English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language,Shayla Ending without Credits
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2