El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000
What They Say
Eleventh Night: The Sealed Mistake
Twelfth Night: The Abominable Gateway to Heaven
Thirteenth Night: A Night of Captivation, Temptation, and Purification
With one seal on the Spring of Life open, Gilda leads Makoto inside where he realizes the secret behind the Spring of Life and the threat of world annihilation! Arjah uses Gilda to get the activation password from Dall Narciss. When Gilda speaks the password, the floating colonies crumble and the farmlands are destroyed as the ancient artifact reforms! Now it's up to Makoto and the Three Priestesses to stop Arjah from destroying the alternate world of Cretaria.
The Dreams of Tomorrow brings this twelve episode series to a close as well as containing the special bonus episode (I don't know if it was ever aired or whether it was direct to video).
On the audio side, there's lots of good stuff in here. The dialogue is clean and undistorted and the background effects are used very effectively in the front soundstage. A lot of the special effects and general sounds are well used throughout the first two episodes. Both audio tracks sound good.
On the video side, things look good. Colors are very vibrant in many sequences and there is extremely little color bleeding in it. We didn't notice any hints of pixelation or artifacting at all. We did play it on our Panasonic A110 on a 19" TV/VCR combo that's uncalibrated and you can see some bits of grain and pixellation throughout it. All this did was stress once again the importance of a properly calibrated system.
A big kudos goes out again for a well designed package. The cover art is great, especially with the eye catching blues and all three cute girls on it. The back cover contains a decent and mostly non-spoiler summary of the first two episodes as well as listing the episode titles. And the paper insert contains a very cute picture of Fatora with the chapter stops.
The menu is also quite a treat. The main menu has a great static picture with a lot of great colors to it. The overall design is very attractive. The language selection definitely lets you know what the disc will play as well. All menu selections were quick to access on multiple players.
There are also a couple of extras on this disc. There's an image gallery with 11 pictures. The first six are the Japanese LD covers, so you can see where some of the great DVD coves have come from and which ones got dropped as well as the cover to the bonus #13 episode. I wish they had used that one for this disc. But I can understand why they didn't. The rest of the images contain artwork used for the Japanese laserdisc inserts. There's also an alternate opening animation sequence (without hard subtitles) that does have some differences, but they're not completely noticeable unless you're paying very close attention. Still, it's inclusion is a great bonus.
But for all the disc design and setup, the content is what really made us laugh and smile. The firs two episodes bring the Alternative World storyline to a close with some finality. The secret behind the Spring of Life, Gilda and Dall are all revealed. The end conflict, though not really a physical conflict as you see in a lot of anime shows, was well done and it was good to see all of the characters back together at the end.
**** Spoiler: I really enjoyed the resolution to it, and sending everyone back to El-Hazard at the time of Qawoor's ceremony with the difference of all of them remembering what happened in Creteria. Some may not care for this "Dallas" like ending, but the difference is that the events happened and Creteria survived. The shots of Gilda and Dall with their child show that Creteria did continue on and it's all not a dream. ****
The thirteenth episode though... wow! One of the old adages proves true here; since it's a Pioneer show, there's gotta be a bath scene. And we get an entire episode of one, very similar to the original OVA Purification Ceremony.
The delightful difference this time is having Fatora along and her attempts at trying to score with just about every woman who shows up at the Ceremony. This episode is definitely borderline hentai to some extent, but there's a basis for it happening in the earlier OVA episodes. I'm definitely glad that this episode got greenlighted as it was a lot of fun and provided plenty of laughs.
This series overall has been a lot of fun. A little slow in some places throughout and it would have been good to have all the characters meet up a little earlier or stay together for the most part, we enjoyed the new dynamic of Qawoor and having Fatora along for the ride this time. While this TV series won't achieve Essential Collection status on its own, it will definitely be included in the overall El-Hazard section when the OVA series arrives this year.
English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles
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