Nazca Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2000



What They Say
The awakening memories of past lives as Incas has turned Kyoji's mentor, Tate, into a cold and calculating enemy bent upon a 1,000 year old ambition to purify the human race. While Kyoji refuses to give up on his teacher, he must resume his past opposition to Tate's attempts to revive the powerful Inca magic, Illotese, or else Tate will kill millions of people! Tate and Kyoji both gather allies in the present who are linked to their past, but the ancient memories of past alliances conflict with relationships in the present. Which will be chosen - the past or the present?

The Review!
Nazca: Blood Rivals brings us to the halfway point in the series. The first one rocked our players, but how does the second one fare?

The audio again shines through in this releases. In both languages, the sounds are simply a joy to listen to. From the rain pouring in the opening of the first episode to the rhythmic sound after the title card in episode six. Directionality across the front soundstage is wonderful with plenty of depth when necessary. With this series having such a gorgeous soundtrack and excellent voice acting, it's definitely a plus that the audio mix is so well done.

The video though... well, this is really going to be dependant on a few things. As with parts of the first disc, it looks as if the source material isn't the best that it could be. A few sections in the first episode almost seem like they're being blown up or stretched a bit while various places in all three episodes are a bit soft. And that was on my well calibrated TV with s-video. I also gave the disc a play on our 19" TV/VCR combo that's slightly tweaked, but never calibrated. The soft sections ended up looking very grainy. Your mileage will really vary depending on what kind of player/TV/connections you have when you play this disc. But it really doesn't look like the encoding but rather the source material, so there is little that Pioneer could probably do.

Much like the packaging for the first release, I just find it to be gorgeous. The character designs and the colors lend themselves well to the cover and are definitely eye-catching. The logo looks like it got a bit more work this time as well as it's colored and detailed whereas the first volume was simply white. Perhaps that one was a bit rushed? The back cover contains the usual solid amount of information and the usual kudos go out for including both the episode numbers and titles as well as the region coding which is lacking on various releases these days. The insert contains a variant on the back cover with each episode listed and the 11 chapter stops for each episode. The disc itself has the etched artwork on it as opposed to some other recent Pioneer discs that have had full colored artwork (Sailor Moon, Catnapped).

Other than the lack of sound or animation, the menus are very well done. Selections are made quickly and sections such as language and subtitles definitely let you know what you've selected. Chapter selection also works very well with the chapter number flashing over the thumbnails for all the stops in each episode.

The disc also contains two wonderful extras. Mini manga! About 8 pages each, read left to right as they're supposed to be, the super-deformed versions of a couple of the main characters go through an alternate storyline as the kendo club is turned into the Inca Empire Research Club. Too funny. Very well done. I hope there's more to be seen!

There's only one real mistake on this disc. At the end of the third episode when the Next Episode portion starts, it's not subtitled. You can flip to the dub to get what's coming up, but it's probably just a slip-up that this didn't happen. The other two episodes both have their next episode previews subtitled.

Though the disk is a slightly mixed bag in terms of the technical side, the content side is a winner all around. Of the three episodes here, the first two are a bit of exposition and drama, though there are action moments where three more reborn spirits are unearthed. The final episode on the disc though is almost entirely action with a few flashbacks to the past.

There are a lot of minor revelations made throughout all three episodes in terms of who is really who, relations to each other and the powers that each may have. There's several displays of the power of Iriyatesse as well, with some pretty dramatic results. The first disc set things up well and this release puts a few more touches on things and moves a few more players into place and then begins the action in earnest.

It's going to be a long two months until the next release.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,2 Mini Manga's

Review Equipment
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: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Nazca