Ruin Explorers (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000



What They Say
Fam and Ihrie are willing to do almost anything to make a buck. So when these debt-driven damsels discover the potential profits to be had in recovering a particularly dangerous mystical object, it means mortal peril for an entire civilization. There's no guarantee that they'll live long enough to squander the fabulous wealth they've been promised, and danger lurks around every turn as they cross dark seas in pursuit of legendary evil. Haunted by an unspeakable curse, plagued by doomsday prophecies, plotted against by untrustworthy traveling companions and locked in a desperate race to gain the Ultimate Power, Fam and Ihrie are the Ruin Explorers!

The Review!
Ruin Explorers is the latest in the 2000 pipeline of releases from ADV Films, and in the similar style to Burn Up W, it's a better value for the dollar over the previous VHS releases. This single volume contains all four episodes that were made. And with the DVD you also get the advantage of having both languages. I've never listened to so many dubs before!

Ruin Explorers is presented across a dual layered disc which definitely helps keep the bitrate up slightly higher for the episodes and does help bring up the quality level a bit. The video overall is very well done with very little to complain about at all. The opening of the first episode is done in a different art style that doesn't mesh well with most playback and looks just a little off, but after that it's smooth sailing. Colors aren't over saturated and the blacks are solid where I checked them in detail.

The horror of this disc is that there isn't a French or Spanish track. I swear I'm becoming addicted to watching anime in these two languages. However, ADV has provided two very well done tracks in the Japanese and English language. Both are clean and undistorted stereo tracks. There's a bit of directionality throughout the episodes but not that much. Most of it will be centered dialogue depending on how you have your hardware setup. I did enjoy the English language dub a lot for this and after viewing a couple of ADV DVD's so far, it's starting to seem like Jessica Calvello is pretty key to my liking it.

The packaging is pretty nice too. The front cover is a wider version of the first VHS tape with a bit more crumbled wall surrounding it. The back cover provides a few menu shots and some pictures from the anime itself along with a spoiler free recap of the episodes. The insert provided contains the image used for the 2nd VHS tape cover while the reverse side shows off a few already released discs.

Ruin Explorers also features a bit more of an active menu than your standard anime DVD release. Keeping in tone with the actual content, some of the selections are theme based and items from the show are used for going from one menu to the other. Menu cuts are also animated. Selections are made quickly and are accessed properly. There are some nice touches of animation with most of the screens and music playing throughout all of them. Very nicely done.

ADV has also used the alternate angle feature here to provide the ending credits in both the dubbed and subbed versions. The default angle is the English language credits but a quick click will bring you to the Japanese credits. As I mentioned in my Burn Up W review, unless you know to change it, you may miss it entirely. I do think that this feature is good to have when there's no way to do it otherwise, I hope in the future that if the language playing is Japanese, it'll switch to angle 2. The folks over at AIX Media should be able to handle that easily.

I had previously only heard a little bit about Ruin Explorers, but what I heard never really grabbed me. During my pre-teen years and early teen years I read a lot of fantasy novels and played an ungodly amount of hours of Dungeons & Dragon's and a wide variety of fantasy role playing games. Suffice to say that after awhile, I finally burned out on the whole fantasy oriented style. The whole genre in my mind was really lacking in anything new and innovative and instead clung to time honored traditions.

As such, I've had mixed reactions to fantasy anime shows. Some have been very well done and have had me very interested in them while others tended to follow the standard formula. For the most part, Ruin Explorers follows the standard formula. The four episodes, which contain the entire series, is well done with what looks to be a slightly above budget animation. The characters, though most are without any real depth or detail, are well done and you know easily what kind of person that they are. The villain is sufficiently evil looking and has a dark purpose, though there is a bit of a twist with that as well.

Fam and Ihrie are a couple of ruin explorers who are searching for the Ultimate Power, a device that will grant the person anything they wish. Ihrie, who may have been a bit of a punk magician in her youth, had a curse placed on her and has been searching for this so she can rid herself of it. Fam, her partner and obligatory catgirl, is along for the ride... and food.

Along the way they also meet up with a merchant and two other ruin explorers and another mysterious man. They eventually take on a quest that involves finding the Ultimate Power that ties around stopping the villain with the dark purpose.

There are a lot of amusing moments along the way, as this is a light hearted fantasy romp with only a few truly dark moments. There are a few brief moments of nudity, but no real foul language. There are however two really above average things that need to be mentioned about this show.

The first is that the music is above average. Instead of the typical synthesizer music with the same repeated sections, they went a bit further and got the Versailles Chamber Orchestra to perform the music duties, and it sounds good. There's a lot of ambient music throughout that helps set the various moods well. While orchestra's performing music for anime isn't as rare as it once was, it's still pretty uncommon, but it paid off in this effort.

The other is one of the characters in particular. The merchant has a dog. Not just any dog though. This is probably the one character who line for line gets the best lines. Basically picture him as an anime version of Mutley from those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons and you'll have it dead on. He even has the same kind of evil hee hee laugh of Mutley.

Ruin Explorers overall is a pretty solid release. Having all that's been released on one single disc is an easy incentive and with what few fantasy shows that there actually are out on DVD these days for anime, it'll help those who really need a fix. A good addition to my collection.

Features
English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery

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: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ruin Explorers