Soul Taker Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, June 15, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002
What They Say
Kyousuke meets his real mother! Still, the mysteries surrounding his existence only deepen. After losing his resonance with the flickers, Kyousuke is forced to turn to his enemies at the Hospital for help, but the Kirihara Group attacks! Shiro reveals his ties to the Kirihara Group as the Hospital falls to their attack, but facts fail to dispel the mysteries and lead to more desperate moments! Soon, Kyousuke faces the Soul Anubis and must test the ultimate limits of his Soul Taker abilities!
This is the volume where a number of secrets are revealed and a number of lies dispelled. Lots of things going on here in addition to some very flashy action sequences.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a very slick sounding stereo presentation. There's a fair amount of directionality throughout the episodes and the music comes across fantastic. The music is the primary place where things are sent to the rear speakers as well. There's no dropouts or other audio issues at all, essentially a solid pro-logic audio mix that fits the material nicely.
This is just an absolute treat. There's so much style and flair to the animation that this anamorphic transfer really brings it to life. The vibrancy of the colors is practically reference material. The numerous blacks and darker colors are very solid, and the swaths of straight colors shows no color banding or breakup at all. This is just gorgeous. We noted no cross coloration at all and even aliasing seemed to be non-existent.
Utilizing the same style of holographic paper, the SoulAnubis takes center stage here set against the dreary background of a Kirihara Group base. This cover looks good overall, but feels much brighter than the past couple of covers. The back cover uses the same style and provides a number of good looking animation shots. There’s some minimal summaries going on, though they seem to give away a bit too much in my mind, as well as listing the discs episode numbers and titles. The discs features and production information are nicely listed and the insert provides the listing of chapters for each episode.
Keeping the whole theme of revelations, the shifting light coming from behind the characters and the darkness on the main menu works nicely here and gives things a very eerie feel. Moving between menus is nice and fast and the layout works just right. Selections are easy to see what it's set at and access times are nice and fast. Great looking stuff, especially a neat layout in the scene selection section.
There’s a good selection of extras included on this volume. The textless opening and ending make an appearance here, with the opening being a favorite. There’s so much going on this opening that it’s good to see it uncluttered. These are direct ports of the Japanese ones, to the point where it has the Japanese text from the R2 DVD that introduces it.
Also included is a karaoke version of the opening with the subtitles hard matted with the text changing colors as the song goes along. An art gallery shows off another batch of production sketches and there’s a smaller gallery that showcases a very elaborate version of the Soultaker helmet being made for a Halloween event.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s quite a number of revelations throughout these episodes, as well as a couple of very good and stylish action sequences. Of course, confusion still reigns in trying to keep track of everything.
Things start off in a surprising way though as Kyosuke comes across his actual birth mother while searching for more Flickers. The discovery of her alongside a river as she places a lantern into it, alongside hundreds of others, is done in such a gorgeous way. The two talk of the past, remembering that she used to visit his other mother when they were young, thinking her just a friend of his mothers. She reveals things to him about the relationship between her and those in her life, such as Kyosuke and Runa as well as Kyosuke’s father, the Hospital director.
Tsubaki has her own agenda though, even though she’s been outside of the game for quite awhile, and that’s to give Kyosuke a normal life. She manipulates him to her plans, something that even brings the Director to her home, where the three participate in a surreal moment as a “real family”. This expansion on his familial relations adds something needed to the character, since he’s had little real grounding in anything since his mother stabbed him at the very beginning of the series.
The main thrust of the remainder of the disc is to shift the focus away from the Hospital and bring it more upon Yui, as she has not only set her plans into motion, she’s cast off her backup plans. Those backup plans being the Hospital, which she has her new creation take down in a single night, leaving everything in complete ruins, filled to the brim with death and destruction.
Yui’s plans, aided by a mysterious and potentially otherworldly alien computer intelligence, have been realized with her absorption of the Flickers. With everything in place, she has brought about the SoulAnubis, a female version of the SoulTaker, and potentially much more deadly. There’s a number of misgivings and subtle text between her and the computer intelligence, but it seems to lay the groundwork for future revelations rather than a payoff right now.
With the destruction of the Hospital, Kyosuke has no recourse but to go and deal with Yui to try and bring everything to some kind of conclusion, since Yui is still looking for Runa, even if she’s cast off Kyosuke as the way to do it. His newfound lack of resonation with Runa likely had a lot to do with this as well. Shiro ends up revealing a number of items to Kyosuke, trying to warn him off of attacking Yui directly, even though he wants her dead as well. The overall plot and more motivations are revealed as he begins to tell his tale (in his own shattered way) to both Kyosuke and Kogumi.
The big draw for these episodes is the arrival of the SoulAnubis and the encounters it has with both the Hospital and with Kyosuke. I was surprised to say the least when it was revealed who it was, as I didn’t even think of that possibility, instead I went with some of the more expected and predictable ones. With that and the slew of revelations of things leading up to where the series started, I’m really looking forward to the final volume so I can go and watch it all in one sitting and try to put everything together. I’m really enjoying this series.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Karaoke Opening,Production Art Gallery,Mask Gallery
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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Soul Taker