Pilot Candidate Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, June 17, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

What They Say
Zero's experience inside the Goddess has recently earned him quite a bit of popularity within the G.O.A. When a Pilot is severely injured, the search to select a new top candidate begins! But it is during the candidate selection process in which Victim launches its new offensive. Zero and the others are ordered to support the Pilots in real life combat! Can the Pilot Candidates survive the test?

The Review!
The final volume of Pilot Candidate does what every series should never do, end on a cliffhanger in the middle of the series.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This presented us with a bit of a problem this time, as the subtitles supplied on the disc are actually dubtitles (subtitles listing exactly what the dub says). This lead to a few poorly timed areas as the English dialogue starts in a different place, sections where a line or two in Japanese wasn't translated at all or an area or two where a subtitle shows up but nobody was talking For the audio track itself, it sounded fine with no dropouts or distortions. Dialogue is very center-channel based, but the music made good use during the opening of filling the entire soundstage through both stereo speakers.

The transfer for the final volume seems to be a mix of the previous three volumes, with some really great looking segments and then a whole mess of cross coloration in other areas. If the cross coloration hasn’t bothered you yet, then you’ll probably make it through here fine. Colors manage to look nice and bright without much in the way of bleeding or over saturation. Aliasing is very minimal as well.

The front cover has a nice shot of what you can basically consider the four main characters of the series and a couple of the CG Goddesses in the background. The back cover provides a number of screenshots melded together into a circle with a summary inside. The discs episode numbers are listed as well as their episode titles. These volumes also provide their number on the spine. The discs extras and production information are also listed here. The insert provides another shot of the cover while it folds open to reveal more detailed summaries of each episode and the artwork from the back cover.

The menu system is designed similar to the goddess units, with the pod opening and then showing the menu selections across a tablet. The animation is pretty brief and runs without any problems. Accessing other menus is quick and painless and things are laid out in a nice and logical fashion.

The extras continue with pieces started in the previous volume. The first is a “voice actor academy” which takes a couple of the lead voice actors and follows them through part of the production. This runs about seven minutes or so and is fairly interesting, especially if you haven’t seen many things like this before. There’s also a just under four minute director interview where he talks about the decision to do a CG show as well as comments from the special effects supervisor.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As if the changes in the previous batch of episodes weren’t enough, things get spread out a bit more here as well. One of the main journeys undertaken here is by Zero, as Clay has suggested hypnosis to unlock some of the memories of his past that seem to have disappeared, particularly that of his mothers likeness. While he’s in the isolation tank in dreamland, he transfers the people he knows on the GOA into his colony world, until he realizes that it’s not a colony world he’s dreaming about but a real planet, something he’s never seen before (unless you count the simulated worlds in their training sessions, as those don’t look like colonies).

The other big journey going on here is with Ernst, as he’s been promoted to an actual Pilot and has been sent off to join the rest of those who fly the Goddesses into front line battle. A recent battle, which we’ve seen to varying degrees as we’ve followed them in a secondary plotline through the past eight or so episodes, has left them short a member permanently as well as having an injured one sidelined for a bit. It’s a bitter ascension for Ernst, as he finds himself taking over the Goddess his brother had flown before. It’s also somewhat bitter as it’s separated the growing friendship between him and Zero.

A good chunk of the storyline through the end of this series, which does end fairly abruptly, deals with the massive amount of candidates vying for position of the top candidate. These involve a variety of live test battles in space. Through these, they being to pair down the list of really top notch pilots, but there’s something else going on as well. Hiead has made it his determined goal to take down Zero so he has less to deal with during his own rise to dominance. This affects his performance though during the live test battles, as he’s willing to risk demerits to get to him.

But even these tests are thrown to the side when the Victim launch a rather strong attack that will leave Zion somewhat open. All of the viable candidates are brought up in their Pro Ing’s to serve as a back of the line defense near the planet, and to use their rifles to shoot down what gets through. The upper brass don’t want to use them, but they find themselves needing to do it. This serves to set up a rather important battle sequence that begins to reveal some of the larger plot, and then…

… goes to credits, end of series, bye bye.

Barring the fact that it’s incomplete, this has been a decent series that has been marred by odd and poor decisions. Bandai Japan’s decision to use dubtitles alone had kept me from picking up the second volume for well over eight months. The strange change in the subtitles in the naming of Kizuna to Kizna baffles me, as the packaging is different as well. It really makes no sense. Add in the rather ugly CG, and there’s enough to keep a number of people away. It’s unfortunate, because by the end of the episodes made, I can see how this might have been a rather interesting manga and if more episodes were made, a rather interesting series.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Dubtitles,Voice Actor Academy,Directors Interview

Review Equipment
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: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Pilot Candidate