Saint Tail Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 16, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2003



What They Say
The long awaited for conclusion of the Saint Tail series in one complete boxed set. Meimi is an average student at St. Paulia's private school by day, and by night, she becomes the mysterious and magical thief - Saint Tail!

Meimi struggles to overcome overwhelming obstacles in her quest to be the best but when someone near and dear to her gets caught up in one of her cat and mouse games, she must decide once and for all whether or not to continue her crusade or give it up for good!

Contains DVD 6, 7, and 8!

The Review!
After a rough ride in the retail marketplace, the final three volumes of Saint Tail finally get released in one keepcase to bring the series to a swift conclusion after months and months of waiting.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language. And with this release, it’s the only language track available, as TOKYOPOP has had to drop the English track (and it’s high expense). The audio track sounds much like previous volumes with a basic stereo mix that’s mostly center channel based. I’ve still not had any issues with it or the hiss that others have heard, but with a background level of tinnitus running through my ears, I’m not surprised.

Video:
The transfer for these three volumes is about on par with the fifth volume. With seven episodes on each disc, the show manages to look quite good and definitely better than the first couple of volumes of the series. There’s still the level of grain we’ve seen in past episodes, though it has lightened a bit, and cross coloration continues to be around the same as well. Colors are good if soft and there’s little in the way of macroblocking.

Packaging:
Done up in a triple keepcase, the final release will definitely look a bit bulky compared to the other volumes. The front cover provides a nice image of the three lead characters of the show with some blossoms falling about them, as well as the large burst indicating the amount of episodes and discs inside. The back cover provides a brief summary on the series premise and lists the discs various features and extras. There’s a bit of production information as well for both sides of it. The insert provides another shot of the cover, without the burst, and opens up to have each of the three remaining pages list the episode number and story titles for the twenty-one episodes it contains.

Menu:
The Nightjar menus make another appearance using the same style as previous ones, with some simple but nice layered movement and a couple of very nice clean bright character shots. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is straightforward.

Extras:
The first volume for the release has a couple of extras on it. There’s a batch of TV commercials, including some amusing give-away’s that they had. There’s also a section of line art available here. The second volume contains another minute worth of TV commercials (this time giving away soundtrack singles!) and more conceptual artwork in a still gallery. The third volume is all about openings and closings. The second opening to the series gets done here, though there’s no audio for it (and listed as such). The second and third closing sequences are also presented here in textless format but they do get audio thankfully.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Poor Saint Tail. This particular series ran into a number of issues with its release. With it being one of the first DVD and anime releases from TOKYOPOP, people had plenty of trepidation with it, especially after the problems with Spring & Chaos. Then you had a first volume with only three episodes on it when there are forty-three total. Add in some encoding issues, some problems with the audio and a few other tiny things, and it was going to have a hell of a time right from the get go.

TOKYOPOP did manage to turn around just about everything in addition to having a fantastic dub for it. Unfortuantely, the events conspired so that it just wasn’t pulling in the sales it needed, which resulted in the English dub being dropped. To help counter the potential loss from that, they bumped it up to seven episodes a volume. But even that didn’t stave things off, and the final three volumes were then canceled and plans were set to resolicit them later as one release. And now, a day short of a year later, the final three volumes are finally here.

At least they finished it, which is about all that I’ll really give TOKYOPOP on it. If they had canceled the series outright – their first series no less, the trust level with fans would be zero. But at least they kept their promise and released the remainder of it and they can now move on, hopefully wiser and smarter about the entire situation.

These final three volumes look quite good, all told. I’d almost say the visual quality has managed to step up a bit. With each volume having 2 hours worth of episodes, there is a ton of content here to enjoy. And I mean a lot of content with twenty-one episodes. We ended up taking in a couple of episodes from each volume and skimmed the others to check for problems.

The bulk of the Saint Tail episodes are really the same thing, and even the most die-hard fan will tell you that. The premise from episode to episode is generally similar with it all coming down to Asuka Jr. chasing Saint Tail and sometimes accidentally helping her, while Seira sets things up for Meimi to deal with. Through the first twenty-two episodes that I did see, plus the smattering of them here, I did enjoy it quite a bit, but it was a show that I couldn’t watch more than a couple of episodes at a time without becoming frustrated by it. With this many episodes in a package, we’re definitely going to take our time to take them all in.

This is a good set and definitely something of a bargain all told compared to buying the three contained volumes separately as originally planned. As stated above, I’m glad they put it out and brought the series to its conclusion, which was satisfying. For fans of this series, at least those who have stuck it out this far, this is a good set. I wish the show had done better, but it had far too much working against it. I’m looking forward to letting my girls watch it someday though.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Japanese TV Commercials,Line Art Galleries,Textless Opening 2,Textless Closings 2 and 3

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 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: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 69.99
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saint Tail