X Vol. #5 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, May 10, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2003



What They Say
The two Kamuis finally awaken! Kamui has chosen to be a Dragon of Heaven, forcing Fuma, Kamui's twin star, to become a Dragon of Earth. Battle between the two is inevitiable, but not while Kamui is still unconscious from the shock of Kotori's death. Subaru dives into Kamui's dream to save him, as Fuma contacts other members of the Dragons of Earth - Kakyo and Nataku!

The Review!
Getting past the halfway mark, things set in setup mode and then the real action starts to kick off.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Presented in a pro-logic mix, the audio makes excellent use of the forward soundstage in terms of directionality and depth, but doesn’t take advantage of the rear speakers for more than minor music ambience. This doesn’t detract from the excellent presentation though, as the track plays well with the dialogue and helps the music sound nice and warm.

Video:
The look and feel of this transfer is just simply gorgeous. There’s a huge amount of varying shades of black and deep blue throughout this show, and they all come across beautifully here. Other colors are very vibrant without any noticeable bleeding or over saturation. Cross coloration is practically non-existent as well as aliasing. I’ve got absolutely no complaint about how things look here at all. I can’t get over how this show looks.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, Pioneer has this release done up as a reversible cover. The main is very dark this time with the image of the two Kaumui’s holding their Divine Swords while set against the Earth. The logo this time is purple, though there’s little shadowing of that elsewhere on the cover. The back cover provides a listing of the episode numbers and titles as well as a good breakdown of the discs features. There’s a brief summary of the shows premise and a few more animation shots and the usual list of production credits. The reverse side of the cover is a fair bit darker with the mixed images of Kazuki the dreamseer and what looks to be Kamui as feathers fall around them. The back side of the reverse cover is identical. The insert provides a listing of chapters on one side while it gives another look at the cover on the back. The slipcase makes another appearance, this time with purple lettering.

Menu:
The design this time around is the prominent image of a pentagram that has selections ringed throughout it while animation from the show plays in the center. Set against a black backdrop, feathers fall down behind it, giving it a very busy feel. Access times are nice and fast and there’s no transitional animations to complicate things.

Extras:
The extras included here are brief but good, as the key art for the first six Japanese DVD releases are shown. Presumably we’ll get the rest at the end so as to avoid any potential spoilers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the events of the fourth volume, where essentially all the pieces were laid into place and the fairly obvious revelations were made final, the segue into the fifth volume is a bit of a slowdown as Kamui continues to be in a relative coma after all that has happened.

Some good time is spent in dealing with the Kamui situation, since he’s a loss to the Dragons of Heaven until he’s back up and functioning. Nothing has worked so far, but the one thing that’s untried, and the most dangerous, is what’s next. And that means we have a lengthy segment that has Subaru using his powers to go into Kamui’s mind to try and bring him out, to get him to deal better with the death of Kotori and the complete loss/change of Fuma into his dark twin star.

With all of that going on, Fuma-Kamui isn’t losing any time in getting his seat ready for the big match to come. He quickly manages to bring the rogue dreamseer Kazuki under his control as well as bringing him to the current home of the Dragons of Earth. While Hinoto’s sister is laughing over the changes, she’s also adjusting herself as Fuma-Kamui makes use of her base of operations for his own, planning and plotting to free Nataku an to bring control of the group over to himself. He pulls all of this off with his wickedly dark charm that doesn’t allow for laughter, but does allow for some great sequences.

The bulk of things here is spent in going through the final set ups of each side as the bring their forces around to each other. When Kamui emerges from his trauma, he takes the time to bury Kotori. This brings about some pain for him of course, but also strengthens his resolution. It also helps him realize that his fault was in not trusting those who were trying to help him. It does help that all of them show up to pay their respects, and it also signals the change in plans as they’re now a group.

The final episode here brings the fight to the forefront and the losses are once again starting up. This series has been fairly nasty to the supporting cast for quite awhile now, considering the fair number of dead relatives we have, never mind primary characters, so the stakes are rising the closer we get towards the end of things. This marks the first real full battle between the two sides and I was pleased that it ended with things not being the same and several characters reeling from the damage.

This all goes by pretty fast, which is as usual the only real complaint about this series, since there’s only three episodes. By the end of the disc it feels like things are really just starting to get going, as well as being a fairly evil cliffhanger. The next volume can’t come soon enough so that I can get some more goodness out of it, but I also see this as a series that really needs to be marathoned.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
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: X