Space Pirate Mito Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, June 02, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2003



What They Say
Aoi has been captured by Commander Ranban of the Galactic Patrol. Mito is forced to turn herself over to Ranban in the hopes of keeping her son safe. Sabu and Shin aren't about to sit around idly, so they call in the entire Royal Army. Meanwhile, Mito and Ranban duel in front of Aoi, and Ranban's helmet is knocked free. Under the helmet is the face of the mother Aoi remembers! Who is really Aoi's mother?

The Review!
After all the buildup, there’s some interesting revelations here and a whole lot of action.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though fairly recent, it’s like most TV series and uses the basics of a stereo mix without doing a whole lot in terms of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout and we didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions, but this falls under your basic decent sounding television track.

Video:
The transfer here is decent with a good rendition of the colors, no cross coloration and only a few areas of noticeable aliasing. The series feels close to Lost Universe in how it’s going to look, as there’s a mix of traditional animation and then spaceship animation for some scenes being done in full computer generation mode. Those scenes naturally look much sharper, which in turn gives the regular animation scenes look a little more flat and almost grainy. The grain does become more pronounced in these episodes as well as causing some background shifting in the night blue sky sequences.

Packaging:
The front this time around continues to be filled with lots to look at, but the primary visual is of Aoi this time, defending Mutsuki. The back cover provides a nice mix of shots from the show and more character artwork ringed around it and around the disc summary. The volume numbering is nicely placed on the cover but oddly enough not the spine, while the back cover lists the episode numbers and the discs production and technical information. The insert mixes up pieces from both the front and back cover as well as providing the chapter listings on one side while the reverse is just advertisements.

Menu:
The main menu is a bright character filled piece of static animation that twirls around with the selections ringed around it. The opening song plays along and loops very well, considering how badly some menus stop at the wrong point and loop again. Access times are nice and fast and the layout, thought bright, fits perfectly with the series and there’s all kinds of neat little things to see if you spend the time with it.

Extras:
The extras here have some rather good bits to it. Most surprising, though poorly listed, is the bonus episode. I thought at first it would be a full length one since they’re calling it an episode, but it’s actually a 3-4 minute little prequel to the beginning of the series that’s kind of cute and fun. There’s a nice section of conceptual designs for the show, but best of all, there’s an area that has a number of the “staff manga” creations from during the shows run. Very neat little extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The last volume had a lot of material in it that got me to appreciate it a bit more, though I still found it to be a bit too chaotic for my tastes. That volume also ended on a cliffhanger that has to be revealed here, because otherwise I’d not be able to talk about the disc at all. So, if you don’t want to know, move on.

When we last saw Aoi, he was captured by the rather evil looking Ranban character, someone who reminded me fondly of Mano from the old DC Comics with his fishbowl head. The revelation of what was underneath that helmet and robe caused a fair amount of confusion at first, as it turned out to be someone in a mail suit that looks identically to Mito’s suit.

It’s from here we learn that the suits are very special and not altogether easily found in the galaxy, as they belong solely to members of the galactic royalty. Ranban gives the quickest of basic rundowns, indicating that not only is she part of the royalty but so is Mito, and by that train of thought, Aoi suddenly becomes a prince. He handles it well, mostly with a small amount of disbelief and a light level of shock that keeps him from going crackers. Regardless of the news, he’s a prisoner of the enemy, and Ranban wants to use him.

Ranban finally confronts Mito via monitors, and Mito is rather unhappy about the entire situation. Ranban insists upon Mito coming over to the ship, which she does. She is a mother after all, and Aoi is all she’s truly concerned about at this point. We learn much once she’s there, about the plans Mito and Ranban had in their younger days about using their positions to take over the galaxy, but something happened along the way that caused Mito to go in another direction. Ranban’s annoyed by it all, but what she really wants is a particular item, an amulet that is key to her plans.

This leads into a couple of episodes worth of action, as the galactic royal military is called into play and hundreds and hundreds of ships start moving into orbit around Earth and causing all kinds of problems. The action here is somewhat mixed, since it’s got the CG ships moving inbetween the regular animation, and it causes some odd looking moments, but nothing so bad as a few other series that came before this.

With the three episodes here, this show moves very quickly through its paces and revelations. Aoi gets some good things going on here while Ranban manages to chew quite a bit of good scenery. Mutsuki gets a rather drastic change in position once she returns to the main fleet, but it’s Masatsuki whose really worth watching here as he moves into Ranban’s Special Forces and is assigned to some really nasty jobs. I have to admit though, I love the way they pacify people with their weapons. “Just add water…”

Mito continues to keep my interest at about the same level as the previous release, though this one is more action oriented and the revelations are more far-reaching than the ones we had about Mito’s past and her arrival on Earth. The story isn’t terribly deep and I’m not sure how I feel about the entire royalty aspect, but the humor is just right and the characters continue to grow on me.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Bonus "Episode",Concept Sketches,Staff Manga

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: C+
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: Media Blasters
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Space Pirate Mito