Rune Soldier Vol. #3: A True Champion (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, August 01, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2003
What They Say
It looks as though it's going to be a long, hot, uneventful summer for Louie and the gang. To make ends meet, Louie takes a side job as a porter, which his friend Ila takes full advantage of. Then it starts... snowing?
Later, Ila gets a letter from the magician responsible for the weather, so she convinces the team to seek him out. Unfortunately, the forces of nature have other ideas! And as if jobs weren't scarce enough, Melissa's rival, Isabel, now has a champion and a team of her own!
Demented demons, carnivorous camellias, and petulant priestesses - it's all in a day's work for the heroes of Rune Soldier!
The only disappointing thing about this release is that this isn’t the show with the elf-stripping!
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix provided here is a decent one with some minor directionality across the forward soundstage and a touch of depth to the action. Through regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.
The materials here for the transfer continue to look very good. While a number of recent fantasy shows have been darker in color and tone, Rune Soldier goes much brighter and vibrant with its colors. There’s some slight edge cross coloration going on in character hair, but is very dependent on the system you watch it on. It was invisible on our Panasonic player via component cables but the TV/DVD combo shows it more clearly. Colors are solid throughout and aliasing was pretty much non-existent.
The clear keepcases and reversible covers continue here. The front covers continue to provide detailed and gorgeous character artwork. This particular cover manages to really outshine the previous ones with a gorgeous shot that has Celecia as the centerpiece. The very detailed and high quality piece really comes across here and just has me looking at it a lot. The back cover shows off a bit more artwork and a few shots from the show while surrounding the summary of what to expect with these episodes. The discs features are clearly listed though no mention is given to extras. Episode numbers are listed and the volume numbering is only on the front cover, nothing on the spine for it. The reverse cover is much like the past volumes, where one side has the super deformed versions of some characters in the circle while the back cover does a reworking of the other sides back cover. The insert has some more great detailed artwork, this time giving a nod to Isabel and her party while it opens to have episode summaries surrounded by character design artwork. Two pieces of a larger puzzle are also included here as well as two small stickers of character artwork.
The menus here are very nicely laid out with each screen featuring a different character. The main menu has Celecia much as the cover artwork image with some small bits of the screen doing some in-show styled animated movements while some instrumental music plays. The layout is pretty simple and straightforward but with some very vibrant looking artwork. Access times are nice and fast and with a very minimal transitional animation, load times are swift.
The extras for this volume are pretty much the same as before, a clean opening and ending segment.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having really gotten into the humor and style of the show, as it manages to play nicely between being something comical and then providing a few moments of serious action, but with enough of a nod and wink to the audience, each volume continues to be something of a treat to watch. This particular volume turned out to be no exception.
Things here even kick off with a two-part storyline that brings in two characters that have gotten some screen time but not as much as they do here. We’re introduced to a magician who has spent years and years of his life working on a magic item contraption that he discovered. It was something related to the four great magics and dealt with weather, an item that once understood, could be one of the more powerful items available in the modern world.
It turns out that Ila used to know this particular magician, so when the blazingly hot summer day suddenly starts snowing, she realizes that he must have figured it out, as well as quite possibly snapping after all that time since it’s not exactly a good thing to do to the kingdom or the crops. So she hires on Louie and his three companions to go out and find this magician with her and get him to stop what he’s doing. And in a great little twist, Celecia is sent by her people to try and find out what’s going on and stop that.
Celecia and Louie… what a difference between how he acts with her and the rest of the women. His natural curiosity about elves and his belief in what he’s read about them in books has him quite respectful and deferential. His quick pledges to protect her and his careful words has Celecia believing that there’s hope for humans after all. It’s hilarious watching these two play back and forth and then watch everyone else gag over it. Ila’s own reactions are particularly fun since they’ve been somewhat cagey about what her relationship with Louie is really like – or what she’d really like it to be like.
With this running over two episodes, we get some nice travel time together with the gang and all sorts of fun bits as everyone thinks they’re they leader of the group to some extent. And frankly, I find Celecia to be one of the more attractive looking elves that’s been animated in some time, so these were definitely some eye-pleasing episodes.
The second half of the disc gets rounded out with single story adventures that continue the same kind of fun and quality. One of them has Louie and the trio being hired to go into the mountains to rescue a miner that has disappeared, based on information that was sold to them about him and some massive gems he’s searching for. While that becomes the setup as the group travels towards the mountains, the real gem is that they end up coming across Isabel and her traveling group, apparently under the same mission.
The rivalry between Isabel and Melissa is quite a lot of fun, especially since Isabel got the “better” hero. But since Melissa has been working things better with Louie, she’s not quite as ashamed as she used to be (which of course is Louie’s cue to be even worse than usual) but she’s at least not hiding him away in the corner. The changing relationship between the two of them continues to be one of the more enjoyable aspects of this series. Getting to see what Isabel considers a real hero is interesting as well, since he fits part of the bill but not all of it really.
Pretty much like past episodes, I was grinning for most of each episode and enjoying it as it played along. It’s definitely lighter fare with some small hints of darker things around the edges, but the bulk of this show is done for fun. It’s rare that I really get into fantasy shows at this point in my life having overdosed on the serious side of them for far too long in my youth, but it’s things like this that reinvigorates my interest. Rune Soldier continues to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Printed tattoos,Printed puzzle pieces,Clean opening and closing animation
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: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rune Soldier