Geneshaft Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, September 08, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2003



What They Say
Things aren’t going well aboard the Bilkis. The Shaft is still buggy, and despite the best efforts of Dolce, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. And they’ve all been declared traitors by the I.E.O. since they left seemingly without orders! With the Captain falling into a coma, the arrival of the fleet, and the revelation that a terrorist is hidden within their midst - a life or death struggle will ensue with everyone's lives on the edge.

The Review!
After being chased by the rings for some time now, the various factions at play start to show their hands and the larger picture starts to come into focus.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, but we also took in parts of the dub later. The dialogue for both tracks is solid with no noticeable dropouts or distortions. With it being a pro-logic mix, there’s some occasional pieces thrown to the rear speakers, primarily in music from what I could tell, but it’s fairly weak and doesn’t add terribly much to the overall presentation.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, it’s little surprise that this transfer looks just about perfect. The materials for this are very slick looking with a almost a gloss feel to it. Colors are rich and vibrant and aliasing is very minimal. There’s a bit of cross coloration showing up in some of the CG scenes with the Shaft drive, mostly due to the amount of detail in some of the line work. The only other noticeable issue, and it’s more inherent in the source than anything else, is that some of the characters have a bit of an edge to them when set against some of the CG backgrounds.

Packaging:
Continuing with the two people per cover concept, we get Mario and Tiki together that’s quite nice. The cover is also the same as the Japanese cover for the third volume, though again it looks like they’ve darkened up the backgrounds to give it more of an “Alien” feel than the more silvery metallic of the original. The series logo is also the same with the exception of it being silver instead of green. The back cover provides a collage strip of images from the show and a couple of short paragraphs of summary. The episode numbers and titles are listed, which is a plus since there’s no volume numbering, as well as a clear list of the discs extras and production list. Strangely, there’s no indication of what languages or subtitles are available on the disc. The insert has another shot of the front cover, though zoomed in a bit, and opens to provide a page of background on the mysterious I.E.O. The back of the insert has the production credits and a great full list of bilingual voice actors for the entire series.

Menus:
The menus are designed in the same style as the menus the characters use on board their ships, so it has a fun little feel to it, though there’s a slight load-up time when they first come up. The menus are laid out nicely and with a balanced audio with the show, so we weren’t going deaf on one but not the other. Access times are nice and fast and moving around was easy to figure out.

Extras:
The extras follow in the footsteps of the previous volumes as we get a couple of galleries for character artwork and for the mecha. The glossary, or really liner notes, continues to be the best supplement here in fleshing out the terminology and backdrop of this storyline.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Following the results of the past couple of episodes, the crew has basically come to the conclusion that they’re being chased by the rings and being tested in their own way. Events don’t look kindly upon the crew here though, particularly for Hiroto who falls victim to illness and ends up relinquishing command to Mario.

This comes at a time when Lord Sneak has been working deftly behind the scenes to manipulate things to his advantage. Through conversations with the old men back on Earth, we get a bigger glimpse at their plans to use the technology of the rings to be able to firmly establish a long everlasting human presence in the universe. The backdrop of them in the forest discussing all of this with its long term implications play off nicely by the apparent actions of terrorists who want to go back to the natural way of doing things in terms of procreation.

With Remi onboard with him, Sneak works his plans through and reveals what he’s really after, not that the I.E.O would ever find out. While he also objects to what the terrorists are doing, he’s after a much larger goal, that being the complete elimination of humanity from the universe. Sneak continues to manipulate all the varying forces to accomplish his goals.

The larger drama plays well against the smaller one that we see onboard the Bilkis. They’ve found themselves in a particularly hard spot now, not only with Hiroto being out of commission but the arrival of a massive fleet of Earth ships into the Jupiter orbit, requesting the surrender of the Bilkis and her crew. The exterior shots of these segments are beautiful, many of them lifted right out 2001: A Space Odyssey, which only adds to the element of wonder that I have with these particular planets.

The shift of Mario to the full captain, temporarily, brings about an interesting change. He plays it pretty casually, much more so than Hiroto ever did, and that brings a strange sense of candor to the stage. When he ends up dealing with the commander of the fleet sent to get them, it’s a woman he’s spent some time with just months prior during his training for the captaincy. Their dialogue is amusing, talking about nothing here and there and then inserting what the Bilkis crew finds to be the real story about what’s going on.

To contrast Mario, we get Jean (played wonderfully mad by my favorite, Kappei Yamaguchi), a very young bodied male captain who is assigned to the fleet after the Bilkis. He’s the character type that you can easily imagine being used as a reason for the extinction of males, with his wild eyes and hair as well as his very outgoing strong personality. The penchant for violence probably doesn’t hurt either. But it’s his sense of power that is the real root of trouble as he begins to make his own plans to deal with the Bilkis, regardless of what his commander does.

These three episodes flew by fast, much faster than I thought they would. There’s a great section of action and drama with Mario towards the end that was completely unexpected and went over well. The changes in various secondary characters, particularly seeing more actual emotions and pasts of the Registers, has definitely heightened the interest in this strange group of people. While we get some good action material from people like Sofia, who herself tries to force a change due to Lord Sneak, things in these episodes really belong to Mario and the people he affects, such as the Registers.

Geneshaft continues to be an interesting series, one that’s much more science fiction than science fantasy I’ve gotten used to seeing in the past several years. The look, style and feel of the series is very enticing, resulting in something that’s not really being done in any other series at this time. While it’s not the high end of science fiction, it’s a series that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss. It’s only getting better and better.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery,echa Gallery,Geneshaft Glossary


Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Geneshaft