King of Bandit Jing Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
What They Say
The Bandit King and Kir stumble upon more adventures and intrigue than they can imagine! Follow them as they trek the globe in search of exotic treasures and fend off enemies along the way!
"Don't Drop the Por Vora"
Our heroes are on a quest to find the Systema Solari, but first they must deliver a dangerous cargo of two Por Vora. Trouble is waiting for them at every turn, but that won't stop Jing from coming out on top!
"The Musical Island of Coco-Oco"
Tag along with Jing and Kir as they hop aboard a train to a strange island that holds a treasure claiming to "tremble lovers' hearts." After a disagreement, Jing and Kir go their separate ways to explore, but are reunited once they rescue a new friend. Will they leave with the treasure they came for or something even more valuable?
"The Lullaby of the Por Vora"
Jing and Kir find themselves in Bluwari, home of the Por Vora and their guardian Elixir, whose life is dedicated to protecting her charges. Seems idyllic, but when the sanctuary is violated by evil-doers, can the King of Bandits save this poor girl by literally stealing her doomed fate?
This show continues to rock in just about every way.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that does a rather good job at times of creating a sense of depth and directionality, particularly for some of the background characters and noises. Dialogue throughout the show is nice and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.
Originally airing in 2002, Jing's transfer is extremely clean looking. With a vibrant color palette used mixed with some really dark and rough colors, the bright points really stand out strongly here. The backgrounds are also creatively used to provide a sense of depth but thankfully manage to avoid creating any problems with aliasing. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent, leaving this to be a great looking release.
The cover for this round does a nice job of splicing together two different episodes characters with Jing and Kir breaking through the center of it. With the Por Vora making the cover, in their hula skirts no less, this cover is great once you've seen the show itself. The logo is definitely off-placed to the center right of the cover, but it's also done up in silver foil, adding a bit more of a visual catch. The back cover is quite busy, with lots of animation shots along two strips as well as some of it done up in a collage underneath. There's a simple premise summary and then a quick couple of lines about each of the episodes. The discs features and technical information is all nicely listed as well as the basic production information. The insert replicates the front cover but without the logo while the reverse side lists the discs extras set against a backdrop from one of the episodes.
The main menu is a simple static piece that takes the Jing character artwork from the front cover and uses that as the focal point here with some of the clouded skyline artwork behind him. There's little to the disc along this menu outside of individual episode selection and the languages and extras section. Access times are nice and fast and menus load quick. The only downside is that since all the submenus use the same bit of music, if you make selections quickly you hear the same first couple of beats repeatedly.
The extras pretty much mimic the first volume, which is the textless opening and ending sequence and a video gallery of conceptual artwork that runs just over a minute.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I may find myself in a minority with this, but Jing continues to just blow me away every time I watch a new volume. When it comes in, it bypasses a lot of other titles to get played first. And just about every episode has pleased so far and it's made me want to be a complete junkie in getting any kind of toys or other goods that out for it.
With the third installment of the series, we get another batch of three episodes where each story stands alone, but there are some minor hooks between them that adds a nice bit of continuity. This volume opens with an interesting episode, one that showcases a series of stones that display the solar system via some form of holography. The owner of the stones has almost all of them. All he needs is the Mercury stone and the Sun stone and he'll have everything for the set. Telling Jing that the Mercury stone is at least in Sangria, Jing decides to take him up on it, even though there are hardships to it.
To get to Sangria, Jing ends up taking a transport job that involves bringing two live specimens to the town. These cute little pinkish fuzzy creatures, known as Por Vora's, are used in mines. The creatures, which are quite fidgety and untrusting of humans, actually explode when they get really excited. So they're ideal for getting deep mines, but no ideal for transport. Jing ends up tied to a woman named Izzarra who is also trying to get Sangria for her own reasons and finds herself more connected to the Por Vora than she initially thought she would be.
Like past episodes, the story is about the journey more so than the destination. While they're sometimes telegraphed, the endings provide a quick wrap-up to the real fun of the show. This becomes very evident in the third episode on the disc as well when we revisit the Por Vora specifically and end up in one of their breeding areas where we have Jing bringing one of them back. There's subplot about a criminal group of three trying to steal them or something else there, but it falls into the background quickly and only really becomes strong at the end. During the rest of the time we have Jing and Kir getting a royal greeting from the Por Vora. And they are beyond cute here, with hula skirts, doing dances, limbo... it's just insane and insanely funny. Visually, it's just plain gorgeous with its use of colors.
To provide a nice balance between them, Jing and Kir end up visiting an island that's huge on music, a place where there's no beach partying going on as everyone who comes there is looking to buy/acquire a musical instrument of some sort. Jing doesn't tell Kir what he's looking for, so he ends up going his own way and ends up being taken in by a klutzy yet-you-know-she's-really-hot-if-she-tried kind of girl, and the two play at domestics a bit while Jing searches out his mystery. Kir comes across well here as he takes his usual suave ways and tries to help the girl get the boy so everyone can live happily ever after.
So many aspects of this show just click so perfectly with me. The music continues to be a real highlight, between the excellent opening and endings as well as the bulk of the incidental music and in show lyrical songs. Another aspect that only gets stronger is the shows sense of color. Backgrounds are just gorgeous, using a wide variety of colors instead of the same old palette. The level of vibrancy is just stunning at times. Add in that the stories themselves, tied with Jing and Kir, are quick and fun, allowing for some nice escapist anime without a huge commitment.
Jing continues to be far underrated in my eyes and needs to be seen by more people. Highly recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Original art,Clean opening and closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: King of Bandit Jing