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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, November 30, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, December 02, 2003



What They Say
The drama of Kikaider continues to unfold as Mitsuko learns the truth about her parents and their relationship with Professor Gill. To protect her younger brother Masaru from getting hurt by the news, Mitsuko leaves him behind and sets off on a journey with Jiro to search for her mother. But when the truth finally does come out, Mitsuko will have to bravely face up to a tragic reality while Jiro's conscience circuit begins its new stage of development.

The Review!
Moving past the middle of the series and after the surprising revelations at the end of the last volume, we’re treated to… a compilation episode!

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Sporting a solid stereo mix, the opening episodes here have a good sense of directionality that’s used primarily for sound effects as opposed to dialogue. There isn’t a lot of depth to it, but the track overall sounds quite good, particularly the instrumental moments. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2000, Kikaider is a series that uses the digital animation look to mesh with the feel of the series 70’s style. This results in some rather great looking areas, but also provides some trouble here and there. The transfer has very vibrant colors and a clean look to the show, giving it a very stylized feel with its similarities to the layout and movement of a manga series. With the compilation episode, we get some of the repeated cross coloration due to the same film being used, but that’s relegated to just those repeated scenes.

Packaging:
Sort of meeting halfway between the first two volumes, the foil works a bit better here with the artwork and the golden style background. With the central image of Kikaider fighting and a sunburst in the middle throwing out plenty of light lines, it’s quite eye-catching. The back cover makes much better use of the foil by providing a schematic look at Kikaider while fleshing the rest of it out with artwork and story premise information. The discs features and basic production is clearly listed though a bit hard to read due to the foil on some areas. The front cover and the spine earn extra kudos for listing the volume number while the back cover lists the episode numbers and titles. The insert uses regular painting for a variation of the front cover artwork and opens to a listing of each of the episodes and a summary for them. The back of it provides the full credits listing including bilingual actor credits.

Menu:
The main menu is nicely done and keeps in theme with the show in a unique way, utilizing the split aspect of some of the Kikaider’s designs. The bulk of the screen is a static image of the body blueprint with selections ringed alongside it while the left quarter of the screen has animation from the show playing over the solid aspect of the body shot all while some of the more action oriented music plays. Access times are pretty fast and the menus load nice and quick.

Extras:
The only extra included is a brief art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the second volume of the series, I was definitely curious where things would go now that there’s hints of people being alive previously thought dead and more potential for what’s really going on in this situation.

Instead, I’m dropped right into a compilation episode. Hell, that’s even the title of the episode! With what seems to be no new animation for the episode but a brief voice over for the opening and end of the in-show piece, this is entirely re-used footage showing what’s come before. I’m still very much of the mind that in a 12-13 episode series there should be no compilation or recap episodes at all. Having this right at the start of this volume soured my mood completely towards the rest of it.

The remaining two episodes are pretty decent. The initial aspect to the series brings us back to Masaru’s home where he’s standing on lookout for Mitsuko to return home after the way she was, well, removed previously. Our favorite detective is feeling very glum over the fact that she was kidnapped right under his nose while his assistant tries to lighten the mood for him. Comically enough, she’s right in her saying that it’s impossible to call the police since they’d be laughed at if they said a robot kidnapped Mitsuko.

Thankfully for both of them though, Mitsuko and Jiro are soon back at the residence, though both are having flashbacks to the end of the fight the last time around when it was revealed that Mitsuko’s father may still be alive. With a bit of discussion and checking over some photos, Mitsuko has an idea of where they should check out to see what they can find. Though Masaru argues against it, he’s once again left behind while Jiro and Mitsuko head off to gather information.

And Masaru being a young anime boy, he packs up a knapsack and he’s off on the road to try and catch up on his own. Masaru of course runs into all kinds of trouble, from a giant bears to twins who dress in orange that are working for Professor Gill and use Masaru for their own purposes. It’s cliché in how it works out since Masaru basically leads them to the deserted cabin in the woods where Jiro and Mitsuko are researching the whereabouts of her parents.

All of this then leads into some interesting discovers with regards to Mitsuko’s mother, but so much of it is wrapped up in spoiler material that it’s difficult to really say much about since it reveals so much. And with this volume already light on actual content…

In Summary:
While there’s some good material here, at the end of the disc I can’t help but think of this as nothing but a poor value. With only two episodes at thirty bucks in my eyes, it’s left a sour taste in my mouth. The only comfort I have is that I wasn’t as screwed over as the Japanese who got episode 7 and then the compilation episode on one disc and had to pay almost forty five bucks for it. The layout of this series for the US release definitely needed to be thought out better though instead of going by a standard. Having a volume with a recap episode is one thing. Starting a volume with a recap episode is just plain wrong.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.




Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C
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: Kikaider