Figure 17 Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2004
What They Say
Tsubasa is to be cast as one of the leads in the school play. She doesn't have the confidence, and begins to wish that she were more like her alien clone Hikaru.
Elsewhere, D.D. discovers the purpose behind the strange energy being released by the defeated Magure. Apparently, it's a form of communication, feeding combat and environmental data to other Magure, which means that the next enemy will have all the abilities of the previous five, making it virtually unstoppable!
As Oldeena and DD get closer to eliminating the last Maguar, Hikaru and Tsubasa take on some interesting new roles.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo track here is decent, though the bulk of the show is dialogue based which means the center channel is getting most of the workout. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing on SkyPerfecTV back in 2001 and broadcasting just one episode a month, we get a show that’s essentially OVA quality and done in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The end result is a great look transfer for the bulk of the print that shines through beautifully. Colors are lush and deep in many scenes, lots of vibrant moments during the action and fully fluid movement. Saturation is just right throughout and there wasn’t any noticeable bleeding. One area that doesn’t look too good however is a number of characters hair, such as the girls where you can see a fair amount of macroblocking.
Continuing with the same layout style and using elements of the Japanese covers, this one features both girls working together to use their combined powers while the Figure 17 version of them is behind them. I’m surprised that they didn’t alter this cover more since both girls are basically naked here; it doesn’t seem like something some retailers would want to willingly stock once they look at it. The back cover has a few shots from the show itself and a quick summary of the basic elements. Production information is nicely laid out and we get the usual technical grid. The insert does a color negative style reverse shot of the front cover but with greens and yellows while laying the chapter listings on top of that. As usual, the reverse side of the insert has boxart advertisements.
Hued in very attractive greens, the main menu is a nice static image that has the two girls from the front cover with the translated logo along the top left. Selections ring down along the left and some of the nice instrumental/sort of vocal music plays along. Moving to submenus can be problematic if you’re going through all of them in one sitting, since it uses the same transitional animation for each one. Depending on how fast your player can load and access them, this can be tiresome. Our Panasonic loaded it quickly but the Toshiba took a bit longer which got frustrating as we hit each submenu.
After some lengthy extras in the previous volume, things lighten up a bit here. There’s a recap segment from the Japanese release that catches up things pretty quickly, though it feels more like a slightly extended trailer. There’s a series of promotional commercial spots included as well as a brief image gallery of full color artwork of the backgrounds.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As soon as that opening song hits, even though it’s more active than 95% of the show, it gets me into the right frame of mind for this show. With volume three, we’re now halfway into the series but it feels like things are being wrapped up fairly quickly and events are coming to a close. If not for some hints of something bigger at work with the Maguar during previous episodes, you could almost see this as being the last volume.
Oldeena and DD spend much of their time doing final preparations to go after the last Maguar since there is the potential for it to be problematic. As they’ve learned, when each of the previous ones had been eliminated, they were transmitting just about everything they knew into the ether, which was being picked up by the other Maguar. So each one in its own way is supposedly stronger and more intelligent than the last, since it knows all that happened to it up until its demise. Oldeena and DD continue to work with each other but the level of tension there continues to be strong between them. Oldeena still looks down heavily on DD for his failure and the need for her to have to fix things.
On the girls side of things, they continue to be as close as they are and enjoying their school life. Now that the break is over and they’re back, they have to go through a few of the normal processes. One of the first things that gets done is going through electing a class representative and other officials. This is fun to watch here since it shows the way even young kids begin forming their cliques and social structures. The next thing they get to do is to work on a plan for the cultural festival and decide what to do. While the teacher offers the idea of checking out a book that details a number of plays ideal for elementary school kids to put on, one of the students offers the idea of taking advantage of having twins in the class.
Coming up with a plan to write a story himself, a tale about two princesses begins to form and how one of them is captured by the evil villain who turns her evil as well, causing her to threaten her family and all those she cared about. The story comes across well, but in the initial suggestion for the play, Hikaru is excited about it while Tsubasa doesn’t want to participate. Her feelings begin to give a few of the others some pause since they realize they almost forced her into it. Interestingly, the teacher takes some time to encourage her to do it, which when combined with Hikaru’s enthusiasm and unconditional support for Tsubasa, gives her the courage to do it. It’s very interesting watching Tsubasa take on this role during the rehearsals, but also to see how some of the others try to deal with it as well since their roles were picked for them by the teacher and they really didn’t have much choice in it. It’s such a contrast to what I’m used to with kids having a choice and adults giving in if the child doesn’t want to for whatever reason.
While this is going on we have the events of the final Maguar being dealt with as well. Each of the storylines compliment each other nicely, one providing the solid action sequences while the other provides the more down to him life that we’ve gotten absorbed into with watching Hikaru and Tsubasa. Overall, more time is given over to the girls relationship and their home and school life, but the action sequences against the Maguar this time around are much more dynamic and more time is spent on it. The final beastie here is given the role of being the toughest one yet and it works that really well. Considering what’s done to it, it’s a good thing this all takes place in one of the more remote areas of Hokkaido.
There are some elements that are in play now that will give this life beyond the sixth Maguar of course, one of those being the reporter who has come to Hokkaido to try and figure out what’s going on with all the dead scorched areas and the lights in the sky. With that and the mystery changes of the Maguar as well as the unique nature of Hikaru for a Ribers, there is much more to be explored and there will surely be some heightened tension as it progresses. This feels strange in that through most of it, it feels like this volume is set to wrap things up, but there’s still much more to come.
Figure 17 continues to be a series that’s got to be one of the most laid back ones I’ve seen. While there are the exciting moments of battle, the bulk of it is really just the day and life of Hikaru and Tsubasa. If it wasn’t for the battle scenes, the only action excitement would come from the opening and closing music. Figure 17 is intriguing in that it’s bringing the slice of life elements out so strongly and prominently, giving it more attention than most series that focus on that exclusively do. The cast of characters continues to grow nicely here and is the real reason to watch this show. With the soft melody and the looks from the girls, they get their hooks in early and deep.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Promo reel featuring original TV spots, Recap of Episodes 1-3, Image gallery
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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Figure 17