Orphen II Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, May 23, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004
What They Say
Orphen and his friends come back to Totokanta, and it seems that this might be the end of their travels together. Majic starts taking sorcery lessons from the mysterious Esperanza. Lycoris becomes more and more troubled as memories of her family come back to her. And Orphen seems content just to sleep. But will this rest last long? Don?t count on it...
As the show gets closer to the end, plenty of revelations come out that will allow the final volume to be all about the big showdown.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This continues to be a straightforward stereo mix where the majority of dialogue is through the center channel with only a few scant moments where there's some faked directionality across the soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear though and there weren't any noticeable dropouts or other distortions.
Originally airing in 1999, the transfer for this second season of Orphen looks about on par with the first season but a touch better. There's a significant drop in the number of dark and murky night scenes in this first volume, which lets the softness that was prevalent during a lot of the first season out of the picture. Colors are much the same style with backgrounds being somewhat bland but solid while the foreground colors such as characters are much more vivid and varying. Cross coloration creeps into things in a few places and there's some noticeable aliasing, but neither are showstoppers.
While the style remains the same, the artwork for the center piece works much better this time around since it's not specific to a part of the series since it has the group in general reaching out of the window and smiling at the world. The really cute part is how Leki has both Dortan and Volcan hanging from his mouth though. While we get volume numbering on the cover and spine, the back cover only gets episode titles and no number listings. The production credits and extras are clearly listed, but some of the features in the technical box are a bit obscured with a reddish brown color used for some of the text since they tried to blend it to the book format. There isn't an insert this time around but instead a four panel fold-out poster with an illustration of Esperanza and Lycoris with Orphen and the heavenly being.
The main menu layout uses elements from the cover set against the book format, with two cards overlaying it. One card uses the artwork from the front cover and insert while the other provides direct episode access and the usual selections such as languages and extras, all of which plays music. Access times are nice and fast, and since there isn't much here on the top level, things load quickly without any transitional animations.
The extras section mirrors the earlier releases, with the clean opening and ending sequences. There's also a new set of dub outtakes. The outtakes continue to be an area where your mileage will vary on how humorous they are, but they do generally get a couple of chuckles out of us, even when it's as brief as this volume is.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Since we're at the second to last volume of the series, it's time to move past the standalone comical adventures that have punctuated the series and to start getting serious. You can't have the last volume full of big end of story battles if you don't provide a good reason for that. So this volume picks up that task of explaining why much of what we've known is wrong and what the real truths are.
For Orphen, it starts off with a bit of fun he didn't expect as he's being chased once more after getting separated from the group during their recent stay in the city. The latest creature to attack him is a bit different than the normal as instead of a creature (at first at least), it's five duplicates of Orphen himself, all of them acting just as he would and using the powers he has. This is one of those devices that has a good spot of fun in pointing out the lead characters foibles and flaws and it's done well here. While it does for the most part provide the feel of yet another standalone piece but without the usual backdrop of the group in a city, it does veer off slightly for a bit to allow Lycoris to start down her path of self discovery.
Lycoris' encounters with a particular flower while out starts the chain reaction of her memories being unleashed and her realization that who she thinks she is, she isn't. In fact, her entire history becomes fiction as she learns more and more of her past and how it ties in with what's going on lately. The disappearance of the sorcerers from the Tower of Fang is brought to the fore once more as well as some history on a time when a particular type of magic was taught there called perennial youth, a style that became just too strong and wild for it to be kept in the curriculum. It's excising from the Tower of Fang led to the flight of one of the students there that practiced it along with his two daughters. Since they didn't want to be caught for practicing it, he ended up leading them to a set of ruins that he discovered to be from the heavenly beings. Greater still, one of the beings still remained with it, a first in the world.
This sorcerer's time and experiments there has led towards what's going on in the present day with his need of a sorcerer of great power to help move their plans forward. We see a lot of what happened in the past there, particularly with his daughters and how their being raised in that situation changed them. Seeing the young Esperanza and the almost more carefree way she was back then to the way she's evolved to now is definitely interesting, particularly since she had a reason to stay the way she was but chose to go forward this way instead. Her more harsh nature, including the kidnapping of Majic, shows just how much she's changed from what she originally wanted to be.
This volume spends a lot of time letting memories seep into Lycoris' mind from the past she didn't know she had and it reveals a large number of things that helps tie the series together pretty nicely, though there's still some mysteries to be revealed since Esperanza still wants the power Orphen has at his command. The bond of the group gets played with a bit and its strength tested as the final battle is close to coming, so things are set up in such a way that the final volume will spend most of its time playing with the big battle and the final revelations of what this series is all about. This season continues to be a mixed bag and I'm finding parts of it interesting but too much of it just steeped in mysteries that I don't care all too much for. It's enjoyable, but it could have been much better.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and ending,Outtakes
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: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
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: Orphen II