BASToF Syndrome Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, August 20, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2004
What They Say
Set in the high-tech world of virtual gaming, the Spearhead Dream Team works diligently to stop the out of control Lemon Game now that its popularity has increased? Each online session brings more devastating destruction to the city Xenon. The young gamers are able to defeat the forces within the game and find the secret location of the game's server, but can they find more answers in time to keep the city from total destruction!
Pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, but the mystery of BASToF Syndrome's "Lemon Game" continues to grow.
The original Korean language track was used for my primary viewing session. The track was crisp and clear with no noticeable distortion or dropout. Dialogue and music were mixed well with neither overshadowing each other. Most of the volume is dialogue, but the few action scenes played across the front soundstage quite nicely.
Produced in 2001, the video is from print defects, grain, or scratches; the transfer looks very clean and sharp with very rich colors. There are scenes of quick movement that look like they might be suffering from some aliasing. However, I am not certain if the effect I am seeing is a style choice made for the artwork or an actual defect. The only other quibble with the video would be the backgrounds of certain scenes. While characters are moving, the way the background moves behind them does not feel natural and comes off as too "digital". Overall, the video is sharp and will not detract from the viewing experience.
Bebefau and his virtual persona take up the majority of the front cover; in the background are Xenon City and an erupting volcano. The only other touch on the front is the series name and volume title near the bottom. The back cover contains the requisite screenshots, synopsis, episode listing, and disc specifications. Inside is a one-page insert containing the front cover art on one side and a listing of the disc contents on the other.
ADV keeps the menus nice and simple; a static image of one of the characters appears in each menu, as does a sample of music from the theme songs. Each image has the erupting volcano scene in the background. There are no transition delays switching between menus.
Clean versions of the opening and ending animation are the only extras included on the disc.
Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third volume of BASToF Syndrome places us squarely in the middle of the story; at this point, the story wants to reward you for watching by revealing the answers to some of the mysteries in the story. However, the story also wants to keep you around for the final act by having the answers lead to new questions. These four episodes balance these two efforts quite well but ends up being a bit dull in the presentation.
Mayor Hadim still had Dupe locked away in the bowels of a government building; Hadim is obsessed with using the Lemon Game to break Pluto's locks in the Sodo computer system. Hadim's obsession with this goal leads to him ordering Dupe to transfer the Lemon Game server to the Sodo computer system. To do this, Hadim wipes the memories of the employees via their implanted biochips and places Dupe in the department as a new employee.
Hadim's obsession nearly proves to be the end of Xenon City; the game goes out of control once again prompting the city's missile defense system to target the city it is meant to protect. Pseudo and Bebefau head into the virtual world to combat the threat but are nearly overwhelmed by a horde of multiplying Lemon creatures.
It is the mysterious Riddle, the internet pirate radio host, that provides a solution to the Spearhead Team's problem. With the crisis averted, Moderato finds himself no closer to learning Riddle's identity, and Dupe watches the fifth of thirteen Pluto locks fall. The identity of Riddle is soon revealed to Moderato though, as an analysis of her broadcasts places her in the temple outside of town.
A quick trip out there reveals that Riddle is a nun named Hestia, and it just so happens that Hestia and Moderato met once ten years ago. It was their meeting ten years ago that helped Moderato flesh out the Lemon Game. Hestia continues to help Moderato by sending him to the flame ravaged ruins of a house.
In this house is the new mystery for Moderato and Pseudo to solve. Moderato finds a contract belonging to the mysterious Pluto while Pseudo stumbles across a basement laboratory. In the lab is a mysterious machine named PX-1, the wheelchair from Pseudo's visions, and a box of hair that resembles the hair of the Lemon Game girl.
While the first two volumes were mildly entertaining, the third volume was difficult to sit through. It is not because the middle of the story is told mostly through narrative dialogue; it is because the dialogue is not very engaging and most of the dots it connects have likely already been connected in the viewer's mind.
There remains only two interesting mysteries in the story -- what is behind Pluto's locks, and how is Pseudo connected to events that happened ten to thirteen years ago? This middle act should provide a solid hook to keep the viewer engrossed in the story, but the slow pacing and flat dialogue does little to make one interested in why these mysteries exist and what the answers to them might be.
There was one interesting bit of dialogue though; Bebefau and Mint are discussing biochips and just how much one should trust them. It was a smart discussion about privacy and technology that mirrors a number of discussions regarding government initiatives that we see around the world today. The biochip aspect has not been played up much despite being one of the more interesting elements in the story's world.
BASToF continues to be mildly entertaining, but the story is quickly becoming too predictable. The action sequences are not very exciting, and the mecha designs are a bit boring. It still is better than a lot of other material targeted at the young adult male demographic, but it still is not making much of an impact on me.
BASToF's middle act does answer a few questions and raise more. However, the answers and new questions do little to provide a compelling reason to watch the final act. With little action and a lot of dialogue, casual viewers will find it difficult to sit through this volume; the connections made are predictable and at times a bit too convenient. Having said this, BASToF remains a refreshing change of pace from most of the young male oriented shows on the market. One can easily identify with the major characters; it is a shame that they are not being given a richer plot to develop themselves in.
Korean 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & 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: BASTof Syndrome