Infinite Ryvius Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2004



What They Say
One of the most compelling sci-fi series of the year!

In order to survive, the students aboard the Ryvius warship must not only wage battle against the Orbital Security Bureau, but also themselves. During the battle against the Vaia ship Grey Gespenst, the unwanted students have been locked away and abandoned. Kouji must now confront Ikumi and try to convince him that these current solutions are only causing more problems.

The Vital Guarder is barely able to fight off the Gespenst and with the Orbital Security soldiers preparing to board the Ryvius ? Will the stranded students aboard the Ryivus finally be rescued or will it mark impending doom?

The Review!
Bringing the series to its conclusion, Infinite Ryvius feels just as chaotic and unbalanced as it did throughout the show right up to the end.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The series was done in Pro-Logic with the bulk of the dialogue coming through the center channel. The music fills the stereo channels nicely giving it a much fuller feel. Through regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1999, Infinite Ryvius comes across looking quite good here for the most part but not without a few issues. The bulk of the problems come in the form of the cross coloration issue, which features prominently during the second closing sequence. Since that's colored manga style artwork, it's almost alive with the shifting rainbows. This also shows up throughout the episodes at various times but not consistently. Colors look good throughout without any bleeding. Mid range shots look a bit soft and lacking in detail for the characters. There's also a slight feel of film grain throughout the print as well.

Packaging:
Continuing the style of the earlier volumes with the black background with white line artwork of numerous characters from the show, it's overlaid by a full color shot of Neya in her very bright pinkish purple outfit. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the show and a summary of the way the universe works at this time and a bit of the opening plot. The discs episodes and titles are clearly listed (the spine indicates the volume number too) and the discs basic technical specs and extras are easy to find as well. The insert has another shot of the front cover but with less "clutter" that opens up to two panels that has basically a character height comparison chart. The back of the insert is the standard production credits and bilingual cast listings. Included in our copy was a single pencil board that has the shot of Neya just like the cover and the insert.

Menu:
The menus are nicely done in that they use various pieces from the show such as the monitors and the green theme technical shots to provide animation to go along with the music. Selections are nicely laid out and easy to access, though submenus take a bit to load, as there are some transitional animations to go through. On the plus side, the disc correctly read our player defaults and used them without having to use the setup menu.

Extras:
This series continues to make out exceptionally well when it comes to the Japanese extras. As it's the last volume, they cram on six of the Ryvius Illusion pieces, some of which are just drop dead funny and some that are just average. The final two opening sequences with their minor differences are presented here in their clean format as well. The one extra that's been really interesting and I hope to see it make its presence show on other releases someday is the Extra Drama, where the voice recordings are played while various images are used so they screen doesn't stay black. This one has some preproduction material and artwork to go along with the drama. I still think that this is the best and only way for Japanese radio dramas to make their way over here but it probably involves not only too many hurdles to do on a regular basis but probably too much creativity at that. But when it works like this, it's fantastic.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ikumi's control over the Ryvius with his use of not only the Vital Guarder but his own sheer force of will has set the stage for the finale. With a twenty day journey left for them to reach Uranus where they believe that they'll have some sanctuary at long last, Ikumi has set down the law as anything he says. He sets the rules for his Guardians and ensures that they play fair by the rules as well and just about everyone is falling into place out of either fear or a complete lack of motivation. After nearly eight months on board this ship as they've traveled across the system and having been pursued in a number of life and death situations, it's not surprising that many just blindly go wherever they're told now.

Ikumi goes a bit too far in what he orders though and finds himself being taken advantage of by Stein over it. In order to bring more order and discipline to the crew, Ikumi orders everyone to be roomed by their abilities. So everyone is designated to different classes, all the way down to E class which is considered the useless group and placed down and far out of the way. This breaks apart both couples and friends and thrusts former enemies together as well. Unbeknownst to Ikumi though is that Stein, whom he authorized to make the selections, is imposing some of his own will onto things. Those who he considers to be problematic people are assigned to E class, including such people as Kouji and Aoi, Juli and Lucson and others who go against his will. And once the deed is done and people are moved, the bulkheads come down and everyone gets locked into their particular area.

With all of this in place, the final battles start to happen both internally and externally as the ship gets closer to Titania and the forces that have been pursuing them start to make their moves to recapture the ship. The last battles are done in an interesting way as they play out against learning what Neya is really all about. This only takes up an episode which means that in its way it doesn't really feel like it was all that critical to the show. In fact, much of what the ending represents across these final episodes don't have all that much connected to the rest of the series. The time spent previously in exploring the ship and mastering various oddities and unique equipment like the Guarder has been important as it helped move the crew along in dealing with their situation, but the ship itself and Neya and what she represents comes across at the end here as simply the way to bring it all to resolution. What we learn doesn't really change how you view everything that happened before.

The journey of the characters in the end is the most fascinating thing and seeing how the relationships changed. The changes that we get from characters like Ikumi are among the more interesting while those like Kouji tend to be a bit less obvious but still just as interesting. Nobody here is like they were at the start and that's a hard thing to do with a series as full of characters as this one is. The challenge of many of them trying to do what they think best, to act nobly to do what is needed yet to look away at some of the side effects, is something not often seen in a lot of shows. So many different methods are tried throughout and each of them fails in their own way, mirroring much of how society itself works. One of the best things they did here though is to give an entire episode over to an epilogue. To know what happened to them after all is said and done is something that was definitely needed and there is a lot of small but revelatory moments throughout it.

Some of the core material for this show just didn't feel like it really worked. Neya, the chase by the other ships with their own secret plans and the revelations of what the Ryvius was all about just felt tacked on in some ways to give it some trappings of a larger nature. I don't think they mattered all that much in the end since it was given so little time all things told. It's interesting material, but it can be brushed aside and the series still retains a lot of strength just from the characters themselves.

In Summary:
Infinite Ryvius was a challenging series to watch in general since every volume the situation for everyone changed completely, especially depending on who was in charge and what kind of order they were imposing on the ship and its crew. The way its all wrapped up didn't leave me completely satisfied and I think a few shortcuts were taken in some respects but when all is said and done, I got to see some very interesting character arcs and a sizeable cast that had everyone experience a lot of changes and growth throughout it. Infinite Ryvius has been unlike a lot of other science fiction anime series and it stands out well in what it does.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Ryvius Illusion,Art Gallery/Audio Drama

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, 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: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Infinite Ryvius