Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, August 16, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2004



What They Say
The Explosive End! Loyalties will be put to the ultimate test as Zaizen begins development of a new type of Orbo that would make Hunters irrelevant. With attacks upon the STNJ, Karasuma has vanished! As the remaining members begin to gather information for a rescue attempt, Robin is given the final key to solve the mystery of her past.

The members of the STNJ mount a desperate assault against the Factory to save their friend and learn the whole truth. But the cost of truth is high, and once Robin learns the truth, what will her destiny be?

The Review!
Bringing it all to conclusion, the last volume of Witch Hunter Robin answers some of the questions that haven't been asked all that often during the series but needed to be.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that provides some good directionality in a few key sequences. We did some spot checking of the English language track after the initial one and had no issues there either. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no technical issues with either language track during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Robin has one of the most gorgeous full frame transfers I've seen lately. Watching this in the dark and taking in the visuals from simple things like the backgrounds outdoors and indoors brings out so much detail and attention to the small things. The coloring is done lushly when we get outside of the dark offices and buildings that the characters usually inhabit. The series is also almost completely free of cross coloration and had only a few moments of noticeable aliasing during some digital panning. What was surprising on this last volume was some of the very noticeable blocking that started to occur. The opening of the first episode, Amon's car shows a lot of it on the hood and again later in the episodes. While it only impacted a few select areas and not the entire show, it was surprising to see.

Packaging:
For the final cover, we get what I think is one of the best looking shots of Robin with her hair down and looking reflective while holding onto her pendant. The way the coat hangs on her shoulders combined with the green and black background just drives the eyes right to her face and particularly to those green eyes. This is just very attractive and appealing. The back cover provides a collage of images along the right from various episodes while the left goes into a few paragraphs worth of summary. Episode numbers and titles are listed here along with the discs extras and features. There's no volume numbering here at all, leaving the episode numbers to tell you what volume you're on. The insert has a nice look and feel of an old book to it and opens to the text piece that's played at each ending sequence as well as some character design shots. The back of the insert provides the full production credits as well as bilingual main voice actor credits. The cover is also reversible and this one lets much of the secondary cast of the STN-J get a good full color shot with some nicely detailed designs to them.

Menu:
The menu layout is solid with a circular half of the screen being animation from the show playing but separated by a line of fire. The right side has the animated logo and selections for the disc, which is all wiped away when you make a selection and get the flames running across for a transitional animation. That animation manages to go by quickly and the load times are fast so it's not terribly bad or annoying if you go through the menus a couple of times.

Extras:
The extras drop a few of the things that were included in past volumes and just goes for the two new interviews, one with the Japanese voice actor for Michael and the other for the Japanese voice actor for Amon.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
During the first half of the show we got to watch a fair number of Witch hunts, some basic maneuvering of forces and a general amount of tension as people really weren't sure what to expect from Robin. Based on what was learned later about the person she took over for, it seemed fairly well warranted. But then the maneuvering aspect, which was led by Zaizen before anyone really realized just how far it went, kicked into place and the group which wasn't too tight to begin with went to the winds. Amon had gone missing, Robin took up with Nagira and kept herself somewhat hidden, Zaizen kept on the move and set his own crusade forward while the rest tried to keep about their jobs as normal but wondering just what was going on.

The second half of the series dealt with all of this while still building upon the history of the Witches and what they really are. The different tangents that the core group had gone off on started to revolve around a central point and it soon became clear that everything was happening due to how Zaizen was trying to manipulate it all for his own goals. Using Amon as his trusted tool, he set him to hunting down Robin believing that she would be the biggest threat to him from Headquarters and those in Europe. But as Amon continued to learn more and more while keeping her securely hidden away with Nagira, the real threat started to come out. As everyone slowly began to orbit back together once more, the revelation that Zaizen is working towards the creation of a more pure version of Orbo that doesn't require the use of Witches to use during the hunt but regular humans, they change how the feel about everything.

Interesting enough, and to the point of amusement, when they all finally get back together there's some small revelations about who is really working for who. You almost get the feeling that other than Michael, who is trapped and cannot even leave the STN-J, is the only one who says who he really is and who he's really working for. The lack of trust within this group is strong and for good reason, but the various revelations continued to push them closer together to try and solve the problems. Zaizen's continuing his programs and has his human hunters out on the streets taking down the witches and making some moves against members of the STN-J as well.

Zaizen's hand gets forced a few times as well, particularly when Juliano returns to Japan and brings with him many revelations that Robin needs to know to understand her true place in life. Dealing much with the concept of Original Sin and the history that preceded her, what's brought about here is something that takes the show and tries to elevate it to something bigger and more epic. In its own way, it does work, but I'm not sure exactly that what they want Robin to become is something that really needed to be included in the series. It does go a long way towards explaining why the Japanese branch of the STN is continually kept somewhat separate and under surveillance though. A lot of information gets presented during these final episodes that brings all the various tangents back together, some a bit more forced than others, but in the end I think a lot of it works rather well.

There's a fair bit of tense action during these final episodes as well, including an attempt to get into the Factory where some of the creepier revelations come about. These are done pretty much like many of the action scenes throughout the series so there is more tension than action as the characters run about and deal with their enemies. Robin gets to use her powers a bit more but we sadly don't get anything that really takes her over the top in my mind that lets her just cut loose completely. Her use of her powers continues to be quite controlled and she's still very much submissive to Amon in what he thinks she should be doing with them.

In Summary:
While many people seem to be let down by the show in how it ended as it didn't go in the direction expected from the first half, I found this path to be much more interesting and enjoyable to watch. The change from hunts and action sequences to more moody and introspective moments while being hunted herself, Robin played both sides of the coin she had to do very well. With a lot of the characters having ulterior motives, the real challenge to the show in the second half was to do it in a way so that it doesn't feel forced. Zaizen's and Robin's revelations were done early enough so that they didn't feel like they were being pulled out at the end, something that Amon and Dojima suffer a bit from in different ways. In the end, I liked the way the show played out and kept everyone at some sort of distance but kept forcing them back to each other. Atmospheric and moody, beautifully designed and animated and filled with rich music, Witch Hunter Robin is a series that kept my rapt attention for each episode and gave me a very satisfying ending. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Voice Actor Interviews

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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C/A
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: Witch Hunter Robin