Tristia of the Deep Blue Sea Vol. #1 (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004



What They Say
The legendary city of Tristia was known as the "Jewel of the Sea" until it was rampaged by a Dragon Attack. Now the citizens are trying to re-build the city and enlist the help of a genius girl who create amazing inventions. The 1st Golem Competition begins where contestants compete and create giant robots to will do general household tasks in a flash!

Based on the best selling PC game!

The Review!
A two part OVA series with some creative flair to it hints at some real fun but ends up ending before it can really begin.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This is also the only language on this release so it made the choice easy, though we would have preferred a real choice and that there was an English language version here. The Japanese track is a straightforward stereo mix that has some good directionality moments during the action scenes and the dialogue is nicely varied throughout, though the bulk of it is of course center channel based. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in early 2004, the transfer for this two OVA episode series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. While the source material isn't at the top end of the OVAs being released in 2004, it's a great looking release in general that's filled with a lot of great looking colors, lots of detail and a solid print overall that's pretty much problem free. Other than some minor color gradient issues in a few places which led to some minor blocking, the colors here are solid and rich looking, the black levels look great and the show avoids most of the aliasing and cross coloration issues. With a lot of blues showing up in this show, the sky and sea sequences are some of the best looking areas but the character designs come across quite well as well.

Packaging:
Using artwork from the Japanese release of the series, we get a great looking painted cover here of the couple of leads from the show while their golems are fighting behind them all of which is set to a cloudy blue skyline behind them as well as the sea below them. It's a very colorful piece with the character artwork that's nicely balanced by the blue around them. The style of the artwork is also really good with its very detailed and brushed look. The back cover has more of the same look with a shift to the left so that the summary paragraphs are along the right side. The bottom has a mix of shots from the show and the production details and a couple of lines worth of technical details. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The menu is a simple static image that uses the character artwork of Nanoca and Nene together and places them above a completely black background. This actually works nicely since it lets the colors in their designs really shine as well as the detail. The menu navigation is off along the bottom right with easy episode access and subtitle choices available right at the top level. The episode selection is decent enough but with the layout of the cursor icon you can select the wrong episode easily and start with the second. Access times are nice and fast and overall the navigation is easy to figure out. With only one language on it, the language presets were a non-issue.

Extras:
The only included extra is a brief section of full color art pieces that you can page through.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Pathfinder, a company known for its foreign film releases and generally solid attention to detail with them, has made their first foray into the anime field and like some other major publishing studios, is treating it just like their other properties and not as anime properties have been treated by the "main" industry over the years, which means that we get the release with just the Japanese language track with subtitles but no English language track. This unfortunately defeats one of the best things about DVD and there being a choice, but I can understand it from their perspective of how they view what they license and the kinds of shows they are. I'll still lament it though since this show could have had a really fun dub to go with it.

Created by Klockworx Animation, the two episode OVA series has a rather neat concept. We're introduced to the island city of Tristia, a place that's fallen on hard times in recent memory from when it was a shining jewel of maritime trade. While the citizens there have done a lot to try and rebuild from things that have affected it, they've asked for one of the best inventors of the world to come help them. While he did respond, he did so by sending his granddaughter there, a young woman named Nanoca Flanka. Using her mind to build a lot of amazing devices as well as using her best of all, a giant golem named Tenzan, she's able to help them rebuild nicely and the city moves towards the future once more.

But there are things afoot that don't mean to destroy the island city but that could happen by circumstance. A company that's creating fighting golems finds itself needing raw data from how Nanoca's golem fights so that they can use that to make theirs all the better. In order to get the data though, they've organized a competition open to all golems on the island and have brought in a ringer of their own that has a grudge against Nanoca so that they can get the right that they want. The actual competition is amusing since all the other competing golems aren't fighting ones but things designed for home use, like a cooker and a cleaner. Watching Tenzan trying to manipulate a knife is amusing, as well as just trying to do things like wash clothes and prepare food.

Since the competition turns out to be fairly unfair when they start an actual fighting segment, those behind the event bring in their ringer, a young woman named Panavia who has a long history of being stymied by Nanoca back from their younger years of being competing inventors. We see a bunch of this through amusing flashback moments but the rivalry is easily set up so that when she's introduced to the general audience, things are ready to go with the contest being started anew between the two more robust golems that are designed for fighting. With the idea of getting as much raw fighting data as possible and for Panavia to get her revenge, it's all set to work against Nanoca, but of course you know OVA series don't play out that way.

The OVA series does a nice job of telling a fairly complete and self-contained story but keeping more than enough material there to go into more episodes should they want to, though the epilogue of the second episode has the characters talking about how there isn't any more of the show, but that can always change. The more immediate plot of the contest between the golems and the rivalry between Nanoca and Panavia is the main draw to the episode and the background plot of the fighting data serves just to carry things along presumably or is something more key to the game itself of which this is based on. For what this tries to accomplish, it's a fairly fun two part story that has some good looking action scenes, some fun golems and a lot of cute characters.

If anything, that turns into the drawback as there are a number of cute young female characters but they get lost in the shuffle as things turn to focus on the battle between Nanoca and Panavia. The rest of the girls become little more than paper thin people that occasionally spout off lines of support or a phrase or two to help move things along. Their designs are very attractive though and they certainly add some good fanservice to the show.

In Summary:
While not a knockout first release for a couple of reasons, Pathfinder's release seems competent enough that if they pick up any other short shows as I can't imagine them grabbing a series it won't cause any major worries. The lack of a dub is hopefully something that they'll reconsider in the future if they got enough negative feedback about it here but if they choose to go after a couple of other short things that nobody else has bothered with then I won't mind terribly. The production values here are good overall and other than some slightly questionable name translations it's a pretty good release. If only the show itself wasn't so simple and relatively self-contained.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 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: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Pathfinder Home Entertainment
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tristia of the Deep Blue Sea