E's Otherwise Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, August 18, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 07, 2005



What They Say
The mind can be a terrible thing, and in this case, it can be deadly. When a crack team of powerful psychic mutants, known as AESES, is formed to maintain peace and order, will the E’s use their powers to save the world, or to conquer it?

The Review!
While more is explored of Gald and Kai gets closer to Asuka, things are heating up back in Ashurum and new plans are underway.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix for this track is rather solid and has a very full presence to it. The forward soundstage is well used for a number of directional moments in both dialogue and action effects but it's the music that almost seems to overwhelm it at times with how strong it is across the entirety of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this release is noticeably better than the previous two volumes. The show is very recent and being done by Pierrot it has a great color palette used for it. The character animation in particular really stands out here and looks great with lots of white used, lots of clean lines and some good detailed areas. The color gradient issue wasn't much of one with this though you can see a few edges here and there but nowhere near as bad as some other series. The blocking issues that were prevalent during the earlier part of the series don't show up at all here, partially due to those areas not being in the show but also from what looks to be better encoding all around.

Packaging:
Using the Japanese artwork, this piece has a good looking illustration of Maxim who of course doesn't appear in this volume at all. The design is nice though and with the filmstrip piece and coloring it's a decent looking cover. The back cover provides a large shot of one of the leads while providing a filmstrip along the side with a number of shots from the show. The summary is pretty basic across a couple of paragraphs while the remainder of the cover is made up of the production and technical information. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The main menu is a decent piece that's got a bit of minor animation to it but feels more lively than most of the menus ADV's done in recent months. With the main shot being of the white haired vixen in her bright purple outfit along the right, the left of the menu has a rotating circle with the menu selections inside it, including individual episode access. The layout works nicely though the bit of the opening song that plays cuts out too short but that's almost a standard problem with ADV releases in that there isn't a good flow between the end and the start. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy and intuitive. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The included extras are pretty straightforward and standard fare. The opening and closing are presented in a clean form and there's a round of production. Continuing from the previous volume is a couple of static screens where they do "PSI Records" of the English voice actors as mini-bio's that have some cute bits and gags along with their info.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
E's Otherwise continues to be a fairly uneven show but I was surprised at how well the episodes seemed to come together in this volume when taken away from the series overall as it's been several months since we saw the last installment. There are still plenty of issues to be found with the show, but when taken on an episode by episode basis you seem to forget a lot of these things and just watch what they're trying to get across at the moment.

This volume starts off with a two episode arc that has Kai getting more comfortable in working with Yuuki and starts taking an active interest in the jobs that they are able to get. He's gotten so comfortable in fact that he decides to take on a bodyguard job against Yuuki's wishes after he explains why such a job would be bad. But Kai's wanting to get more money in there for a number of reasons and to feel like he's doing something so for the next three days he's set to protect a young businessman named Dhyzuma. Of course, when someone from outside of Gald comes in and looks for a local for a bodyguard they're either running from something or looking for something and likely has a hidden agenda.

Dhyzuma is a fair haired blonde pretty boy who's definitely got an agenda. It turns that he's the son of a company president that's being used by one of the Twelve Corporation's that's directly opposed to Ashurum. In fact, he's developed some interesting anti-psychic weapons, which would go against Ashurum's controlled monopoly on anything related to that field, but it's mostly for personal invention and exploration. Little does he know that those in his fathers company have already stolen his designs and put them onto the black market. Kai ends up getting close to all of this and feeling the effects until things sort of explode and he discovers the secrets, roughly the same time as Kai does and comes down to help.

This has them bringing Dhyzuma into their place for protection as others are either watching him or hunting him and they need to keep him out their site so they cancel his hotel. His arrival at Yuuki's place opens up a fun new avenue though as he falls in love immediately with Asuka and pledges himself to her, going so far as to talk about making her his wife someday. The two part arc brings in more of the larger corporate politics that take place in the series and gives rise to some of the plans that may be afoot at Ashurum's main opposing company. There's a bit of simple action and smack down stuff that comes up but even as minimal as it is, it does provide a showcase to see just how nasty some of the things that Dhyzuma has created can be.

A new avenue is lightly explored in this volume though insinuation and careful looks about Asuka that will certainly play more strongly in later volumes but what I found to be really fun was the return to Ashurum for an episode so that we can follow more of Shen-Lon and his experiences since awakening and dealing with his seemingly strange sister. His powers have gotten much better since his downtime but he's still having trouble controlling them and has plenty of issues in dealing with Shin-Lu since she's still all giddy over Kai. He ends up in a training session so that they can gauge his powers and their levels but it ends up leading into a session where he's more destructive than anything else.

Having Shin-Lu brought in to challenge him is highly amusing since he keeps demanding someone more powerful than him to give him a real challenge but he can't lift a finger against her from psychological reasons. The conditioning that they all go through and the way their relationships are all monitored and manipulated speaks volumes throughout this episode and we learn a lot about how Ashurum is really running things and starting to see the possibility of what their larger goals may really be.

In Summary:
E's Otherwise has still completely dropped the ball seemingly on not only a number of characters but motivations for main characters like Kai that made up the first couple of episodes of the series. It's on its own track now and those certainly haven't gone away but when taken on an episode by episode basis, the show is still somewhat fun and these episodes were rather enjoyable to watch. There's still that stuff in the back of my mind about what's wrong with it though.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Production sketches,PSI Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: E's Otherwise