Jubei Chan 2 Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, October 06, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2005



What They Say
Jiyu lies injured in the forest with Ayunosuke tending to her wounds. As she slips in and out of consciousness, she dreams of happier times with her one-time friend Freesia. After a long recovery, she finally returns home but due to Freesia's steady manipulation of Sai, Jiyu doesn't quite get the welcome she was hoping for. This psychological trauma hurts Jiyu more than any physical wound ever could and she is left in a state of utter confusion.

To make matters worse, Jiyu discovers that Koinosuke has suffered a terrible fate due to her refusal to wear the lovely eyepatch. After so much hardship, does Jiyu have the strength or the will to battle against Freesia Yagyu?

Contains episodes 8-10.

The Review!
With each new episode, the sequel series continues to become better than the original, a real rarity in any form.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is one you'd initially think of as a mixed piece with some big action pieces that would sound great and then lots of dialogue for the regular moments. But with the way Jubei's life is like, there are tons of active forward soundstage moments throughout the entire show with all the characters running around and being active. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Keeping to the same style as the previous series, the materials here look essentially flawless on our setup with lots of great looking solid colors that aren't terribly vibrant but have a good depth to them. The transfer avoids pretty much all the usual kinds of problems that crop up so it's free of aliasing and cross coloration and overall looks very clean and sharp. The background colors maintain a good solid feel without any noticeable blocking. Some areas look a little soft on occasion but it's something that's likely intentional than anything else based on the style of the show.

Packaging:
Using similar artwork to the Japanese release but with a better and more straightforward coloring style, this installment has just Bon on the cover in a great close-up shot with the sword and sunglasses reflecting images of Freesia and Jiyu. The green coloring used for it looks good as well and fits nicely with the previous volumes of red and blue. The back cover provides a lot of shots from the show set below the listing of the episode numbers and titles. The discs features and technical information is sort of in a grid but it's just below center instead of the bottom but it does keep things close together unlike some other past releases. The insert uses a lot of shots from the show on its top page along with the episode titles and listing of extras and opens up to a full color piece of Jiyu and Freesia hugging while surrounded by several of the secondary characters from school. The back of the insert lists the dates for all the volumes and the soundtrack as well as the basic contact information. The reverse cover is another shot of Bon holding his sword straight up in front of him in the style used for the Japanese covers.

Menu:
The menu layout is nicely done by the folks at Nightjar where a strip of animation plays through the center and each window is filtered in either blues or purples as some of the good paced action music plays along. Selections are lined along the bottom and it's overall a very vibrant piece that's eye-catching in how it uses the action scenes to draw you in. Doing the top and bottom parts in black only draws the eyes in even more to what's in the center. The layout is easy to navigate and problem free. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras once again are fun here once you get past the straightforward character design gallery. Similar to the previous volume where we saw Yui Horie learning to do kendo with some of the masters, this time she goes for something a bit different and we get a twenty-minute extra feature of her learning the basics of the tea ceremony and going through the steps for it. So unless you didn't get enough detail or want more than they gave you in Karate Kid III, this extra is for you.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Jubei-Chan 2 manages to be one of the most frustrating series I can think of. This thing is such a masterful work of manipulation by Akitaro Daichi that I just want to slap him for doing this to me. Scenes can go from complete and utter sadness and deep emotion to the two monkey boys talking about how anime is popular in English now and start talking in English to be ahead of the curve. Even worse, the show continues to finish out each volume with such a low key nature that instead of a big cliffhanger they leave you wanting more by tugging at your emotions ever so slightly.

After the fallout from the last volume we get a number of intriguing revelations and a fair bit of time spent filling in the background needed in order to finish out the storyline in the next volume. Ayunosuke has done a fantastic job and went above and beyond by rescuing Jiyu and restoring her in a herbal bath essentially but even with this Jiyu rejects taking the Lovely Eye-Patch ever again. Her reasoning is sound enough for her since she's still unaware of some of the larger issues and her belief at being defeated entitles Freesia to it and that will hopefully free her from the same problems, but for Ayunosuke it's not quite a stab in the back but a crushing of his heart. Having done what his father had done and trying to fulfill that role as best he could, he still feels like he's failing at it and it scares him.

His reaction to it is natural as he grabs his clothes and the Lovely Eye-Patch and heads off. What happens to him then practically had me in tears it was so well done and completely unexpected.

Having seen some of Ayunosuke's past as well as Koinosuke coming into play some, things shift to giving Bon some background as he apparently barely survived the wounds from the fight but is still under the cloud of needing to kill Jubei. Through him we see back into the past when he met the first Jubei and how it changed his life all the way through the time when the Yagyu started eliminating the other clans and forced the Kita Yagyu to flee to Siberia. Much of this background is very well done and helps explain his motivations just right without making it seem too far out of place as well as explaining what's behind those glasses. The background also serves to explain more of some of the tangents to Freesia's own past which also gets a bit of a look in this volume. Bon comes across really well here though and we see beyond that very simple character we initially got and now have something far more interesting.

Surrounding all of this is the seemingly simple and hard to believe they work methods of Freesia convincing Sai that Jiyu isn't a good daughter and that he's spent too much time spoiling her. Watching as he remembers back to the events that led him to being an at home father and the things that happened to his wife certainly explains why he is the way he is, but it's hard to believe that he'd take what Freesia says at value since she is just a child. Or maybe my view on it is just skewed by being a father myself and understanding what you do for your children. When Jiyu does return home though, she tries to start things back up as if nothing had happened but what Freesia has done causes Sai to slap her for what she's done. But instead of doing the necessary next part by holding her close and telling her he loves her, he just stands there as her eyes go blank and she begins to close her mind off to that part of her life. So close yet so far and just so heartrending.

In Summary:
This installment isn't heavy on the action in general but there are a number of good scenes through flashbacks to new material and other instances that help move it along nicely. Daichi continues to know how to pace such a wildly chaotic show like this and still make it a good deal of fun by putting in bits for his fans. Having an outright Kodocha reference was fantastic as was his acknowledgement of the overseas fandom. This volume has some really fun moments like that and some solid action moments but it's the quieter moments that steal the show. I don't think I'll forget quickly what Ayunosuke went through here.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Tea Ceremony Lesson,Character Art Gallery

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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jubei-Chan 2