Tetsujin 28 Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 26, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2005
What They Say
The American mafia arrives in Japan with the intention of stealing Tetsujin No. 28. But thanks to Shotaro's quick thinking they are put in their place. Kenji Murasame is willing to help them in their quest but soon discovers that the mafia has it's own agenda. Irritated by all this, Murasame aids Shotaro, but are his intentions entirely pure?
All sorts of forces are aligned both for and against Tetsujin 28 as Shotaro tries to figure out whether it's really a force for good or evil.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Both languages tracks are done in a solid stereo mix that utilizes both channels quite well with a lot of directionality during the action sequences and some noticeable moments of dialogue throughout the episodes here. The series has a good mix overall that works well with the content, giving the sound of the footsteps of these giant robots a bit of extra oomph. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the way this series is animated, it's done in a very real world style and has highly detailed backgrounds and layouts to the design while retaining the very simple and authentic original character designs. The colors look fantastic with this with so much of it being of a dark and eerie nature and retain a very solid feel to it. The transfer is essentially problem free by all appearances on our setup with no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration. There is simply a lot to see within this print and the detail here makes it very much possible.
Once again the weakest part of the release, the cover here doesn't help to sell the show and just reminds you of the older shows that make you cringe with how it looks here. The two giant robots going against each other aren't much more detailed in the show but they don't look quite so corny and the characters take up such little space and have little to latch onto here that they may as well not even be there. The back cover is a gray bordered piece that has a shot of the American's robot about to attack while providing the summary and a number of screenshots. The discs features and episode numbers and titles are included as is the standard production information. The layout here looks much better and provides some good information on the series. The insert replicates the front cover artwork while the reverse side lists the episodes and their respective chapters.
The menu layout is nicely done though minimal as it goes for the old look and feel of heavy iron and steel laid out across the screen while a selection of clips plays through a monitor along one side. The design and feel of it is exactly the kind of thing I expect from Nightjar menus as they just have that something extra special in how they look. The navigation is simple and effective with fast access times and quick loading menus with no transitional animations. The disc played according to our players' language presets without issues as well.
The only included extras on this release are the clean version of the ending sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a first volume that managed to surprise me with how much fun it was as well as how dark it actually was, the second volume keeps up with it in relatively the same manner but loses a touch of its edge as the stories are more straight forward and less mysterious than the initial discoveries. Shotaro continues to be a main focus as he is the lead character but others make strong appearances as well and help minimize the "boy against world" aspect.
Keeping in mind the time and place of the shows setting, it takes an interesting approach with the kinds of American's that are involved here. We've already seen the military having their bit of fun and getting involved with the entire project in the first volume and they're still a force that's working here. Some of them are more up front about what they're doing and help out when needed since there is an agreement in place overall but others in the intelligence division are working their own games and manipulating people to their own advantage. Even more interesting and amusing is the arrival of a mafia gang from the States that's come to steal Tetsujin so they can pull off some amazing heists.
The gang is a decent mix of characters where they avoid having one of them be the truly dumb foil that screws things up. Instead they're slightly intelligent and have a boss who while not understanding all sorts of scientific things or how the Tetsujin works underneath, he understands the power that it represents and the basics behind it. Those under him aren't complete idiots and come up with some amusing ways of discovering where the robot resides and set into motion plans to capture it. They know that the entire things comes down to Shotaro and his remote control box, which Shotaro has done an amusing job of hiding by turning it into a make-up case, but they still work around that by using an existing issue in the country of trains being sabotaged to draw the good guys into their trap. It's a bit awkward in its animation such as when the trains run off the track and pile up but it does really continue to fit the overall animation style of the show.
The giant robot action in general continues to be a real mixed bag as some of it looks decent while other moments are just campy, but that really is part of the entire package. What's still drawing me to the show is the characters themselves and how they all interact. Kenji Murasame alone is a major draw since he was one of my favorite characters from the Giant Robo series so seeing him live again in this form is interesting. His character has been through some interesting developments in the first ten episodes alone and he's changed to working with whoever he can get to help him to try and stop Tetsujin even though some have been less than reputable and caused more problems than solved them. Shotaro's really the only other main character here that gets some real depth to him and he spends a lot of this volume trying to understand how adults view Tetsujin and its uses. Many want it out of the country entirely in order to keep everyone safe while others see him as the means to that safety. Things get really personal for him this volume and it really forces him to try and think things through which isn't for such a young boy.
With another set of five episodes, Tetsujin 28 surprisingly flies by really fast and is relatively free of lulls. There seems to be something always going on and pushing things forward which is good since there are the slight buffer moments in each episode that recaps briefly what's been going on. I've always had some problems going back to older properties in the science fiction genre just because of how badly they date themselves and it's often worse with comics, manga and animation since the visuals aren't things you can try to reimagine obviously, but Tetsujin 28 has managed to get past that for the most part with it's smoother animation and other elements that keep it from feeling like it really came from the 60's. This volume manages to keep up the energy and pacing of the first volume while moving further into the overall storyline and providing some interesting avenues for its characters to explore.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 115
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tetsujin 28