Flame of Recca Vol. #06 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 06, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2006
What They Say
With Round 1 raging on, Recca takes on Saicho and his formidable Paper Dance, an attack that can extinguish fire and puts rocks and scissors to shame. From there, Recca's pride proves to be his greatest weakness as he gives Team Ku another shot, allowing Captain Kukai to become an invincible demon. Is Recca ready to rumble, or will Kukai turn him into rubble?
Contains 4 Episodes
The Paper Dance - Coming to Life!
The Other Face - Transformation of the Saint!
The Life - Staking Test!
Beastly Roar - The Warrior from Hell!
The first round of the tournament draws to a close as Recca gets into the ring and does things in his own crazy way.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is decent but like a number of other shows from around this time the bulk of it is pretty much a full sounding mix that doesn't have too much in the way of strong directionality across the forward soundstage. It's a good sounding mix overall but it doesn't have any huge punch or oomph to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems during regular playback with either language track.
Originally airing in 1997, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The print and materials for this show are decent but there are some things to note. First, there's some noticeable print damage throughout but it's fairly minor and something not unexpected considering the budget of the show. The second is that this isn't a high quality show to begin with. The series has always looked like it was done on a budget and it's visible during a lot of scenes, particularly mid-range character shots where there's practically no detail to their faces; some shots even have completely blank faces. The coloring style used, especially for the blacks that shade things like Recca's school uniform, are just drenched on and without detail. This is the kind of show where they never expected it to have to show as much detail as it is now and it doesn't translate well a lot of times. It's definitely accurate to the source materials however but this is a show that in some ways probably looked better on VHS. The jitter is fairly visible throughout as well during scene changes but also during other scenes as well as you can see characters shifting a bit while the backgrounds stand still or vice versa.
While the actual artwork for the show continues to be fantastic, such as the very detailed and colorful shot of Recca with his clothes in tatters, what's here again not all that good is the large volume name along the bottom which covers up part of the artwork. I'm also continue to not like the listing of it as the "Tournament Edition". The back cover provides a fiery backdrop and more black that has a very brief premise of the series. The discs features and episode numbers and titles are listed as well. Viz releases typically have very little in the way of technical information and this release isn't much different, especially since what little there is is spread out. The insert lists the episode numbers and titles as well as the chapter sections and a list of the extras. The reverse side has a piece of production artwork showing off the Oni no Tsume.
The menu layout for this release has its pluses and negatives. The main menu is nicely done with a blurry close-up shot of Recca in his full ninja garb but with his face exposed while a mixture of flame animation and other artwork from the show plays behind him. This is set to some of the instrumental music from the show. The selections are all the basic ones and easy to navigate about. On the plus side, the chapter selection menu has to be one of the best I've seen as it gives you instant access to any chapter on the disc for any episode without having to go through numerous submenus. The menus are pretty good here overall even if they didn't read our players' language presets correctly.
The only included extra with this release is a series of production sketches in a single gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Flame of Recca moves along nicely with this volume as the tournament moves through the first round and then onto some more interesting material. The series is full in its mode of being a tournament show now which means there's the standard kinds of character growth going on in that they're learning more about themselves from their inner strength while their friends watch from the sidelines, alternating between cheering for them and crying about what kind of abuse they're suffering through.
Recca's opening fight with Saicho lets him finally unleash some of his powers out there into the open and we get to see some of the creative things he's come up with during his own training. Saicho's actually able to give him a good run for his money with his ability to use the special paper he draws upon. To Recca's surprise, the paper through its manipulations tends to be stronger and more able to resist his flames so that he's not able to just burn it all up and fly right through the round. Recca plays around with Nadare a lot during this as he goes through the motions but when he's finally pushed, Saiha comes out in the form of a fiery blade which is just plain fun to watch as it goes up against the incredibly strong paper one that Saicho wields. Saicho's reasons for the fight come out during the round as expected, which of course puts a more human face on him which is standard tournament material. It's interesting and it gives the Ku team a bit more depth but it's light material overall.
Everything that happens though becomes less than important in the long run as Recca and Ku find themselves now in a match against each other that's outside of the normal rounds, something that Mori actually gives approval for since it provides everyone with more entertainment. Since Ku and Recca had gotten together for a bit previously and found something in common with each other, there's a kind of fighter's honor thing going on here as they challenge each others powers and perceptions of what fighters honor is actually all about. Ku's the biggest real serious challenge that Recca's faced so far outside of Kurei before the tournament as Ku is able to lose control of himself by allowing the demon side of his madogu to control him. It's a great match to watch as it goes over a couple of episodes and lest two really powerful folks to cut loose a bit and just go at it with some high stakes.
One of the thrills for the show for me, now on my fourth viewing of the series since it first came out back in 1997, is watching how Recca talks and builds relationships with his inner dragons. His mastery of Nadare and Saiha early on has allowed him to get this far but now that he's facing some very tough opponents the others within him are watching curiously about his manner and intent and finding reasons to approach him. As the tournament moves on to round two, which we see the start of here, it's becoming more important especially as it's Team Uraha with Kurei and company that they're up against next. The foes are getting more varied and nowhere near as potentially friendly as some of those on Team Ku were. These are the kinds of people who are playing to win and don't have any real positive aspects to themselves to count on to turn the battle the other way.
This installment of Recca does a good job of expanding the characters nicely, mostly Recca, while also giving them some downtime before the second round so they can play and have fun a bit. The fights make up the bulk of the episodes and they're solid and fun to watch as everyone's powers and madogu all become more powerful as their secrets are unlocked. But it's the character interactions that make it all the more fun and the way they all act when they hit the hospital is just perfect. The show has a good balance overall but it does keep its focus mostly on the tournament and it's just a lot of fun. Recca and his mastery of the dragons is what keeps me coming back to this show, one of very few that I can watch numerous times.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, 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: 14 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Flame of Recca