Melody of Oblivion Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 27, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
What They Say
Unlucky Relations - Bocca feels helpless when Sayako is held hostage by Lucky Thoroughbred and Tone is bound in chains with hidden explosives everywhere. Lucky hasn't thought of everything though ? Sayoko has another plan in the works. This may be his undoing. Later, Bocca discovers that Mahoroba holds the key to obliterating the monsters, but he first has to confront Electric Sheep. Meanwhile, Sayoko and Bocca struggle with their feelings for each other, but little do they know that time itself will decide their fate.
Finishing out another arc that then leads into what the remainder of the series is about, Melody of Oblivion finally hits several high notes as it starts to gel together more cohesively.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both the English and Japanese track are stereo mixes which are pretty decent but not all that engaging. A few areas make decent use of the entire forward soundstage, usually the key action moments or some of the music, but the bulk of the shows dialogue is through the center channel. 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 series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is done with some very interesting colors and style that sets it apart from a lot of other series, particularly in how the backgrounds look almost incomplete in a sense or like very stylized pieces of coloring with something akin to crayons but with much more detail. The series plays up the mysterious angle a lot so we get some interesting red and white sky backgrounds that helps change the feel of the rest of the color palette. The transfer itself looks really good here with crisp clean colors, very solid and problem free line work and no cross coloration or much in the way of gradient issues. With the style used in the show, the transfer really makes it stand out all the more and it looks great here.
Keeping to the same style but changing up the characters again, it drops back down to the pairings and this time provides a good looking set of characters with Tone and Coco both wielding their weapons while close together. The back cover shifts to a reddish background with a mixture of bricks and other shades while providing a few pictures and episode numbers and titles along the right side. The left side has a couple of paragraphs worth of summary of the premise that doesn't give too much away as well as the discs very basic features. The bottom section fills out the production information and then mostly just logos. The lack of basic technical information in an easy to find location here continues to really annoy me on what are generally otherwise very good looking covers. Geneon goes the extra mile here with the reversible cover that also uses the Japanese artwork, this time with Bocca and Sayoko together and Sayoko wearing the wedding dress.
The main menu uses the layout of the front cover but without the extra text to it and changes that to the navigational strip. The character artwork looks decent and fairly well cleaned up compared to the first menu or two where things looked a bit more jagged. A brief clip of music plays along to it as well as shifts of animation in an motion piece next to them but it's all fairly short. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is easy through the menus. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets.
The extras are a bit more interesting in this volume. We get another round of production gallery pieces (which are labeled as thus on the cover as well now instead of production notes) but we also get a series of "columns", which are basically liner notes that talk about the various aspects of the show such as the Warriors, Monsters and those in between.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Melody of Oblivion's had some good luck in the past with arcs finishing out on the same volume but it's also had others that didn't work so well such as this one where the final episode of an arc plays out by itself at the start of a new volume. With the way that the show works with so much energy being spiraled upwards into the final episode for each arc, it makes going into the next volume like this with a two month break a bit awkward. Trying to get into the rhythm of it all can be rather frustrating but it's something I've come to expect with this series.
That said, this volume proved to be a good deal of fun and had many more moments of clarity throughout it than I felt previous volumes did. Maybe it's just being more familiar with the characters now that we've spent even more time with them or the way it has for the most part focused on just a couple of them, but even when these episodes play out in a strange manner it felt like it was the most linear set of episodes once it starts the new storyline. The previous storyline with Sayoko and her brother, the kidnapper of children for his own mysterious plans, comes to a fast and hard conclusion as he has managed to draw in so many Melos warriors only to find out that they're able to regroup well enough to give him problems, as well as finding those under his rule who have their own plans in motion that don't involve him. The scale of the Monster's plans become a bit more apparent through him though and provide the hook we needed to move in that direction for the next arc.
The next arc that kicks off has its own strangeness right from the beginning as well as the group finds themselves in a new city where everyone wears masks on the train and people talk about how they're all already dead. There are a few key things that play out in the beginning parts of this storyline that are rather interesting. One tale, which is helped by the arrival of a kidnapped prime minister, is a bit more explanation of what happened during the war in the 20th Century. It presents an interesting angle as he talks to the kids in front of him, all who were born after the war, about how they don't understand that humanity is really dead after what happened and now they're just trying to survive by whatever means possible. Those who lived through the horrors can't imagine winning so they just focus on surviving. But the next generation, those we've been following here, don't want to just survive, they want to be free of the horror of the Monsters and their plans. It's a fairly clichéd plot point in a way but it is presented just right here and explains a lot about how the previous generation became so deflated after the war.
The other tale that runs through here is the varying relationships between all the characters but is mostly focused on Bocca and Sayoko. Their relationship has changed greatly since they first met but now Sayoko has the feeling that she's going to lose Bocca. One of the revelations that has come up during their time in the city and meeting up with the other resistance folks is that the Mahoroba is being used again and the Monsters intend to destroy the ship in space that helps give life and control to the Aibar machines. Once they destroy that then there's little hope for the Melos folks to really get anything done. Since Bocca knows he has to help stop that, he's drawn to an adventure that will take him to the stars and may strand him there. Sayoko has changed considerably over time and in regards to her relationship with Kurofone that her reaction to losing Bocca is much more honest now and the two of them, both quite shy children in their own way, react to each others needs in a positive but almost tearful manner.
The start of the storyline that brings in bits of the past, such as the death of the previous Monster King and the war itself, helps to illuminate more of what makes this world tick like it does. It also provides for what's going to come in presumably the last arc that will spill into the next volume as well as Bocca appears to have found his big calling and moment. There's a level of confidence that most of them display now with each other and enemies that's a nice change of pace and in their evolution as they work more and more together.
Melody of Oblivion hits a lot more of its notes right in this volume but it's still a struggle on some levels. As much as we get clarity here it only makes me wish we had more of it sooner or more consistently because there are some fascinating themes and visuals throughout that I would have liked to have enjoyed more. As it nears its conclusion it's moving in more obvious directions and things are getting clearer which results in it being a fair bit more enjoyable overall. This volume has some great moments but most of them for me revolved around either Bocca and Sayoko together in the hotel or any of the moments with Coco where she's honest about herself. Unlike some past volumes, I'm definitely looking forward to the next to see how this arc into space plays out.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Gallery,Liner Notes
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: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Melody of Oblivion