Tetsujin 28 Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, May 14, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What They Say
Shotaro's life turns upside-down when a man named Nikoponski and the Black Ox appear at the Kaneda Mansion. Nikoponski reveals to an unbelieving Shotaro that his father was involved in developing weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile the PX Syndicate, a global crime organization, creates mayhem by releasing an army of out-of-control robots. Who is running the PX Syndicate? Can Shotaro recover from his emotional distress and quell the evil conspiracy?

The Review!
Shotaro's family history is further explored in these episodes as we see just how far his fathers transgressions went.

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.

With the giant robots kept to mostly shadowed views and the background, the cover manages to work a bit better for this volume with Shotaro in the fore with his cute little outfit and defiant look set against the flames and dark nature of the robots. 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.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tetsujin 28 took on a rather dark and mature feel in the last volume with the progress it made towards the storyline dealing with Shotaro's family history as well as that of the professor with the trip to Kyoto which really brought the series to an interesting place. There's a lot of things that happened in the last volume that's spilling out into this volume as what scientists did during the war which frames the emotions that Shotaro has to deal with.

Shotaro's discovery of the bagume and the recorder with his fathers voice has left him in a really bad position as there are those that want the secret of where the rest of the bagume is to be found. The arrival of the Black Ox at the house and a mysterious person who wants the recorder so they can discern the location of the bagume, Shotaro finds himself working with Masamune in trying to escape and figure out what's really going on. His time on the lam is rather amusing as the two do a comical version of working undercover to figure out where Madara Rocks is located only to end up finding out that Chief Otsuka and his lovely secretary have started up a "Kaneda's Boy Detective Agency" without Shotaro's knowledge. Shotaro's found that he's managed to win over the sympathies of a number of people and that his new quest to find out the truth about his fathers apparent guilt has given him new allies.

The episodes that are involved in this adventure is pretty interesting since it exposes more of the pre-war history and how the scientists each had different areas that they wanted to focus on in order to win the war but also that some had ideas about how they wanted to end everything in a truly dramatic way since they didn't like how the country was potentially going to go if it lost the war. In the context of how the war was really won in Japan, the idea of how the bagume and its uses as a weapons grade ingredient is interesting in how it's presented here. I think they did take something of a cheap and easy out on it though in the conclusion to the storyline but it's the kind of weapon that takes the giant robots and essentially turns them into useless things which isn't good for a show based around giant robots.

The series takes on a different feel as it moves into the second half of this disc and into the new PX Syndicate storyline since previous tensions aren't quite the same anymore between Shotaro and Chloroform and his newly found detective agency is actually underway now with Masamune and Otsuka actually working with him on things. It's a far cry from where it was for awhile where we had him working on behalf of the police and alongside the professor who provided some grounding and history for him. Now that he knows more of his own past, some of which feels like it may be a red herring or incomplete truths, Shotaro is more confident in himself and what he's doing and it shows as they work through trying tofigure out what the PX Syndicate is actually after. The giant robot aspect isn't avoided at all and there are some amusingly creative things used in throughout the four episodes here, particularly in the one that works undersea to acquire the bagume.

In Summary:
Tetsujin 28 has some good resolution material to the things we learned in the previous volume but in a way it seems like it lost some of its dark edge as it brought those revelations about. While some of what we learn about his father is interesting and it certainly paints him in a really bad light it feels like we're seeing only part of the story, especially since it's coming from folks like Chloroform and Bigfire. The rest of the volume has a lighter feel to it and is laying out a new path for the show to take, which is a bit surprising this late in the game, but it's interesting to see it play out and how it'll be used to bring things to a conclusion. This is a series that I had little belief that I'd actually enjoy but it's been surprisingly enjoyable on a lot of levels, including seeing a different side of the interpretation that was used with Giant Robo. Definitely an interesting update to an older property.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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: B-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tetsujin 28