s-Cry-ed Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Monday, April 03, 2006
Release Date: Monday, February 27, 2006

What They Say
20 years ago, a cataclysmic earthquake destroyed the prefecture of Kanagawa and detached it from the rest of Japan. The region was known as the 'Lost Ground'. It was later realized that part of the population born in this region had the ability to change and create matter. They are known as the Alter Users. To control this potential threat, Japan set up a police force, HOLD and within it, a special unit, HOLY made up of Alter Users whose aim is to combat the renegades.

Episodes Comprise
23 - Scheris Adjani
24 - Fist
25 - Native
26 - Dream

The Review!
s-CRY-ed's story finally comes to an end " although for some reason, the series keeps going for two episodes after that...

Audio is provided in 2.0 stereo in both Japanese and English. I listened primarily to the Japanese track, which is very clear and makes good use of the available channels. Fight scenes in particular make good use of the side channels for effects, which helps add some depth to the soundtrack. There were no obvious problems.

Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 format, and is generally very good looking - s-CRY-ed makes heavy use of bright colours and detailed backgrounds that definitely add to the feel of the show. Subtitles use a white-on-black font which is easy to read, if a little on the small side. There are no obvious encoding or subtitling errors.

The front cover of this volume features a worried-looking Kanami, with Ryuho ready for action as usual. The back cover has the normal episodes summaries, screenshots and technical information, while the reverse side of the cover has character profiles for Mujo and Unkei.

The disc menus are available in 3 languages - English, French & Dutch - from which I chose the English version. The main screen appears following another Alter power-up sequence, while the main menu features a running clip from the show along with a character-art "slideshow" featuring Ryuho & his Alter. Options are provided for Play, Episodes, Audio and Bonus.

Creditless opening sequences are provided for episodes 23-26, along with a selection of 5 cast interview videos with the Japanese VAs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Inside HOLD HQ, Mujo makes his appearance - but rather than deal with Kazuma or Ryuho directly, his first targets are Mimori and Cougar. Sensing that Mujo's real target is Mimori, Cougar sends her on ahead and remains behind to tackle him, but even Cougar's speed isn't capable of giving him an edge against Mujo's powers. Happy with having demonstrated his power, Mujo gives orders for the other Alter users in the tower to be eliminated, although for Ryuho, he has a special gift " a chance to face the mysterious Alter from the other side who had killed his mother, and who Ryuho's been looking for revenge against for years. But Ryuho's unable to turn the urge for revenge into the act, and it falls to Scheris to save him.

Mujo really is one of those characters that are just too annoying for words, although that's part of what riles Ryuho and Kazuma up so much when they're dealing with him " he has such arrogance and overpowering self-belief that he just begs to be taken down a peg. Just like two other certain characters I could mention, really. For a while it does look like Mujo's going to present our heroes with a genuine problem, but Ryuho and Kazuma continue to power up, their Alters becoming more and more powerful, and in the end it really isn't much of a contest " and with the main threat to the Lost Ground soundly defeated, we're left with two episodes of the series still to come. It all feels like a bit of an anti-climax " Mujo's been built up as a threat over almost half of the series, so seeing him put up more of a fight would have been nice.

With Mujo out of the way, the story moves into "epilogue" mode as our two heroes try to find their place in the Lost Ground's new society. This starts on something of an emotional note, as the boys say their clumsy goodbyes to Mimori and Kanami, having apparently decided there's no place for them now other than to protect the Lost Ground from interference from the mainland, who are determined to re-assert their control of the area and have dispatched a huge fleet to do so. Cue the first of two essentially pointless battles, as Kazuma and Ryuho once again get to show off the power of the final forms of their Alters in a fight that's short but spectacular. This episode does tie up all the budding romances that were hinted at through the series, sort-of " although unfortunately for the women, fighting seems to be more of a priority than happy family lives for the men.

To close the series out, we return almost to where we started. Despite what they've achieved working together and despite having shown their strength to the world, Ryuho and Kazuma come back to the question that's been bugging both of them since they first met: which one is the stronger. It's a question that can only be answered by them fighting, naturally, and the result is an epic struggle that's visible from almost anywhere on the Lost Ground and that seems unlikely to produce a clear winner. It's this scene that for me, sums up why s-CRY-ed ultimately proves to be a disappointing series: while there were signs earlier in the series that Ryuho at least, and Kazuma to a lesser extent, were learning from their experiences, growing up and becoming more responsible, their final battle throws that development out and shows that they haven't, really.

s-CRY-ed has displayed a lot of promise at times and has thrown quite a few surprises into the mix along the way, but unfortunately the good parts are outweighed by the mediocre. The fighting side of the series is well-presented and enjoyable enough in itself, if a little clich├ęd, and if that's what you're looking for in the series you'll find plenty to entertain you. If the story is what you're interested in, though, the verdict is less good " it just seems to come full-circle and leaves you wondering what it was all about in the end.

In Summary:
Up until the end of episode 24, this disc does quite well in finishing off the main story and bringing both Kazuma's and Ryuho's quests to an end, with a few noble sacrifices along the way. I can't help but feel s-CRY-ed should have really ended there, though, as the final two episodes don't add anything and see Kazuma and Ryhuo reduced to fighting obsessed caricatures. Sometimes the art is in knowing when to stop, and that's something s-CRY-ed unfortunately missed.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Character Profiles,Cast Interview

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: s-Cry-ed