Jinki: Extend Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, November 24, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What They Say
Aoba has made a new friend; a young orphan boy with a secret past. With a little encouragement, she is ready to pilot the Moribito "2 again, but this ride could have fatal results. Meanwhile, Akao remains reluctant to join Angel, but in order to save a friend she may have no choice. With new friends and new enemies, each conflict brings her and Aoba closer to their ultimate destiny. The struggle heats up between good and evil as the secret Kyomu organization's plan seemingly comes to fruition. Who will survive and who will pay the ultimate price? Don't miss any of the action packed adventure that is Jinki: Extend! You know you want it.

The Review!
Spending more time with Akao's storyline than Aoba's, the show takes on a decidedly different feel for much of this volume.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for it is quite good with a number of solid scenes where directionality is strongly used across the forward soundstage for both action effects and dialogue. A good deal of it is standard dialogue material though so it's either a center or full feeling mix in a lot of areas but it's a problem free piece. We listened to the 5.1 English mix in a few places and it does sound a bit sharper and more defined in the action areas which has been the norm. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The design of the show and the overall quality of the masters here is excellent and the end result is a great looking transfer that really shines here. There are some interesting tricks in the style in which it's animated, notably in the first two episodes, which really gives the show almost a theatrical feeling at times in its quality, and it holds up very well here. Backgrounds look really strong and black levels are great while the transfer avoids things like cross coloration or aliasing. There's some visible color gradient issues but that's just from the way it was colored rather than an authoring issue. This simply looks wonderful.

The cover artwork for this is really eye-catching to me with its simple lines and strong color choices. The main feature is having the two women with their vibrantly colored outfits standing back to back while the background has the blueprint style design with the mecha mixed into it. Add in a sideways angled logo with its very good looking design and it has a very high-tech and sleek feel to it, very modern and current. The back cover is a bit more traditional in layout with a couple of strips of shots from the show through the center while the top half has a decent summary of the premise and these episodes. The bottom half, which mixes in some artwork of one of the teams as well as the technical information and the discs features and production info. The cover has a reverse side to it though it's not reversible in that sense as it has a text interview with the series planner/scriptwriter. No insert was included with this volume.

The menu for the release is pretty good and feels like a step-up from some recent ADV Films releases even though it is fairly simple. The navigation bar goes through the lower portion of the screen with episode selection dominant and languages and extras just below it while behind is blueprint versions of the scenes and equipment against a dark blue background. It has a strong tech feel to it and it complements the show very nicely in setting the mood and tone. Access times are nice and fast and we had no problems with navigation. Unlike the previous volume, we didn't have any problems with the disc recognizing our players' language presets.

The extras follow in a similar manner to the first volume with plenty of Japanese release extas. The opening and closing sequences have their clean versions and we get both the standard ones and the second "on air" opening sequence. There's a good bit that covers some of the location notes for the show and a glossary of terms to help smooth things over a bit. Some of the material in those two sections may be spoilerish though for this volume. Continuing from the interview with the first volume, there is a video interview with some of the Japanese staff that runs about thirteen minutes. Another nice inclusion is a model test sequence for the CG used to move the Moribito-2 around.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While confusing at some points during the first volume, Jinki:Extend was quite a bit of fun in how it approached the dual timeline aspect as well as the way it dealt with Aoba becoming a pilot of a giant mecha. The sometimes too subtle changes in which time period was being dealt with made it awkward to put the pieces together but made for a bit more of a challenge. And having the first five episodes together allowed you to get into that a bit more easily.

The second volume spends more time in the past overall I think and has even more confusing transitional moments. It also has a side effect that it's been a couple of months since viewing the first volume which makes it a bit more difficult to just jump right into. There is simply so much going on in this volume, through dialogue and character plots, that it's actually a bit overwhelming in trying to piece it all together. The storyline in 1991 presents a bit more of the Aoba arc where it deals with her trying to come to grips with everything that's happened but also a very direct battle with Kouse. Thankfully, Kouse does get a bit more development here and watching the way some of those in control of everything observe all of this is really enjoyable. The fight between the two would have more impact I think if we had just seen the previous episodes though.

Shizuka and Kokusho have a fairly interesting shift in storyline in this volume but it's one that gets a bit less time than it should as the show spends more of its time going back to the 1988 storyline. In a way I find this unfortunate since I've found that particular time period to be less interesting than the current one. The differences in certain characters personalities, such as Shizuka, is so different than where it is now that it's hard to really believe it's the same character. This time the story works out a fair bit better, though still just as confusing at times, as it spends its time with Akao as the main character. Her reluctance to be a part of Angel figures into things but as she gets to know the others better and the situation she's placed into pushes her towards becoming a pilot, her resistance weakens. Where these flashback episodes are good is when it deals with Satsuki, a character that's simply good natured but placed in some really precarious positions.

I've sat through this volume twice, listening to it in both languages, but I'm still having a difficult time really getting connected with it. There is a lot of really good information revealed here and the characters are fleshed out very well, considering the way they're spread out between two time periods and some change significantly between them. It has some good action to it and several very tense moments. I even like the way it plays up the drama and some of its sense of strange style, such as Kokusho's face mask. But something about these episodes just doesn't flow well together and they feel less connected to the overall. The more I've rewatched these episodes, the more I feel that they may play out much better when the show is watched as a whole. Of course, the creators have to make it work as a weekly installment but I wonder if even more is lost that way.

In Summary:
As much of a problem as I've had with this volume, the show itself does still have me fully engaged with it. There's something about the confusion and the awkwardness that's appealing in trying to figure out exactly what it is that's going on. The first volume made a definite impact and was just plain enjoyable and a lot of that doe still show up here throughout. Depending on which time period here really suits your fancy, this could be a really solid volume or one that has more of something you're not exactly a big fan of. What strikes me the most with Jinki:Extend, more so in this volume than the previous one, is that it really does require you to pay attention closely to what's going on and for the visual cues that are important in seeing the transitions. This isn't a show to just put on and halfheartedly watch.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Video interview with Yoshino Takamori (Minami) Yukari Tamura (Rui) and Kazuhiro Wakabayashi (Sound Director), Video of the Moribito-2 model test, Japan location notes covering 1989-1991,Glossary of terms,Second on-air opening,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Jinki: Extend