Disgaea Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2007
What They Say
During his quest for Netherworld domination, Laharl is attacked by an assortment of assassins, including an unlikely bounty hunter that has been following him since the beginning of his journey. Later, Laharl deals with a very energetic girl who claims to be his sister while the Prinnies lead a massive revolt and lay claim to their own country! Will Laharl have time to reclaim his throne with haphazard hooligans on his hands, or will he be swimming in a sinkhole of stupefying proportions?
As Laharl continues on his journey to truly claim the title of Overlord, he has to deal not only with others causing him grief but also his own vassals. Toss in a Prinny rebellion and it's all ripe for some good fun.
Geneon has gone the traditional route with this release as both language tracks are done in a standard stereo mix. We listened to this show in both mixes and neither of them stand out a lot in any real way but they are decent sounding and cover the basic range required. There isn't anything really noticeable in terms of directionality but it has a solid forward soundstage that works well for the material. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in early 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Using a range of vibrant colors and very clean artwork, Disgaea is the kind of show that intends to look bright and silly but still retaining some of the aesthetics that most anime fans expect when it comes to details and backgrounds. The source material for this is in pristine shape which means no actual issues with what we have here but the authoring leaves something to be desired. The opening and closing sequences, presumably done by PCB Productions as they're the dub folks behind this, it's filled with a lot of very noticeable mosquito noise. The more action there is in a scene the worse it looks. Within the show itself this isn't quite as noticeable as the bold colors and carefully orchestrated movements don't result in a lot of busy scenes. There are areas though where it looks just as bad though. When brought down to a 23" monitor it was still pretty noticeable. Colors in general do look quite good though and maintain a mostly solid feel without much in the way of general background noise and there isn't anything to note in regards to cross coloration.
Though not quite as solid as the first volume this one has a fun twist to it with Etna sitting in the throne and trying to take on the role of Overlord. Having an angry Laharl behind her and the always daze Flonne in front of her just makes it work all the better. It retains much of the same coloring and style as the first volume so they fit nicely together in that sense as well. The back cover uses the same kind of dark motif of the netherworld setting and has a busy but decent layout. The summary covers the basics while a couple of shots from the show are provided below it. The episode numbers and titles are included as is a decent breakdown of the discs features. The production credits are the standard material and a technical grid that's a rarity on Geneon releases makes an appearance. The insert has a fun shot of the three leads and a couple of others characters from this episode but also opens up to a two panel spread of a "sexy" Etna pose. The cover for this release is reversible and it has both panels featuring covers from the Japanese release with the original logo, something I wish we saw more of once again.
The menus, designed by 342media, have a small but annoying lead-in piece of animation that eventually lands you in a decent looking animated main menu. It uses the character artwork from the front cover and the overall design idea and adds in some clips form the show and a bit of movement on some of it to give it an active feel, particularly with the choral music tied to it. The lead-in animation isn't the only thing though I can't say I mind that there are transitional animations as it's done with Prinnies and they are just adorable. 342media is one of the companies that has this preference for putting the language selections in with the extras and then making it so you can't do English with full subtitles from the menu, so it forces you to do it on the fly instead. Access times are decent with the transitional animations and everything works without any problem. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets.
A couple of extras are included with this volume though one of them I'm not keen on including in this. Game trailers tend to feel more like advertisements than anything else but at least there's a reason for it being here and that it's actually available domestically. A clean version of the ending sequence from the series is also included. The really valuable extra in this release is the second installment of the "special talk" section from the Japanese release which has the voice actor for Laharl handling the questions.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a first volume that turned out to be much more enjoyable than I suspected it would be given its origins, the second installment provides more of the same. With this being a short series and a comedy, there isn't a huge expectation in terms of actual plot. In a lot of ways this show reminds me of how the Slayers TV felt except that I'm actually laughing a lot during it.
With the four episodes here, there isn't anything that's really new or that changes the direction of the show. There are still a lot of demons searching after Laharl based on the bounty on his head, Flonne is still trying to teach him the ways of love and positive thought and Etna is hoping to be able to get Laharl taken out. Mix in a few other characters that get involved and it all rolls along in an amusing way that doesn't actually require any kind of commitment. You could easily skip and episode or two here and not really miss anything in terms of plot progression. When it comes to the core characters and what they're doing, changes aren't really expected here since their personalities are where the humor comes from.
The comedy on this volume is pretty good and kept us laughing throughout. The first episode is a bit of fun since it removes Flonne from the equation for a bit and pits Etna and Laharl against a demonslayer that's trying to collect on Laharl. She's not altogether there as she questions her abilities and how things will happen constantly but she's still better at what she does than Flash Gord... I mean, Captain Gordon. Where she's useful is in that she's able to lead Laharl to the one that actually put the bounty out on him, which in turn has Etna concerned but also curious to see how it will play out. Add in the amusing Mid-Boss to the equation and the situation turns into what a lot of these turn into, something with lots of confusion, spells flying all over and Laharl getting completely frustrated.
With a lot of this series being basically a road trip that has the leads as the only real fixture to it, each new episode brings us something new when it comes to location. The first three episodes have a good bit of fun as it deals with the group being attacked or dealing with the demon who has something on Etna. The last episode though is where all the good stuff truly is, particularly if you're a Prinny fan. These little creatures have been hysterical from the start and all the more so when listening to this in English. After listening to the first volume in both languages, we did this one in just English and this was particularly important for humor in the last episode. With the netherworld in a state of uncertainty after the death of the Overlord, the Prinnies have decided it's their time to move up and stop being such slaves to the demons.
All of them have left their positions throughout the netherworld and are now heading towards a pair of floating islands in the sea. Under the control of one particular Prinny who is using idols to his advantage, a Prinny Rebellion is underway with one of them assuming the title of Prinny Overlord. It's simply hysterical watching dozens upon dozens, hundreds of Prinnies, trying to become organized. It's almost like trying to herd cats. The Prinny Overlord manages to accomplish it to some extent and the visuals of all of these Prinnies in lockstep is both frightening and amusing. Of course, this isn't something that Laharl will stand for and without much help from Flonne and Etna who are just giggling over the entire concept, he has to deal with this massive rebellion.
With the changes from the game, it's easy to see that this is a hard sell to a lot of the fans of the show. What is surprising is that what we do get here is so easily accessible and enjoyable that anyone else can get into it. There may be certain jokes or elements that don't make sense if you haven't played the game, but having watched the first eight episodes this has become a very enjoyable comedy series. It's not heavy on cultural jokes nor does it do a lot in the way of in-jokes that distract from the overall enjoyment. Typically this is the kind of show I don't make recommendations on since it's usually for fans of the original product, but Disgaea just works so well that it's very easy to recommend.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Game Trailer,Clean Closing,Special Talk
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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: C+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2