Trinity Blood Vol. #5 (also w/limited edition) (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2007



What They Say
With their end goal in sight, the Vatican and the empire rush to solidify ties between their races. The order of Rosen Kreuz seeks to unravel their painstaking progress. Abel Nightroad and Sister Esther have ventured to the heart of the empire, only to find the enemy deeply entrenched.

As they risk all to break the endless cycle of hatred and violence, eyes turn toward the dawn of a new age. Success drives the adversary to desperate measures, but the empress has a few startling revelations of her own.

Contains episodes 17-20:
The Night Lords III: The Island of Her Darling Children
The Night Lords IV: The Palace of Jade
The Night Lords V: A Start of Pilgrimage
The Throne of Roses I: Kingdom of the North

The Review!
The Night Lords storyline comes to a strong conclusion while a new one begins in yet another part of the world.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a good mix of action and dialogue to it and the mix handles it all very well. The music in particular, especially the opening and closing sequences, sound great. The action during the show uses the full soundstage just right as events happen all over and with some good noticeable directionality to it. Dialogue also works in a similar way with plenty of well placed dialogue in addition to the standard full sounding areas. We listened to this in its English mix a bit and it sounded good there as well and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. After the recent release of Basilisk and the video issues that I had seen there, I was really wary about the Trinity Blood release since it plays in many of the same kinds of colors. I was also wary since FUNimation has moved most of its authoring in house and it's taking some time to get it back to where it was. The transfer for this show looks quite good and avoids just about all major problems. There isn't any really noticeable grain to it, colors are very solid throughout though. There are the occasional moments where certain shades have some mosquito noise to it but at least cross coloration isn't there. The opening and closing sequences in particular look fantastic with sharp vibrant colors and solid blacks.

Packaging:
As we went for the limited edition box set, we're looking at the limited edition release. The regular release is in a keepcase while the limited is in a digipak. The slipcover features a really nice pairing of characters with some of the Methuselah in the foreground. The frame for the artwork is similar to the earlier release and just looks gorgeous. The digipak artwork is that of some secondary male characters with a heavy emphasis on black. Though the trim isn't as detailed for the frame as the slipcase, it looks equally stunning. The digipak opens up to the booklet holder and another great looking illustration of some of the Inquisitors. The booklet itself is gorgeous and filled with beautiful artwork and designs, interviews with the staff and character profile information. Add in the couple of cards that come in a separate sealed plastic bag with the associated volume number printed on it and you've got a release that is just stunning from top to bottom. This is the kind of release where you can see exactly where all the love and effort went as it looks and feels like a top of the line release. Few digipak releases really feel like this.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release has some great artwork to work with. The fifth volume has the good looking illustration from the digipak cover done in a widescreen design. There are some mixed backgrounds of Imperial architecture that accents it along with the black sections to give it a dark and imposing feeling. With a bit of the foreboding instrumental music playing along, it all comes together quite well. The navigation is pretty standard and easy to move about it and we continue to use the language setup section to ensure that we get the right settings since the angles for the credits sections are tied to it. It's unfortunate that those cannot be selected in the menu.

Extras:
Similar to the earlier volumes, the extras for this are a bit weak but they do provide some of the standards. We get the clean version of the opening and closing sequences as well as a few text pages that brings the viewer up to speed on various religious terms and locations that are prominent in the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At times it feels like being a broken record with this series about how awkward the episode layout is for providing good stories. The shows themselves are quite entertaining but they're laid out in such a bad way at times that it impacts the way the show feels. Thankfully, this volume manages to avoid that as it has three episodes to close out the Empire storyline and a single episode to being a new one.

The Night Lords storyline in its final three episodes is pretty interesting with how it plays out. Spending so much time in the Empire has gone a long way towards exposing the viewer to more worldviews as well as a better understanding of the people who live there. The Empire in its own way is fascinating since it has a mix of both kinds of people there but what intrigues the most is the... well, intrigue. We've seen a fair bit of it so far as time has been spent with Ion and he's seen forces moving against him. We've also seen a few snippets of it when Abel confronted the Empress behind the scenes about who she really is. Political intrigue, mixed with Methuselah's, is something that's highly appealing. Trinity Blood walks a fine line though of providing that, the visuals that will entice as well as the action sequences that will raise it up higher.

Ion is still essentially the central character of this story but he's well aided by Esther. She's quickly become the lynchpin character of the series in that her arrival early on has brought quite a lot of change in the world. She's been witness to a lot of important events, public and private, and is moving up in the ranks of usefulness by those in the Vatican. This storyline has cemented her even further as she's present during one of the most tumultuous times in the Empire's modern history and ends up with close ties to Ion who has just as many important ties. His connections have been interesting but he's also had some conflicts that strike hard at him, particularly when it comes to Radu.

Succession and power are almost always highly engaging moments in a storyline and prove a lot of impact but only if you've grown to care about the setting. A change at the end of a novel as opposed to it happening as an introduction to one will have vastly different impacts. With much time spent in the Empire, between this storyline and dealing with Asta in a previous one, the impact of the political shenanigans are fairly weighty. But some of the best scenes are the ones that are quieter and smaller. A particular sequence has both Esther and Ion captured and jailed and Ion is forced to go into something of a bloodthirsty mode. This puts Esther in a position of having to kill him in order to save herself, which brings a really good emotional level for the situation. With Trinity Blood not having the same kind of issues of a manga series to it, there is a lot more unpredictability involved with it that makes a scene like that potentially great.

The new storyline does something similar to the Night Lords as it brings Esther to a new place. The realm of Albion, which appears to be England, has just had their queen pass away and the country is in a state of uncertainty. No successors exist and the only ones that could conceivably move into it are those from neighboring countries. Albion has a national policy of independence which would mean having an outsider in control would crush them in their national pride and spirit. Esther and the Pope are there to observe some of their latest achievements in Lost Technology as well as trying to cement some kind of way of establishing a more formal alliance. The Vatican hopes to be able to stem the tide of foreign influence there while gaining some themselves.

The realm of Albion is fascinating enough as it's a very advanced place, similar to the Empire, but without that same kind of history to it that the Methuselah bring. Albion has more of a future looking feel when it comes to interiors and the manner in which most of the officials present themselves. As fascinating as Albion is though, I'm far more intrigued but the subplot that has those at the Vatican now vying for control over whether they'll form an alliance with the Empire. Events of the previous storyline with what Esther has done have opened a new avenue in a much more formal way and there are strong opinions on both sides. This is a really solid subplot that I hope is expanded upon in the storyline before the end of the series.

In Summary:
Without the issues of episode layout to it, Trinity Blood harkens back to the early episodes in terms of solid storytelling but with better material. Abel himself has some fascinating scenes, as does Seth, but he continues to feel more like a bit player than the lead that's typically presented. This feels far more like an ensemble cast than what you normally get in something like this and it works really well overall. Abel was strong early on but as it's progressed into larger events of political import, others have stepped up such as Esther. This is a very enjoyable set of episodes that in a lot of ways makes me lament that there are only four more left after this. While not the best of the best, Trinity Blood has grown to be a show that has a lot going for it and plays well within its design.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Historical Artifacts,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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: B
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 29.98/34.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Trinity Blood