Elemental Gelade Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, April 20, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What They Say
The truth about Ren emerges in the midst of a heated battle. What's worse, Arc Aile and Chaos Choir are primed and ready to fight each other to the death over Edel Garden. Cou and Ren both make it to the island safely, but the story is hardly over as the fate of the Edel Raids and Ren hangs in the balance between men who desires ultimate power and a boy who just wants to be a man.

The Review!
Bringing the series to a close with plenty of action drawn out over five episodes, Elemental Gelade ties up most loose ends.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This series has a fairly active mix to it as there's a lot of action effects throughout it as well as some very nicely placed dialogue along the forward soundstage in various conversations and other events. The mix is pretty straightforward overall where a lot of it is through the center channel but it has a good wide feel to it as it plays out. We spot checked the English track and didn't notice any issues there either. During regular playback, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The print for this show looks to be in very good shape with very clean and clear colors that are relatively free from posterization or blocking. The show keeps to strong colors for the most part with large areas for them and not a lot of detail so the look of the transfer here is quite good and essentially problem free which means very little in terms of noticeable cross coloration or aliasing. While the transfer doesn't exactly stand out heads above other shows, it's a good solid entry that will look excellent for most setups.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but using a bit of the foil element to give the background a bit more life to it, Ren and Cou close things out with Ren finally wearing something different. With the foil and silver elements in the cover artwork it's a cover that stands out a bit above other covers and is certainly noticeable. The back cover brings in a bit more of the Japanese artwork with a shot of the other trio and a few other shots from the show. The summary covers the very basics of the show and the discs episode titles and numbers as well as extras are clearly listed. In a continuing slow change for Geneon, this series has a good technical grid along the bottom that covers all the basics of what's involved with the disc making it very easy to find things such as the running time and available languages and aspect ratio. No insert is included with this release.

Set at an angle with both the video and the actual selections, it's a fairly simple design but it has a good bit of flash to it that doesn't detract from its usability. In the very center is a single section of clear clips playing from the show while a tinted version plays larger in the background but obscured by some other design elements, so it has a really good active feel to it without any real slowdown. The selections are quick and easy to navigate along the bottom with instant episode access and fast load times. The layout and design fit well for the theme of the show but the disc unfortunately did not pick up our players' language presets and defaulted to English with no subtitles. Surprisingly, there is no sign/song subtitle track for the opening and closing sequences.

The only extras included are a couple of brief trailers for the PlayStation 2 game as well as the Gameboy Advance game.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final five episodes of the series, Elemental Gelade draws to a close. With the revelations made at the end of the previous volume, some of the foundations of the series have been cast aside, leaving some members of the group completely stunned. Even worse, it comes at the same time that they lose Ren to the Chaos Choir.

Like most shows of this nature, the last part of the show has the couple of revelations and then shifts into drama with plenty of big action moments. Things don't deviate too much from how the series has been so far however so there isn't anything really surprising here nor any real new growth to the characters. Ren in particular is once more poorly served here as for the bulk of these episodes she's rendered immobile and practically asleep as the Chaos Choir members led by Orfus have her chained to the throne. Utilizing her powers so they can force a victory over Arc Aile and then the world, the trio with their special combination mode are a deadly group but one with a fatal flaw.

That flaw of course is being completely deaf to anything that anyone else says. A large portion of what's gone on in this series in total could have been easily avoided with a handful of people simply talking about what's really going on but that wouldn't be exciting. Instead we have the usual array of misunderstandings and ages of pent-up frustration over social status. The Edel Raids find themselves no longer equal partners with humanity, leaving them simply as tools. Those within Arc Aile that have power have grown accustomed to this and their perceived mission has been distorted. Each side has their own wants that are in conflict but it will take someone, or two someone's, from outside of each organization to truly inspire a change.

The main complaints that I've had with the series throughout are still plainly evident here. Cou is far too naïve and innocent for his own good which leaves him one dimensional and uninteresting. Ren is even worse as she's practically a blank slate with no understanding of the limited emotions she does have. This is compounded by her complete lack of emotion throughout the show, though it is a stark change when she actually cracks the smallest of smiles during the end of the series. The only characters that seem even partially formed as interesting people tend to come in the form of Cisqua, Rowen and Kuea. They've had some decent backgrounds provided to them and their motivations, while simple, helped to propel them along. They could have been a lot more of course but they're still leaps and bounds ahead of Ren and Cou.

In Summary:
Elemental Gelade's biggest sin is that it's basically a mediocre show. People new to anime may find the situations interesting as well as those who are looking for something light that isn't deep. The show has a lot of interesting trappings to it but a good deal of them are simply that, just trappings that get trotted out once in awhile and nothing more. From the sky pirates at the beginning to other characters that made quick appearances yet become important at the end. The faults of the series outweigh the few positives of it and in the long term became a series that I wished would be over quicker.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Game Trailers

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: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Elemental Gelade