Solty Rei Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2007
What They Say
Roy Revant is living the hard life of a bounty hunter in a broken city, a city where thousands have died in a mysterious event called the Blast Fall. The Aurora Shell which has shimmered over all proves at once a prison and a blessing... and a curse?
The tangled lines of loyalty have been rewritten, and those that seek to save humanity are many, yet opposed. If the enemy of an enemy is an ally... When the secrets of Solty and a splintered society are revealed, enemies must unite to undo an injustice. But the premium is too high, and Roy has already paid enough in tears and grief. A better world awaits, but by whose design?
Contains episodes 19-22:
The Time for Truth
Three Girls, Three Intentions
Solty Rei's storyline shoves the subplot to the foreground and showcases what the series should have been about since the beginning.
With three audio tracks, FUNimation has their bases pretty covered here. Providing both a 5.1 and 2.0 English mix as well as the original 2.0 Japanese mix, Solty Rei covers the bases well with both the action and dialogue. We listened to the show primarily in Japanese and it was solid but without much real flair to it. Dialogue was well placed and the action sequences have enough sense of directionality about them but it's a fairly typical mix for a show of this nature. We did listen to the English 2.0 mix as well and had essentially the same kind of sense about it. On both language tracks we didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
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. In general, the show has a decent enough look with a clean color palette that doesn't stand out heavily or look to vibrant but also avoids looking murky. There is detail visible in some of the darker areas and the show is free of cross coloration which is a plus. Where the problems lay, and they're visible in just about all the episodes, is that a lot of the colors don't maintain a solid look. Solty's hair, particularly during close range shots, showcase a fair amount of blocking. Mid range shots are a mixed bag as background characters, which are often stationary, tend to look really fuzzy and have a fair bit of noise to them. This is also true of the CG vehicles that whisk about as they lack a really solid feel to them. There are areas within the opening credits which look bad as there is some visible rolling in the animation and the close-ups showcase some very obvious jaggies.
Continuing the trend of slipcover releases, this installment provides another one with a glossy look to it. The group shot used for this one has a couple of different "families" together that is slowing forming a larger family as they all have a fairly serious look just before things start to hit the fan. The back cover has a full length shot of Rose in her blue outfit with the same kind of background as the front cover. The bottom half provides the summary in small text and a slew of very small shots from the show. The extras and episode titles along with numbers are listed as well. The bottom is given over to the usual very small technical grid and production information. There is simply a lot of empty space here and a lot of stuff kept to a small area. The keepcase is where something a bit decent was done as it has the reverse side image facing out. This installment features the pitched battle scene between Rose and Solty above the city which has a lot of great looking dark colors to it with a nice amount of drama and action.
The menu design uses the artwork from the front slipcover, though with a brighter background. The logo is shifted to the lower left and the navigation strip is done in the same style as the episode titles, all of which is set to an upbeat piece of instrumental music. Access times are solid and navigation quick and easy but my usual complaints are here once again. I continue to dislike not having an angle option within the setup area. I mean the "audio" area even though we do subtitle setup in there as well. We didn't even bother checking our player presets due to the continued non-labeling of subtitle tracks.
The opening and closing sequences are presented in their textless song format which are the only extras available here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Solty Rei kicked off its series with some fairly mediocre episodes that were too much to watch in one sitting. It spent a lot of time building up the relationship side of the story and all the other aspects of the world but a lot of it was kept to the realm of subplots. Some of the more interesting aspects, such as all the resemble technology, was given great importance at first and then essentially ignored for the rest of the series. The character drama eventually picked up in some really interesting ways but they again fell into traditional clichés.
As the series nears its finale, the action picks up considerably and all the various characters who have tangents with each other become more important. In a way it becomes harder to criticize the earlier parts of the series where all these characters and relations were formed but at the same time they were done in such a standard clichéd manner that dragged out too long that it's still easy to gripe. Ashley's plans which have been under the surface for awhile become all the clearer, again after a few episodes of teasing, as does the real story behind the city and the situation that everyone finds themselves in. The setting of the story is one that wasn't deeply explained early on nor was the location really talked about much so having it become a focal point this late in the show shines a light once again on the poor plotting of the series.
The previous set of episodes focused on the RUC women as they were systematically targeted and taken out of the equation so that Ashley could follow through on his plans. Be it following Integra as she tries to survive or watching as Celica is targeted for termination, the manipulation and complete control that Ashley has over things is apparent. It becomes even more apparent as Accela is now on the run and ends up finding shelter with Roy and Solty only to discover how the images of what happened in the RUC are being altered. The arrival of Accela into the household also marks the arrival of pretty much everyone else over the course of these episodes, from Joseph to Integra and to the "brothers" of Rose's.
While Roy and many of the others have the initial issue of wanting to find Rose and deal with that problem, a few others crop up along the way such as Solty being taken out of the picture and the potential for the entire city to crumble before them. The arrival of Joseph on the scene is tied to Rose learning what Ashley's real plans are and agreeing that his course of action is for the best. The reality of what the city is and how it came to be is a fairly traditional plot device in a lot of science fiction shows and always has some interesting possibilities to it. As the secrets are uncovered through the dual conversations, it's up to the rest of the cast to believe it on faith alone or deny it outright. There isn't too much of a chance for that though since Ashley's plans have the potential for throwing the city into utter chaos and Roy has to stop Rose before she can help him do that.
If the series had worked with these elements in a more straightforward manner earlier on and avoided some of the really bad plot elements and contrivances that it handed out, I can imagine that this would be far more enjoyable. There are series and films that play with these concepts that I absolutely adore so when I see a new series try to tackle it and do so in such a poor manner it just baffles and saddens me. A lot of the things Solty Rei brought into play have been left behind over the course of it. The resemble technology was such a big thing at first which ended up with little screen time after awhile. The same for Solty herself and her nature. The most interesting elements which can be better paid attention to on a second viewing revolve around the RUC itself in how you can or cannot tease out what's really going on. The sheer amount of seemingly filler material in the series though will keep me from even trying a second viewing of it.
Solty Rei certainly had plenty of potential as evidenced by the overall plot that is revealed here but it took too long to get there. It also dropped a lot of good things along the way that could have been better handled. These episodes are very interesting to watch and have some great story elements to them but what has come before has severely colored my view of it. Some series can have a weak opening and overcome it during the course of it and provide a satisfying ending but Solty Rei had so many areas that turned me away during it that it's hard to really get all that intrigued about it beyond seeing if they can mangle it any worse.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing
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: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Solty Rei