Solty Rei Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, August 21, 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:
All Together
Catastrophe Calls
The Time for Truth
Three Girls, Three Intentions

The Review!
The series draws to a close with some big moments in the final two episodes before providing a two part episode that takes place much earlier in the series.

Audio:
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.

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. 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.

Packaging:
Finishing off the trend of slipcover releases, this installment provides another one with a glossy look to it. The group shot used for this one doesn't feel like it jives together too well with the episodes on the disc as there isn't any real rhyme or reason to their connections that I can see. The back cover has a full length shot of Solty in a white skintight 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 a full length shot of all the women in the series walking together with Roy leading the way. The height disparities are much more noticeable with this and it's actually really neat to see it properly framed like this.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
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)
The Solty Rei series draws to a close and due to it have an "extra" episode at the end that's double length, that leaves us with two episodes to finish things out. In a way this is good as it means that we don't have to deal with four episodes dragging things out to a conclusion. The bad thing is that it means we're stuck with two episodes that don't fit into present continuity.

Ashley's goal of getting into space is expanded upon in the opening episode as we start to see more of his past in how Eunomia has manipulated him. With his lifespan now at over two hundred years, it's easy to understand him being a little bit cracked in the head. It's even more understandable as his time during the colonization period is explored and we understand some of what happened to those who were trying to settle there. His methods of course are what has caused him so much trouble but through these revelations we also gain a greater understanding of who Solty is. Her history is tied to Ashley's just as much and seeing some of the perspective from both sides over the course of the two episodes goes a long way towards explaining things from earlier in the series.

Solty Rei unfortunately goes with a standard cliché in these final two episodes however by providing an even bigger danger than Ashley as that arc closes down. Granted, it's only going to run one episode but it feels like those last few minutes in the first Terminator movie where you just roll your eyes that it's going in this direction. There are some good moments to be had however, particularly as the show starts moving forward a few months at time and then several years so that we get to see some of the ramifications of everything that's happened. There is more than enough material that they could have fleshed out another two episodes worth of epilogue for the series, particularly in explaining more of the back story, but that wasn't in the cards.

What we get instead is a double length extra episode that shifts the storyline back to when Rose was living with Roy and Solty. A couple of different stories are mixed into it, from a case that Roy reluctantly takes with a woman who reminds him of his wife to something that Rose gets involved in where she forces Andy to be some girls pretend girlfriend. The stories overlap and we get essentially some decent yet simple material that slowly brings in the majority of the cast that has fallen off the page since events picked up. Especially good for some of those who may have died off earlier. There is also a storyline that runs across both episodes that involves Solty trying to understand the concept of happiness and a storyline for Kasha in which she discovers she has real relatives and a connection to the RUC. The danger in such storylines is whether they create an imbalance in the episodes that have already aired in terms of character relations.

Fortunately, the bulk of Solty Rei has proven to be so uninteresting that an imbalance would actually be a welcome addition to it. The show has had a number of concepts that were poorly executed from the start which left the entire series problematic. It seemed to shift gears too frequently and played too many emotional clichés which pushed people away from it. I don't mind clichés in general but when they're done so obviously and tied together with so many other ones with a poor execution it just makes it a worse experience. Solty Rei seemed so unsure of what kind of series it wanted to be for so long that the final big arcs of the show felt like an entirely different series. A far more interesting one. Most people who may have found that likely never made it that far either.

In Summary:
Solty Rei is the kind of series I could say I wish had potential to it but for the bulk of its run it left me uninterested and bored. This was particularly bad during the first couple of volumes which had a lot of episodes to them. As it progressed there were some good nuggets of interest to it and it shifted to a much more interesting story towards the end but overall it seemed to lack a real cohesive vision. Combine that with poor plotting, badly done clichés and too many people dying and coming back in absurd ways and it just rubbed me the wrong way almost the entire time. This last volume has some good material to it as it closes out the main arc but it wastes what capital it acquired by doing what's essentially a pair of filler episodes. Fans of the series will love this volume but for others it will likely drive them up a wall overall.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 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: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Solty Rei