Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, October 18, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 09, 2007
What They Say
A flight to sanctuary turns into triple jeopardy when Kurau and Christmas‚€™ shuttle is attacked twice; first by hijackers and then by the GPO! But surviving a three-sided battle in space and a blazing rain of burning wreckage is the least of what the Rynax pair must face, as a new being with powers equal to Kurau‚€™s own finally reveals itself‚€¶ and it wants Christmas for its own! A return to a haven from Kurua‚€™s past becomes the launching point for a terrifying new odyssey as Kurau: Phantom Memory continues!
With the new revelations about how the Rynax are being used and tested upon by humans, Kurau and Christmas continue their life on the run only to discover an unstable young experimental Rynax being.
The two audio tracks included on this release are quite solid though the edge definitely goes to the English track. The Japanese track is presented in its original 2.0 mix encoded at 224 kbps. The mix for it is pretty dynamic with lots of nice bass to it and some good directionality to the action effects and dialogue. The English 5.1 mix is done at 448 kbps and really comes across as a much stronger and more focused mix. The subwoofer in particular has a much stronger effect here and radically changes how several of the action sequences play out as well as the opening and closing sequences. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any troubles with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Like many series from BONES, this one has a very wide range to it in terms of its color palette and overall animation. Going through this release a couple of times I'm hard pressed to really find any issue with it outside of some minor gradient problems in the backgrounds and a small touch of cross coloration in some line work once or twice. Colors look fantastic and nicely saturated, backgrounds maintain a solid feel without any noticeable noise or breakup and the fluid moments of animation are very clean. This is a very clean and solid looking release.
Similar in design to the previous releases in the series, this cover provides the pairing of Kurau and Ayaka together with some really nicely done illustration pieces. The background is once more a hodgepodge of different colors and shapes along with what looks to be the interior of a space ship. The back cover takes the greens and silvers once more and puts the whole thing at a couple of angles. The summary reads well as its kept level but the pictures and production information is all given at an angle. The technical grid is as well but at a different angle and still quite readable. The insert is a three panel fold-out that has several text interviews with the creative staff as well as shots of the original cover art. The cover for this release is not reversible.
The menu design for the show at the moment doesn't really seem to make much sense as it adapts part of the background from the cover as its basis. Using dark grays and navy blues as the color mix, wisps of energy float around the mechanical designs that are hidden pretty well in the background. The top level has individual episode selection and submenus for languages and extras as well as a preview for the next volume. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and while it doesn't look like anything in particular it does have a sense of style to it. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets.
This volume of the series has a couple of good extras on it. The opening and closing sequences are presented in their clean format and we get a round of production artwork as well. A "key words" section covers various phrases relevant to this new world and there's also a set of Japanese CD spots.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kurau moves smoothly past its halfway mark and I'm still really wondering what the show wants to be. So much of what's done in here just feels like it's going against what a show like BONES has been involved in that it's almost boggling. When you have two lead characters on the run from a big police agency that's spread across the Earth and the moon, yet neither of them do anything to really change their appearance even while on the moon, it starts to feel like the writers and animators were just phoning the whole thing in.
The previous installment had some nice revelations to it as Kurau and Christmas got around on the moon a bit and discovered how various people have been affected by the Rynax energy and experiments. Those experiments are starting to become more of the focus as it goes on here however. With the series kicking off because of events that created Kurau in her present form, it's little news that such experiments continued on. The desire for limitless energy pushes science to its boundaries and beyond so having all manner of issues come up from it is a natural storytelling point. How the energy has affected various people as seen in earlier episodes is fascinating, especially in how Kurau is able to help heal them and make them whole again.
One of these experiments appears to be a potential main plot point for the second half of the series. The details are still sketchy since there is so much secrecy surrounding the Rynax projects, but it appears that an artificial Rynasapien was created which has been under control and observation for quite some time. This comes as quite a surprise to Ayaka and others who have been chasing Kurau but it gives them a new avenue to pursue when things on that front change. This new experiment, a young boy named Yvonne, has managed to escape from the moon after the incident with Kurau there and is now running from on Earth searching for his Pair. But with him being artificial in a sense, he has no such pair and no real problems or understanding of the damage he can cause.
This story arc does tie together some rather good pieces of the puzzle as Yvonne is drawn to Kurau and Christmas and touches upon another person affected by events of the past. In the beginning of the series we saw only how Kurau was affected by the explosion of Rynax energy and followed her story, but as it has progressed we've begun to see that far more lives were affected. The introduction of Yvonne gives us an unstable element since he's so much in need of a pair that he'll attack anyone who he thinks will be just that. The tangent that brings us to Jessica is a rather enjoyable one as it shows how someone has dealt with being so adversely affected by the events of her childhood with he Rynasapiens. Kurau is an extreme on one side while Jessica has gone the other route.
Some of the best material on this volume comes in clearing up issues of the past for Kurau. Once they make their action packed escape from the moon that costs other their lives as well as introducing the concept of space pirates, Kurau takes Christmas to where she spent a good deal of her post Rynax childhood in Switzerland. Staying with her aunt and uncle, a man who used to be an Agent until he hurt his leg, she worked through her issues of loss with her father and started to understand her abilities better. While not a super-hero origin story in the strictest of senses, it is one that helped to give Kurau her sense of purpose and life and showed her a way to handle everything that was coming her way. A replacement father figure of sorts that gave her the necessary guidance.
Kurau: Phantom Memory has a decent sized cast to it, some of which fall out of favor at times such as Doug, but for the most part they manage it fairly well. The core focus is on the relationship between Kurau and Christmas and that has come across as its weakest aspect for me. The two just continue to do things that seem counterproductive at times. Hiding from the GCPO while wearing the same outfits for months at a time? Hiding from them in Switzerland by staying in a shack that's clearly exposed? Staying with relatives in the same country? It just doesn't speak well of her Agent abilities nor that of the writing talents behind the series. These episodes do have some good moments to them, such as Kurau's past and the unstable nature of Yvonne's interests in people, but for the most part the show just feels like it was a potentially good idea with a haphazard execution based on a less than well thought out vision.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production artwork,Key Words,Japanese CD spots,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI 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: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kurau: Phantom Memory