Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #3 (also w/limited edition) (of 6) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, December 03, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What They Say
One Girl. One Tank. No Problem.

The deadly swirling vortex known only as "Gravestone" continues to expand, destroying everything in its path €“ and Honoka is headed straight toward it! Blissfully unaware of the danger lying ahead, she's busy tracking sand dragons and dealing with an unexpected visitor, Paife. The mysterious, raven-haired beauty has invited herself along, claiming that she's there to help, and Honoka is about to need all the help she can get! Contains episodes 9-12.

The Review!
Events from the past take precedence and the bonds between Honoka and others begin to grow.

This series is presented with the standard options of the original Japanese stereo mix as well as an English stereo mix. In addition to that it's been given a spruced up English 5.1 mix, at 448 kbps as opposed to the other mixes 192 kbps, which gives it much greater clarity and sense of impact. The 5.1 mix provides something that gives the show a fuller feeling that enhances the overall presentation and once again illustrates the need on the part of the Japanese to stop mucking around in stereo so much. The stereo mixes certainly aren't bad as we listened to this primarily in the Japanese language and it fit with the show well enough. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series marks the first time that Right Stuf has worked with anamorphic materials for the anime side and the results are pretty good overall. With there being less lengthy extras on this volume, the increased space has allowed for some better peak bitrates when needed throughout the show. The average is still relatively the same and the results are still very good looking throughout. The series has some stellar looking backgrounds to it and they're wonderfully realized here in the authoring for the most part. The blocking that was visible on the first volume has eased off considerably though there are still natural gradient issues that crop up from the source material.

The cover isn't exactly dark and murky but it has a few hints of it as the background of the cityscape is filled with ominous clouds and the like. The foreground character artwork is a fair bit brighter and with it featuring a pair of kids on either side of Honoka, it feels a bit lighter even if their expressions are emotional. The back cover goes for an in-theme style look with some good colors to it as it uses blacks and oranges to good effect. A few shots are included of the darker moments from the series as well as some much smaller shots to flesh it out. The summary covers the basics while the special features are all clearly listed. As usual, there is a good technical grid along the bottom that contains everything in a very easy to read format. The cover is reversible as it has the Japanese artwork which contains a look at Honoka paired with Paife in the foreground. Also included is a very heavy stock insert that provides poetry summaries of the episodes, character artwork and comments as well as some background illustrations.

In addition to the disc only a release, a very sweet disc+box edition has also been released. The heavy chipboard box features new illustrations that really show off the characters beautifully. One side features a great cast shot with a bit of the beautiful blue sky showing behind it while the other feels a bit darker in its choice of characters and background material. Each of them really shines through with some high quality designs and is a great looking piece in total. The spine goes simple with the series logo through the center set against a sunset sky across the desert. Not content with just giving us a box, since anyone can do that, Right Stuf and Kadokawa have included a pair of puzzles inside the box. Each of them are done up in 63 pieces and have some great illustrations to work on. I've loved the couple of puzzles I've gotten in the past from Japanese releases and this is a wonderful addition to this series.

The menu design for the series is fairly simple but has some nice design and animation elements to it. The main menu uses the front cover artwork in expanded form along with the PSP visuals to tie it all together with the navigation strip. A bit of music plays back during it and there are some nice animation moments to it as it reloads or as it shifts to the show itself. Moving about is quick and easy and the design is intuitive while still flowing well. Access times are fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

The character bios continue to break tradition a bit in a good way. Going into each character there is a bit of artwork and a summary but there's also a commentary. The commentary is done by the Japanese voice actress for Honoka and it showcases a short clip, often a couple of minutes or less, of character design artwork with comments about the perception and design of them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As The Third progresses along, some interesting answers are given in regards to the main issue at the moment while other, larger issues are given more of a look. What continues to fascinate about The Third is that it takes a very languid approach throughout much of it but it accomplishes so much at the same time. It's not keeping to standard storytelling techniques and ensuring a non-stop blaze of activity every few seconds to keep the viewer glued to the screen. It instead chooses to use good story elements, interesting characters and other compelling aspects to keep you interested in what they're telling.

There's been nothing but change throughout the first eight episodes in terms of the cast outside of Honoka. This has actually worked in the shows favor because it allows events to happen off screen that don't quite impact the pacing of the show. The loss of Iks as early on as it was did seem odd but it worked well as Honoka was forced to deal with the issues surrounding the death of Millie's father. Even with Millie she didn't last too long yet was something of a lynchpin in the change in Honoka's life. So it wasn't much of a surprise with this set of episodes that someone new enters the picture as Paife takes on a more active role within the storyline.

With the problems going on out in the dunes, and Honoka's abilities being what they are, it doesn't take long for the Bureau to try and get her over to their side via some freelance work. With the possibility of the sandworms causing a serious amount of trouble for everyone, sending her out to find out what's going on with them makes perfect sense. She's wary of it to some degree, but with what seems to be a high budget and quick work, she's able to get Bogie back up to speed and with some upgrades at that. What throws her is that after being back out in the wilds for a bit is that Paife shows up in a buggy and claims to be sent along as a partner by the Bureau.

Paife's role as a teacher is something we haven't seen too much of but it tied nicely to her more mercenary skills as seen previously. Honoka is distrustful of her at first, but with her mentality being that she can earn anyone's trust over time if she works at it keeps her dealing with Paife. Knowing exactly what Paife can do and that she doesn't seem to be up front about her reasons for being there gives Honoka plenty to distrust. What makes it interesting is that Paife is very interested in seeing what Honoka is capable of, a sense that she may be something more, and that she's quite surprised to see how Honoka is with Iks when he returns.

The return of Iks signals a change in events as his journey to see things on the planet has resulted in him coming to a place where a big event will happen. That Honoka is tied to it isn't a surprise considering what kind of trouble magnet she is. The storyline deals with what's been causing all the trouble to those among the Third, a problem that's causing them to unearth a weapon from the Great War to use against it. Known only as Gravestone, it's intent to destroy everything really isn’t a surprise, especially as we learn its origins, but the reason for its sudden awakening is. Even more so is that it not only begins to reveal more about the Great War itself but also what Iks is up to on Earth and the scope of what he's done in the past.

If there is an area that really bothered me with these episodes it's that they handle a part of the storyline in a fairly traditional manner. The use of psychic energy in and of itself isn't bad, but that it proceeds to move forward to tell the story in the subconscious, having Honoka fight against a version of herself and realize what she's doing because of it, is just too common and almost feels a bit below what this series can do. It does fit in exactly with the events of the episodes and it doesn't feel like it shouldn't belong, but with the show focusing on more interesting aspects for the first ten or so episodes, I felt a bit let down that they decided to go this route. The revelations are definitely solid though as it begins to showcase more of what the second half of this series will be like and how it's building upon what's come in the first half.

In Summary:
While a few methods here leave me a bit wanting, the overall presentation and story for The Third continues to give me exactly what I want. There aren't any traditional shonen action moments here, nor preening boys or girls that make your heart flutter. What there is, is a show that's dealing with an interesting future that involves aliens, a changed world and a mystery that could change all of it. It keeps to more traditional science fiction storytelling while mixing in some of the anime elements to create a wonderful blend. Beautiful character designs, gorgeous backgrounds and a sense of pacing and wonder that really ties it all together in a strong and highly enjoyable package. In a lot of ways, this is the best of the Kadokawa shows that have come out in the last couple of years.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,LE: Two exclusive puzzles featuring artwork from the series,LE: Collectible art box that can house all six DVD volumes

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kadokawa Pictures USA
MSRP: 24.99/34.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Third, The