Tide-Line Blue Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What They Say
Having defeated the silent running submarine from Wei Nation, the Ulysses finds itself at the sea of Metasaquoia engaged in the ultimate confrontation with the New U.N. fleet. Keel and Teen come to the conclusion that the only way to produce a long-lasting peace is to share their father's map with the entire world.

The twin brothers depart from the Ulysses in hopes of meeting with General-Secretary Aoi so that they could try to persuade her with their idea of transmitting the map to all humanity. Meanwhile the New U.N. fleet commander, Satoyama, realizes that Gould intends to use his nuclear weapons to punish the world for failing to make peace.

The Review!
As Gould brings the world closer to the brink, it's up to the sons of Freedom to properly determine the course of humanity.

This series includes a pair of stereo mixes but is the kind of show you want to go back and smack the Japanese producers for not doing a proper 5.1 audio mix on. Encoded at 224 kbps, the stereo mixes do a good job of presenting the series but at times it feels like it really lacks any serious impact to it. Directionality is generally minimal as characters tend to be center stage when talking and subtle sounds, such as when people are inside submarines, are generally non-existent. The mix is decent enough for what it is but it could have been a lot more. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any issues with 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. Filled with lots of rich colors along the way, particularly in the blues for obvious reasons, the transfer for this series is pretty solid in general. Colors look vibrant with plenty of fluid animation throughout and it avoids cross coloration and noise in the backgrounds. The couple of problems that do crop up along the way are fairly separate but still tied to issues beyond encoding itself. The first is that in a number of the blue sequences, there is a noticeable gradient throughout. It's not as pronounced as some early digital shows, but they're perceptible. This is simply how it was animated as well as the resolution itself. A potential high definition transfer could either smooth them out more as more color depth is available or it could make it worse. The other problem is that there is a lot of noise in the colors, particularly when it comes to the backgrounds. This is exacerbated by the gradient/banding issues and causes a lot of it to look alive at times. Most of these scenes seem to have an average bitrate in the fours so it's not too surprising. With only three episodes on the disc, I expected something of better quality.

The final volume of the series uses the Japanese artwork again and it's another busy and murky piece. The pairings are interesting in that the "good guys" are done in full color while Gould and Teen are kept to darker shades without any light to them. Combining them with the image of the Ulysses underwater and the general dark nature of this layout and it provides an interesting look at the dynamic. Getting the Japanese artwork is always a plus even if it is weak at times. A reversible cover would have been ideal however. The back cover features a very simple layout as the artwork used is mostly just black space while along the bottom corner it has part of the burning city. The summary covers the basics of how the world is now while providing an idea of the plot. Episode numbers and titles are included as is a listing of the discs extras. The bottom portion is rounded out with the usual production information and the minimal technical notes. This release does at least note that it's an anamorphic widescreen series which is a nice change of pace. No insert is included with the release.

The menu design for the show is quite nice overall as it features a background piece of animation where the space station Freedom is off to one side looking down as the Earth rotates below. Overlaid on this is a submenu on the left which swaps out character artwork as the light flashes from the space station. On the right is the navigation strip which has the usual basics we get from Bandai releases and the logo is just below that. There is music attached to the menu but it's painfully low to the point where it's barely audible for the most part. Access times are nice and fast but the disc did not read our players' language presets and instead defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

The extras for this volume are rather nice even if it is pretty minimal. The Blue Treasure song is done up in three different promotional videos. One is with Teen and Keel as the main focus while the second is of Isla and Josie. It's all rounded out with a full version that runs four minutes in comparison to the standard ninety second pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The conclusion to Tide-Line Blue, a series that would have been far better served across three volumes, was surprisingly satisfying considering how weak the whole thing turned out to be in the long run. Shows that deal with this kind of setting are very appealing to me and even when they're weak they're still interesting on some level. I'll even make the admission that I sort of like Waterworld…

The final three episodes are fairly standard in how it finishes out as the first two bring the main storyline to a conclusion and the last episode gives us a quiet epilogue to show where most of the characters have ended up. The final two main episodes are rife with tension as Gould is now trapped and is ready to start his attack in order to bring peace to the world. In the twisted view of how things have gone, something we get a better understanding of in the epilogue episode, Gould's goals seem contrary to what he wants. But as Keel points out to Aoi during one of the tension filled arguments, the world is already in chaos and war as the New United Nations is attempting to take down Gould. Everyone has done some wrong here yet it's hard to assign blame considering the psychological effect on people who lived before and through the Hammer of Eden incident.

A good portion of these two episodes revolves around the tension as each side faces off against each other. There is some focus on a brief battle with Wei but that's relatively minor in comparison to the way everything is ratcheted up as Gould gets ready to set off all his nuclear missiles. As is somewhat standard in anime series however, everything will be determined by a pair of teens who are trying to make everything right. The duo of Teen and Keel have been at odds since they first came across each other again after all these years so it makes sense to see if they can make peace with each other first and then bring it to the world afterwards. Everything hinges on the map that their father has made, something that they should rightly consider their own, and they must choose how to deal with it. Not with what Gould wants to do nor with what Aoi wants to do. The path that those two have taken has led them right back to the path they wanted to avoid.

A series like this does need an epilogue episode as it focuses on the results of what the war between the New UN and Gould are. While the cast itself isn't huge or diverse, there are plenty of things that are touched upon during it as they all go to different places to find the peace that they themselves want. Some of it is kind of corny and campy, such as Isla and Aoi, but others like Teen really works well. The best part of it however is that it deals a real resolution to Teen and Keel's father on board the Freedom. That has always been a fascinating piece to me and one that has had only small discussion throughout the series. The way it served as a closure to the episodes and the series itself really works well and left me feeling positive about the show. So much more could be covered, but the scope of the series was never large enough to properly handle it.

In Summary:
Tide-Line Blue set me up with some good expectations in the first volume but squandered a lot of it away over the next two. This final volume doesn't exactly redeem it but it does close things out in a way that left me happy about all of it. There are unanswered questions to be sure, but the way it worked in some of the emotion at the end between Teen and Keel with their father resonated well for me. It also worked well in how it kept upping the tension between Gould and the New UN over his plans to start the war. In the end though, this is a series that would have worked better with a shorter release pattern of three discs. In a collected form, I can see this being far more enjoyable as it could be treated as a pair of movies. Now if only someone would go in and digitally remove that ostrich.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Promotional Videos

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: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tide-Line Blue