Orguss, Super Dimensional Century Vol. #3 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, October 22, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
What They Say
In the year 2062, the world's two superpowers are fighting a long and brutal war. In a desperate attempt to win, pilot Kei Katsuragi is given the mission to detonate a super weapon called the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb. The bomb explodes, but the results are completely unexpected: a multitude of dimensions, times, and realities are unleashed into the world! Can Kei reverse the effects and bring life back to normal?
As the journey continues, more of the world is explored as are the various character relationships on board the Glowmer.
Though the majority of Imaginasian's releases will be single language only, Orguss makes out a bit better due to their being a partial dub made back in the early 90's. Only the first seventeen episodes were dubbed though but that track is used here thankfully, keeping it preserved for those that want to see a few name actors early on. That dub track is done at a decent 192 kbps for its stereo mix and it shows a strong difference in overall volume level compared to the weak mono Japanese track, also done at 192 kbps. Once you're in the show and you crank up the volume a bit it doesn't really matter much and it's pretty much just what the source material is. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 1983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This single layer disc contains four episodes of the series with a very minimal set of audio tracks to share its bandwidth and space. The results are interesting overall but it clearly shows that the dual layered format is pretty much required for a cleaner look. Part of it may just be the source itself as well. The four episodes come across decently here and avoid the issues that were present at the start of the series with the space scenes. There's a bit of aliasing as well but what you do see feels incredibly mild after watching the trailer for this and the other two shows from the previous volume. In watching this across different sets after our first full viewing, it's continually apparent that the smaller the screen size the better this will look. The problems we had were less on our 50" than our 70" and less still when we shifted down to a 34" CRT.
Orguss is one of the anime titles to be released under the TitleMatch program in which all the authoring is done as normal but instead of replication it's done through burning to DVD-R, giving smaller publishing houses a chance to do some Print On Demand DVDs. Containing some amount of copy protection, it's essentially the same as a regular release except in how it's actually put to disc. We popped this disc in a few of our players to see if we'd have any compatibility issues and it worked in just about everything except for our Toshiba TV/DVD combo unit.
The menu design is simple but fits nicely with the show though that TMS Classics logo is a bit bigger than I care for. The static background is a shot of space with an edge of the Earth showing where the orbital elevator reaches out. It's got some great colors and richness to it and some of the opening vocals play along the surprisingly long 94 second loop. The right side has the logos along it while the left has the navigation strip which is simple considering how little is really here. Access times are good and fast and everything loads without a problem.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When series like this were made back in the eighties, the layout of it was one that gave the creators plenty of time to build up to the story that they actually wanted to tell. Events didn't need to be forced which meant a more leisurely pace at times. Now twelve episodes into the series with this volume, nothing has really changed outside of some minor character moments as the crew of the Glowmer transport Kei to the Emarn home country.
There are things along the way that can be discovered which do a good job in fleshing out the world at large. The previous volume saw that with the episode revolving around the area of land that was being displaced as well as getting more of Jayviet's past and how he came to experience those transitions. These episodes don't bring too much of that kind of interesting material but it does play with history a bit, such as the episode that brings the crew into contact with a country where its ruler has used a construction item bought from them as a weapon. The cannon was meant for clearing places for construction but has instead been used as a weapon against its populace by the ruler, Marie-Antoinette. Kei and the others get caught up in the rebellion that's going there but only because it's a breach of contract to use the device in that manner. The historical allusions are blunt to be sure, such as when the heroine of the rebellion is Jeanne D'Arc, but it has a cute factor to it, especially when someone like Kei recalls them as familiar names but isn't quite sure why.
Orguss does take on a very weird and violent turn when the ship comes across a horde of barbarians in another episode. The world is made up of very different things so it's not exactly a surprise, but it is surprising to see how effective the horde is at latching onto a moving ship like that. The Glowmer takes on a siege mentality and hunkers in as they try to fend them off using their guns against clubs and swords. The mostly female crew is something that at times has a hard time dealing with this since they don't want to kill but must do so to survive. It also puts Sley in a position where he realizes he must truly be a man and help defend Mimsy before she really falls completely for Kei. Their relationship is put under a strain here since she was never truly in love with him and he hasn't acted well since Kei's arrival.
When the crew isn't playing a round of tennis in amusingly skimpy outfits, they're fighting for their life against the Chilum. This hasn't changed much though they do try to come up with some ideas to throw them off their trail. Those tend to end badly though and the show carries on without much change. What does get changed in this volume is the introduction of a new adversary from the Chilum who has, heaven forbid, skill. Using a different kind of ship than the ones we've seen from them so far, a confident but not cocky young woman named Athena heads into the battle zone to take on Kei directly. Of course, they can't kill him (his own friends will do that first!) so it's not a battle that will find a decisive end in some way which will frustrate her. With this show taking the same timeslot as Macross, Athena most assuredly takes on the appearance and some personality of Milia, the female Zentraedi pilot.
While there are no large scale shifts in the series at this point as it continues on in journey mode, what we do get are some smaller movements in character relationships. Kei and Mimsy aren't getting closer, much to his chagrin, but she is coming around to him in a different way. Kei's manly ways are still strong as he looks to boff anything that's female and moves which makes him a more straightforward James T. Kirk character. It's actually refreshing to have someone up front and honest about their intentions. Orguss doesn't have a great hook in these episodes but if you've found the setting and characters fun in the previous two installments, this one will likely satisfy as well while waiting for the meatier moments.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
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: C
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2