Orguss, Super Dimensional Century Vol. #4 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, October 26, 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?
Finally arriving in the land of Emarn after facing off against his old friend, Kei finds that he doesn't have too many friends.
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)
Orguss moves right along and finishes out a big chunk of its journey that has made up the first half of the series. This brings us to some very new elements that expand the show nicely but there are some wonderful, if obvious, character moments that come up before it that shakes up Kei's already unstable worldview. He's been here less than a year since setting off the super dimensional bomb and as well as he's adjusted, there's only so much one man can take. Especially when you learn you're responsible for the state of everything.
As the Glowmer gets closer to the Emarn homeland by moving through the big fissure in Afghanistan, the Chilum are stepping up their plans to try and capture Kei. Athena has felt quite challenged by her initial attacks on him and is very intent on bringing him down, particularly since her uncle Olsen is interested in him. Olsen goes so far as to actually get involved in one of the attempts to capture Kei which proves to be a long awaited turning point for the show. Since he wasn't aware that it was Kei, the revelation of it is something that forces him to take action to save his friend who is in the same boat he is. That action causes him not only a demotion but also eventually causes him to turn traitor and abandon the Chilum in order to try and bring his friend up to speed on why he needs to work with the Chilum. It's faulty logic but when you belong to a military government, one they ignore you there aren't many options left.
Olsen and Kei's reunion when it finally does occur face to face is a bit of a letdown since there isn't a lot said that's really meaty about what's been going on. We do learn about when Olsen arrived in this readjusted world, some five years prior to Kei, and that he's of the mind that the Chilum are the best bet for restoring the world through a particular project they have ongoing. He does omit however that the project doesn't need the idiosyncratic points anymore which means Kei is now targeted for termination. Kei's just left to wonder why the Chilum have stepped up their attacks since they're now much fiercer than before, especially with Athena leading the charge. Athena in particular is an interesting case as what Olsen reveals about her shocks Kei at first but then quickly disappears from his mind by the next episode. Chances of it coming back to bite him in the rear are quite strong.
While the first half of this volume is dedicated all of this, the second half provides an even more interesting as it finally shows what the Emarn homeland is like. The place is unlike just about everything else we've seen as it's very near-future in its design and has a very civilized look to it. Unlike the Chilum locales which are somewhat dank and depressing, there is a good bit of light and cheerfulness about the design here, especially since there aren't very many military uniforms or designs around. Even better, especially to someone like Kei, the population is 2:1 in favor of women, so it's filled with lots of eye-candy for him. Kei's nature in this regard continues to be one of the most amusing aspects of the show since it really highlights just how human he is.
What's also interesting with this half is that we get to see just how different the Emarn are in how their society is made up. With various clans that make up the power structure, there are some that are very different in their thinking of how to handle Kei. Some want to work with him and convince him to join their cause while others are intent on brainwashing him into the services that they need from him. That spills down into the Glowmer crew a bit since some of them are from different clans but there is also something else that is driving the divide. The fight with the Chilum is getting more intense as each side makes incursions into the others territory. And with the Glowmer transporting Kei around, it's made them even more of a target than usual.
Where the show goes from here isn't entirely clear. A lot of new information has come to light both on the political side of the show as well as with the characters. The crew of the Glowmer has undergone a number of changes since Kei arrived and now find themselves in a very difficult position, but one that is being forged by the bonds of a strong friendship, almost a family. They've all had a loss of some sort and have found comfort in each other. At the same time, the world is not going to wait for a solution to be found and the various forces are acting in their own best interests to secure their futures. Orguss isn't exactly complex but as the tale unfolds it's certainly becoming more interesting, especially now that it's moving past the world-exploring journey phase.
Japanese 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