Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. #3 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2007
What They Say
Remi is a boy living happily with his mother in the French countryside. Unfortunately, everything changes when his estranged father comes home and, in desperate need of money, reveals that Remi is adopted, and sells him! Heartbroken, Remi ends up with Vitalis, a traveling musician, and his troupe of animal entertainers. Together, they travel the country in search for Remi's real parents, along the way learning the harsh lessons of life.
With Vitalis in jail, Remi finds life with the troupe exceedingly difficult before fate plays with him in a cruel manner.
Unsurprising considering its age, Nobody's Boy Remi is presented in its original language of Japanese in a mono format. The 128 kbps encoding isn't one that will wow anyone but it's serviceable enough for the material and is essentially problem free during playback. The show is just dialogue for the most part outside of a few musical cues that work to build atmosphere so it's not a very demanding mix. It is a touch low at times but it's in good condition and certainly comes across rather clean and clear during regular playback.
Originally airing in 1977 and 1978, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series received a remaster and box set release in Japan back in 2002 which has certainly helped to clean up the elements here. Beyond some minor speckling here and there, the print is in surprisingly good condition. Through the six episodes here there wasn't anything that really stood out, not even noticeable film issues such as tears or dirt. The six episodes on this disc are done on a single layer DVD and it shows but the effects are pretty minimized considering an average bitrate of 2.5 to 3.2. The progressive encoding certainly helps to minimize things as does the coloring of the series as it has a lot still backgrounds and muted colors. There is a good deal of noise throughout the series though that's simply unavoidable and while it avoids any serious blocking the look of motion throughout it is prevalent. 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.
Remi 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 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 an illustration that has Remi with the members of the troupe as a bit of music plays along to it. The left side has the logos along it while the right 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)
As much fun as Orguss and Cat's Eye have been, they certainly aren't like Nobody's Boy Remi. It's basis in a French novel certainly helps in that but there's just something more meaty and honest about it as we watch this young boy make his way in life. All three shows provide a lot of entertainment in different ways, but this series is one that just hits on a very different level and will leave an impact long after it's over.
Remi's journey to manhood is something that Vitalis is intent on helping him with in his own way from the very first minute he bought him from his adopted father. Over the time that he's spent with Vitalis, Remi has grown considerably and is most definitely better off for it. While he had spent a relatively happy time with Mrs. Barberin by doing chores and milking the cow, he's now seen far more of the country he resides in and its people. He's gained the knowledge of the written word and how to survive by his wits and his skills. Maybe nowhere near perfectly but he's still a young boy and coming to grips with how the world really works. Even as hard as it has been he's been surrounded by those that care for him and has felt a real warmth from all of them.
All of that was thrown out the window when Vitalis got frustrated with a local police officer and took a swing at him, which then landed him in jail for two months. Forcing the responsibility of the troupe onto Remi, Vitalis put a very tough road ahead of the young boy. And these first days are particularly brutal for him since he's unable to properly feed the animals or himself. Nor is he able to provide good shelter since they're nearly broke and having difficulty in getting performances underway to gain money. What's worse is that hunger pushes Zerbino to the edge where he resorts to "stealing" once again and that puts the entire troupe on the run once more.
Fate is something that plays heavily into Nobody's Boy Remi and it works in a rather cruel manner for the arc that makes up the bulk of this volume. Despondent and feeling alone, Remi finds himself inadvertently performing for a mother and her wheelchair bound son as they float down the Rhone River on their boat. It turns out that the boy is hard to please because of the regular bouts of pain his arthritis causes his legs and has really enjoyed Remi's performance. Enough so that his mother offers Remi a place on the boat while they go around in order to keep her son happy. Remi is conflicted but with the promise of getting Remi back with Vitalis in two months time, Remi takes the route that provides shelter, safety and food for him and the troupe.
This is something of a cheat since he doesn't have to live by his wits and everything turns on luck by having this boat show up here. The woman of the boat, Mrs. Milligan, is quite a good proper British woman who is trying to help her son Arthur feel better. She's also trying to console herself in a way as she still laments the loss of her firstborn son some years prior. The narration is quite curious in all of this as it provides a big, if obvious, revelation pretty much at the start. It turns out that the woman and her son are actually Remi's family but that hey won't find out for a year, maybe two years or even ten years. That knowledge for the viewer is cruel in and of itself as we see Remi and the Milligan's get closer and closer during this. It's far crueler on Remi since he isn't aware of it at all, but it makes perfect sense in the long run as evidenced when Vitalis tells her why he wants to keep traveling with Remi.
The series I expected the least from is proving to be the most enjoyable of the opening salvo from Imaginasian. This volume solidifies that belief as Remi is toyed with by fate but also finds ways to survive on his own. The path of the show is becoming clearer now that Vitalis is back in the picture and his goals are more obvious, but life in France at this time is quite difficult and much is still up in the air. Where Remi and the troupe go from here is certainly going to be fascinating to watch and with the curves already thrown at him I have to wonder how much more difficult it will get in the future. This is a very intriguing series that is perfectly ideal for this kind of release.
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: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
Running time: 144
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Nobody's Boy Remi