Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. #7 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, December 11, 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.

The Review!
Just as a few rays of sunshine start to peek into Remi's world, storm clouds brew once again and tragedy strikes.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 seven episodes here there wasn't anything that really stood out, not even noticeable film issues such as tears or dirt. The seven 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.

Packaging:
None.

Menu:
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 a close-up of Remi looking down at Arthur who must have been having a bit of a fit 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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every time you think Remi's life can't sink any lower, the series manages to show you what for and prove that it can. Even worse is that every time that things start to perk up even a little bit, you just know that there's something around the corner that's going to change that perception. This installment brings us another seven episodes which inch us closer to Remi finding some happiness but not without paying a heavy price.

Having just reconnected with Mrs. Barberin, Remi is beyond joyful about the situation and even Mattia is swept up by the emotions. That doesn't last too long though as she reveals that his real parents are currently looking for him and have been there. A lawyer arrived some months ago and gave Jerome a good deal of money for having raised him so far and promised more when he brings Remi to London at his office. Jerome has since spent all his time in Paris trying to find information on where Remi may be with Vitalis to no avail. Even with all the issues that Remi has with Jerome, he's still intent on going to Paris to find him and start the next leg of his journey to London where he'll find his birth parents.

The trip and time spent in Paris is interesting since it brings Mattia back rather quickly considering they left in the early spring and it's now fall. He falls back into the swing of things with his friends easily enough as he and Remi search for Jerome, but it's good to see that some of the boys he worked with have moved on to other pursuits that are a bit more legitimate in the world. That's all pretty minor though to the issues that come up because of Jerome as Remi has to deal with the harsh reality of this man dying in front of him. Even though he's been a bad father for most of his life, he's still someone he knows well. Remi has faced so much tragedy, but even the death of Jerome won't impact him the same way it did that of Vitalis or the other members of the troupe. The sadness is genuine, but it's definitely less than it was for just about everyone else.

Remi has closed many chapters in his life but in a way this is one of the more difficult ones considering his relationship with Jerome. But Jerome does leave him with the information he needs to find his way forward to London, and that puts him and Mattia on the road again. Language apparently isn't a problem though (after all, they're all speaking Japanese!) and the pair make their way to the lawyer that holds the location of his parents. In a way, this is an area where the writing has really taken away from the surprise value as we already know that Remi is part of the Milligan family. So when we're taken to a run down section of London and he's introduced to the Driscoll family, you know that something is going on here.

While Remi is unsure but cautiously happy, Mattia is quicker on the uptake simply because of his background in Paris. That has him trying to figure out what kind of people the Driscoll's really are and they begin to uncover the actual plan that involves them blackmailing the Milligan's for their missing son. The past is revisited as we really get a clear picture of what happened as we see how Remi came to Paris as an infant and the way it affected the Milligan family. The name of the family Remi belongs too takes the longest to discover, but the entire affair is filled with tension as the boys and the animals do their best to uncover things. There are some bad moments in the scripting, such as the way the kids avoid the police, but it's also understandable considering past experiences.

In Summary:
While this installment of Nobody's Boy Remi isn't quite as depressing or tragic as some that we've seen earlier in the run, there are plenty of moments where you just wonder how much worse it will get. Remi has had one hell of a year of his life since he got sold off to Vitalis, but with the show coming to a close in the next volume, you can see things starting to pull together nicely. There are a lot of good moments that run to other characters that we haven't seen in a bit, both with the Milligan's and the Acquin's, which helps to really tie everything together well. Nobody's Boy Remi continues to be a real surprises volume after volume in how much I enjoy it and this one is no exception.

Features
Japanese 1.0 Language,English Subtitles

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: C-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
MSRP: 9.99
Running time: 144
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Nobody's Boy Remi