Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. #8 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 03, 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 series draws to a close as Remi desperately makes his way to find his real mother while dealing with the emotions over Mrs. Barberin.
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 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.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the line, I can only damn Imaginasian Entertainment for putting me through this emotional rollercoaster. Nobody's Boy Remi was the series that I had the lowest of expectations of. Instead, it became the gem of their launch trio of titles and put me through the emotional wringer as Remi moved forward in his life and dealt with every cruel tragedy that was thrown his way. Earning its stripes from the original French novel, it lacks subtlety but it gets the job done in grand manner.
The final volume of the series runs through the last six episodes and it really has just one failing to it; it's trying to cram too much into too short of a space. One of the draws for the show during a large chunk of it was watching Remi and the troupe performing and making their money so they could survive and move forward. Once they got going to London though, things changed as they got caught up in the scheme by Driscoll, which landed Remi in jail. That means we get a really awkward rescue attempt and an escape sequence that just baffles in general. That the only recourse to freeing Remi is to break him out of jail just defies logic, but it does fit in with the general distrust of authority that fills the entire series. These sequences are certainly fun to watch and it does move the story forward, but it really doesn't feel like it fits in there.
The other thing that throws off the pacing of these episodes is that a good deal of the story is told from the perspective of others. Much time is spent with Mrs. Milligan as she comes across people who know Remi and she's able to put things together that he may actually be her son. Hopes are high and reality may not comply, but when she's been looking as long as she has been, she'll grab onto whatever she can. It's a very useful piece of storytelling as getting to see the paths of each side begin to cross is certainly fascinating, but at the same time it really pushes the coincidences too high. You almost wonder if they'll end up on the same train together or missing each other by seconds at some point while going in different directions.
Much earlier in the series we were teased with the reality that Mrs. Milligan was indeed Remi's mother, but that Remi may not find out for days, weeks, months or years. It didn't take years but it was fairly much a given that by the end of the series they would be paired up and the truth be known. The last episodes rush through part of this but what we do get is very enjoyable. Along the way, Mrs. Milligan founds herself meeting members of the Acquin family that filled her in on Remi's time with them. This woman is far too good to be true as she takes in Lise in order to help her with her voice since Mrs. Milligan realizes that she's important to Remi. And when the truth is known between the two, she even takes in Mattia as one of her own and starts to set them down a proper path. Much of the kids lives are tied up rather nicely, again in too quick a fashion, but the underlying truth is still there for the boys. They know they must go forward and they must do it on their own to be men. It may be the time, but part of it left me disliking the closure aspect of it until we see them as adults and know where they end up. If not for that, the ending of this series would be far harder to take.
While the series closes out in some of the weakest episodes of the run, it is filled with a lot of great emotion. So many scenes stand out, such as Remi trying to decide between his two mothers, watching Mrs. Barberin come to grips with meeting Mrs. Milligan and seeing Lise finally progress as her feelings are more apparent than ever. There is a certain innocence to the show that has always been a real draw but that's been toyed with heavily by the sheer amount of tragedy. While everything gets a nod during the closing episodes of the series, it's Remi that stands out the most as he has overcome so many obstacles in his path. Now that he's reached his goal, finding what his true path in life will be is the real ending here. With a great, if short, bit of epilogue to tie it all up, Nobody's Boy Remi became a real sleeper hit for me this year. Getting fifty-one episodes of a new show out in the space of four months deserves extra applause as well. Very highly recommended.
Japanese 1.0 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