Elemental Gelade Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Thursday, February 14, 2008
Release Date: Monday, March 03, 2008



What They Say
The truth about Ren emerges in the midst of a heated battle. What's worse, Arc Aile and Chaos Choir are primed and ready to fight each other to the death over Edel Garden. Cou and Ren both make it to the island safely, but the story is hardly over. The fate of the Edel Raids and Ren hangs in the balance between men who desire ultimate power and a boy who just wants to be a man.

Episodes Comprise
22 – The Buried Legend
23 – The Promise
24 – Edel Garden
25 – Chaos Choir
26 – The Song for the Sky and Tomorrow

The Review!
Elemental Gelade comes to an end, and surprises me by being an enjoyable and half-way decent ending to the series – not really what I was expecting after the first volume. Humble pie, anyone?

Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese and English 2.0 stereo – just for a change, I listened to the English track for this review. The soundtrack does a perfectly good job, with dialog and effects places appropriately on the soundstage to give a good feel to things. There were no obvious problems. The dub itself is actually quite pleasant to listen to, with voices matching their characters well and doing a good job of conveying emotion and feeling where it’s present.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect. There are plenty of bright colours on display and isn’t overly heavy on detail, giving a quite simple appearance to the animation that has transferred very well. Again, there were no obvious problems.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The menu is another static affair, typical of recent MVM releases, with a Play All option, direct access to each episode, and submenus provided for Language and Extras. An image of Red (in a much nicer new outfit) holding on to Cou takes centre-stage, and the show’s very catchy opening theme plays alongside. Simple, effective, and easy to use.

Extras:
All you get this volume are two trailers for videogame spin-offs of the series – one for the PS2, and one for the GameBoy Advance. As far as I'm aware, neither of these were released in the UK.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Edel Garden and Chaos Choir are one - the Choir are wanting Ren to inherit the throne from their ailing Queen, Eve, and they're quite prepared to sacrifice Cou's life (or anyone else's, for that matter) to get their way. As Cisqua and the others are on the verge of defeat, a fleet from Arc Aile arrives, ready to take on the Choir themselves, and the Choir members are forced to retreat for a while to regroup. Cou has been seriously injured in the battle and needs medical attention, forcing Cisqua to turn to her former Arc Aile colleagues for help. Back in Edel Gardens, the Chaos Choir prepare the residents for the assault they know will come...

Five episodes of a mostly all-action finale here, and while there are one or two twists in the tale there's nothing so surprising that it would catch you off-guard – especially if you've been watching anime for a while. The key storylines revolve around Ren, who agrees to go with Chaos Choir in an attempt to save Cou's life and stop the war but soon finds out that her new subjects aren't to be trusted; and the Arc Aile mob, who despite their supposed "Edel Raid Complete Protection" mission now seem to have gone on a kill 'em all spree in response to the threat posed by Chaos Choir. Peaceful co-existence doesn't really seem to be on the menu.

On one level, this works out quite well – the battle scenes are well-presented and, while none of the main characters actually die, there are some moments where you begin to think that one or two people may just be knocked off – there's certainly a real threat posed in some places. The show also does a good job of making sure that any lingering story threads are all tied off – even if that means that characters that haven't been seen since, oh, episode one get a brief cameo appearance to let you know how things turned out.

On the other hand, there are some inconsistencies in the behaviour of some of the characters. Apart from the ease with which Arc Aile goes into total-destruction mode, Cisqua's very quick to decide that the solution to all problems is simply to seal Ren away. Given what we've seen of her character over the course of the series, that eagerness just didn't ring true, and lowered my otherwise high opinion of her.

Otherwise, though, there's not too much to complain about. It's all decently well-done, well-presented and – shock! – even enjoyable. Back when I wrote about volume one, I was rather scathing on that point – mediocre, in idea, presentation and characterisations, [with] no real surprises, and the core cast are mostly just “there”, I wrote. A lot of those criticisms are still true – but somewhere along the way, the series finally began to "click" with me, and it became a lot more enjoyable. I suspect the Viro episodes had a lot to do with that, but there's more to it than just one character, but while I can't say that I'll be raving about the show or recommending it to all and sundry, given its (enforced) chance, its charms did eventually get to me. A little.

In summary:
Elemental Gelade got better as it went on, and while it's still never going to set the world alight, this final volume is a decently enjoyable ending to a story that turned out to have more charm than it initially let on. Some good characters, some moments of danger, and an ending that has a feel-good buzz about it combine to save the series from the mediocrity it had looked destined for early on – still far from being an essential purchase, but if you've got the time to give it a chance, worth a rental.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese PS2 TVC,Japanese GBA TVA

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 15.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Elemental Gelade