Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
What They Say
One Girl. One Tank. No Problem.
Rona Fauna holds the world hostage. But what is her true goal? Is she even who she claims to be? Meanwhile, Honoka continues her mission to rescue Joganki from Rona's clutches. Cut off from help, with the mechanical assassin Blue Breaker as her only ally, she must venture even further into the nanomachine-infested fortress. If she can't reach Rona in time, it could mean the end - not only for Joganki, but for the entire world! Contains episodes 21-24. (FINAL VOLUME!)
While the ending to the series does get a bit grandiose, The Third continues to be based heavily on its characters and their emotions, which provides for a very satisfying conclusion.
This series is presented with the standard options of the original Japanese stereo mix as well as an English stereo mix. In addition to that it's been given a spruced up English 5.1 mix, at 448 kbps as opposed to the other mixes 192 kbps, which gives it much greater clarity and sense of impact. The 5.1 mix provides something that gives the show a fuller feeling that enhances the overall presentation and once again illustrates the need on the part of the Japanese to stop mucking around in stereo so much. The stereo mixes certainly aren't bad as we listened to this primarily in the Japanese language and it fit with the show well enough. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series marks the first time that Right Stuf has worked with anamorphic materials for the anime side and the results are pretty good overall. With there being less lengthy extras on this volume, the increased space has allowed for some better peak bitrates when needed throughout the show. The average is still relatively the same and the results are still very good looking throughout. The series has some stellar looking backgrounds to it and they're wonderfully realized here in the authoring for the most part. The blocking that was visible on the first volume has eased off considerably though there are still natural gradient issues that crop up from the source material.
Lightening up just a little bit and a bit reminiscent of the first volume, the final installments gives us a good shot of Honoka and Iks standing together in front of a beautiful dark blue sky with some light cluds to it. Their expressions along with the coloring of the scene helps to push that hopeful future aspect that a lot of series like this try to utilize with their last cover and it works pretty well, both before you watch it and afterwards. The back cover goes for an in-theme style look with some good colors to it as it uses blacks and oranges to good effect. A few shots are included of the darker moments from the series as well as some much smaller shots to flesh it out. The summary covers the basics while the special features are all clearly listed. As usual, there is a good technical grid along the bottom that contains everything in a very easy to read format. The cover is reversible as it has the Japanese artwork which has Honoka and several supporting characters from the main city which has a very light and inviting feel to it, especially in comparison to other covers. Also included is a very heavy stock insert that provides poetry summaries of the episodes, character artwork and comments as well as some background illustrations.
The menu design for the series is fairly simple but has some nice design and animation elements to it. The main menu uses the front cover artwork in expanded form to tie it all together with the navigation strip. A bit of music plays back during it and there are some nice animation moments to it as it reloads or as it shifts to the show itself. Moving about is quick and easy and the design is intuitive while still flowing well. Access times are fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The character bios conclude with this volume and I have to say I really enjoyed the way they presented them in this series. Going into each character there is a bit of artwork and a summary but there's also a commentary. The commentary is done by the Japanese voice actress for Honoka and it showcases a short clip, often a couple of minutes or less, of character design artwork with comments about the perception and design of them. New to this volume is a pair of karaoke music videos, which means hard subtitled material, that are a lot of fun to watch and quite well done. The run between four to five minutes each and do a good job of selling the show in this particular format.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous volume of the series started to get things back underway in a seemingly meaningful way, it left us wondering whether it could pull of a finale to the whole thing without seeming like it came out of the blue. Unfortunately, that has kind of happened with this last volume as the first two episodes finish out the Fauna storyline and the last two go back to dealing with Iks' storyline from when he first arrived on Earth. On the positive side, each of the stories serve each other well and the overall connectedness of the series bears wonderful fruit as the whole thing gets a little bigger than it should.
The storyline dealing with Rona Fauna has been good for getting the gang all back together and involving Joganki once again so that there's that sense of connectedness that's been missing while everyone has been split apart. The series had used these characters to good effect early on in very different ways, so bringing them together and sort of on the same side when dealing with Fauna has been a very positive aspect. The actual story of Fauna with her control of the wormhole diver satellite weapon and her intent on destroying the world hasn't been quite as satisfying but it is one that becomes important once it's seen through to its conclusion.
Where the importance comes is in seeing what changes that Honoka has gone through since we first met her. She's the kind of character that you know isn't who she was beforehand and that she's always been growing. In dealing with Fauna as she comes to know her, Honoka realizes that she's actually just like her in that she's an outcast of sorts within The Third and that they actually share a lot of similarities in their mindsets. The main difference obviously being that Honoka doesn't want to destroy the world. Similarly, we get to see how Honoka has been dealing with the autonomous soldiers in general but more specifically with Blue Breaker with whom she certainly has plenty of reason to hate. While it's understandable that she's holding back because of the job, there is more to it than that as she's grown to understand the nature of things and why he did what he did. In some way, it feels like there's some growing respect between the two of them that's born out of this experience.
While the Fauna storyline is one that was satisfying overall, it sort of left me feeling a bit empty about the show. Or perhaps it's better to say it left me feeling a bit closed in since so much of it took place in small cramped spaces and underground. The final two episodes brings the show back outside to the beautiful exteriors that have really helped to sell the beauty of it all. The luscious skies and the desert backdrops at night really do a wonderful job of giving this a much richer feel than it would have otherwise, even with the mildly amusing poetry that gets mixed in. The downside to it is that the twenty-third episode features more off model character designs throughout similar to an episode a little while ago. This was quite a surprise considering you jut don't expect to see the characters looking this different towards the end of the show.
Thankfully, the storyline more than makes up for it as Iks has decided that it's time for him to make his proper journey that he came to this planet for. That means going to the Steel Gorge where Third security is at its highest as there is a deep dark secret down there amongst all the technology that has them scared to death. The two episodes that cover this are ones that admittedly fit into the themes of the show and ties strongly to what has come before, but it also has that larger than life feeling to it that is a bit out of place. Honoka's role as someone who is basically a third path gives plenty of reason for her being here to deal with such momentous events, but the show is one that doesn't seem like it should reach this high and far for what it wants to tell.
Though the show does get a bit too cosmic for my tastes, what it does with these last two episodes is very enjoyable. Bringing closure to what Iks is all about and what the nature of his mission is isn't a surprise but it just has that kind of epic yet down to earth feeling that has permeated so much of the series. The relationship that Iks and Honoka shares receives some of the spotlight but what this material does is spread itself among a number of characters and gives it a feeling of being very real. The emotions feel raw and true and it does admittedly work very well on the cosmic sense as well, even if it is somewhat familiar to anyone who has read a fair bit of science fiction novels of the years. Looking at the show as a whole, the narrative really is pretty strong when you take these last two episodes into it and view how it all gets tied together.
If you went by the opening episodes of the series, I'm not quite sure that it really reflected what it was going to be about in some ways. A lot of those early moments and ideas were about the bugs and the way they were ravaging the land in this strange future where The Third had established their firm control of the world. What we ended up getting was a far more introspective show about people on the outside who lived in a way that made them happy while butting up against the authority that had set itself up on the world. There are slow parts to be found, but a lot of them are actually the positives to the show. The visual design for the most part was gorgeous, the characters interesting and fun to watch and when it all comes together with this volume it just clicks right even if it does go too big in some ways. This is a really solid sleeper title that needs to be seen more, which really does sum up the majority of Nozomi's catalog in the last couple of years. Definitely a series worth taking the time to savor.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character bios,Karaoke music videos
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: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kadokawa Pictures USA
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Third, The