Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #7 (of 9) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 27, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2008
What They Say
The Federation's worst fears are confirmed when a gravitational disturbance heralds the arrival of the alien Aerogater menace. Secure inside their massive fortress, the Aerogaters dispatch scores of mechanized Megiloat weaponry and begin kidnapping certain members of the Earth military. But the Federation will have little time to ponder their enemy's intentions: Adler Koch has seized the opportunity caused by the Aerogater's arrival for his last great gamble - an all-out attack on the Earth Federation Government!
The Aerogaters begin their attack on the planet in order to secure it but not before some mild romance blooms.
This TV series is presented in monolingual form with the original Japanese stereo mix. Similar to some past releases from Bandai Visual USA, it's a very well done stereo mix at a 448kbps rate which really lets it have a lot more clarity and impact. The forward soundstage presentation is good throughout, though it doesn't have quite the depth that some other shows might in a similar situation. With its TV origins however, there aren't a lot of high expectations here but the show does a good job with placement and clarity. The music in numerous scenes comes across very well with a rich feeling to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 2006 and early 2007, this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The visual presentation for this series is very striking with lots of big bold colors, rich looking CGI and an overall sense of depth and presence to many of the scenes. As has become seemingly standard for this company's releases, the bitrate is consistently high which results in some very solid looking scenes. The series has no real breakup or noise to its backgrounds or character animation which gives it a very appealing look on a large screen. It's not problem free though and the issues appear to be more source related. The first is that the CG tends to have a bit of line noise to it during the panning sequences, but this is relatively minor overall considering they avoid doing many pans and zooms over the machines. The other is that there are a couple of instances of visible banding which leads to some very minor blocking. Beyond that however, the show looks gorgeous.
Super Robot Wars doesn't stray from its designs much for this installment as it provides both a look at the cool super robots and a number of the characters that fill out this large cast. The characters and mecha used this time around are decent with some familiar characters and new characters. They're looked over by the large looking image of some of the newer mecha introduced to the series. The back cover keeps things a bit dark and murky for the background but it provides several shots from the show and summaries for the episodes on the release. The bottom portion of the cover runs through the main staff and the voice actors as well as a decent looking technical grid that covers all the important information. While no reversible cover is included, we do get a very nice booklet that runs through several pages of character designs, mecha designs, special messages from the voice actors and information for what's introduced in these episodes.
The menu design for the series is simple but it goes against tradition in a small way in how most US companies do their menus. The menu is split in half with the cover artwork on the right side, with a bit of light added to the top to brighten it all up, while the left side contains the navigation strip. With nothing on the disc but the show, subtitle selections are on the top level as well as individual episode access. The menu has a very brief bit of animation that it runs through at the start and then settles into its loop with music. This is where it's interesting in that unlike the standard design of a 30 second loop, they've done a 4 minute loop of music. Moving about the menus is easy, which isn't a surprise considering how little is here, and it naturally defaulted to having subtitles on. I do continue to be disappointed that they still don't do any advertising of their other titles with their releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The seventh volume of the series, which feels really odd to say for a twenty-six episode series, starts off with some rather tame material as it focuses on the character interactions and some mild revelations. That's just to get things going though as it quickly shifts its focus back to the action as both the remnants of the DC and the Aerogaters decide that it's time to make their big move. The action side of the series has always been its strong point and having two episodes dedicated to it here is a positive thing since it's all shiny action.
The character material at the start is mildly amusing, but not really unexpected when you consider that this is something of a war series. The large and varied cast with all its various interactions and relationships is prime material for more serious relationships and that's been teased at all along, including here. With a bit of downtime, some of the women decide it's time to try and make their move while others just try to hint at it. Latun's interest in Ryusei is the kind of relationship that really leaves you smiling since she's so innocent about it and he's so dense. Others make their own advances towards each other, usually little more than just a date of some sort, but it's almost surprising there isn't more of this going on considering how many men and women populate the show.
And the series is still intent on bringing in more characters, even at this stage. This is at least compensated by killing off some of them as the battles get more intense however. The newest character to really join the ranks of things here is Zoldark's daughter, Ryune, a spunky young blonde woman who is intent on dealing with those that killed her father. Or, at least, that's what she's interested in at first before realizing that there are bigger things at stake here, especially since the DC is no longer what her father envisioned and she sees more use coming from the Federation in the long run. What's particularly amusing and bad about her introduction is her Valsione. All mecha are humanoid in shape in general, but hers is the only one with a human face and a really long piece of mecha-hair down its back. With its feminine form and the big shoujo eyes on it, it feels completely out of place and laugh out loud bad.
With a large chunk of the show focusing on mecha battles, there's a lot to like in that department. The Aerogaters have decided that it's time to dig in and take the ripened fruit for themselves, so they launch a massive attack across the world on numerous Federation bases. That stretches the groups thin so they have to pull in pilots from within the ranks to just do basic coverage. The military forces get beefed up with new pieces of equipment and there's just a push to do all that they can to save as many as they can. Even worse for the Federation is that in the midst of all of this, the remnants of the DC start to rise up as well so they can try and take Geneva over and provide the proper leadership that they believe is required to lead humanity through this dark crisis.
The battles continues to be exciting and the CG action certainly helps to give them a very fluid feeling. They're all paced quickly, there's lots going on and with the show nearing its end they're starting to take more chances with what they can do. Unfortunately, story ideas get adopted and dropped quickly which really need to be further examined. The most striking of them is when Princess Hauzen is kidnapped by the DC and forced to pilot a Valsione against the Federation. Her kidnapping is done all off screen and she's simply drugged and strapped into one of the mecha to fight. The combination of the game software and her precognitive abilities gives her the potential to be an excellent pilot, but all of this is just done within the space of half an episode which doesn't give it anywhere near enough time to develop or leave an impact. And that's unfortunately how many of the story ideas in this series go.
The seventh volume of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - Divine Wars really is just more of the same and that's sort of damning it with faint praise. As much as I enjoy the action and the CG aspects of it, the less than well done pacing and plotting of the show has kept it from being truly enjoyable. It's essentially a very pretty show with pretty characters in pretty outfits running around acting dramatically. With no connection to the games for me, there aren't any hooks to keep me coming back enthusiastically outside of watching the pure eye-candy. Fans of the show already know what they're here for and continue to be here for, but for everyone else this is beyond a hard sell.
Japanese 2.0 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: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
Running time: 72
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Super Robot Wars Original Generation