Blue Submarine No. 6 Vol. #2 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 04, 2000
If you haven't read my review of the first volume of this series, then you should know that I have made the first disc of this series my DVD reference disc. If I ever want to show off the power and possibilities of DVD, I choose that. Fortunately, this volume is able to live up to the same standards as the first disc.
As with the first disc, the Audio is probably the high point of this DVD. The Japanese track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, and like the first volume doesn't just use this as a feature to list on the back of the disc - it makes full use of all six speakers to create one of the most immersive DVD experiences possible. The audio on this disc is truly a joy to listen to - not only does it sound spectacular, but sounds will move between three different speakers as the source moves around in the scene. For example, in one scene someone who is off screen and to the left starts talking and the sound comes from the rear left. As he then walks into frame, the sound smoothly transitions to the front left speaker, and then to the center speaker as the character reaches the foreground of the picture. Also, as the video cuts between two different scenes, the sound moves with it, truly making you feel like you're in the room looking between the two people. As for the English track, while it's not true 5.1 surround, it is a Stereo track encoded in Dolby Pro-Logic, which means that you do get sound from all speakers but it is monophonic, and you don't get the same sense of direction that you do with a true 6-channel mix. However, it now manages to pack some of the same punch that the first volume lacked due to it only being in stereo. Kudos to Bandai for improving on an already excellent audio presentation.
The video is also impeccable. Since there's only a half hour of footage to include on the disc, they were able to use a very high bitrate for all of the video. They actual used up almost a full 2.5 gigabytes of disc space on only 30 minutes of video. In comparison, the other Bandai disc released at the same time as this one, Cowboy Bebop Session 3, has 100 minutes of footage on 4.33GB. With the huge space considerations given to the show, the Blue Submarine No. 6 and her crew look as good, if not better, than they would on a Satellite TV broadcast. Truly this is one of the best looking Anime DVD's out there. Everything from the beautiful hand-drawn cel animation to the stunning CGI sequences comes through in perfect clarity, with the only possible flaw being that due to the interlaced nature of television there is a slight shimmering effect in certain places. For instance, when the Blue Submarine No. 6 logo appears, you can sort of see it shimmer against the background, and during the credits you even get some rainbow effects (gasp!), but this is because of the difficulty of encoding very high-contrast pictures in interlaced format.
The packaging is just as attractive as the first disc, with a very intricately drawn picture of the Ghost Ship on the front and a picture of Blue Sub No. 6 at dusk in the background on the back of the case. On the inside is an insert with the chapter listing and an enlarged picture from the back of the case, as well as ads for a few other Bandai DVD's. Nothing to complain about here.
The menus are, like the first disc, very active with animation going on in the background along with music from the soundtrack, and little subpictures for chapter selections. Selections are quick and easy, and everything can be done from the root menu page. This improves from the last disc which required you to hit "Extras" to get to the few extras that were on the disc by making them accessible from the main menu. Nicely done, certainly better than a lot of DVD menus out there.
The content is also very good. In the first disc we got to see some awesome land warfare, and in this volume we get to see some super underwater action. Some of the characters' pasts are also revealed in this episode, with Hayami's past coming into focus, and letting us see what his motivations are and how he became the person he is today. We are also told much more about Zorndyke and his plans, and what kind of state humanity is really in. The thing that really strikes me is how good a villain Zorndyke is. Remember that the scariest people aren't those who know what they're doing is wrong - it's those who think what they're doing is right.
If you went and bought the first volume of this series, I highly recommend the second. On a technical level, it is at least as good as the first volume, and the continuation of the story truly fleshes out the characters. Big thumbs up for this disc.
RealMagic Hollywood+ DVD Decoder card w/Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 Desktop Theater 5.1 Speakers
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Blue Submarine No. 6