Sol Bianca: The Legacy Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000
I'm submitting this review rather late by my standards (3 days since the release) but I've been extraordinarily busy with the launch of a new website... I won't plug it here, since it's not Anime related, and it's probably not appropriate to do so in this kind of context. But anyways, the reason it took so long was because I wanted to force myself to watch at least one episode of it in English, and I'm actually glad I did.
Pioneer must have put in a lot of effort in the Audio department, because they went the whole nine yards and included Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks for BOTH languages. That's impressive! Very few other non-theatrical Anime releases on DVD ever get more than one DD5.1 track, if one at all. The Tenchi OVAs have one in Japanese, the Macross Plus DVDs have one in English, Blue Submarine No. 6 has one in Japanese, but this is the first OVA/TV release I own that has two DD5.1 tracks. That said, they aren't that stellar. Sure, they've got dialog in the center and everything, and there's a bit of activity from the rear speakers, but all in all I wasn't very impressed with it. Some of the other DD5.1 tracks I've listened to do a far better job of conveying direction than this DVD. While I do appreciate the effort, I felt the execution was somewhat lacking, thus only the "A" grade.
The Video on this disc is both technically and artistically great. The video transfer is, as far as I can tell, absolutely flawless. There was nothing I can complain about with the video. NOTHING. Very well done, even when judging against normal Pioneer standards. Artistically this Anime is very different in some respects than others I've seen. Because it is, as the cover claims, totally digital animation, (which I assume means they hand-drew some stuff and then did touchups/coloring
digitally) the scenes where the screen pans are done in what looks like full framerate, as opposed to the standard Anime framerate (which can be around 12 in most scenes). Unfortunately, the
cel-based artwork is still done in standard OVA fashion, which makes things look a little weird when the character is walking and the screen pans, as the background and foreground seem to update at different rates.
The Packaging is standard fare, but they do a good job of listing everything that's in there. The cover art is nice, and they talk about all the extras like the DD5.1 audio tracks, but I don't really have much
to say about the packaging. There's really nothing new and interesting (not counting the Tarot cards thing) to talk about, so I guess I'll keep this part brief.
The Menus are outstanding. I can't describe how absolutely cool they are! This is the most well-done and fitting menu system I've seen on any DVD anywhere. It's really fun to be able to play with the control system of the ship (although my sister and I went and dug up all the differences between the real menu and the one on the Disc menu. They did a very good job of keeping as much stuff as possible the same. My sister commented that the choices in the show's menu are like a menu out of a
Final Fantasy game, with Attack/Defend/all that good stuff. Oh and if you want to see some of the cool things that come up, take a look at some of the other menu choices. =)
The Content itself is very interesting... The director of this series is the same director who did Armitage III Poly-Matrix, and there are certainly some character similarities it seems (Gyunter reminds me a lot of Ross, several other characters are also reminicent of Armitage characters). Not only that, but some of the action stylings are in the same vein. This is not a bad thing - I liked Armitage a lot. What's also interesting is all the different Sci-Fi elements are incorporated into the universe. I thought the same thing Chris did when he watched the show (I didn't read his review until
after I watched it first, BTW) and made the connection with the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov (some of the best Sci-Fi books of all time) where Earth has been almost forgotten. I have a feeling that this will play an integral part in the story, but I don't want to reveal anything else.
Now, one thing that Chris didn't mention in his review is that this disc has the first ever DVD Animetronic segment (AFAIK), it's called Sol Bianca "Club Cut". Animetronic, for those who don't know, is what Pioneer calls the merging of music and animation. Basically, it's like a long music video with Electronic/Techno/Trance music and scenes from a certain show. Now that in itself is really cool, since the video is very well done considering how much motion is going on (for those interested it's a 322MB VOB file for 6 minutes), but to make things even better, the audio is in DD5.1 for this as well! There is some VERY cool directional stuff going on with some of the sounds used in the music (hard to describe sounds which are only created with a computer) and the quality of the sound is just awesome. When I went to CES they demonstrated a lot of DVD-Audio playing equipment and I wasn't really impressed, but I gotta tell you, this sounded really good. Now I've done some mixing myself, and I gotta tell you this stuff is really, really cool. If you can find this disc for less than $20 I'd say it's worth getting JUST for the Animetronic clip.
All in all this disc is well worth the price. Although there are only 2 episodes on it, the amount of effort put into the animation, the audio, the video, the menus, and the extras make this disc terrific. If you've already got the Blue Submarine No. 6 (which I've screamed at you all to go buy and which I would recommend over this disc but not by much) then go get the Sol Bianca disc too; you won't be disappointed.
RealMagic Hollywood+ DVD Decoder Card with Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 DD5.1 speakers.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A+++
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sol Bianca: The Legacy