Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 24.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Cybuster
Cybuster Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
February 12, 2005
Release Date: January 18, 2005
Cybuster Vol. #2
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Cybuster and it's pilot, Masaki are finally captured by Saphine’s dirty trick. However, while being transported by DC's helicopters above the "Sea of Trees," the unpiloted Cybuster suddenly becomes animated, forcing Saphine to drop the Cybuster to save the helicopters. Unknown to Saphine, Ken is trapped inside of Cybuster and has become its pilot! Unable to communicate, Ken reluctantly fights against the Balcion piloted by his friend Leene and easily scraps the Balcion with Cybuster’s destructive powers. Shu, the head of DC, summons professional mercenaries and prepares the new troops and their heavily armed Prescion robots for fierce combat.The Review!
Revelations abound about what's really going on as the DC begins to move forward with a long-held secret agenda.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a pretty good stereo mix to it with some well noticed directionality across the forward soundstage, more often found during battle sequences than dialogue, but still present in a number of forms. The music track sounds good in general and uses the stereo channels well to provide a good warm sound. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing back in 1999, Cybuster is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being from 1999, it looks and feels like it was done with the more traditional animation methods and there's a definitely feel to it that's not found in most newer shows these days that's appealing. The series plays with real-world style color palettes so there aren't too many really vibrant areas but a few do shine through during it. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent but there's some noticeable aliasing in places, usually during really busy action scenes, that will distract some folks. The colors look good in general and maintain a solid feel, particularly the large solid areas.Packaging:
Going with a classic setup, the cover has some of the lead characters in the foreground doing a standard pose while behind them you get a mix of man and mecha that are going to cause trouble this time around. The look of the artwork is slightly different from the norm, much like the show itself, and it looks good here as I like the differences. The back cover provides a few shots from the show around the summary and the listing of episode numbers and titles. The discs features are clearly listed just above the small-type production information. The insert has the same artwork from the back on one side with the episode numbers and titles just above the chapter listings while the reverse side lists the upcoming release months for the next five volumes of the series.Menu:
The latest Nightjar menu is one of their more average design ones but it fits well with te show by using a variety of technological symbols and designs integrated with clips from the show and a really pumped up version of the opening song playing along with it. The layout is quick and simple to navigate with fast loading times. The disc also properly read our players language presets and played them accordingly.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Cybuster, while not entirely engaging or and out of the park smash, was something that had started off by providing something of an interesting storyline about a company working to repair the ecological damage that's been taken over the years to the various cities in the country and trying to revive a once proud nation. Filling it with idealized youths certainly fit the bill for this kind of program and while their methods may not have been the best, they certainly all had the same desire to really make the world a better place.
The script writers on the other hand wanted to do a big mecha show of some sort though, hence the arrival of the Cybuster while the cast of kids ran about trying to clean things up in their mini exoskeletons. Things shifted to a couple of them trying to take down the Cybuster but as we saw in the first volume, there's something really strange going on with the way it seems to come from another world or dimension and is able to pop back and forth. Most curious was that there was a lot of junk from Earth on the other side of the entrance to the other world, almost like it had been swallowed up and landed there.
With this volume, the show continues to move heavily down this track and the bulk of the original core idea of the DC is left behind. A lot of the show continues to follow Ken as he tries to figure out what's going on, aided by some careful comments from his father and his conspiracy theories that help direct him down the right avenues to explore. Mizuki continues to help him as well as she starts to find more and more things going wrong at DC than she ever believed possible, including some reluctance on her father's part about everything. She's even more concerned about things having spent time in the other place with the pilot of the Cybuster, Masaki, and now has some feelings for him once he ends up returning to Earth to try and do whatever it is that he intends to do.
And surprisingly, this volume reveals a lot of what's really going on here early on and makes it look like the remaining episodes are going to shift into an all out fight or war between the sides. Ken's questions and investigations has led him to piloting the Cybuster after Masaki is injured and has to go against his own team because things just feel right the way they are. Though nobody knows its him piloting it, he's able to defeat the Balcion robot that the DC folks sent after it which resulted in a near-death for Lyune. Though she's abandoned by the DC side as Cybuster seems all powerful, those working with Ken rescue her and squirrel her and others away to a family retreat of her Lyune's where many revelations are made.
The original purpose of the DC is made clear again by Mizuki's father, which is the environmental clean-up of the cities. He talks about how things changed over the years and since Lyune's fathers death but he had held on in hopes of the next generation of kids coming in would be able to bring things back to where they should be. But since it hasn't happened, he's more interested in forcing the correction now with Cybuster and brings out something that Lyune's father had foreseen the need for and we get the original prototype Balcion robot. Though he had intended to save the country by cleaning it up, there's a belief he knew more than he let on and was preparing for something much worse with this kind of robot. With this, the sides start to become clearer with Masaki and the Cybuster on their side.
The DC side of things gets to be really curious. The new kids are all highly confused about what's going on, starting with their being armed when going into situations now, even though they're told it's only temporary. This goes against what many of them believe in and they try to fight back against it but are shut down pretty quickly. Even worse is that the RT's are upgraded with some more weapons and the arrival of their Balcion makes them seem more like a fighting force than a clean-up crew. But what's bluntly revealed in one scene is the real intent; a group of very highly trained military style mercenaries arrive that are overly familiar with the Commander and Saphine. It's their arrival that's setting the stage for them to execute their next round of plans which is to exact revenge upon those that caused them suffering.
The suffering is where it's interesting as it seems that at least the top level of them were all trapped in between dimensions of the white ball and the black hole ball that we've seen. Giving the idea that they were criminals, rightly or wrongly prosecuted, they were subjected to this kind of punishment by those from the world the Cybuster and Masaki come from and they've spent all their time here since twenty years ago working towards their revenge, with the first step being the acquisition of the DC company and its technology and then the complete conquering of Earth so that they'd have all the resources needed to launch an attack on those that have caused them such pain and grief. It's a surprising turn of events but one that actually fits well here and seems to work, if not for the somewhat awful pacing of the show and the lack of really gripping and interesting characters.
And this is one of the reasons, at least for me where I have no basis of love for Cybuster from the video games or whatever came before, that the show is having a hard time really working. The good guys have some interesting things going on but the characters are so bland and unexciting that there's nothing to latch onto. Even worse, a cardinal sin really, is that the villains as we get to know them are equally uninteresting. You can get away with a milkdud of a hero but if the villain is no more exciting than a wet mop you've got problems, and that covers most of the real bad guys here.In Summary:
While it continues to have little to do with what came before this particular series, Cybuster is a series that has some really interesting ideas for a series but forgets to flesh it out with interesting characters and decent pacing. There is definitely some good core material here in the story but it's just so awkwardly told at times and makes such strange leaps of logic that it doesn't keep the viewer as involved as they should be. Add in the problems of there being no really great character to chew the scenery properly and you end up with a fairly mediocre show whose failings become all the more obvious. There is some really good ideas at the core here but the first ten episodes have done a really awkward job of getting it told properly that I have to wonder how the remaining episodes will play out.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.