Cybuster Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cybuster

Cybuster Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 21, 2005
Release Date: March 08, 2005


Cybuster Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
After the arrival of ruthless mercenaries, DC has become a heavily-armed military organization. Meanwhile, Ken and his friends are rushing to build Balcione, the robot that Dr, Frank couldn't complete before his death. When the army of Prescion robots corners Ken and the Cybuster in the Sea of Trees, another Warrior Robot God, Jaifer, emerges bringing with it intense firepower. Surprised by the sudden appearance of Jaifer, Dallas retreats his platoon, but he soon sends his ground unit to Ken's hideout...

Four full episodes of classic giant robot goodness featuring character designs by Takeshi Ito (Macross Dynamite 7, eX-Driver).

The Review!
As we get deeper into the series, it starts to really sputter in moving the story forward while at the same time the animation drops even lower.

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:
Bringing another giant robot into the mix of things, we get a surprise shot of Ken and Masaki as the new one comes to life in front of them while deep underground. The cover has the same look as previous ones in that it retains the style of the animation but the poses are kind of awkward and Masaki looks rather silly with his mouth open and looking in what seems to be the wrong direction. 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Cybuster started, it presented an interesting storyline about a bunch of kids dealing with the politics and environmental problems of the world in trying to dig out major cities and bringing them back to life for people to inhabit them once again. It had some of the interesting idealism of youth mixed in with characters just trying to find a job against a stark backdrop that's common but not approached from this particular angle. As the show went on though it continued to change considerably from what it started as and with this volume only does this more so.

Ken and Masaki take much of the early focus by tripping the light fantastic and taking Cybuster to returning to his home world so that they can repair it and figure out the best course of action. There's some angst about this since Sayuri has her own health problems become top priority again and Ken waffles about what to do. Eventually they get past this silliness and the pair head off and we finally get an extended sequence on Masaki's home planet. Surprisingly, they avoid making it look fairly similar or even plain and instead go for grandiose, almost looking like one of those velvet unicorn paintings of space for the sky, filled with all sorts of bright and garish colors. Ken's fascinated by the look of everything but he's quickly normalized and the place is paid little attention as they travel to where they have to go.

Ken's eventual communion with Cybuster results in his becoming the new owner of it in a sense as it'll only work for him as a pilot now, but their encounter at the big tree with the grand old lady of the community brings something new into play. As the Gods are finding themselves rather pleased with events lately, they've sent down Cybuster's "sibling" in the Fire version to help out with things. This is shocking for everyone but it's just another way to up the ante in the battles and to have a bit more variety, particularly since the RT's are basically out of the picture now and even Lyune's Balcione is barely functioning. Much time is spent on the significance of this arrival and what it portends, which works out since Cybuster still needs more time to heal.

At the secret hideout, there isn't much going on beyond trying to build up the Balcione and get things in order, which is progressing a bit further now that some members of DC have abandoned that place and come to help out there through secret channels after learning that's where their boss ended up. Mizuki sort of ends up in a null roll for much of this volume and Sayuri alters between being helpless and at everyone's mercy or being someone so caring that she makes sure that she gets things everyone needs for daily life. Lyune herself gets a bit of action here as she realizes that the Balcione won't be ready in time and heads back to DC to reveal she's still alive and try to figure out what she can discover from the inside.

Most of the Earth time is spent dealing with Saphine and the others who are plotting world domination. The gearing up of their mecha suits, the various tests being run and the trial runs using the new powerful guns showcase the power they've got behind them now. With the group as large as it is, only a few characters really get any serious face time and they're often butting up against each other as they're all itching to move the program forward so they can wreck havoc upon those who banished them. Unfortunately, with none of the cast on any side of the story having any personality now of any kind, there's just no connection to what's going on when it's playing out. I liked what they were going for in the first few episodes of the series but it's changed so much from then and playing into such basic stereotypes that it's pretty much yawn inducing.

At the same time, it looks like the animation quality has managed to drop even further. Initially, the designs were something different from the norm so I was interested in seeing that since they didn’t fit into the familiar mold. But as its gone forward, and particularly in this volume, they're just not even trying anymore and most of them look flat. It's like moving dull looking Colorforms across a background and applying an audio track to it. The most strikingly awful looking character now surely has to be Lyune as her eyes aren't even cross-eyed but simply lizard-like. The design is just so flat and amateurish that it's surprising that it got done. Some shows can survive bad animation and make it by on great story. Cybuster's not one of those shows.

In Summary:
The intriguing premise that I saw back in the first volume has all but disappeared by the third volume and this is no longer the show I started watching. This happens with a number of series but for Cybuster, it's turning into a show that I don't really care all that much about as well as one with continually deteriorating animation quality and design. This volume just pushes all of these negative aspects further along and changes the series from one where I had no real anticipation for into one that I'm almost now dreading seeing another volume arriving. Cybuster is an example of one of the best ways not to do a mecha series.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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.

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