Dragon Drive Vol. #07 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Drive

Dragon Drive Vol. #07

By Chris Beveridge     April 18, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005

Dragon Drive Vol. #07
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Chibi, the Guardian Spirit of Rikyu, still lacks the power to defeat Kouhei’s powerful dragon. In order to acquire more power, Reiji follows an elder’s advice to finally reach the destination and achieve power. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Reiji will have to battle against the demented Hikaru who stands in his way of rescuing a beautiful girl who was kidnapped by a bandit!

The Review!
Chibi gets powered up and everyone gets in on the training as they find a new objective to go after.

For our primary viewing session, we alternated between English and Japanese for the four episodes here, spending an entire episode in one language and switching during the next. Both tracks came across well in their stereo mix, though most of the dialogue continues to be center channel based. The music, particularly the opening theme, sounds full here and fills up the soundstage nicely when it starts off. Dialogue throughout the show is clean and clear and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing in 2002, Dragon Drive is presented in its original full frame format and full of the vibrant eye-catching colors that are the norm in many kid's shows. The transfer for this show looks almost spotless with only a bit of noticeable aliasing in a few areas, mostly from some of the mixed CG of the dragons, and a few very minor spots of cross coloration that look source material related. The colors schemes are rich and vibrant with hardly any macroblocking. The bright blue skies during the daytime scenes are great looking and maintain a really solid look and feel. While the animation itself may be a bit sub par in a few scenes, the transfer for it is spot on.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, Hikaru literally gets the center of the cover with his mixture of a somber and mean look while his dragon floats behind him against an indistinct blue sky. Though there's a lot of blue to it I think it looks really neat and I particularly like how his dragon looks here. The back cover has a few shots from the show itself and a minimal background of one of the characters faces against a darkened skyline. The summary is decent if simple and we get a clean listing of the discs features and basic technical information. While the spine and front cover thankfully list the volume number, we also get episode numbers and titles on the back here. The insert replicates the front cover and opens up to provide more specific summaries for each of the four episodes along with some artwork. The back of the insert has the full production credits translation and bilingual credits for the main voice cast. This release also came with a lenticular insert of Sennkoh Coola.

The menu layout is pretty simple for this release and likely for the whole series since they're pushing it somewhat more towards the kids market. The main menu and the submenus are all static pieces, with the main menu having a shot of a mysterious new character looking through a pair of binoculars set against a backdrop of the monitors used for the game and some of the equipment. Selections are pretty standard and are easy to access and navigate. The menus load quickly and we had no trouble with language setup or defaults.

The extras are pretty minimal with this release, being just a few illustrations in full color of some of the dragons and some of the cast. There still hasn't been a clean opening or closing sequence provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At this point in the show, while things are still fairly enjoyable and the show has its own rhythm that keeps things going, there are things happening that feel like they're just stretching things out more than it should be, from an extended issue with Rockaku's past to the new objective that they have to go after with the four shrines.

In particular, one area gets settled surprisingly quickly and that's the entire subplot with SinnSaber. A lot has been put into his legendary status and the time that Reiji has spent looking for him so when we do actually get close to finding him, things divert even more as Reiji gives in to Hikaru's constant desire for a fight. But even then he lets Hikaru make the first move since he's the one that's demanding the fight. With this happening near where SinnSaber is supposed to be, their fight actually brings out the legendary creature and it does its best to eliminate both of the fighters before it moves on. As we soon learn, SinnSaber does not like dragons fighting and that's one of the few things that wakes him up. This turns into another subplot with the old guy we met outside the forest and he tries to get Reiji and Hikaru to help rescue his daughter.

All of this leads to the eventual fight with SinnSaber and as legendary of a dragon as he is, they seem to have spent more time in trying to find him and with the subplots than it takes to actually defeat him. It's really over so quickly that it feels like a diversion than anything else but something that was necessary in order to change Chibi. With SinnSaber's defeat, Chibi becomes infused with his power but it's something that he has to fight to control since it's just so much. Chibi in his boosted form is an extremely powerful dragon now, though when he's still in his small form and surrounded by the red energy he's more like a feral beast. When he's in his large mode and really fighting, he's definitely not the same dragon that he was before.

Reiji eventually works on spending his time trying to help Chibi master his powers but his methods of fighting against the others tend to turn them off since he's just so very powerful now. Another change that takes place is with the return of Kouhei into things and he's starting up his own "party" again and manages to bring Sayaka under his wings, which is interesting because Kyoji sticks with Reiji's group and is essentially disappointed that she's gone to his side, even though she's just after the dragonite. He's definitely gained some feelings for her and this change hasn't left him in a good place, though he does continue to pull his weight with the group.

After all is said and done though, we're back to yet another mission where the group has to go different ways to find the four shrines and find a way through them to defeat Kouhei and his plans in this "game" of his and his fathers. But just like the SinnSaber side plot, it's already got that feeling like it'll be dealt with quickly and that most of what we're going to get in the next two volumes are just events that will have the same feeling. Nothing will really matter until we get to the last volume where the final attacks and plans will actually go into play. I just have a sneaking suspicion that the rest of the show, while not filler, is going to have that kind of feel to it.

In Summary:
With a good deal of time spent with Rockaku's past and how it's now affecting the present, that fleshes out the second half of the show but all of it really just feels like pieces of a puzzle that fit but are bland and don't really add much to the overall image. The SinnSaber material was just very awkwardly executed in how it was told and the parts with Rockaku's past are the kinds of things that misunderstandings are built on that even a moments worth of dialogue would fix but everyone's too busy fighting and yelling to actually have. There are some really good fight scenes throughout this with the CG dragons but even those can't help elevate this set of episodes beyond what it is.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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