Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Dual
Dual Vol. #4
February 07, 2002
Release Date: April 10, 2001
This volume marks the final volume of Dual!, one of the best complete series of anime that I've seen on DVD yet. Of course, it's only 4 discs, but that can be seen as both a positive and a negative, depending on who you talk to.
Now that the series is over, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it as a whole. It had its cliches, and some things were kinda stupidly blatant in their origins (including on this volume. "Lighthawk wings"? Oh, come on.), but through it all, it was an enjoyable and fun series with enjoyable people and interesting ideas. I'd definitely recommend the series as a whole to any anime fan who enjoys Tenchi-style comedy (i.e. lots of kawaii anime girlies, one geeky guy who or some reason gets all those kawaii anime girlies to like him, etc.).
Anyways, the series as a whole was good. What about the fourth and final volume in the series? It was good, as well, and a step above volume 3 in a few technical areas, most notably video. This volume, for whatever reason, looks a little bit clearer and sharper than volume 3 did. It may not be as sharp and nice as the first two, but it's more like them than the third was. As usual with Dual, there's a few rainbows, but nothing disconcerting. Colors look great (and I mean great!), and the lines are solid and not smudgey.
The audio is about the same as standard fare with the rest of the series: a bit of surround effects thrown in, but mainly just standard dialogue-and-music stuff. Not bad though, and some of the cooler music is in these episodes, so it works out. My subwoofer got a bit of use here though finally, and I finally realized my subwoofer actually works, too.
Although the packaging fits in to the style of volume 3 (darker, somber covers in contrast to the first two covers which were bright and sunny), I would have preferred a kawaii anime girly on the cover. However, given that the only kawaii anime girly not yet "covered" was Yayoi, and her kawaiisa is suspect, I guess Kazuki will do. The only major problem I had was that for some reason he looks much different in the cover drawing than he did in the whole series. I haven't yet figured out why, but it's just odd. Oh well, it's not a big deal, really, just strange. :)
The packaging, apart from that, isn't bad. It's about the same as the others in the series; all in all, it was a solid, nice-looking presentation Pioneer gave us. The one weird thing would be that the fourth disc itself is blue, as opposed to the normal silver which Pioneer had been using for its new titles. Odd.
As for the menus, they're pretty....uh...normal. They're similar to three, which means honestly, I wasn't totally amazed, but not annoyed either. They're just there, and they neither hurt nor help the presentation. Cool music in the background, but I woulda liked some nicer flashier menus. Oh well, no biggie.
I'm one of the poor few who ordered Dual online and did NOT get the window sticker of Mitsuki! ARRRR! Needless to say, it's convenient that Suncoast has a Replay weekend, and I have 40 dollars of Replay certificates, cause I fully intend to "wolve" this release to get the static cling for the full set. :) For those of you who got it, be happy! For those that didn't...well, Iheard it's very kawaii. ^_^
The insert has another extra, one which I've made GREAT use of so far: D's Instant Curry recipe! This points out one strange thing about the past recipes which is that they gave you the ingredient list, but didn't tell you how to MAKE THE FOOD. For morons like me who burn instant cup-o-noodles, these are key instructions that I MUST have, otherwise I'd end up with a bowl of sloppy ingredients. Good thing I don't cook. But this recipe DOES have preparation instructions! Hooray! Better yet, even I can follow them! Woohoo!
As for on-disc extras, there's some kinda neat stuff for people interested in the Japanese VA's, namely some clips of them doing their recording and talking about the characters and stuff, plus the Dual-standard character profiles and art sections. Yay!
Overall, Dual had some really cool extras as a whole, both on-disc and in-the-box, and I wouldn't mind Pioneer and other companies going the extra mile to put as much fun goodies into the future products as well. Of course, that's easier said than done, probably, but I'm an anime fan...I'm supposed to make Herculean tasks sound like something that can be done via a wave of my magic wand. ;)
For the one or two people who actually read my reviews, spoilerish plot points will be bandied about, so skip to the last paragraph for my summation if you don't like spoilers.
The story on the fourth disc picks up a notch and rounds out the story, plus sets up a possible future series (I pray, personally) in the "extra" episode.
Kazuki and Mitsuki are warped home! Woo! And life is back to normal, right? Well, sort of. Except for this minor fact that Zinv came WITH KAZUKI this time! So now there's a big robot in his homeworld! Oh no!
What's worse is that Sanada-home and Rara-home have TEAMED UP! Oh no! And once again, Kazuki arrives a month late! Anyways, silliness aside, Kazuki and Mitsuki have some fun and endearing moments in their homeworld. Mitsuki-Sanada fans will like this volume because it shows Mitsuki as a real person, almost the whole time, instead of as a bossy bitch. :) As a Mitsuki-Sanada fan, I absolutely LOVED the episodes on the disc, simply because of the way they showed the relationship between Kazuki and Mitsuki, and the way she warms up to him once the "competition" is gone.
Anyways, trying to remain somewhat spoiler-free, they go back to the parallel world eventually, and again as usual, Mitsuki arrives a month early. When Kazuki arrives, he finds out Mitsuki was captured by Mrs. Rara (oh no!) and is with her. And none too pleased, either, as Mitsuki shows more of a bossy bitch side than ever before. That's ok, it leads to some funny lines from Ayuko at any rate, and that's all worth it.
To make a long story short again (too late), Kazuki goes to rescue Mitsuki, and the story progresses, and we find out the worlds will blow up, and yada yada. Stop me if you've heard this before. In the end they figure out the mysteries of life, the universe and everything, sorta, and they "fix" the worlds by blowing up Zinv.
In a funny, and amusing, twist of standard plotline, they actually don't turn this into a "hey it was all a dream!" cheesy cop-out....the worlds are merged, and everyone REMEMBERS stuff. As a matter of fact, later on, former U.N. inspector Akane is musing with her, ahem, husband Ken Sanada, and mentions that she finds it odd that Kazuki made them husband-and-wife. Tee hee. Funny stuff, and it's MUCH more fun than the "let's make the world like it was in the beginning, so that we can effectively say we wasted 13 episodes and nothing happened, in the grand scheme of things". I like it. :)
The "special" episode is really...weird. I watched it and I felt out of place the whole time almost. Not the episode, ME. For some reason, it just didn't flow like the others...the English voice acting (which, as a side comment, was extremely good throughout the series as a whole) suddenly turned into Leave It To Beaver cheesy, and the story itself just got weird. I realize it wasn't a "real" episode, but c'mon. ^_^ Oh well. It does set up a possible second season nicely, and I really hope they do it because I must have more Dual! Besides, once Ayuko subverts the girls and gets them all to dress up in Ms. Rah outfits, who could resist? (and might I add, Alice's bit-part in the fourth episode, when she gases Kazuki to knock him out, is amazingly funny for some reason)
TO SUM IT ALL UP! Dual was a fun and enjoyable series from start to finish, at least for me. If you're into political intrigue, realism, hard romance, or military action, you might not enjoy it. But if you like funny stories, fun and enjoyable characters, a few nice emotional episodes here and there, all mixed with some great silliness and pretty cool music in the background, then Dual! might be your type of thing. Personally, I loved Dual and it'll be watched over and over. It's one of those series I really got into and really began to enjoy the characters (all except Yayoi, really) and I'll gladly pop the discs back into my player for re-watching. As an interesting observational testament, the one or two people who even read my alternate angles will notice that Dual is the first series that I completely reviewed (granted, it's only four volumes, but..), which means I was more than a little enthused by it throughout its run...enough to sit down and ramble these reviews out. So if none of this has gotten you to look in to Dual!, then nothing probably will... but if you ask me, you're missing out in that case. :)
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer Elite DV-C36 DVD Changer, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable