Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.98/39.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Elemental Gelade
Elemental Gelade Vol. #1 (also w/box)
By Chris Beveridge
June 23, 2006
Release Date: June 13, 2006
Elemental Gelade Vol. #1 (also w/box)
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Cou, the bumbling rookie of the "Red Lynx" sky pirate squadron, has just discovered the treasure of a lifetime - a mighty member of the ancient race of Edel Raids. Ren, at first glance, seems to be a shy and defenseless girl, but she holds within her a power that many are willing to kill for. When Cou takes it upon himself to protect Ren on her journey to a mysterious place called Edel Garden, he immediately makes new friends and dangerous enemies.The Review!
When a young sky pirate comes into contact with a powerful weapon, his life changes dramatically.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This series has a fairly active mix to it as there's a lot of action effects throughout it as well as some very nicely placed dialogue along the forward soundstage in various conversations and other events. The mix is pretty straightforward overall where a lot of it is through the center channel but it has a good wide feel to it as it plays out. We spot checked the English track and didn't notice any issues there either. During regular playback, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The print for this show looks to be in very good shape with very clean and clear colors that are relatively free from posterisation or blocking. The show keeps to strong colors for the most part with large areas for them and not a lot of detail so the look of the transfer here is quite good and essentially problem free which means very little in terms of noticeable cross coloration or aliasing. While the transfer doesn't exactly stand out heads above other shows, it's a good solid entry that will look excellent for most setups.Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but using a bit of the foil element to give the background a bit more life to it, we get a close-up shot of Cou in his standard outfit with his weapon flinging around him. With the foil and silver elements in the cover artwork, as well as the rather vibrant looking red of his jacket, it's a cover that stands out a bit above other covers and is certainly noticeable but it's definitely a fairly weak cover in general. The back cover brings in a bit more of the Japanese artwork with a shot of Ren floating nearby a few other shots from the show. The summary covers the very basics of the show and the discs episode titles and numbers as well as extras are clearly listed. In a continuing slow change for Geneon, this series has a good technical grid along the bottom that covers all the basics of what's involved with the disc making it very easy to find things such as the running time and available languages and aspect ratio. The single page insert has a really nice shot of Ren on one side while the reverse side has a summary of what to expect in the second volume and target months for the remaining five volumes of the series.Menu:
Set at an angle with both the video and the actual selections, it's a fairly simple design but it has a good bit of flash to it that doesn't detract from its usability. In the very center is a single section of clear clips playing from the show while a tinted version plays larger in the background but obscured by some other design elements, so it has a really good active feel to it without any real slowdown. The selections are quick and easy to navigate along the bottom with instant episode access and fast load times. The layout and design fit well for the theme of the show but the disc unfortunately did not pick up our players' language presets and defaulted to English with no subtitles. Surprisingly, there is no sign/song subtitle track for the opening and closing sequences.Extras:
The extras included on this volume are pretty good with a clean version of the first opening of the series and a clean version of the ending that's presumably used throughout the series.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Elemental Gelade, originally announced as Erementar Gerard and listed as such in the untouched opening credits, is the latest science-fantasy series to makes its way over to North America and it has plenty in common with the genre that we've seen in such recent series as Star Ocean EX, though at least this one isn't based on a video game. Based off of the manga that started back in 2002, the anime adaptation made its appearance in 2005 and ended up changing hands in its US distribution from ADV Films to Geneon, though the production has been done entirely by Geneon.
The series takes place in a world of its own that has something more of a magical/science orientation to it with an emphasis on flying being important. The fantastic elements of portions of earth floating in the sky is dominant in a lot of the early episodes to help push the visuals but it eases off as the series shifts from its aerial introductions to a more ground based adventure. We're introduced to a young sky pirate named Cou who is basically the rookie and peon of the crew he's operating with of the Red Lynx gang. He's such a rookie in fact that they don't give him a weapon, leaving him to use his grappling hook and that's it. He's got a great amount of enthusiasm for the life of a pirate but his skills just aren't there, especially when it comes to flying their small attack ships, something we see in flashback of sorts as he bangs the ship all over the place.
Things change for Cou during the latest raid when he investigates the storage room where the massive piles of booty have been stowed. There's a sizeable rock solid cabinet laying down in there with some interesting jewels on it that light up when he touches it, which ends up revealing an opening. Inside, much to his surprise, is a beautiful young woman. Before he knows it, she's awake and unsure of her surroundings but little can be done as the ship itself on alert as some mysterious craft wants on board. As it turns out, this new trio that shows up is in search of the girl that Cou has discovered as she's something of a rarity in the world. She's actually something called an Edel Raid, something that's not quite human that's able to "React" with a normal human by bonding physically with them in the form of a weapon. Even more, the Edel Raid that Cou has inadvertently discovered is a "Shichiko-hoju," a sacred treasure among other Edel Raids.
Very few people seem to know what an Edel Raid is here at first but as the show progresses we run into a lot of them and knowledge of them seems to be pretty common. The trio that came to the pirates ship in search of Ren come from a place called Arc Aile where other Edel Raid's live without being used as weapons. Lead by Cisqua, she's come with a man named Ro and a woman named Kuea who is actually an Edel Raid herself. She bonds with Ro who takes on the term Pleasure and the two are able to use some interesting magical style weapons. Others are in search of Ren as well due to her status as a treasure and it leads to a massive amount of confusion that causes Ren and Cou to be bonded together " a bond only broken by Cou's death " and forcing Cisqua to take on the role of joining up with Cou while trying to convince them to go to Arc Aile instead of some legendary birthplace of the Edel Raids that Ren seems to have some knowledge of.
Once the show hits the ground and starts going through the "discovery" phase of the series where we learn more about the world and its inhabitants, it really falls into a very familiar mode that many action/adventure series like this do. Some of the characters get explored a little more, such as Cisqua's motivations in wanting to bring Edel Raids back to Arc Aile and why she doesn't React with anyone, the different kinds of Raids that there are and a few touches on the bigger storyline that's working in the background about the mysterious group that really wants Ren because she is some legendary incarnation that they need for their plans. The interactions among the core group of characters is somewhat interesting to watch since there's so little trust. Ren's unsure of Cou since she's been used so much as a weapon that nobody knows the real her, Cou doesn't trust Cisqua and the others since he fears Ren being taken away while Cisqua is just focused on getting Ren back so they can finish their mission and doesn't believe Cou has what it takes.
Early on, I have a lot of the same kind of reservations about the show that I did with Star Ocean EX. Cou as a character has that spunky "go get 'em" energy and the will to do whatever it takes but he lacks a lot of basic intelligence. When even your pirate crew won't give you a weapon, be careful around this kind of person. He's young, has that naïve view of the way the world works and the world we're introduced to seems to be unbalanced in a lot of ways, such as how a big time pirate boss thinks he may have heard of Edel Raids before but seemingly every other character they come across is intimately familiar with the concept " or Pleasure's themelves. A lot of what you see in these kinds of sci-fantasy series is present here which makes it hard for the show to stand out on its own.
The concept of the Edel Raids is rather nicely done though and that's one of the better hooks to the show, though in some ways it does make it feel similar to a lot of tournament style lengthy series. The bonding process is the magical transformation cheat of the show in that every couple of episodes they get to use it and repeat the animation, or other characters do it which means it's the big money shot since they use the best animation for it. The concept and designs for it is appealing for the couple that we get to see, especially in how the Raid's take a ghost-like back seat to the Pleasure as they use their abilities. These scenes tend to stand out against the more basic animation we get in the rest of the show which is good but doesn't really stand out. There's some touches of personality to it, such as the quasi-religious nature of Cisqua's group and the outfits they wear, but it's mostly just another series where the characters rarely change clothes which is in my mind one of the worst shortcuts.In Summary:
With five episodes on the first volume, we get a good feel for the way the show is going to work at least early on and to see both the introduction episodes and a two-parter that expands on the world of the Raids and their abilities. The blend of science and fantasy is fairly good though it feels uneven at times but it's still very early on yet and the magical side of things is getting most of the attention due to its fantastical nature. The show doesn't feel like it's bad but it feels very familiar in a lot of ways with few surprises. Newer fans will get far more enjoyment out of it than I will but there are some interesting hooks for the show that I hope will be expanded on in interesting ways as it progresses.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Texltess Opening Version 1,Textless Ending
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.