Mania Grade: B-
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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
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Elemental Gelade
Elemental Gelade Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
August 15, 2006
Release Date: August 15, 2006
Elemental Gelade Vol. #2
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Cou is forced to learn the limits of his newfound bond with Ren. Though his inexperience with girls starts to show, his fierce determination and tireless efforts become an inspiration to his traveling companions. Along the way Cou and his friends meet another Edel Raid, and at their first stop, the port city of Razfe Ankle, the group decides to earn some money for their journey. However, they end up mostly earning some unwelcome messes.The Review!
With the show firmly in a journey mode, Elemental Gelade manages to pick up some steam by avoiding a few clichés but mostly keeps to the standard playbook.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, Ren gest the cover to herself with the mixture of a silver and purple background to accent her own clothes and hairstyle which along with the foil really makes it quick attractive looking. 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. The back cover brings in a bit more of the Japanese artwork with a shot of the other trio and 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 decent looking shot of Rasati and Lillia on one side while the reverse side has a summary of what to expect in the third volume and target months for the remaining four 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 second opening of the series and a brief but interesting interviews with the Japanese voice cast.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When watching the first volume of Elemental Gelade, I ran into a few problems with it that kept me from being all that interested in it. A lot of it reminded me of Star Ocean EX since that had ended recently and this felt like it was following in its footsteps. The thing that bothered me the most was that it was falling into the trap that many other shows do by having a couple of the lead characters who are considered rare, such as the Edel Raids, seemingly show up in almost every episode which helps to minimize their value. Maybe it's like when you buy a new car and then you see that car everywhere else on the road.
That said, even though the Edel Raid count continues to go up in this volume, the storyline flowed a fair bit better as it gets away from its awkward start and begins to flesh out its cast a bit more. The drop to just four episodes also works in its favor here I think as five felt like too much the last time around. The premise of the show hasn't changed much in that Cou is doing his best to get Ren to the place where Edel Raids are born and they've got the company of Cisqua, Rowen and Kuea. Through the first three episodes on the volume we get mostly standalone tales as they make slow but sure progress forward. With the last episode the storyline is essentially the same but it goes at least to the first episode on the next volume if not more so there may be more to it than expected.
The journey does get to have the pace picked up a bit here but before they really get moving again, Cisqua's intent on training Cou a bit more so that he can properly defend Ren. Cisqua's a real hardass when it comes to dealing with him and you can almost guess that she probably didn't go through anything anywhere near as rigorous as this when she became an Arc Aile. Cou does his best to survive it and he ends up sleeping a lot to catch up from the exhaustion, but it's the training he sneaks in with Rowen and Kuea that does him the most good. Since he needs to learn more about being a Pleasure, he finds from them that the reason that Ren is so tired is that he's using way too much of her power. They've got a good training device though that sends a shock into him when he uses too much power, which is amusing since he's constantly being shocked.
The group comes into the presence of a fair number of Edel Raids during the course of this though. Ren's still being hunted after because of her status as a powerful Edel Raid and that causes some good luck for the group in a way; one of the Edel Hunters hits a sky pirate ship thinking that they may be on board there, which they aren't, and he causes the ship to crash. This gives Cou a chance to shine as a mechanic and give the group a good piece of aircraft so that they can make better speed on their trip. The group also comes across another Edel Raid when they deal with a woman whose on the run from another Edel Hunter as she tries to return to her home, a home she's not been to in probably sixty years or so. The Hunter from this particular episode is different from the previous one who belonged to the Chaos Choir that's after Ren, but what he does bring to the table is challenging Cisqua on whether the Arc Aile does any good. Some of the seeds of long-term problems that the characters will have to deal with is laid down in these episodes.
We do thankfully get some nice if small bits of background mixed into these episodes similar to the first volume. Cisqua got a lot of the time back then as we saw her time in Arc Aile and graduating to the level she's at now, so this volume lets us see something of Rowen and Kuea's past before they came together as a Pleasure. Rowen's time in Arc Aile was different than Cisqua's for plenty of reasons, the biggest of which is that he was going the route of using an Edel Raid to do his job, which leads to a very different kind of training. Unsurprisingly, his strict manner and carefully planned decisions are something that's both his strength and weakness so when we see that Cou does it all on the fly, you know that Rowen is going to learn from him. Kuea doesn't get quite as detailed a background but what we do see is alluded to be her first time actually working as an Edel Raid in Pleasure form with someone she cared a lot about but who may not have felt about her quite the same way. It's given a bit more style by being done in black and white but overall it's just a small part of what's likely to be her bigger story we'll get someday.In Summary:
With another four episodes under its belt, Elemental Gelade settles into a fairly routine pattern that most shows do at this point by wanting to provide stories that let the various cast members get highlighted with events in the present highlighting their past. The first few episodes of the series were just way too awkward and convoluted in trying to get its point across, these are more evenhanded though still predictable. There are some basic problems still within the show, notably the sheer number of Edel Raids that the cast seem to discover, but that's admittedly just par for the course in a show like this. If you liked the first volume, you're likely to find this one just as enjoyable for many of the same reasons. If not, this one may help to turn your opinion around a bit more but it doesn't have any huge surprises to it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Voice Actor Interviews,Art Gallery
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.