Elemental Gelade Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Bryan Morton     September 14, 2007
Release Date: July 02, 2007


Elemental Gelade Vol. #2
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
The fundamental elementals of a great adventure!

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.

Episodes Comprise
6 " Eyeing the Pleasure
7 " Determination
8 " The Edel Hunter
9 " The Secret of Razfe Ankle

The Review!
Cou's journey with Ren and the gang from Arc Aile continues, and to be this time around they're surprisingly enjoyable. Of course, when you go into a disc expecting to be bored witless, anything enjoyable is a welcome surprise...

Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese and English 2.0 stereo " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The soundtrack does a perfectly good job, with dialog and effects places appropriately on the soundstage to give a good feel to things. There were no obvious problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect. There are plenty of bright colours on display and isn't overly heavy on detail, giving a quite simple appearance to the animation that has transferred very well. Again, there were no obvious problems.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The menu is another static affair, typical of recent MVM releases, with a Play All option, direct access to each episode, and submenus provided for Language and Extras. A cute image of Ren sits off to one side, and the show's very catchy opening theme plays alongside. Simple, effective, and easy to use.

Extras:
Slightly better this time around, with a creditless version of the main opening credits and a set of short Japanese VA interviews

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Cisqua's making sure that Cou's taking his responsibility to Ren seriously, starting with some heavy-duty training to make sure he's in good fighting shape - although when the training leaves him a physical wreck, you have to wonder if it's being just a little bit counter-productive. One thing Cisqua's able to tell, though, is that Cou's use of Ren's power - uncontrolled and uncaring, although not intentionally - is leaving Ren drained. Time for him to learn a little control - and so he turns to Rowen, who had to learn the same sort of control with Kuea, for advice. When an unexpected rival later appears to challenge him (thanks to a little scheming on Cisqua's part), Cou gets a chance to put what he's learnt into practice - except his hew opponents are a little more enthusiastic than Cisqua had counted on.

Later, the gang meet an Edel Raid who has decided that Arc Aile's protection isn't all its cracked up to be and has gone on the run, an Edel Hunter who can't really see what's so different between what he does and what Arc Aile do, and pay a visit to a town that's been playing host to illegal fighting contests.

I wasn't overly complimentary about Elemental Gelade last time I wrote about it " "mediocre, in idea, presentation and characterisations" was the phrase, and so I wasn't in any particular hurry to put this volume into the DVD player. Despite that, and very much against my better judgement, I found myself almost enjoying the show this time around " although the key word there is "almost". There are a few aspects thrown into the story this time around that almost give you reason to think that there's the possibility for the series to go in surprising directions later on, and seeing those possibilities and how they're maybe being set up now brings another angle to the show that did help me enjoy it a little more.

"What aspects are those, then?", I hear you ask. Well, first up there's some exploration of whether Arc Aile's Edel Raid Complete Protection Agency is really acting in the best interests of the people they're meant to be protecting. Cisqua's initially convinced that it is, but when Edel Hunter Wolx has a few words with her about how they're really not that different, you can almost see the gears beginning to grind in her head. Selena's story of her experience in Arc Aile before she went on the run backs that idea up " it's an intriguing line that could take the story away from the strictly kid-friendly fare that we've been mostly getting so far, bit I'm still a bit dubious about how likely the series is to get into that sort of territory. Time will tell.

Also worthwhile is the running plot around Cou's efforts to learn how to control the amount of power he's taking from Ren, helped by a handy device of Rowen's that inflicts an electric shock on the user " and his Edel Raid " should they overstep their limits. The idea there is that Cou's more likely to learn control if he realises that using Ren's power with abandon will hurt her too, and as well as being another piece of the puzzle in their relationship with each other, it helps him to grow a bit as a character.

Only a bit, though, as it's still the characters that are Elemental Gelade's weakest aspect. Ren remains two-dimensional " a few kind words to Cou here and there, but otherwise she's just a fighting tool. Likewise Rowen and Kuea, although they at least add a little comedy to the mix as well. If it weren't for Cisqua, I'd be thoroughly depressed at the lack of decent characters on show. That said, there are some interesting flashback scenes dotted throughout the disc that are beginning to fill in some backstory for Rowen and Kuea, so again there's some hope that they'll soon get to the point where you can think of them as people rather than pawns. We're not there yet, though.

Little flashes aside, though, for the most part the episodes are as formulaic as they were on volume one " nothing too spectacular, nothing too daring, nothing too far out of the niche that the show has carved for itself. There's nothing objectionable here, but nothing that cries out "watch me!" either.

In summary:
Elemental Gelade carries on as it started with another 4 episodes that won't upset or annoy but won't leave you inspired either. There are a few little nuggets of promise buried deep within the story that I genuinely hope get properly exploited later, but for now the middle-of-the-road mediocrity continues. Enjoyable enough as far as it goes, but sadly it doesn't go nearly far enough to be worth recommending.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening #2,Japanese VA Interviews

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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