Elemental Gelade Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 20, 2006
Release Date: December 12, 2006


Elemental Gelade Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Torn apart by their supposed protectors, Cou and Ren's paths have split, and Cou desperately chases after Ren, only to encounter past enemies. Ren, meanwhile, continues her journey solo, and despite making new friends, misses Cou terribly. With new hope, Cou and his Arc Aile friends embark on the last leg of their trip to Edel Garden aboard a cruise ship where an old friend is discover and a new friend puts them in jeopardy?

The Review!
Cou the sky pirate, using ground transportation, heads off to find Ren after she leaves Arc Aile.

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 posterization 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, Wolx and his Edel Raid grace this cover with its mix of darkly serious and far too cute. 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 good shot of Cisqua showing off some skin and heavy weapons on one side while the reverse side has a summary of what to expect in the fifth volume and target months for the remaining two 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 take a bit of a twist with this volume as we get not only the clean version of the new opening sequence but an English language commentary track. The track covers episode 15 of this volume and is done by the ADR director and the recording engineer for the series. It's obviously a bit more technical based and a bit difficult to listen to as they keep the English language track playing behind it a bit louder than it should. I'm of mixed mind about how best to do commentary tracks like this since I'm so used to film commentaries where there is no soundtrack from the show playing along most of the time. English language dub commentaries obviously want to talk about those performances so they need it there but some seem to work better than others.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fourth installment of Elemental Gelade brings the show back to its traveling roots as the cast has to really figure out what they want out of life. The time spent in Arc Aile hasn't been all that good for any of them which have led to the need to get out of there and really find the Edel Garden. The previous volume did some nice work in showing a bit more of the larger picture and showing a bit more darkness around the edges of what's going on.

As we've seen with Cou, he's been flat out denied in seeing Ren since she went to Arc Aile which has left him somewhat despondent and unsure of how to progress. Being thrown out has done some good in that it's got him moving again and it comes at the same time that he's learned about Ren actually getting out of the place she was relatively trapped in. Since she was so completely fooled about where she was and the amount of time she'd spent there, she isn't even aware of Cou being anywhere near there and sets off to find the Edel Garden on her own. Then you get to add in Cisqua and the others not liking the way their superiors seem to be handling the entire Ren situation and you have them taking something of a vacation from their job. Before you know it, everyone's on the road again and separated for a bit of time.

This allows for a couple of stories to go on before everyone inevitably comes back together, something that happens after only a couple of episodes which is a bit of a surprise. Not an unwelcome one though since the standalone stories that they experienced weren't all that entertaining. Cou ends up in an encounter with Wolx who is still searching for Ren, but the encounter proves to be more about how Cou is weak without Ren and Wolx only views Edel Raids as tools. This comes as a real problem for his own Edel Raid but she's got this thing where she can't not do what he wants since she cares for him so much. Cisqua and the others get wrapped up in a bit as well but show up more to provide a ride for Cou than anything else.

If Cou had to walk to catch up to Ren, this'd be a much longer series. The "ride" that they use is highly amusing though as it's basically a big silver truck that reminded me of the ones they drove in the old Martian Chronicles miniseries. Well, not exactly, but that's the impression you get as this vehicle takes over the landscape. I don't think there's been too many vehicles shown to date so this feels out of place to begin with, but then you try to remember that Cou is a "sky pilot" and hasn't flown in quite some time that he starts to lose a bit more of his allure. Then you get to add in the image of Cisqua in the drivers' seat acting like a brusque and gruff truck driver and it loses even more credibility. I don't think the intention was to have me laughing quite so much but they did achieve that result.

Ren's story before everyone gets together is even more comical as she ends up in a valley where things have been run down by a group of bullies that have dominated the place. Taking their position of power in a walled fortress at the top of the valley that allows them to block off all the water, they make one critical mistake in making their place exactly like everyone else in that the architecture has one weak point that's visible from the outside. The storyline is designed to give Ren someone else to care about a bit and expand her range of emotions and interaction with people but the entire piece is just so silly in so many ways that it's very hard to take seriously. They're trying to have echoes of the Nausicaa movie in it in some ways which just makes it all the worse.

Naturally, everyone ends up together with the goal of helping Ren find where she really wants to go and that leads to the dark forces that are hunting for her to close in. The show starts to get a bit better at this point but, like many other shows, it wants to draw in more cute young female characters to do it. Some of them aren't quite what they seem and some of them allow for the relationship side of Cou and Ren to be explored a bit more. In some ways it feels like every time we make some progress in the show it takes a few steps backwards. Cou and Ren had gotten to a good working relationship back when they were doing the quasi-tournament episodes but now they're more ambivalent about each other. Ren more so after her experiences in Arc Aile since she had been fooled so well and had believed that Cou had left her behind. It could be decent material but like so much of the show it just feels so shallow.

In Summary:
Elemental Gelade continues to be a show that I think is excellent for people that are getting into anime that are younger. It has plenty of the basic themes that make many shows enjoyable but it doesn't exploit them to the level that others do. It's light, it's fun, it's your basic adventure type piece, but it's something that I've seen so many times that unless it has something that really makes it work will come across as very bland. There are some small signs of life throughout the show but it's simply worn out by everything else. It's certainly not an awful show but it doesn't do a thing for me.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Episode 15 Commentary

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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.

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