El-Hazard, The Wanderers Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • 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: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: El-Hazard

El-Hazard, The Wanderers Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 11, 2001
Release Date: December 11, 2001


El-Hazard, The Wanderers Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Wild schemes abound! Nanami, Jinnai's sister, converts the "Sacred Palace of Water" into a leisure resort, while Jinnai plots to conquer El Hazard in an attempt to humiliate Makoto. While most plots implode for Jinai, his ambitions may be realized when he awakens the dreadful entity of destruction - Ifurita! Or not...

The Review!
The second installment of the alternate take on the world of El-Hazard continues here by keeping its formula from earlier episodes and some of the similarities to the OVA's. But towards the end, things take a really different route when one of the more popular characters is introduced.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is pretty simple and straightforward with nothing going to the rear speakers and hardly any real directionality across the forward soundstage. But even so, the audio track is pretty solid with no dropouts or distortions and the dialogue and music is nice and clean.

Video:
There's some really disappointing sequences at various areas throughout the disc as opposed to a constant. The only thing close to a constant annoyance is the cross coloration that shows along the characters. It's mostly in Alielle's hair, but migrates to other characters on occasion. During the first episode when it pans across a few scenes that take place in dark blue settings, the entire screen looks alive with artifacting from the source material and the grain. This occurs at several other places as well, hence our lowered grade for it.

Packaging:
The main cover has a picture of Jinnai with his Bugrom queen while the back provides a a nice image of the queen and her servants along with a decent summary of things as well as the episode numbers and titles (which is a plus, as the volumes are not numbered). The reverse side has Nanami and Shayla taking the center stage and a different back cover that features the a nice group shot of Makoto, Nanami, Rune, Shayla and Aliella. This flip works out really well in giving people a good choice. I myself went with the Nanami/Shayla cover cover. There's also a foldout insert that provides a number of great looking pieces of artwork with the back side listing the episode numbers and titles as well. This is a great package overall.

Menus:
The menu system is pretty minimal in that it's a static screen with music playing. Episodes are quickly selected from the main screen and the layout of features and setup works well. Access times between menus is nice and fast and selections work as they should.

Extras:
The extra's here area brief photo gallery showing off some nice artwork, some of which was seen on the insert. We also get a textless opening and ending, though I believe these are the first ones as they change later in the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of El-Hazard continues on nicely here, though it does seem a bit listless in a few areas.

Thankfully, with the content being a bit under part, there's more of it here that makes it worthwhile to get. The first couple of episodes mostly focus around Makoto and Fujisawa settling in while being guests of the Roshtarian Princess Rune and trying to find ways to make themselves useful. Makoto has it the hardest though since his skills are less discernable. They also make time to head out into the world to search for various ways of getting home, but it's far too early in the series for them to find anything useful.

One of the plusses here though is that through a rather grand mistake, Nanami ends up finding out that Makoto and Fujisawa are in El-Hazard as well. When Miss Miz heads to the the palace to seek out her true feelings about Fujisawa and talk with the Princess about it, Nanami is left in charge of the shrine. And being the money hungry girl that she is, she capitalizes on the absolute lack of theme parks. While Miz is making her moves on Fujisawa, the entire capital finds itself suddenly out of water. They all rush back to find this massive water sports theme park going on, using up all the water available. Miz, in one of her rare moments, goes nuts and gets things straightened out pretty fast.

The fun episodes on this disc come towards the end when Jinnai and Makoto's groups square off against each other in acquiring a really powerful artifact. The artifact is actually a person of sorts, one of the ancient weapons that takes human form is and immensely powerful. This is where Ifurita marks her entry into the series, but not the same Ifurita we saw in the OVA series. The characters personality at times feels a bit like it, but in general they've turned her into an extremely power flighty high school girl who just wants to please her master, who ends up being Jinnai.

She also has a complete makeover in character design, with her trademarked gray curls replaced by sleek long black hair and a much younger looking face. The OVA Ifurita's face had a look of age and knowledge and experience from all that he had done and seen, but this one is like a fresh slate. And add into the fact that she doesn't exactly like causing destruction but finds herself trying to please Jinnai, who she dubs as "truly evil", it makes an interesting pairing. Of course, Makoto seems to be falling for her in some way as he's convinced she's not really evil, so this begins to open a rift between him and Rune, something which was very close to starting to blossom.

The Wanderers isn't a bad series by any stretch, but it does suffer from being done perfectly the first time, so this retelling seems a bit awkward because while they're doing a good job, it just doesn't seem to match up just right. But I'm interested to see where they go with Ifurita, since to me she and Makoto are what make the series enjoyable.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening/Ending,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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