E's Otherwise Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: E's Otherwise

E's Otherwise Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 02, 2005
Release Date: November 08, 2005


E's Otherwise Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
When Kai vanishes before Asuka’s very eyes, he finds himself in a strange sanctuary filled with psychics very much like himself—psychics being used and manipulated by powerful players. But these gifted mutants are different. Why? Because these psychics are children. Small children capable of extreme power are being restrained and trained as weapons by a corrupt Cardinal who plans on taking his own holy war to the streets. But the Cardinal is not willing to give up his children—or Kai—so easily. Meanwhile, Maxim uses Maria to get closer to Asuka. Having realized that the gentle, innocent Asuka is a psychic of incredible power, Maxim unleashes his own sadistic senses to ensnare the girl.


The Review!
E's Otherwise continues on by taking another detour that brings Kai more into the fold where Yuuki is concerned while also touching on a few other areas.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix for this track is rather solid and has a very full presence to it. The forward soundstage is well used for a number of directional moments in both dialogue and action effects but it's the music that almost seems to overwhelm it at times with how strong it is across the entirety of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this release is noticeably better than the previous two volumes. The show is very recent and being done by Pierrot it has a great color palette used for it. The character animation in particular really stands out here and looks great with lots of white used, lots of clean lines and some good detailed areas. The color gradient issue wasn't much of one with this though you can see a few edges here and there but nowhere near as bad as some other series. The blocking issues that were prevalent during the earlier part of the series don't show up at all here, partially due to those areas not being in the show but also from what looks to be better encoding all around.

Packaging:
Using the Japanese release artwork, this installment lets Shen take the cover both in his main outfit with a full body shot and a close-up illustration next to the filmstrip. Both of them are very light in their design but they look good, better than the actual in-show design as well. The design is nice though and with the filmstrip piece and coloring it's a decent looking cover. The back cover provides a large shot of one of the leads while providing a filmstrip along the side with a number of shots from the show. The summary is pretty basic across a couple of paragraphs while the remainder of the cover is made up of the production and technical information. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The main menu is a decent piece that's got a bit of minor animation to it but feels more lively than most of the menus ADV's done in recent months. With the main shot being of the white haired vixen in her bright purple outfit along the right, the left of the menu has a rotating circle with the menu selections inside it, including individual episode access. The layout works nicely though the bit of the opening song that plays cuts out too short but that's almost a standard problem with ADV releases in that there isn't a good flow between the end and the start. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy and intuitive. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The included extras are pretty straightforward and standard fare. The opening and closing are presented in a clean form and there's a round of production. Continuing from the previous volume is a couple of static screens where they do "PSI Records" of the English voice actors as mini-bio's that have some cute bits and gags along with their info.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a five month hiatus between volumes, E's Otherwise picks up again right where we left off and thankfully there's at least a brief recap that lets you know where things stood in the last volume since remembering back that far certainly isn't something easily done if you watch a lot of shows. Similar to a lot of other shows though, once you get back into it, the majority of things do come back quickly enough and it's easy to get into the groove of it again.

With Kai's sudden disappearance at the end of the last volume where he whispered "Save me" to Asuka before finally going poof, he mysteriously arrives in some underground complex a fair distance away. The why of this happening isn't brought in and he doesn't expand on it at all but rather tries to get his bearings. This proves to be difficult as he's getting hit mentally by a number of voices talking to him but he's unable to talk back since he has no telepathic abilities. He eventually manages to follow the voices down the bland hallways with all their unmarked locations only to find that it leads to a room where there's a group of children in little white holy-style outfits and they're the ones that have been contacting him.

As it turns out, this entire complex is actually a secret place where the cardinal Ghibelline has been working with this group of kids that are psychics. The two don't seem to go together well enough but what he's done with this kids is intriguing as they're actually quite a powerful force, which Kai gets a look at while sneaking around later on. Ghibelline is putting them through a rigorous training program but the kids are liking it and wanting to get the praise they get but a lot of it is due to the lies they're being told about the outside world being a place of darkness and the complex being a paradise. Ghibelline does manage to sway Kai somewhat though by playing Kai's problems with Ashurum against him and tries to bring him on board by having him search for the Sacrament.

That's the same Sacrament that Yuuki has made a few mumblings about in the past about searching for it as well. While Kai's away and Asuka is distraught over his disappearance and her inability to help finding him, Yuuki has been doing what he can to search for Kai but he keeps running up against the usual roadblocks since he actually has so little to work with. So when Kai essentially just walks into the place after having some interesting encounters that provide yet more questions than answers, he's quick to help Kai but also highly interested to find out exactly what Kai knows about the Sacrament and how he came to hear about it.

The story arc with the kids, particularly Raphael, is another interesting segment in the show but like a lot of the previous ones it just feels so highly disconnected from the other short stories that have been told that it pushes the idea that the writers really have no clue where they're going. The only thing that's really tying it together at this point now is the Sacrament. In the final episode, there is a good deal of time spent back with the folks at Ashurum as Shen is furious about how his sister seems to have changed since her boost-up in order to catch up to Kai that he tracks him down and tries to take him out. We also finally see Kai's long-neglected little sister and she goes through an interesting ordeal that changes how we can perceive Kai as well. But the problem continues with all of it in that we haven't seen some of these characters in what feels like close to ten episodes or more and the plot that the show started out with simply doesn't carry the oomph that it once does. You can see a few common threads in it but between the structure of the series combined with the five month gap in the shows release it just makes it much more difficult to get into.

In Summary:
While there continue to be some interesting aspects to the show, it's uneven nature hasn't skipped a beat here and walking into this volume you're thrown right into a brand new sub-arc that keeps the focus on Kai for a good deal of it and brings in yet more characters overall. Even worse, some of the new villainous type characters that challenge Kai are of the mysterious nature and just speak in annoying phrases that attempt to get Kai to remember something he obviously doesn't remember. You can feel Kai's frustration in this because the events frustrate the viewer just as much. The new arc is relatively self-contained though and we're given an episode that brings us back to something akin to the original storyline so there is some progress there but this is a longwinded way of doing it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Actor PSI Profiles,Production sketches,Clean opening animation, clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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