Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Escaflowne
Escaflowne Vol. #1
By John Trevathan
February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 03, 2000
Escaflowne is a series I've always wanted to check out, and now that it's finally on DVD, I'm stoked and am looking forward to future installments.
Having a small TV, I didn't really notice any rainbows which Chris said somewhat-plagued his disk of volume one. The show looks clean, and is made even better by the incredible animation this show boasts. Audio also sounds fine, although I did notice the English track is recorded higher than the Japanese one.
The story follows Hitomi Kanzaki, a girl who uses fortune telling to tell herself and her friend's futures (supposedly). However, one day, trying to prove herself to a guy she has a crush on (Amano), a young man named Van Fanel appears with a dragon. After vanquishing it with the help of Hitomi, Van and Hitomi are transported to a world called Gaea thanks to the Drag-Energist (which I will discuss furthur shortly), Hitomi becomes caught up in a war and she wants nothing more than to return to Earth. Interestingly enough, Hitomi's predictions about the future are usually right on the money.
Seems like your typical plot nowadays for anime, but it's not often that it's executed this brilliantly. Although the first episode seems cookie-cutter, the rest of the episodes have a dark feel to them, and nearly every one of them contains a battle of some sort, mostly involving Guymelefs (which are powered by the Drag-Energist I spoke of earlier). Escaflowne is also powered by one and is piloted by Van, however Van is a nice change from the typical anime heroes who are practically indestructible. Van still has some growing to do and has to get stronger. That's not to say he isn't a good fighter, but interestingly enough, he's not the best and that's something I like about this show so far.
Now to compare the Japanese and English audio tracks...personally, I kind of like the dub. Van's voice is good and grows on you after awhile, and while Hitomi's voice sounds annoying from time to time, it sounds fine. General Gaddes's voice actually sounds better than his Japanese counterpart, and Brian Drummond voices Allen, and that's pretty cool. I don't know who did Folken's and Emporor Dornkirk's voices, but they sound good for a dub as well.
However, some things about the dub are just flat-out annoying. Merle more often than not sounds irritable, Dilandau's henchmen all sound like girls, the dub script changes some interesting things, and Dilandau's voice is completely miscast. In the Japanese version, Dilandau comes across as a psychotic madman desperate for cold-blooded death and destruction. In the English version, Dilandau's voice sounds so pathetic it actually changes his character. Now Dilandau comes across as nothing more than a bratty kid who wasn't raised properly. Needless to say, I prefer the Japanese version, but I noticed some things in the English version that I didn't notice in Japanese, and that's one reason I love anime on DVD.
The menu's for Escaflowne are super-cool. Quick access times, music in the background, and an animated main menu equal a good setup for this series. I like how Bandai puts trailers on each of their disks as well, even if it's just an advertising measure. Now, here's something I wasn't prepared for, the lone extra on this disk comes in the form of music videos, which are subtitled in English and Japanese (except the first one, for some weird reason). Three of the four videos contain spoilers, which is something I don't appreciate, and Bandai didn't signal this ahead of time. True, since I haven't seen this series yet, I don't get them and I'm hoping to forget most of the things that went on there, but some things will now be obvious in the series that may have first been a shock to me had I not seen the videos. Oh well, at least the song selection for them was decent, though I'm not a big fan of Escaflowne's vocal tracks so far, but the BGM is excellent.
Overall, this is a great disk, but to be picky, it could have been better. I'll review all of the Escaflowne disks as they come in and hope that it's as good as everyone says it is.
Panasonic 19" TV, Apex Digital AD-703 DVD Player