Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: A++
- 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. #2
By Chris Beveridge
December 05, 2000
Release Date: December 05, 2000
Escaflowne Vol. #2
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
Despite his heroic efforts, Van's been captured and is being held prisoner by the evil empire of Zaibach. Can Hitomi and the others rescue Van in time or will Hitomi be stranded forever on the strange and beautiful world of Gaea. Episodes 5-8.The Review!
I almost did a dance of joy... this disc looked ever so much better than the first disc did that my enjoyment of it just jumped up higher and higher. At least for the majority of it.Audio:
Escaflowne treats us to another great sounding disc filled with beautiful music by Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi. The dialogue on both audio tracks sound good and the special effect sounds come across great as well, but it's indeed the music that sounds the best here, right down to each subtle note. Every time the opening plays, it's a big grin on my face. Wonderful!Video:
Our major problem with the first disc, and one that really distracted me from enjoying the show, was the sheer number of rainbows which also created line noise and shimmering in some of the more complex characters outfits and hair, such as Allen. With the exception of a about half of episode eight, hardly any of this is strongly visible on this disc, leaving me with a really beautiful looking show without any distractions. Colors look great, details are sharp and there's hardly any noticeable breakup beyond a few deep dark blue night skies here and there. Packaging:
Thankfully this cover isn't spoiler filled like the first one (not that we thought it much of a spoiler anyway) and has some nice looking artwork on it. The back cover uses the same design, containing episode numbers and names, brief summary of the episodes and a few screenshots. The insert is where the packaging shines, with another foldout piece of Escaflowne history, this time talking about the levitation stones. Good stuff.Menus:
The themed menus look wonderful. The main menu is similar to the opening of each episode with a tarot card in the middle where you select each episode. Access times were pretty decent throughout, though there are a few slowdowns in returning to the menu and selecting the next episode due to the odd way Bandai puts each episode on its own title.Extras:
I can't get over how great this single extra is. Club Escaflowne, as others have said since seeing it, is exactly what a lot of fans want to see offered. The section for this extra thankfully indicates that spoilers are indeed contained within it, so you'll definitely want to wait. But do yourself a favor and make sure you do watch them when the series is done. This first one runs just under twenty minutes and has the voice actor for Van playing a bartender, talking to the actors for Merle, Hitomi and Folken. They don't talk heavily about the show, but some interesting things do crop up.
One of the questions that comes up is about first kisses, which leads to some interesting answers among them (with Maaya claming she's not really been kissed). Van's VA provides the most hilarious answer that results in him telling people jokingly that he now checks out guys butts. Maaya, 16 at the time of Escaflowne's run, is just far too adorable in this. Merle's VA is quite fun and has some interesting stories, but in the end Folken's VA and Van's VA really steal the show between their stories. Folken's VA is just hilarious in his delivery and his voice. Van's VA is definitely one of those odd yet outgoing personalities that just enjoys what he's doing.
Great stuff, and supposedly the best is yet to come!Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way things left off in the last disc, Van flying the Escaflowne in dragon mode away from Allen's ship to divert Zaibach's forces, they kick off in high speed here. Dilandu and Van go at things again with some decent look fight sequences. Unfortunately, Van's still in "pup" mode and gets taken down and ends up prisoner of the floating fortress, which leads to him meeting Folken and brings about quite the interesting bit of information.
This episode highlights one of the best things about Hitomi though, for all the other things we saw. During the rescue attempt lead by Allen, Hitomi has a vision of Van being struck down. As she stayed on the ship, she knows she has to get to him right away to save him. There's no second thoughts here, no hesitation, just the certainty that really defines her character. Of course, that 6 meter running jump over certain death defines her character as well!
Dark turns are made later on as well, when the group arrives in Asturia. Allen meets with the King, who he quickly realizes is in Zaibach's pocket when Folken walks out from the shadows, making his case for being handed the Escaflowne. We also end up getting to know Princess Millerna, who has a strong attraction to Allen, much to Hitomi's dislike.
There's quite a bit of character development throughout all four episodes. We learn some interesting bits of Allen's past as well as a crucial piece of information about Van's past. There's a fair amount of action sequences throughout (and I do find the computer assisted stuff much more visible now on DVD than I ever did on VHS) but the focus is definitely on the characters here.
There's also a lot of throwaway lines and things that aren't explored further unfortunately. When Hitomi is walking through the marketplace, she comes across a vendor selling a CD (as jewelry!), giving her indication that others from Earth have been on Gaea before. But this isn't really explored much further than something interesting that happens. The world of Gaea really needs its own series.
One of the more interesting aspects of these episodes is getting to know Dilandu better in just how insane the character actually is. While coming off as just slightly nuts in the first few episodes, these episodes bring his mental level seriously into question. It also brings him a few more notches up in the cool factor, as the insane evil with style character is few and far between.
Escaflowne Vol. #2 has definitely rekindled my interest in the show and I can't wait to get more in my hands.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,"Club Escaflowne" Cast Interviews
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.