Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Escaflowne
Escaflowne Vol. #5
By Chris Beveridge
April 03, 2001
Release Date: April 03, 2001
Escaflowne Vol. #5
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
Folken sends out Nadria and Eriya after the Escaflowne as Van hovers between life and death. Meanwhile, Dryden has discovered what he thinks is the location to Atlantis. Hitomi finds that one of her ancestors has been to Gaea, and Allen confronts his past. Once they reach Atlantis, however, they find that they all have memories to fight and fears to over come.The Review!
The fifth installment of the Escaflowne series is appropriately titled Paradise and Pain. There's quite a bit of both in the show, but hardly any pain at all in terms of the disc. In fact, things are shaping up nicely here compared to earlier volumes. Audio:
For our primary review, we listened to the Japanese track. Throughout it, the audio was definitely a solid stereo presentation. Dialogue was clean and undistorted and the music continues to be the bright spot. There's a fair amount of directionality across the front soundstage here and it sounded very good. Oddly enough, flipping back and forth between the Japanese and English tracks, the music and ambient effects all sounded a notch lower. We didn't spend a lot of time on the dub, though we halfway listened to it while writing the review. I'm definitely no fan of this dub at all. So many of the secondary characters just feel so wrong.Video:
While my relationship with the video has been an on again off again kind of thing, the relationship is definitely on for this batch of episodes. While there are still a fair number of rainbows throughout, they're not as pronounced as the first volumes. And the rest of the show continues to look fantastic with vibrant colors and solid looking backgrounds and only a few hints of color banding. Some sequences that have no rainbows at all simply look stunning, particularly some of the close-ups. The numerous dark blue sky backgrounds look quite solid and there's no noticeable grain at all. Very nice.Packaging:
While the cover isn't bad, it's not coming out well through a lot of online places with it being such a bright flesh color, most pictures have it looking almost overexposed. Upon closer inspection, this is another pretty nice cover that was used for I believe the Japanese VHS rental market. The reverse side follows the same format of previous releases and includes such good things as episode numbers and titles, listing of the extras and a brief summary with a few pictures. The insert included goes into a bit of detail on Balgus and the legendary Three Swordsman. And just in case I didn't get the point, I got two copies of the insert. I suppose that makes up for the bizarre keepcase latching mechanisim.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:
Club Escaflowne continues from the previous volume with the same three gents talking about their various likes and dislikes of the show and what their challenges were in creating some of the visuals. This segment runs about ten minutes and provides some interesting tidbits into what goes on behind the scenes.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the events of the last disc, there's a lot happening right from the start here. Escaflowne is a big chunk of metal laying on the ground covered in black and Van is stuck inside unresponsive. His visions of the ghosts of those whom he's killed while piloting Escaflowne haunt him and send him on his own journey towards death. And with Hitomi the only one seeing what's going on, she ends up becoming immersed in the walk towards the light that Van is in.
Of course, with almost ten more episodes to go, you know Van's not going to die. But the trip begins to unravel some of the more interesting mysteries of the world of Gaea. There's not a lot of exposition in these episodes, but there's certainly a lot of visual explaining going on. We learn more of the history behind Atlantis' demise, seeing it through Van's eyes. We also get properly introduced to Nariya and Eriya and how their relationship with Folken began many years ago and why the two are so devoted to him.
We also begin to learn of other older visits to Gaea from Earth that provide some rather interesting surprises. Relationships become more scrutinized as well, with Millerna trying to decide what's best for her and her relationships with Dryden and Allen. Dryden and Allen's back and forth provides amusement mainly due to Allen being unsettled by this somewhat unkempt man who gets under his skin. And when Dryden begins to talk about Allen's father, things get even more tense.
Allen's father provides some rather interesting backdrop as he's apparently a famous person for trying to find Atlantis. We see several scenes of his search for the fabled city and his meeting with a man from Earth named Isaac, who we can instantly identify as the Zaibach emperor. The threads continue to get more tangled from here. With the new knowledge from Allen's inherited diary, they all head off to where Atlantis should be to discover what the Zaibach is after.
There's a fair amount of action throughout the episodes, but a good amount of this is psychological and relates to character motivations and why they're at the place in their life that they are. Allen, Hitomi and Van take the center stage when things begin to really heat up and the details about Hitomi's power and her relationship with the city of Atlantis begin to unfold.
With the sweeping nature of these episodes both in setting and characters, we really found ourselves getting immersed in the world of Gaea all over again. Having less issues with the video also helped and allowed us to simple settle in and enjoy some pretty tight and well written episodes. Very recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Club Escaflowne
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.