Escaflowne Vol. #8 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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. #8

By Chris Beveridge     June 05, 2001
Release Date: June 05, 2001


Escaflowne Vol. #8
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Wishing to get away from all of the fighting, Hitomi finds herself suddenly transported back to Earth on the very day that she had originally left. She has one chance to get back to Gaea, but it will mean endangering her friends again. Meanwhile on Gaea, the war continues unabated as the Doomsday Weapon is deployed. But this means little to Dornkirk, who seems to be on the verge of achieving his goal. The fate of Gaea lies in a white dragon and the heart of a girl from Mystic Moon! Episodes 24-26.

The Review!
The final volume does what a lot of shows generally don't manage, and that's to bring the series to a satisfying conclusion.

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.

Video:
While the animation level isn't consistently high for the final episodes of the series, there are a larger number of beautifully animated sequences here that really stand out with this transfer. There are also a few scenes that make you cringe, but they're few and far between. There's one particular scene where Hitomi pulls up one of her tarot cards of the dragon, and the dragon on the card looks almost alive with the rainbows on it. Line noise is pretty minimal throughout and the colors look great with only a few prominent moments of color banding.

Packaging:
Amusingly, the final cover to the series here often elicits calls of "Hey, that's the movie artwork!". While at first glance one may think so, a closer look really does reveal that it's designs are definitely not like the movie, especially in Hitomi, but in the others as well. This is the last cover used for the VHS rental release in Japan though, and it's a quite good cover with lots of color and a good number of the cast that fit into the final episodes. The back cover doesn't vary from its predecessors and shows off a few dark images, the story summary and the credits for the show as well as episode numbers and titles. The insert provided has an interesting brief bit about the history of the Guymelef and war in this land.

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:
In one sense, the extras here on the final disc aren't all that breathtaking, compared to earlier ones. In another sense, these are some of the best. There's about seven minutes worth of anime footage that was taken from the Playstation game and added here, subtitled, that brings some very neat little bits to light, such as seeing Van and Hitomi flying the Escaflowne over her home town. For a lot of non-net folks, this disc will also be their first introduction to the Escaflowne movie via the trailer here. My wife hadn't seen any of the animation for it previously and was just glued to the screen, as was I. The last extra is one that I really enjoyed, a nearly 5 minute performance of Maaya Sakamoto and Yoko Kanno taken during a promotional junket for the movie last fall. It was shot with a camcorder, but it just looks and sounds great. Definitely a great extra and it's something that doesn't appear on the region 2 discs at all. Very cool.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
These final episodes have it all. Sweeping dramatic moments, big bombastic fight sequences, stoic leads and mysterious weapons. And to kick it all off, we start with Hitomi's return to Earth. Yep, that's right, things follow up with Hitomi's return after she wished it on the last disc. Interestingly, her wished return brings her to a day or so prior to her original entry into the world of Gaea, which brings some time for her to reflect on all she's been through and what the time there has meant to her. And those on the other side of things take the news of her disappearance differently. While Van heads off in search of her, the others try to reconcile their own issues, particularly between Millerna and Dryden, which led to something I hadn't expected.

When Hitomi does return (and honestly, who would think that she wouldn't), the battle against Dornkirk (aka Sir Isaac Newton?) kicks into gear with Folken going to confront him outright with Hitomi who intends to convince Dornkirk to just stop it all. Dornkirk had this all planned of course, and all his tweaks and manipulations have brought Hitomi right to him at the right time as he's ready to unleash his Fate Alteration machine upon the world of Gaea, and to give everyone exactly what they truly desire.

With the Zone of Fortune now in effect, the alliance between the kingdoms to defeat Zaibach falls to pieces, and the primal lust for war in mankind reveals itself again, and they all go at it, butchering along the way. While the larger battle plays in the background, the more personal ones are where our attention is directed to. Van and Dilandu go back at each other again at a higher pace than before, only to be disrupted by Allen who now takes on Van by protecting Dilandu. The emotions and anger run high here and the battle scenes are greatly done, giving a real feel to the power of the machines being used and the furiousness of the players.

The ensuing battle of both words and machines bring the series to a good conclusion, though many will argue to avoid watching the final two minutes or so and simply ending there for a more satisfying ending. Myself, I enjoyed the whole thing and like the way things are both settled and left up in the air, and the relationships of all involved take on a new light.

Having originally seen Escaflowne on the 8 tape subtitled VHS release a couple of years ago, it was interesting to revisit the title relatively soon after the first watching. At times it made the show a bit tedious while others had me enjoying them even more. Knowing the secrets of some of the characters does change how you view the series from the start, but in a way that lets you examine them more closely for clues and let you slap yourself upside the head when you realize you should have figured it out.

While there were some issues with earlier discs in terms of video, overall this release has been a huge boost up over the VHS release just for the extras alone throughout them all. Music videos, interview segments, extra footage... lots of great stuff. My only true disappointment is that none of the opening songs had a romaji segment to them, not even the music video for the opening song. Ah well, can't have everything, but Escaflowne comes really close. Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Playstation Game Anime Footage,Escaflowne Movie Trailer,Live Maaya Sakamoto Performance

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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