Fafner Complete Collection Box Set - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 139.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fafner

Fafner Complete Collection Box Set

By Jennifer Rocks     June 26, 2007
Release Date: January 16, 2007

Fafner Complete Collection Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
THEIR PARADISE WAS A DECEPTION... The youth of Tatsumiya Island believed that they had ordinary lives until extraterrestrials called Festums invaded their island. In the midst of the sudden chaos, their once peaceful island transforms into a high-tech military fortress built to counter-attack the hostile aliens. Their shock and terror intensifies as the young men and women learn that they must join the battle and pilot the Fafner, a class of humanoid-type robots that represent the final defense against the Festums and their divine powers.

The Review!
Giant Robots " check, High schoolers as mecha pilots " check, all of humanity threatened by alien attacks " check. Fafner has all of the expected ingredients but adds in a healthy dose of everyday life drama and character development that helps make the show stand out.

For this review, I primarily watched the show in Japanese. The stereo mix is dynamic and well balanced. Both the Japanese and English dialogue tracks are crisp and clear.

The animation is very clean and crisp with nice bright, saturated color. There is no color bleed or artifacting evident. Overall this is a very good-looking transfer. As in many modern shows, the animation is a blend of traditional and computer animation. The CG elements are well integrated throughout.

The collection comes packaged in a nice sturdy art box with a wraparound image of an intense blue sky featuring Shoshi in his uniform on one side panel, Kazuki in his pilot uniform on the spine and a nice detailed close up of the Fafner Mark Elf on the other side panel. The top of the box has the Fafner logo against a cloudy blue sky. The bottom of the box lists the basic specs. Though the box art is nice, it feels a bit stale and doesn't really seem to capture the spirit of the show.

Each disc comes in a clear keepcase, which allows you to easily view the double-sided cover art. The cover art for each disc has a montage of characters over an unrelated background. The back covers feature several bordered images from the show, a large background image, a descriptive paragraph of the plot progression for each disc, as well as brief technical specs and the disc contents. The back covers have a consistent look, but seem a bit random as far as color scheme and font and are concerned.

Each disc comes with an insert of a blue saturated image from the show that lists the episodes and features. The back of the insert shows the release schedule. Each insert also opens to a mini poster with some nice character art. Personally I prefer the cleaner simpler images of these insert mini-posters to the actual disc covers.

Also included in the Limited Edition collection are two mini pencil boards that use the same blue sky featured on the art box background. One pencil board is the box artwork of Shoshi and Kazuki in uniform, with the reverse side a nice moody image of Kazuki in uniform next to the close up of the Mark Elf that was also used on the box art. The second pencil board has the original cover art from the first Japanese release, a pale and purple Shoshi in the background with a full body Kazuki in uniform; the reverse is a montage of Mark Elf, Shoshi and Kazuki using the disc one cover art, with the addition of full body shots of Maya, Canon and Shoko. This same image is formed by the set of nine cards that are also included. The card backs feature the flip side of the disc cover art.

The menus are designed after the Siegfried system, and use the same background of moving reddish swirls with overlays of the heads-up displays. The displays on the main menu show the pilot genetic data and scrolling text in the style seen in the show, with the largest display showing moving images from the episodes contained on that disc. The main menu options are listed at the bottom of each menu and are very easy to navigate.

There are multiple creditless openings and endings, as the show often has story bleed over into the opening and ending sequences. Also included is an art gallery of all of the Japanese release cover art, which is an odd inclusion, as most the art is already available in the reversible covers. The few new pieces of art are the reverse covers for the Japanese releases, which are the source for the insert episode list images. There is also a gallery of character art. Overall the extras here are a rather light.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tatsumiya Island, a small close-knit community in a beautiful rural setting, seems like the perfect place to grow up. Kazuki, the son of the local potter, seems like any kid his age, with no real responsibilities in life. He attends the local high school along with his friends, the secretive and world-weary Soshi, the cheerful and obvious heart of the show Maya, sickly Shoko, brash and dim-witted Kenji, the giant robot managa loving Mamoru and the tomboy Koyo.

Everything on the island seems absolutely ideal until a sudden attack by a Festum, an alien species bent on eliminating humanity. All of the islanders are evacuated into the island, which is revealed to be a mechanical fortress run by an organization called Alvis. The narrow streets erupt with defensive measures and the adults of the island spring into action. Unfortunately, the island's defensive measures are not up to the task of repelling the invader, so the adults decide to activate a giant robot called Fafner to defend the island, which Kazuki must pilot. In short order Kazuki goes from an untroubled teen to the pilot of the Fafner Mark Elf and defender of the island.

Once the peace that Kazuki and his friends had known is broken, the harsh reality is revealed. Humans have been at war with the Festum for thirty years and Tatsumiya Island is a last bastion for humanity. Not only is Kazuki's father the head of Alvis, but his best friend Soshi is the human interface between the Fafner and the Alvis command center. The children have all been genetically enhanced in order to be able to pilot the Fafner in battle against the Festum, and have been specifically raised in a peaceful setting to give them something to fight for. Naturally all of Kazuki's friends are identified as candidates to pilot the Fafners. Needless to say, this comes as a big surprise to most of the kids.

Though the story starts with a very Evangelion-like feeling, it deviates from the battle each episode formula by being less action heavy and focusing more on the character drama. As the kids learn how to pilot the Fafners and work together to fight the Festum, their individual stories and relationships are developed. The real heart of the show isn't in the action, but in the character relationships and drama that happen between attacks. Fafner is at it's best when Kazuki and his friends are coping with the crazy situations they find themselves in, such as dealing with the unexpected death of one friend and genetic evolution of another into a Festum like being.

As things move along there is a considerable amount of development and emotional story arcs among the various characters. This gives the world a good sense of depth and breadth, and gives more weight to the action scenes. Though the pace is a bit slow at times the show really gets better and better as it goes along. The intricacy of the humor and drama in everyone's lives makes the perilous situations the characters are in really hit home. Once the story really gets rolling in the final chapters, all of the various stories pull together for a satisfying conclusion. This is ultimately a coming of age story, with Kazuki, Maya and Soshi at the center.

In Summary:
Though Fafner starts out following the clichés of the genre, it does eventually find it's own unique identity. The plot is fairly elaborate, but it never gets too complex to be enjoyable. With a good balance of everyday life and dramatic action, Fafner has more heart than I initially expected. If you are a fan of traditional action packed Giant Robot shows then Fafner may not hit the mark, with it's slower pace and in depth character development. But it is exactly these things that make the show stand out.

Japanese 2.0 Audio,English 2.0 Audio,English Subtitles,Creditless Opening,Creditless Ending,Japanese Cover Art Gallery,Art Gallery,Episode 15 Creditless Ending,Version 2 Creditless Opening,Version 2 Creditless Ending,Episode 26 Creditless Opening,Episode 24 " 26 Creditless Ending

Review Equipment
Review Equipment: Samsung HLN5065WX 50" DLP HDTV, Sony DVP-NS975V Progressive Scan Up Converting DVD player, Pioneer Elite VSX-81TXV DD/DTS receiver, HDMI cable, JBL Multi-Channel Speaker System with 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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