Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Fantastic Children
Fantastic Children Vol. #5
By Chris Beveridge
December 06, 2006
Release Date: November 28, 2006
What They Say
In Helga's past life, her body had been turned into a terrible weapon. The only way to save her was to transfer her soul to the faraway planet Earth. But before her soul departed, she and Soran vowed to meet each other once again on Earth.
In her present life, her original Greecian appearance has returned along with her memories. She reveals her decision regarding her soul's return to Greecia but is abducted by Dumas immediately after. Thoma, Aghi, and the others split up to find Helga and stop the soul transference device before it's too late!The Review!
The past is finally nearly fully revealed and the larger motivations pushing events forward becomes clear, bringing us once again to the present.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show is presented in stereo mixes for both its English and Japanese tracks and both of them come across quite well with some minor directionality throughout it. The show has a good mix of both dialogue and action sequences that use the directionality nicely such as some of the boating sequences while the quieter dialogue scenes are very sharp and still move around well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series has a very distinct feel to it depending on the characters and setting at the time and they're fairly different. The first couple of episodes spend a lot of time in the past and in the hazy settings of Europe which looks good but has a definite soft feeling to it. When it shifts to the more current settings in the South Seas, the show has a far more lively and colorful feel to it with the seas and jungles. There is a mix of the two at times when the characters come across each other and the source material for the transfer look fantastic with clean lines and plenty of detail. If there is any real problem with the transfer it's the amount of mosquito noise to it with some of the colors when you have close-ups that provide one shade for a large part of the screen. There are a few areas where the blacks don't maintain a completely solid feel but it's very minimal and far between. Otherwise colors look great, aliasing is non-existent and there isn't any visible cross coloration. Packaging:
The fifth installment in the series is given over mostly to the human cast as we have both Cooks and Alice along with Gherta while a few of the Children are in the background image of the city streets. It doesn't have quite the impact some of the previous covers did but it's a decent entry. The only downside to me is that I know a lot of people will pass on it simply because of the character designs, which is a real shame. The back cover has a good layout to it with a collage of shots from the show in a nice border while below it is a fairly good summary of what these episodes are about. The episode numbers and titles are provided as is the production information. The technical has the right run time for this volume but it could have used listing things like aspect ratio and what extras were available. No insert is included nor is the cover reversible.Menu:
The menu layout for the release is rather nicely done as it brings in a lot of the sketches and illustrations of the various locales from the series. It has a lot of nice simple animation to it as the various pieces come together to the final layout alongside the brief music that's included. The menus aren't flashy but they fit the theme of the show just right and set the mood for what's about to start. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy to use. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While so many of the recent episodes have focused on the past, getting a couple more of them doesn't feel like we're losing anything with the current cast since it's doing such an amazing job of covering such a wide ranging storyline. So much has been revealed already but even more is still to come and the slow but steady series of revelations only serves to make this all the more engaging.
The rebellion on Greecia is still the main topic as we see it getting to the capital and placing everyone in danger. The focus shifts a bit more towards the events surrounding Soran after he's managed to bring back the weakened Princess Tina. Knowing that the scientists have been involved with everything, he's intent on having her taken care of by removing the device that makes her a weapon. To everyone's surprise though, her body hasn't stored the device where it was implanted but rather co-opted it so that it spread to her entire body. She is truly a living weapon in that her presence is enough to activate things. Or at least that's the belief but since it requires her conscious mind/soul to give it life, a desperate plan is put into place to send her and Soran's souls to Earth.
As we'd seen earlier in the show, Tina obviously made it back and has lived a number of lives since then. Her connection has been tenuous at best but something was always there underneath trying to get out. Her final moments with Soran explain much of her mentality when it comes to those previous incarnations as she's been spending her time in one place waiting for someone as much as possible. But with Soran apparently unable to make his way there, she's been waiting for something that will never happen. These revelations are fascinating enough in themselves but Helga takes the reality of it all very close to heart. So much so in fact that she now resembles the other Greecians as her hair has changed and she has completely accepted what has happened.
All of these revelations gives the group the resolve it needs to deal with the problem at hand, that being that a transference device is now on Earth and is causing problems. Knowing that their own time is short and that Tina is set in her plans has them ready to take on the GED. That doesn't get too far before Demian, revealed formally as Tina's younger brother Dumas from the second marriage, makes his own plan for getting Tina and everyone else back to Greecia so they can end this entire debacle that has spilled over onto Earth. Dumas' plans coalesce really quickly here as the GED shifts to demonstrating their technology to the military of other countries in order to secure a position of power. But as Dumas begins to reveal his intentions, it pushes some of the people that he's manipulated into questioning their own motives.
Just like the previous volume, so much is going on here that it's almost difficult to keep track of it all. The larger picture is revealed in small pieces but much of this background on Greecia brings it into focus. With most of the mystery now revealed, it does give the show a chance to lose some of its magic. Thankfully it seems like it isn't going to fall that way as it shifts to a bit more of an action bent. But even with that, there is still some good character manipulation going on and revelations still to be had. Some of the final scenes on this volume gave me an amusing flashback to the first time I had seen Macross and understood the secrets that were revealed quickly there.In Summary:
Fantastic Children hits a number of high notes with this volume but that's been consistent with just about every volume in the series. There is a bit of a change of pace as this volume progresses though as the flashbacks are essentially coming to an end. This does give a few hints towards the present though and Thoma has the possibility of being something more than we already thought he was. Even when this show hits some of the standard clichés, so much of it still feels like it's fresh and new with plenty left unexplored. While most shows do manage to hold my attention, there are far fewer that have me so engaged in every nuance and detail as Fantastic Children does. Highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via DVI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.