Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & 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. #6
By Chris Beveridge
January 26, 2007
Release Date: December 19, 2006
Fantastic Children Vol. #6
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
A centuries long tale of love, war, and revenge comes to a close as the true identities of the children are revealed. On the planet of Greecia Thoma will learn not only learn the taste of defeat at the hands of Dumas, but he will also gain knowledge of something much more important, his previous life as a child of Greecia.
Lost in a sea of emotion, Dumas fights a battle within himself, one that that will endanger not only the lives of the Children of Befort but perhaps all those remaining on Greecia.The Review!
The last revelations are made as Helga finds herself being readied for a return to Greecia as Fantastic Children comes to a powerful close.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 final cover for the series lets Dumas take the stage in his full regalia while wearing a darkened expression on his face. Mixed with the soft and indistinct background that shows some of the other "children," this is a very good looking piece overall as it sets the atmosphere just right. In terms of really selling it though it's just hard for a lot of reasons. 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:
Though most of the volumes have been light or devoid of extras, this one comes with an extended special closing sequence that covers a bit more of the epilogue of the various characters. It's the perfect kind of piece to check out after the show has finished.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going into the last volume of this was something that I had most definitely dreaded. Not for the content itself, as the show continues to be a winner in just about all regards, but because it's simply the end of the storyline. In previous reviews I talked about how more enjoyable some of these original storyline productions can be compared to long running manga adaptations, but there are times when it's worse because it feels like it's too soon to end. Fantastic Children however manages to finish out just right and doesn't exactly leave you wanting more because what you've just seen is highly satisfying.
So many revelations have been coming for so many volumes now that they just continue to build one on top of the other. With Dumas having made his plans and now executing them for his father, events are moving at a very swift pace. The flashbacks are almost completely over with at this point and the focus is on the present on Earth as Dumas' massive ship is now visible and the transference device is operational. His intent on sending Tina back to Greecia so that his father can properly assume command of that world is no longer just a dream but a reality. His plans have worked so well that Thoma and the others are no longer able to deal with him directly.
Dumas in fact is rather cruel but precise in what he's trying to do. Knowing that Aghi and the others would try to stop him, he's ensured that they'll be otherwise distracted by placing their original bodies in jeopardy. This also feeds on his own mindset since he cannot return to Greecia and wants others to suffer like he has for so long. This all comes early in these episodes but they're heartrending moments as you see the Children having to deal with their bodies like this. For Thoma it's something of a revelation because of their size, but he's also the most level headed since he has the least at risk.
As the show progresses forward, it does still have several surprises in store about who is really who in this world. A lot of the secondary characters and past events either show up or get referenced, be it Kirchner and his data or see the detective finally reaching the deepest lair of all of this. They help to bring in a bit more closure on some of the outstanding thread plots of the show and keep something of a human element to what's becoming an increasingly Greecian cast. An area that really had me interested in the show but is somewhat confusing considering the time it's taken to watch the entire series is to find out the fates of those Children who left the others and ended up staying with their human families. The revelation of who Mel became was certainly a surprise to me as was her romantic relationship back on Greecia.
Where a great deal of payoff came in this volume was with Thoma's realization of who he truly is. Those who are drawn to Aghi and the others often have a deep connection to the Children so it was little surprise that he himself is a reincarnation of someone from those flashbacks. What wasn't always clear, nor could be considering the way they've thrown some curves in here, is that he was really Seth. There was always the belief, or hope maybe, that he was Soran and that he and Helga would be able to live happily ever after. But that isn't always the case with a show like this and learning the full truth of what happened during the rebellion on Greecia and Soran's final moments before Tina was sent to Earth are just very emotional and powerfully done.
Fantastic Children's sense of artistic style carries through perfectly in this final volume as well. While I wish some of the video issues weren't present, such as the noticeable blocking in some of the blue backgrounds, the overall quality of the production manages to outshine this. The shows character designs have always worked against it but as the story has played out I don't know that it would have quite the same impact with "normal" looking anime character designs. These designs just have a different sense to them, maybe making them feel more "real" than standard designs would. The design style for the series has been beautiful throughout with its focus on particular shades, detail and effects. Everything caps off wonderfully here and just enhances the entire experience.In Summary:
If there is one thing I hear continually over the years it's that there aren't any good original shows being made anymore. The trend is too heavily in favor of manga adaptations and many of those are done either before the manga is far enough along or there is just too much manga and it becomes weak overall. Between that and hearing that there isn't anything good out there I just shake my head because a title like Fantastic Children is exactly what so many claim that they're looking for. A tightly written complex original story with a firm ending that resonates emotionally while providing plenty of action, everything about this series has been top notch. Fantastic Children is a title that will stay with me for years and will merit multiple viewings to truly bring it all together. This is a world I am eager to immerse myself in again. I cannot recommend it enough, particularly for the jaded and those that claim there is nothing good to be seen anymore.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Special Ending
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.