Flame of Recca Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Flame of Recca

Flame of Recca Vol. #03

By Chris Beveridge     April 05, 2005
Release Date: April 05, 2005

Flame of Recca Vol. #03
© Viz Media

What They Say
With a kidnapped Yanagi on the brain, Recca and his friends must contend with a gauntlet of henchmen whose sole purpose is to seek and destroy. When they finally meet up with Kurei, Recca learns that this is no mere battle of bitter enemies, but a rivalry that spans 400 years.

Features four episodes:
Demon Domon " His Unknown Power!!
Clash of Flames " The Two Hokage!!
The Five Fangs of Kogonanki!!
Kurenai the Flame " The Angel of Death!!

The Review!
The foes continue to line up against Recca and friends as they progress through Kurei's mansion.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is decent but like a number of other shows from around this time the bulk of it is pretty much a full sounding mix that doesn't have too much in the way of strong directionality across the forward soundstage. It's a good sounding mix overall but it doesn't have any huge punch or oomph to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems during regular playback with either language track.

Originally airing in 1997, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The print and materials for this show are decent but there are some things to note. First, there's some noticeable print damage throughout but much more noticeable during the first two episodes where you can see some dirt, dust and scratches. The second is that this isn't a high quality show to begin with. The series has always looked like it was done on a budget and it's visible during a lot of scenes, particularly mid-range character shots where there's practically no detail to their faces; some shots even have completely blank faces. The coloring style used, especially for the blacks that shade things like Recca's school uniform, are just drenched on and without detail. This is the kind of show where they never expected it to have to show as much detail as it is now and it doesn't translate well a lot of times. It's definitely accurate to the source materials however but this is a show that in some ways probably looked better on VHS.

Less focused on the characters and more on the flames that the two main opponents wield, the artwork here is just as detailed as the previous volumes but it doesn't look quite as striking at first since the character artwork is small and not the main focus, so it doesn't have the same feel as those other covers. The back cover provides a fiery backdrop and more black that has a very brief premise of the series. The discs features and episode numbers and titles are listed as well. Viz releases typically have very little in the way of technical information and this release isn't much different, especially since what little there is is spread out. The insert lists the episode numbers and titles as well as the chapter sections and a list of the extras. The reverse side has a piece of production artwork showing off Tokiya's Ensui.

The menu layout for this release has its pluses and negatives. The main menu is nicely done with a close-up shot of Recca in his full ninja garb but with his face exposed while a mixture of flame animation and other artwork from the show plays behind him. This is set to some of the instrumental music from the show. The selections are all the basic ones and easy to navigate about. On the plus side, the chapter selection menu has to be one of the best I've seen as it gives you instant access to any chapter on the disc for any episode without having to go through numerous submenus. The menus are pretty good here overall even if they didn't read our players' language presets correctly.

The only included extra with this release is a series of production sketches in a single gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the third volume of Flame of Recca, the four episodes here bring us deeper into the arc with the good guys running through Kurei's mansion and taking on his madogu powered lackeys. Kurei's managed to fix himself up with an amusing mix of minions where half of them seem more sympathetic to the good guys as we've seen with Ganko and with some of Koganei's actions while the other half seem to be just psychotic or plain unbalanced.

The material in this arc is pretty decent but it does suffer from that tournament style mentality. The plus side to it is that it doesn't spend much more than an episode or maybe a bit more on each of the villains and it cycles through the good guys on a regular basis so that they all get their time to up their abilities some or to get that pounding they need to enforce their desire to become stronger and fight better. The weakest of the material on this one to me is Domon's fight with the hulking huge guy in the first episode mostly because Domon hasn't really got anything going for him other than his own strength and skills whereas everyone else is using a madogu or some other tool. It's harder for Domon to move up the chain so his stuff, even when he does win, feel like the weakest of the characters.

One fight that's quite enjoyable and shows some of the real creativity of the show is the one between Koganei and Tokiya. Tokiya's the basic straight man of the show so it's natural that he gets set up against the punk kid who he doesn't think is treating this all that seriously or realize the stakes. What he ends up discovering is just how good Koganei is with his madogu, a really interesting piece that has five forms to it. Each of the forms is designed to operate completely differently, one of them is like a sickle, another as a bow and so forth. This lets Koganei really have fun with how he handles each situation and provides some fun diversity to his attacks so he doesn't get stuck in a rut with it.

The real fun here comes with the last episode as everyone finally reaches Kurei and he has no problem handling things personally since he's so confident in his abilities, especially against Recca who hasn't really learned to manage his flame at all in comparison. This fight starts to bring more things into focus that the series grows on such as exploring lightly more of the shared past between Kurei and Recca and Recca's relationship with his flame. The thing that continues to really drive Recca isn't his desire to master the flame or to fight Kurei but rather to see his princess safe and sound and that simple bit becomes a real key moment during this as we get to see Recca really cut loose.

In Summary:
With several fights spread across the four episodes, some of them overlapping, we get plenty of action throughout it and it maintains the same kind of look and feel as the previous fights. Recca's not a series known for fantastic animation but it's one that continues to have me eagerly watching it even though this is something like the fourth time I've seen it, a real rarity for me. This particular arc sets up a few of the basic premises that will follow into later episodes and provides the necessary motivations to go forward and does it while wrapping it around some fun fight sequences that showcase some neat creativity when it comes to weapons and characters.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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