Flame of Recca Vol. #07 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • 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. #07

By Chris Beveridge     December 20, 2005
Release Date: April 04, 2006

Flame of Recca Vol. #07
© Viz Media

What They Say
Now that Koganei has switched sides, Kurei's setting his sights on taking him down for his treasonous acts. First up for revenge is the blood-thirsty Mokuren equipped with the ability to control all plant-like matter. Then Recca meets his match in the cute and cunning Meno, whose hair is just a cut above the rest!

Contains episodes 25-28:
Impact! - A Decisive Flash of Lightning!
Mokuren Resurrected - The Ire of the Human-Faced Tree!
A Reason for Tears - The Young Girl with the Tangled Hair!
Scorching Glance! - Setsuna's Incineration!

The Review!
The matches against Genjuro and his minions races towards a conclusion, only to set up the next round of nastiness.

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 it's fairly minor and something not unexpected considering the budget of the show. 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. The jitter is fairly visible throughout as well during scene changes but also during other scenes as well as you can see characters shifting a bit while the backgrounds stand still or vice versa.

Continuing with the Tournament Edition layout which has a clear listing of the volume number and its title, the artwork for it looks good once again as we have both Koganei and Tokiya together as elements from their fights and weapons fill the space around them. It's quite detailed and really well colored so that it has an almost "modern" look about it. 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 the Setsuna dragon.

The menu layout for this release has its pluses and negatives. The main menu is nicely done with a blurry 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)
Flame of Recca continues to work strongly through the Tournament arc of the series and it brings us several members of the Uruha Illusion division to fight this time around. With Genjuro as its leader and most able member of the special ten warriors that Kurei keeps under his employ, the cast of characters he brings to fight against Recca and the others provide for some interesting situations, especially with the madogu that they have.

A good part of the first half of this volume is dealt with doling out a bit of revenge from Kurei's side on Koganei. With his desertion to Team Hokage, he's not been a favored son of Kurei's like he once was and part of the tournament has had the goal of teaching the young man a lesson. Genjuro's minions are more than capable of doing this and they come up with a rather chilling way of dealing with him by reviving Mokuren to take him out. Mokuren's revival is particularly chilling since his attitude is now even creepier and through circumstances that keep some of Koganei's teammates away, he's forced to deal with him head on. With Mokuren in his tree form, Koganei's not able to do all that much against him and he quickly becomes a handicap.

What's interesting to see is the growth in Tokiya over all of this as he's really taken a liking to the young man, especially considering all that Koganei has gone through. Though the tournament continues on and Tokiya takes up the position to go against Mokuren, he would have done it regardless of where he stood in the line-up. The progression of the Hokage members against the Illusion team provides for some good fights, be it Mokuren or the introduction of Meno. Similar to past fights, we get to learn some of the details behind the pasts of the fighters, though Mokuren isn't all that interesting, so that we understand where they come from. This has been a tried and true method in other familiar series such as Yu Yu Hakusho and it does tend to make the fights more interesting and allow the Hokage members to try and appeal to their opponents' true nature.

Where this volume really shines is when Recca moves to take on Genjuro head on. We learn a good deal about Genjuro during this volume in how he uses his psychic-surgery skill to do all kinds of amazing tricks and modifications to people, from the manticore like creature we see early on to the way he implanted a madogu inside of Meno in order to give her an innate power that can't be easily taken away. His time spent doing all kinds of research and experiments has given him a certain reputation, one that definitely made him an asset to Kurei and his long term goal of extending life, and that reputation is something that he intends to secure even more after he reveals his intentions towards Kurei. Before he can do that, he has to try and acquire the dragons from within Recca which leads to some really fascinating material and the revelation of a rather violent new dragon.

In Summary:
In its own way, this volume is somewhat light on real content because so much of it deals with the fights. But that's been part of the shows charm for us since we've seen it so many times now. The fights are very enjoyable but they're also tinged with some interesting character aspects and events that force the Hokage members to really keep to their own moral standings when dealing with them. This particular set of episodes closes a chapter in the tournament with the final rounds between Hokage and Uruha Illusion only to reveal just how much more dangerous events to come will be. Flame of Recca continues to be very much a guilty pleasure, one whose flaws are evident especially in its animation quality, but the characters, their quirks and the dragons themselves all keep me coming back time after time to watch it play out.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Sketch Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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