Flame of Recca Vol. #10 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Flame of Recca

Flame of Recca Vol. #10

By Chris Beveridge     January 15, 2007
Release Date: January 09, 2007


Flame of Recca Vol. #10
© Viz Media


What They Say
It's the final round and for Team Hokage, and there's no turning back. First up, Tokiya sets his sights on Kai, the man who killed his sister. Meanwhile, Recca meets a mysterious old man who teaches him a valuable lesson about his fire dragons, preparing him for the final showdown against Kurei that's been burning for 400 years!

Contains episodes 38-42:
Terror! The Revived Body of the Dead!
Tokiya's Death Match! The Do-or-Die Ice-crest Sword!
Evil Trap! The Angry Fujin!
Battle of Death! Until Life is Burned Out!
Second Reckoning! Recca and Kurei!

The Review!
The Recca series draws to a close as events hurtle forward and the leads must face their biggest adversaries yet.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The final volume closes out the Tournament Edition styling by bringing in the three lead characters of Recca, Kurei and Yanagi. Similar to almost all the other covers in this release, they look great and really have a much more modern feel to them than the show does. 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 another madogu.

Menu:
The menu layout for this release has its pluses and negatives. The main menu is nicely done with a close-up shot of Kurei in his full outfit while artwork and symbols 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.

Extras:
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)
Recca draws to a close in its anime form with this volume and Viz has finished it out with the last five episodes. This works out rather well as it encompasses just the finals so there isn't anything left over from the previous volume that drags out the beginning. The show has lost some of its allure from the beginning volumes where it wasn't in tournament mode but some of the creativity that drew me to the series is definitely still here.

Since there's only so much time left to clean up the various subplots for the show, some of it gets a bit of a rush job here. With this being yet another show where the manga continues quite a bit further than this, it's not surprising but it doesn't really help when watching it. With the finals about to get underway, the mysterious "old pervert" character makes his round among the Team Hokage members and gives them little bits of advice or information on what they're about to face. Of course, it comes with a price which includes him fondling Fuko a bit. Some of it isn't bad, such as getting Domon to understand what he's capable of, but others like having Tokiya realize that the person he's been seeking will be in his next match just feels like forced coincidence.

The finals do bring in what is arguably the most powerful set of fights for Mori's side of the event. Where this falters is that we had so many matches where they went on for so long that here at the finals its over all too quickly. As the matches have gotten more intense, but shorter, the kinds of madogu that are being used are far more creative and outlandish than before. Though the show certainly hasn't been all that cemented in reality from the beginning, it's just continuing that trend of going too far off the beaten path. Within its own context it works, but it's lost a lot of the charm that it had that came from the interactions of the core group of characters.

The finals are almost nothing more than a sideshow though as not only is it a lead-up to the final inevitable fight between Recca and Kurei but it also is used to break up the scenes for Recca and his last bout of training. The old man takes him to the side at the start of the match to give him some much needed slapping around in a private dimension where we get to understand more of the flame dragons. This is actually quite appealing as it really expands nicely on them, even giving them human form so that Recca has to master them in a recognizable form. All of it is geared towards him understanding the power that's inside him and moving beyond the self imposed barriers. Previous elements of this, when he's conquered each dragon individually, were some of the best moments of the show in general so seeing him grow and move on once more is a real highlight.

There aren't any real surprises with how everything plays out as Recca has been a very by the book show from the get go. The shonen action series kept to most of the clichés, even more so when it hit the tournament arc, so with the need to wrap things up on their own they went with some tried and true traditions. Recca's a show that can easily admit that I would rag on even more had it not been one of the first tournament shows that I had really gotten into some time ago. At the time I had seen this, all I had to really gauge it against was Dragon Ball Z so it felt like it was a very different show. Having seen a lot more shows in the last ten years since then, well, it's easy enough to have a vastly different opinion. The show does have a fair bit of nostalgia value though and that's certainly influenced things since these characters have a lot of appeal and are still memorable. Shows I've watched in the last couple of weeks are far less memorable to me as I can't even recall lead character names.

In Summary:
Flame of Recca is by no means a perfect show nor is it a unique one in many ways. The appeal for me comes in how the characters interact with each other and with how each of them master their abilities, Recca in particular. Where it all went bad along the way, admittedly following its manga origins quite well, was when it shifted to the underground tournament arc. Everything just became pure cliché then with minimal backgrounds and little more than constant fighting. The charm fell away and was only visible in brief bursts here and there. I'm vastly grateful to Viz for bringing the series over since it's one that's a very hard sell and really only has appeal to people like myself who fell in love with it during its initial airing in Japan. Fans of it are far better served by the manga however, even with as bad a schedule as it has.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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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