Galaxy Railways Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Galaxy Railways

Galaxy Railways Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     November 12, 2005
Release Date: November 08, 2005


Galaxy Railways Vol. #3
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
It is commonly believed the immense eternity of space has no rival in this dimension. Perhaps this assumption is incorrect. Even the majesty of infinite space cannot compare to the depth held within the memories of man.

Manabu Yuuki finds himself being pulled down the darkest alleys of human memory and emotion. First, Manabu can only watch as an old memory sparks feelings of unrequited love in Captain Bulge. Then, an elderly woman mistakes Manabu for her long lost son. The reunion reveals more than Manabu and his shipmates bargained for. When Manabu accidentally boards the 777 Express, he runs into an old friend, but there is no time for reminiscing as the 777 falls under attack. Finally, Manabu is confused when Louis tries to back out of their newly assigned mission. Later, he discovers the real reason Louis did not want to accept the mission...

The Review!
Another set of four tales expands the knowledge of the galaxy at large while some of the larger plot elements are touched upon again as we get to know these characters better.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix does a nice job with the forward soundstage by providing some good directionality there, mostly noticeable with the train going across the screen but also with some good dialogue moments here and there. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Like a number of other recent Matsumoto series, his works seem to look even better in the digital age and this series is no exception. The bold color palette comes across well here with the character designs and is free of a digital gradient problem. Some of the colors, such as some of the grays and light browns, tend to show a bit more blocking going on, but when the show is in full motion it's pretty hard to detect. Aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent and the majority of the blacks from the space scenes look solid and very easy on the eyes.

Packaging:
The covers for this series so far aren't really stand out pieces but they're good solid looking layouts with good designs to them, such as this one with the strong image of Manabu in the background while a cute shot of Louis is in the foreground as one of the trains races by them. It's fairly dark with the style used combined with the outfits and the generally blue-black backgrounds but it lets the uniforms and train itself stand out well without being too strong. The back cover continues the dark nature of artwork with a background shot of two of the trains along the top half while the bottom half mixes the summary with a few shots from the show. The discs features, episode and technical information is all generally well placed and easy to find though I do continue to hope that the technical grid will be expanded a bit like other companies. While no insert is included in this release, the cover has artwork on the reverse side of a full length image of one of the trains and a half-length shot of Bulge looking serious.

Menu:
Keeping to a lot of stars in the background and other nebula, the foreground is given over to a variety of secondary characters for these episodes as well as Manabu so that it ties it all together. It's set to a brief music loop of instrumental work and is overall a decent looking menu but not one that really jumps out at you. The menu layout for languages is nicely done since it avoids the old way of doing things that used to confuse people. Access times are nice and fast but unfortunately the disc did not read our players' language presets properly.

Extras:
The only extra retained from the previous installments is the textless songs piece but we do get a good new extra this time around as they provide a recording session done in Japan for the twelfth episode. I love watching these things since it's not often we get to see the Japanese cast and their method of recording to the key animation is fun to watch in general. This one runs nearly ten minutes in length and covers a good range of the cast for an interesting episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Galaxy Railways serves up more episodes that still fit nicely in the episodic manner that are able to tell stories without feeling like they're being terribly crammed in there. The stories continue to be the type where we get to know the various characters better either as individuals or as the crew they're slowly getting better at being at. The mixture of action based stories and good character tales is also balanced well with this release giving it a very enjoyable feel overall. The only disappointment continues to be FUNimation's complete lack of crediting the Japanese voice cast for some unknown reason.

To my surprise, I found the opening tale to be one of the more enjoyable ones right from the start even though it plays up the standard kind of coincidences that really make up a lot of the Matsumoto universe. Louis' bringing of a potted flower into the teams ready room unlocks some old memories for Bulge of a time when he was serving under Yuuki's father and was in love with a woman named Catalina. The memories of the past of course means that we'll see them on a mission that takes them to the world where she lives now and both of them will have flashbacks to their past and why it didn't work, as well as having others of the team come across them and not be sure of what's going on, but Bulge really needed the fleshing out since he's been playing the standard slightly angry captain role for awhile now. The flashbacks are really nice in that they let us get with Yuuki's father a bit to see how he handled Bulge and his team as well as understanding Bulge's motivations for even joining the SDF. It's a relaxed episode for the most part but it ties so many nice little things together that it's easy to ignore the obvious coincidences in a galaxy this large.

The team building episode for this volume turned out to be cuter than I thought it would be since it starts off in such a somber way. The group is in charge of handling the last wave of people leaving a planet that's slowly becoming uninhabitable due to their sun turning red. The planet is a fairly standard agriculture based one and the design of it is very eerie with the heavy red and yellows in the sky causing the landscape to take on a very golden feel. The somber element is from there but also in the way the group handles closing down the last transfer station that they have. Where it turns amusing in a good way is when Yuuki heads out to do another sweep of the population he comes across a valley that seems unaffected at times and discovers an old woman there who believes Yuuki is her long lost son Makoto.

The old woman's delusion is done with a nice bit of humor as she plays it up as an overly protective mother who's finally got her son back and just wants to do everything for him. It's when the rest of the team shows up to find Yuuki that it gets more amusing since she thinks they're the hired hands of his that are helping out and they all deal with it in different ways. Bulge plays it right and Louis has a bit of fun with it but the others are a bit miffed at being talked about as poor workers and helpers. There's a creepy element to the episode as it plays out towards the end but the way the characters now feel like they all really work well together and deal with each other is the real highlight here, particularly compared to some of the episodes on the previous volume where Yuuki was close to leaving.

This volume also gets a couple of good action episodes, such as the last one where the team is assigned to guard the president of a particular planet as he moves across different planets for a campaigning reasons. It's an eye-rolling moment when you find out that he's actually Louis' father so you have the discord there of a daughter that went military and a father that wanted her to do something else but it turns into a fun action episode when someone with a grudge sets the robotic bodyguards that the president is assigned into killers instead. There are some neat twists in how a more protected train like this runs and some classic Matsumoto moments in terms of how the action plays out but overall it's a good balance against the slower and more character driven tales from earlier.

In Summary:
Galaxy Railways continues to not be an earth shattering show but it is one that I can't help but be drawn to. Matsumoto's style, both in storyline and artwork, are like breathes of fresh air to me compared to most of what is done out there these days. This volume builds smoothly upon what's come before and takes us to the halfway mark of the show and continues to provide small clues and moments about something much larger going on. The elements of the fantastic continue to blend in the deeper we go and things such as trains in space really don't feel out of place which is a testament to how well done this is overall. Definitely recommended for those looking for some good space opera material.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Recording Session,Textless opening,Textless ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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