Galaxy Railways Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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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: 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 26, 2005
Release Date: January 03, 2006

Galaxy Railways Vol. #4
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Perhaps the truth about the past is its eternal presence within us all. This theory has never been more evident as the events of long ago emerge once again in the paths of Manabu and his comrades.

During a routine mission, the situation becomes decidedly non-routine as the flames of the past surround Captains Murase and Julia. Can they depend on each other when their lives are on the line?

David also encounters an old flame of his own when Big One is sent to rescue survivors from a small aircraft crashed on a remote planet known as the resting place of the most beautiful jewel in the universe. Soon, the Sirius Platoon will come face to face with a mystery that may prove true love is stronger than dark, ghostly legends.

The Review!
The SDF crews face another round of dangerous events and crises in the course of their tour of duty.

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.

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.

The style of the covers continue to be relatively the same and this volume gives over its main area to Murase and his crew with their engine prominently behind 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 shot of Bruce and David together..

Keeping to a lot of stars in the background and other nebula, the foreground is given over to a couple of secondary characters for these episodes 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.

The textless songs continue to be on every volume which is a plus in my book but we return to the commentaries for this volume with one done by the ADR director and actors from the English language adaptation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Another four episodes and another four standalone tales of the Galaxy Railways crew continue to highlight some of the more enjoyable storytelling going on out there today, particularly in the "space opera" range of animation. The tales here cover a range of ideas and characters, moving easily between the dramatic (or overly dramatic to some) and the all out action pieces that are fairly violent. The characters have really solidified over the previous three volumes and just about all of them have some good background now so that the stories simply move forward and bring in more of their pasts and experiences.

This allows for a bit broader range in talking about the SDF crews and the first episode does a nice job of that by showcasing an interesting pairing. You have the all female crew of one train that's led by Julia who isn't cold but is of the calculating variety and the type that simply wants it to be done right, the first time, by the numbers and not the gut. She's paired with an old friend named Murase whose own crew is like he is where it's by their seats and guts as they act first and figure out what to do later. The mixture of the two as they defend a port in space against incoming asteroids and comet material doesn't quite work well since Murase simply leaps into it and breaks them apart with the massive cannons their train has while Julia tries to find the single points on their targets to obliterate them completely. Their past comes into play as the situation gets really tense and Bulge and his crew is brought in to help beef up the defense. Being able to see more of another crew and the way they act brings more understanding to how Bulge runs his ship and those on it.

This volume also introduces us to one of the big luxury/gambling trains that runs special around the galaxy but we don't get to see it too much before a mishap causes it to crash on an uninhabited planet by humans. The Big One is sent in to rescue everyone on the planet but there's a real problem down there; the atmosphere is corrosive and causes mechanical things to break down relatively fast and it even destroys clothing. When Manabu and the others arrive, the survivors are all standing around naked and demanding an immediate pickup. The poor conductor, befriended by one of the shorter passengers on the train, is a mess. The show takes an interesting twist when the little guy falls out of the transport as it takes off and Yuki, someone who definitely should not have been on the planet to help the rescue, leaps out to save him. She gets some really nice character moments here as she continues to push against her sexaroid origins to be something more and to deal with the things others project on her. She also provides for some good fanservice as her outfit gets ripped and corrodes over the course of the adventure.

While there's plenty of character drama throughout the volume, there is a fair bit of action as well. The last episode on the disc shows that security at the GR HQ is completely inadequate as a new creature in humanoid form has managed to worm its way in to acquire information. The entire HQ gets locked down pretty hard and all available personal are armed and sent in to track down the thing in question and neutralize it but it's a far tougher opponent than most gave thought at first. With its ability to reach out far with its malleable appendages, it strikes deep at a lot of those sent in to stop it and leaves at trail of bodies. The action is good but what makes it more exciting is that it takes the pairing of Bruce and Manabu up a notch after Manabu gets smacked hard in a fight and Bruce sees himself as losing another partner. The two have gotten a lot better over the series so far so having Bruce potentially experience another incident like this has him setting off to take care of the enemy by himself, which of course only makes things worse. The relationship between the two men is obviously explored here and it's not terribly subtle but it's done in standard Matsumoto fashion with plenty of knowing looks and stoic faces..

In Summary:
Volume by volume, I fall more and more in love with this series and its fantastic elements and heroic characters. This is a feel good show wrapped in an engaging space opera that doesn't play completely by conventional rules. It's simply letting the characters and their motivations run wild and letting it all fall where it may. When the show is overly dramatic, it carries that sort of epic feel to it that's emblematic of many space operas. This set of episodes is a lot of fun across the board with fanservice, character drama, motivation galore and plenty of action. This is one series that needs a lot more people checking it out as Matsumoto is one of those rare few creators out there that's able to do "retro" feeling material like this and make it deeper and more engaging than most of the fluff out there. It's little wonder that this show managed to get a second season made, it's simply that good.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,ADR Commentary Track,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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