Geisters: Fractions of the Earth Vol. #1 - 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: Anime Crash
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Geisters: Fractions of the Earth

Geisters: Fractions of the Earth Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 22, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004


Geisters: Fractions of the Earth Vol. #1
© Anime Crash


What They Say
400 years ago, it became certain than an asteroid would collide with Earth and the extinction of life as we know it was at hand. In preparation, mankind spent 10 years devising a plan to survive. The Dobias population decided to live out in space, while the Shioru forged themselves underground. 300 years later, both the Dobias and Shioru returned to the Earth's surface.

But the surface was not what it once was, and mankind was forced to battle for supremacy with a new life form borne from the ashes of destruction: The Siliconians - monstrous creatures who roam the landscape searching for prey. All the while, the Dobias, composed of scientists and nobles, and the Shioru, composed of farmers and nomads, are engaged in a bitter war over the limited remaining resources.

Amidst this battle for survival are Dean Honos, Alcion Fama, Cris Vesta, Victor Deicius, and Shai Tanna, and together they are the Geisters - an ultimate fighting force with powers, abilities, and weapons far beyond that of normal humans. They are mankind's last hope.

The Review!
Centuries after humanity was forced to flee the Earth and the destructions caused by a meteorite, they've returned to rebuild the world but both the surviving humans and the new creatures living on the land take issue with it.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its Japanese language version. The series sports a rather strong stereo mix that has a good amount of directionality and some forceful oomph to the track in general. Dialogue comes across nice and clear throughout it. We spot checked both the English 5.1 track and the stereo track and noticed no real issues. The 5.1 mix appears to take the already solid stereo mix and gives it a bit more clarity and distinctness.

Video:
Originally airing in Japan during 2001, the Geisters transfer here looks very good in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show makes a lot of use of the CG animation, and it's fairly reflective of what was coming out in 2001, so the CG pieces have a lot of shading and vibrancy to them but avoid the cross coloration issue. The more traditional animation comes across very well at the same time with some very solid looking bright colors and the backgrounds maintaining a solid feel. This also avoids the cross coloration issue for the most part though there are a few minor instances spread across the five episodes. It's fairly negligible overall though. Aliasing is minimal but does existing during some of the panning sequences. The transfer in general looks pretty solid and problem free.

Packaging:
The first volume of the series is packaged rather nicely all told with a cardboard slipcover. The slipcover has the cast shot of the main crew of the Geisters in their uniforms standing in a row with the symbol behind them, all against a blood red backdrop. The back of the slipcover provides a decent summary of the shows premise and provides a few shots of animation. The discs extras and features are pretty clearly listed, though it's missing one or two things like the region encoding. And it may just be me, but the DVD logo just doesn't quite look like the official DVD logo for some reason. Once you pop off the slipcover, the clear keepcase has a front cover shot of the lead character in the bio suit armor set against a blue cloudy backdrop. This shot just doesn't look good since it shows off all the simple artwork and design that creeps into the show and really looks, well, cartoonish compared to the front cover with its style. The back of the keepcase uses the same summary and features/extras listing but has a few different animation shots. The reverse side cover is an interesting black and white piece that takes Dean's character design and provides a close-up of it with a full color version of it in the lower right. The reverse side back cover has summaries for each of the five episodes and a shot of animation to go with it. The insert, which is a bit thicker than the normal paper ones, replicates the front slipcover artwork but with less of the logos around it. The reverse side provides a biography of the Dean character with a timeline of him and some basic information.

Menu:
The menu layout uses animation from the show of one of the Geister ships moving through a tunnel that's done in all CG. This is one of the best looking pieces of CG in the show since it's not mixing with traditional animation and it just looks great as a menu. The series logo is the core of the menu selection menu down along the bottom where all the usual access points are. The menus load quickly and without transitional animation to slow it down.

Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal here but this doesn't look like a series with a lot of bonus material to begin with. The shows original Korean opening sequence is provided here and it really highlights the difference in storytelling styles between the two cultures in what they want to emphasize just from the opening sequence. There's also an art gallery that has a number of images from the show that you can manually move through.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Geisters is the first anime release from Anime Crash, so it's not too surprising that we're looking a bit more closely at what they're doing here than we do from other studios that we've gotten comfortable with over time. Whenever we deal with a new studio, it usually causes us to reflect again on everyone else and turn a bit more critical about a few things. Before we get into the content portion, we'll talk about some of the pro's and cons of their first release.

On the pro side, the disc quality overall is pretty solid. They've managed to hit the bulk of the marks properly. The opening and ending sequences are done in their Japanese format and not translated (something we like but aren't dead set on). The menus are well laid out and easy to use without a lot of transitional pieces. The subtitle track appears to be well done though we'll let those more in tune with the Japanese language to talk about the actual accuracy. The subtitles themselves are done in yellow with a good border that doesn't cause issues. The animation and transfer itself look solid. Not entirely problem free but still very good for a first release.

On the con side, there's a few there but they're important ones. The Anime Crash logo sequence at load-up is non-skippable (forward, menu, title disabled). To make it worse, there's an animation sequence that plays up to the actual logo shot which runs maybe a minute or so that's also not skippable. Even worse, it's set to play audio only when you have the English track selected. Since our player is set to default to Japanese language with subtitles, we get no audio during this sequence and you can't change tracks on the fly to get to it. This is a problem that's occurred before with Media Blasters discs. Once the logo sequence is done there's an advertisement for the various releases from Tofu records. While this also suffers from the audio issue, it is at least skippable by title/menu/skip forward buttons.

The biggest flaw that I really have with the release is the lack of translated credits of the Japanese cast and a list of the US production credits and talent. This is a big faux pas. My only other issue and it's probably more a nitpick than anything else is that at the end of the episodes, it feels like the show is being clipped off a second or two early as it seems to end with a hard note as opposed to a soft smooth transition.

As for the show itself, it's actually pretty entertaining. The quickest and easiest thing I can say is that it reminds me very heavily of Blue Gender and the end of the world/reclamation stories that I've read over the years. The show opens with a meteorite that's crashed into Japan and caused a ripple effect of trouble around the world. A chunk of humanity has fled into space and spent the next few centuries in a space station that's been built there. It's hard to tell whether people were kept in stasis during it or whether they grew and populated there over time. But after three hundred years of the Earth experiencing an ice age and more, it's safe to return to the surface.

Under the protection of twelve families that oversee everything, the bulk of people that have returned live in the city of Dobias. The city is a sprawling piece where classes have been reintroduced. Those of the families and in power live in the towering ships that have plunged into the ground. They live above as nobles and tend to live better of. Those on the ground in the city itself aren't terribly bad off but they have to deal with the realities of a harsher life there as some of the various families don't consider them more than chattle. From Dobias, pioneer teams are sent out across the countryside to expand into new towns and cities and repopulate the world in general.

Out in the wastelands and other areas that are coming back to life, things aren't exactly safe. A segment of humanity that wasn't able to flee into space that survived have spent the centuries changing their lifestyle and living off of what meager things are available to them. They've taken on a wandering caravan style of life and come across very much in a middle eastern look and feel. They don't take lightly to the Dobias people nor their way of simply returning and expecting to claim everything they want. A treaty exists between the two though and there is some uneasy peace. The other thing living in the world is likely the result of whatever was in that original rock that hit the planet, a creature that's been given the name of a Siliconian. These creatures take on various forms but they're generally large and ugly and they have a taste for steel as their food source. So they're often attracted to the cities and the pioneer towns since they're easy targets.

Up until recently, most of the militias of the families have been able to handle the Siliconian incursions or deal with the various scuffles with the Shioru people. But recently the Siliconian's are starting to evolve and new kinds of them are starting to emerge that are much tougher and harder to take down. The Juno family, which is pretty much the top of the families and the ones responsible for creating Dobias, created a group during the previous Siliconian War called the Geisters to handle fighting them. The people in the group were the cream of the crop and generally stronger and more capable than the average military man. The Geisters have survived since that war and are still in use.

The series really gets underway when we see the militia handling the latest variant only to have the Geisters come swooping in on their special craft and start taking over the situation with little regard to the people on the ground. The fight goes on for some time as the new Siliconian is challenging their existing tools and it eventually ends up spreading into a Shioru encampment. The entire fight just goes completely wrong and leads into the deaths of many people on both sides, but eventually the beast is brought down by one of the Geisters using an experimental weapon that the research facility has provided them with. The incident causes a real rift between the Shioru and the Dobias and sets some of those who survived into wanting to take revenge, leading to a series of terrorist style attacks over the course of these episodes.

On the Dobias side, the incident leads to a change in command of the Geisters and the re-introduction of a previous abandoned plan to create a bio unit piece of armor that could deal with the Siliconians and their changing forms. The team also gets a new member in the form of Shai Tanna, a Shioru herself. She brings some baggage with her in her being a Shioru since there's a general distrust but also in the way she's an individualistic person instead of working teammate. After the death of the previous commander, the Geisters have started to turn on themselves a bit in a power play attempt since the chain of command doesn't go as some of them expected. With a new and somewhat inexperienced commander, the group ends up in some rather nasty situations as things unfold.

In a way, the show plays out pretty much like others in the genre such as Blue Gender. One of the aspects to this series that's got me pretty well drawn in early on is that with the various competing families, there's a lot of intrigue and politics designed into these early episodes that make everything all the more dangerous for people. Combined with the action elements and then the general group dynamics, which of course leads to individual episodes that detail their histories and shine more light on how the Dobias landscape was created, there's plenty interesting material here to watch. Some of it's clich�d as expected, but any show that starts off with nearly destroying the planet and then setting up a new form of government and living when they return has my attention.

The downside to the show tends to come in the animation and it comes in three flavors. The CG animation for the Siliconians are definitely a product of its time. This show aired in Japan back in 2001 and probably a bit earlier in Korea, so it's not exactly the latest and greatest. It's not as bad as say Lost Universe but it's not holding up against the latest Gonzo material. If anything, it's reminiscent of their late Vandread style material than anything else. The second flavor problem is that the traditional animation itself is sometimes a bit too skimpy on things like details in outfits and the like, which causes the characters to be a bit more bland and, well, like the cover art, cartoonish. The third flavor of issue is that when you combine the two animations, they really don't blend. Really. Don't. Blend. Some of it is slightly better than others, but overall there's not a really good combination of the two. This easily takes you out of the story at times but admittedly you get used to it if you make it through all five episodes.

In Summary:
Geisters itself looks to be an interesting show with some good potential to it, particularly since I like the political aspect of it that's got a good part of the stage here. The characters are still fairly one-dimensional since they're slowly getting their back stories told but they're getting more and more interesting as it goes along. For Anime Crash's first release, the cons may make it sound like more of a mixed bag than it is, but the bulk of the problems are over with within the first two minutes of the disc even being on, leaving mostly the credits issue as the sore point. With as many studios releasing material out there as there is, I'm surprised something as simple as this got overlooked and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that it was simply overlooked. While Geisters isn't at the top of my anticipation list, it looks like it's a series that will entertain me pretty well over the course of its run if these opening episodes indicate anything.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Korean Opening,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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