Geneshaft Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Geneshaft

Geneshaft Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 26, 2003
Release Date: November 18, 2003


Geneshaft Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The crew struggles on as they mourn the recent loss of a comrade. Meanwhile, Mir takes the Shaft and goes to confront Sergei, but an attack by a new type of Ring changes everything! The stress and strain of the crew is at an all time high with Mika refusing to pilot the Shaft. The end is near as Sergei moves to destroy humanity while Hiroto strives to defend it. The final battle for Earth will take place on the Jovian moon of Europa!

The Review!
Bringing the series to an end, Geneshaft brings about answers to numerous questions and blissfully doesn’t add a whole lot of other ones to it, resulting in a good conclusion.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, but we also took in parts of the dub later. The dialogue for both tracks is solid with no noticeable dropouts or distortions. With it being a pro-logic mix, there’s some occasional pieces thrown to the rear speakers, primarily in music from what I could tell, but it’s fairly weak and doesn’t add terribly much to the overall presentation.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, it’s little surprise that this transfer looks just about perfect. The materials for this are very slick looking with a almost a gloss feel to it. Colors are rich and vibrant and aliasing is very minimal. There’s a bit of cross coloration showing up in some of the CG scenes with the Shaft drive, mostly due to the amount of detail in some of the line work. The only other noticeable issue, and it’s more inherent in the source than anything else, is that some of the characters have a bit of an edge to them when set against some of the CG backgrounds.

Packaging:
While past covers have had couples of sorts, the final one here goes out with a good triumvirate, namely Mika, Ryoko and Mario set against the backdrop of space with the silver Shaft between them. The series logo is also the same with the exception of it being silver instead of green. The back cover provides a collage strip of images from the show and a couple of short paragraphs of summary. The episode numbers and titles are listed, which is a plus since there’s no volume numbering, as well as a clear list of the discs extras and production list. Strangely, there’s no indication of what languages or subtitles are available on the disc. The insert has another shot of the front cover, though zoomed in a bit, and opens to a two page spread on the Shaft. The back of the insert has the production credits and a great full list of bilingual voice actors for the entire series. The reverse cover does a really nice job by showcasing different phases in Mir’s life with the a shot of Sneak watching over her.

Menu:
The menus are designed in the same style as the menus the characters use on board their ships, so it has a fun little feel to it, though there’s a slight load-up time when they first come up. The menus are laid out nicely and with a balanced audio with the show, so we weren’t going deaf on one but not the other. Access times are nice and fast and moving around was easy to figure out.

Extras:
The extras follow in the footsteps of the previous volumes as we get a couple of galleries for character artwork and for the mecha. The glossary, or really liner notes, continues to be the best supplement here in fleshing out the terminology and backdrop of this storyline.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After all that’s happened in this series, pretty much none of the characters are the same as they were at the beginning of the show. This is realized here pretty quickly as everyone continues to react to the death of Mario and the change in their status with regards to Earth and their future.

With Mir, that comes in the form of getting off of the ship and heading down to Ganymede with Lord Sneak is. With him having raised her throughout her life, she knows that he’s the only one that can make things right. Of course, she’s off kilter enough at the moment to believe that her killing him will make things right. Also noticeably changed is the Register, Beatrice. While before being impassive about things and almost deadpan in her delivery, she’s now breathing life into her words and making real connections with those working on the ship, calling them by their first name and passing along responsibilities to them. I think she’s become the most fascinating one to watch as this has progressed and she’s had to deal with a number of drastic changes.

With this being the end of the series, revelations are slowly being made about what’s really been going on. Much of this comes due to the actions of Hiroto after he manages to recover somewhat from his injuries. Knowing that there’s something that only he can do, something that he’s driven to do as we see more of his past with his parents, he sneaks away down to Europa before anyone can stop him and has a sizeable bomb strapped to his back. Now, Europa’s undergone some changes and at the moment has quite the breathable atmosphere. Poor Europa, it’s like the solar system’s version of Shinjuku, always beat up on and always having something happen to it.

Realizing that the program of the Elders via Oberus is running underneath the planet, his goal is to eliminate that. Getting rid of Oberus then potentially stops the Elders from eliminating humanity. But the question of why humanity must be eliminated, after having managed past the evil horrors of its history, is still relegated to the trash bin? As Lord Sneak reveals when he arrives on Europa to stop Hiroto, humanity as a whole has been classified as a bug by the Oberus system, and though it’s having some contradictions, it intends to remove this bug from the universe.

There’s some interesting parallels in the series, made more noticeable once humanity is properly classified here, in how the progress of Dolce’s programming of the bugs out of the Shaft proceeds along with the life of the main characters of the story. The Shaft initially is a bug ridden piece of equipment that continually errors out to the point of not even booting properly. But with work and effort and diligence, Dolce and her gaggle of girls are able to eventually remove all of the bugs; a feat that Sneak continues to insist that is impossible for humanity to achieve. The Council of Elders has determined so, even after their work with the Immortality program. When Dolce reveals that it’s Mika’s unlimited potential as a white and the application of her DNA to the Shaft program that will present the Shaft with almost unlimited potential, the view of the way humanity has worked itself up over the past few centuries takes on a new twist.

Though whites are essentially outcasts in this world, it requires one to save the entire race. In any other time, it would take the luck of the draw so to speak to have the right person there at the right time to be able to save the day. So does the system work, or was it pure luck that Hiroto remembered enough fragments of his past that got him to bring Mika along, or was it a combination of that and Ryoko’s own request for her friend as one of her dying breaths. As most people would prefer the traditional storytelling device of the right person at the right time, I find myself more contrary and liking the coding side of things, believing that the Council of Elders were really steering her to be there as they knew she reflected the potential that they once had aplenty around them in ages past and they knew the necessity of having someone with that luck aboard the Shaft.

This series really struck a chord with me on several levels. One of them has been the continuing homages to Arthur C. Clarke and all of his works. From episode titles to other little nuggets here and there, it’s been a treat plucking them out. I also liked the rather “hard” science fiction aspect taken for the most part. The only true piece given over the typical anime SF comes in the form of Tiki, letting her be the bright and overly energetic character that’s ruled by emotions more than her mind. Beyond that, this has a good solid cast that, while young, deals with things differently than most shows with a cast this age would. I loved the deceptions that were pulled on characters, such as how Sneak and his duplicates all raised Mir while she had no clue. I liked the entire aspect of the male/female ratio and the need for Registers to track what few men are left among the living. Even the aside to Logan’s Run with the predetermined lifespan fits in well.

These last episodes allow for some nice grandiose science fiction to take place. Mika’s battle with the Rings as she heads to Europa, the visual of massive Rings encircling the sun and taking it away from humanity as well as the powerful visuals of Sneak and Hiroto striding across the newly awakened landscapes on Europa itself. There aren’t a lot of series like this made so when they do come along, I’m even more excited than normal.

In Summary:
Geneshaft ends by answering a variety of questions and is smart by not bringing up a lot more behind it. While the conclusion could have been a touch better and more definitive, the series played out much like I expected and I found it to be something that filled a void in the current market that’s more geared towards cutesy kids in space mentality. Smart and serious while still providing some sexiness to it all, Geneshaft is simply another series from director Kazuki Akane that I find myself enjoying quite a lot.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Geneshaft Glossary, Mecha Gallery ,Illustration 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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