Glass Fleet Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Glass Fleet

Glass Fleet Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     October 03, 2007
Release Date: October 16, 2007



What They Say
In the dark reaches of time and space, an age of oppression smothered the masses...

Vetti Sforza, under the guise of creating an empire by and for the people, waged war against the Allied Nobility. One corrupt ruling class was destroyed, but in its place another would emerge, even more corrupt than before...

A second revolution stirs as the People's Army rises up to begin their march toward freedom, led by the heroic Michel Volban. He in turn looks to the stars, and with the glint of glass against the galaxies hope arrives in the visage of a sleek battleship, one of unsurpassed strength and capabilities - one bearing the crest of the fallen royal family! Piloted by the enigmatic Cleo and his rogue crew of pirates, can this truly be the "hero" for who all have waited?

Contains episodes 1-5.

The Review!
Set against an epic backdrop of a galactic empire at war with various factions and nobility, Glass Fleet plays it more for the characters than the large scale battles.

Audio:
FUNimation has gone with a pretty standard setup for the audio presentation with this release by including three tracks. The original Japanese track, done at 256 kbps, is what we listened to primarily and the stereo mix is pretty solid. The big action sequences have some nice directionality to them but there isn't much of a sense of depth. Dialogue is well placed when necessary and in general the mix serves the material well. The English stereo track is essentially a copy of that and gets the job done. Also included, but set as the third language track instead of the primary for some reason, is a 5.1 English mix done at 448 kbps. This adds a bit more punch to things and some greater clarity and bass to enhance the bigger scenes. We spot checked the English tracks and with the Japanese track we had no problems with dropouts or distortion during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The visual presentation of Glass Fleet had me really intrigued during segments of it as FUNimation suitably bumped up the bit rate during numerous scenes. These heightened areas tend to come across as more solid and problem free. They're still the minority however as enough of the scenes with noise in the background with some low level blocking continue to show through. A good chunk of the show is still done at a bit rate of five or less which with as many episodes and languages are here still feels too low. The biggest surprise was that the majority of the space sequences with the green backgrounds tended to look good. They didn't shine but they didn't look as bad as I thought they might.

Packaging:
The cover artwork for this release is surprisingly restrained as it features the crew of the Cleo's ship against a black backdrop. The logo looks good with its angled look and glass features but overall there's a certain darkness to it that makes it a hard draw for a casual buyer. The back cover, done sideways, features a good shot of Cleo and Michel along one side and more of the cast on the other. In between is a summary of the shows premise and a breakdown of the episodes with their titles. The bottom portion is filled out with the usual production information and a technical grid, all of which is done as white on black and is fairly readable. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu layout utilizes the cover artwork of the cast of characters for the right half of it while the left half contains the logo and navigation. The black background is kept from the cover as well which when combined with the music gives it a fairly good look and feel. There is a certain simplicity to what's presented here to set the mood for the show. Access times are solid with the standard FUNimation navigation design and we had no problems moving about. With the use of multiple angles and with mislabeled subtitle, we went for a direct setup and didn't rely on player presets.

Extras:
The extras are actually a bit of a surprise here as some rather fun ones are included if you're a fan of the Japanese voice cast. Two ten minute interview sessions from the Japanese DVD release are included here, one with the actors for Cleo and Michel and the other with Vetti and Eimer. There is a bit of the usual fluff to it and no real surprises but they're well put together pieces that highlight each of the characters and lets the actor talk about them. Also included is the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Glass Fleet, a twenty-six episode series, is an original creation by Gonzo that tries to cherry pick from various inspirations in order to create something grand and epic. The parallels to the Legend of Galactic Heroes are obvious and the influences from their recent production of Gankutsuou are evident as well. The combination of these elements and more lead to a show that doesn't feel like it has its own voice and is ridden with pacing and character issues.

The series starts with a premise that's somewhat hard to swallow as two groups are battling it out over who will control the empire. The kicker is that each side is basically a different incarnation of nobility that is in some way deriding the other. The old nobility that's in power is being threatened by a new nobility that is using the rage of the oppressed people to cloud its true intent. It's little surprise that the old nobility falls under during the opening epic scale space battle nor is it a surprise that the person that assumes power, Vetti, declares himself the Holy Emperor. With a vast empire before him however, he's only truly concerned about a nobleman named Michel Volban.

This young man has every intent of stopping Vetti from truly ascending to power and cementing his rule. As a leading figure in the People's Army, he's getting things organized for various attacks and is continually a thorn in Vetti's side. These attacks come across as woefully ineffective and weak, especially against such a large and vast military fleet that's out to crush them. It takes very little to really bring pressure on Michel when one of their operations goes wrong and his ship is effectively scuttled in space. What saves the day is the arrival of a stunning ship made of glass crystal but is in the same design as all other fleet vessels. Containing the royal crest on it, the ship is actually able to go faster than others and mildly transform into a crystal dagger of sorts that lets it stab deeply at other ships.

Thus is the first meeting between Michel and Cleo, the leader of this ragtag group of pseudo-pirates. Cleo is the aloof charismatic type that has drawn to him an array of people who will do whatever he asks of them but do it by their own choice. Their lives are fairly romantic in a way as they help out those in need but are also cutthroats when required. This is quite clear when they board Michel's ship and essentially take it over. Cleo even makes the remark about putting Michel in his pocket and making him his, which leads to all manner of innuendo about their potential relationship. Not that it's played up, but there's such an air about their relationship at times that it wouldn't be hard to imagine.

With a background of nobility himself, Cleo and Michel find themselves both at odds mostly due to a difference in how they interact with people. Cleo is quick in his judgment and decisions, such as what he does with Michel's ship, while Michel tends to think things over more unless his objective is right in front of him. Cleo's arrival on the scene from the frontier with secret weapons of the royal household at his disposal sets the balance of things in the empire off. The first few episodes of the series themselves feel off as the various elements don't come together cleanly or smoothly. Hardly any character is likeable in any way and nobody is really sympathetic for what little we know of them.

This begins to change towards the fourth episode when the two sides end up on the same planet to meet a highly regarded prophet. Cleo and Vetti receive the same words from the prophet which are pleasantly ambiguous and each believes that they're the ones that will advance the future in the path that they envision. Bringing Cleo and Vetti together early like this and pitting them against each other brings them to respect each other on a certain level. It also has both of them pushing their "attendants" away, something of which Michel clearly does not like but understands as Cleo had bested him in a sword fight. Once the prophecy comes down and the two sides are formally introduced to each other, the plotting and cohesiveness of the show starts to pick up. Not enough to salvage the three poor opening episodes, but enough so to keep your attention before the disc ends.

What disappoints most about this series so far is that it's fare more personal than it should be. With a massive galaxy and empire to work with, the scope of it all comes across as forced and as an afterthought. The lack of different designs between the fleet ships seems like a copout in the design department and having much of the areas controlled by nobles setup on various asteroids removes the potential opulence of planetary kingdoms. The nobles that we do get here are over the top in how disturbing they can be as well. One of the leading nobles that's involved in the hunt of Michel and Cleo in this volume is so massive that he has three dipping chins, each one of which has either a moustache or a small beard. The nobles aren't intended to look compelling but their look doesn't portray the right kind of feel. None of them are threatening and none of them have any skill. It may be accurate to how such an empire would work, but in terms of providing a valid threat for Cleo and Michel beyond Vetti, it simply doesn't offer one.

In Summary:
Against my better judgment, I was looking forward to Glass Fleet as a way to fill that void of not having shows like Legend of Galactic Heroes around or anything on the Banner of the Stars front. With its mix of elements from those shows and some general costume design influences from Gankutsuou, it looked to be working from the right area. It unfortunately doesn't have much in terms of plotting and pacing as the first three episodes alone were nearly enough to turn me away from the final two. The show manages to redeem itself slightly there as it starts to establish more ground rules and working on the main plot but it's tenuous at best right now. In the end, Glass Fleet tends to suffer from having too many stupid people milling about in control of massive fleets, weapons and soldiers. At this point I'm tempted to believe those stupid people may be the creative staff as this is looking like the first stages of a serious train wreck.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Japanese Voice Actor Interviews

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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