Glass Fleet Vol. #2 - 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
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Glass Fleet

Glass Fleet Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 03, 2007
Release Date: November 27, 2007


Glass Fleet Vol. #2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
The battle for freedom rages on as Michel Volban and her mercenary ally Cleo streak across the stars aboard a legendary glass battleship. The royal rogue's skills as a leader begin to show in conflict, his bravery and intensity inspiring the weary populace to a frenzy. But there are more challenges ahead than just military confrontations.

Political maneuvering might prove of greater value than even the biggest of guns, and both the Holy Empire and the People's Army seek to forge new alliances and shift the balance of power. One neutral territory in particular could add weight to either side. In the gilded courts of the upper-class, those bloated with power manipulate the innocent in hopes of gaining an edge... The more the flames or war are fanned, the more sharply the horns of tyranny shine.

Contains episodes 6-10.

The Review!
Smaller secrets are revealed which expands the scope of the series in between a fair bit of simple political maneuvering.

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 one of the more disturbing characters Gonzo has put to the screen as he's surrounded by his trophy girls. Similar to the first cover, there's a lot of dark space around it which drives all attention to his multiple chins and moustaches. 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. There's a five minute and eight minute interview session from the Japanese DVD release are included here, one with the character designer and one with the mechanical designer. Also included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Glass Fleet was a real challenge since it started off in such an awful way but then showed some very small glimmers of hope. In some ways it felt like the real production team had finally shown up and was trying to clean up the mess from those that started the series. That said, the series hasn't been resurrected as a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is attempting to claw back to a level of mediocrity that some other older Gonzo series would envy. That's right Zaion, I'm looking at you again.

This volume brings out another five episodes through which we start to understand some of the motivations of the cast more as well as the "galactic scale" of it all. Not unlike the earlier episodes, much of it is introduced haphazardly, especially in the first episode here in which the real intentions of the "sunken" ships crew come to light. The use of the dolls in order to gain entry to the Glass battleship has given them a chance to swipe Michel from Cleo in order to drag him to Vetti. What's surprising about all of it is that within this band of dolls is a man who Michel claims is his brother, though the man has no memory of this and denies it at every turn. This seems to open old wounds for Michel but there's little time to think about it before Cleo simply rams the ship with his own and "takes back what's his," as he notes dryly.

The introduction of this potential brother finally gives us the background on Michel that's needed in order to understand the character. Considering the character designs in the series and the effeminate nature of Michel, it certainly isn't a surprise to find out that he's a she and is living out her life as her brother in order to avenge her family and set things right. Her nature as a tomboy in her youth with only her brother Michel to play with is standard material and the glimpses we get don't really do anything to change the impressions we get of anyone. Seeing the real Michel having a fencing match with Vetti several years ago strengthens the bonds between her and Vetti as part of the vengeance she wants and it also shows just how far she's willing to go to achieve it through the way she scars her body to mirror Michel's.

The two episodes that this covers are fairly inane in their own way simply because it feels so rushed and forced. It's also pushed to the side as the war between the two sides steps up now that Michel is back with his army. Cleo and the others from the Glass battleship get an introduction into the wacky kind of People's Army that's been built up here through basic marketplace experience as well as some minor skirmishes that shows just how determined they are. Cleo and crew aren't exactly enamored by everyone there but they start to understand the reasoning behind their staunch devotion to the cause. It also allows for Cleo to become a bit more involved as Michel and the others in the upper ranks begin to figure out their long term plans.

The most immediate one is to deal with the neutral territory of Bardeaux, which is under rule from a woman named B.B. Her control of the region is interesting since she was originally a sponsor for Vetti years ago but now has removed most contact with him and the Holy Empire. Her region and resources accounts for about thirty percent of the galactic realm and whoever gets her onto their side will have a stronger place in the scheme of things. Not only from resources but also from her influence as many will not go against her. Michel isn't the only one thinking this however and this leads to Vetti and company making the same kind of appeal to B.B., a situation that's rather amusing when you think about the scale of things. Coincidences are simply too big in this series at times to be believed when you look at how big the galactic playing field is and how many untold billions of people are running around.

In Summary:
That's where the scope of the series really fails, because you don't get a good grasp of things. It continues to feel more like a little merry band of warriors that will topple the evil kingdom, except that when you transplant it to a galactic level it just feels very unrealistic. I can give on things like glass battleships, brothers who aren't brothers, women who become men and one really obese gentleman with multiple moustaches. But having everything being so simple and easy to manipulate just doesn't fly. Glass Fleet has twenty-six episodes to play with but only scratches the surface of what a show like Crest of the Stars did in thirteen. I tend to avoid making comparisons to other shows when doing a review, but Glass Fleet just doesn't reach even some of the most basic levels of what works in a framework like this.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Staff Interviews,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

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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