Glass Fleet Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • 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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     April 01, 2008
Release Date: March 25, 2008


Glass Fleet Vol. #5
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
The leaders of the People's Army are free and reunited at last, but the cost was steep. As comrades are mourned and laid to rest, the true price of freedom proves heavy on one's soul. In the vast reaches of space, insignificant events can have a far greater impact... And a hero's dying breath will reveal a shocking secret!

While those that survived pause a moment to reflect, Pope Gorna's been doing some soul searching of his own. Confiding in his daughter at long last, the truth behind her marriage is laid bare as an ultimate plan to fulfill an ancient prophecy. The bloody reality of the incessant war comes into sharp focus, yet justice belongs to both sides... Each seeking peace, but with opposing ideas as to exactly what peace means. When the smoke clears, a powerful new ally will take up arms!

Contains episodes 19-22:
Like a Lion
Like a Royal Road
Like a House of Cards
Like Adoration

The Review!
The scope of what's going on within the series becomes clearer as the various cast members finally come back together after being separated.

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 continues 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 fifth installment of the series is similar to previous ones with the way it's fairly dark and the use of the illustration style, but it works quite well as it features Vetti in the foreground with that kind of commanding presence he has. 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 Michel in both forms of dress 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 kind of 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 again bring in some of the original Japanese DVD pieces as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. The Japanese included extra for this volume is an amusing one as it's a cosplay event that took place aboard a water bus across Tokyo Bay in which the best auditions came out for the event as Syula and served a Michel character. It's a big photo op thing but it feels strangely... too geeky yet intriguing.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Glass Fleet moves forward, the odd nature of the story and its pacing continues to give it an unusual feel. This is made all the more apparent but the strange kind of physics and science that works within this particular universe. When Cleo needs to go from one ship to another in mid fight in space, the easiest way to do it is to just leap across the void and hope that Michel will be there to catch him. While it may fit within what we've seen before in this particular show, it's still quite disconcerting to see it.

Not unusual for a series of this nature, having the cast apart for a bit so that they can discover new things before reuniting is a tried and true theme. Cleo has spent his time on the prison planet and has met up with the old Admiral that his father knew as King and that has given him a lot of insight into his family past and what things were like before he was born. Michel has spent a good bit of time under Vetti's thumb and dealing with the dissolution of the People's Army and its effect on overall morale and the reasons behind it. Each of them is still intent on dealing with Vetti and what he's done and what he's doing but the reasons are beginning to change as more has become apparent. Most importantly is the idea of what the Black Cross is really all about and Cleo's understanding that he must work with Vetti in order to save everyone. Nothing like putting the needs of humanity above all else... Whether you can convince everyone to join that kind of idea is a very different thing however.

What can slow down such a thing is the kind of violence that occurs before you even get a chance to discuss it with Vetti. Cleo's mad escape from the planet with Gawain is met with its share of violence but they at least have what looks like a massive space whale for a ship that seems pretty indestructible. At the same time that they're getting away, Michel has gotten the Glass Battleship off and going but has met with a lot of resistance himself. Everything comes together in a way that paints the picture of a very small galaxy where everyone keeps bumping into each other over and over. There aren't any major revelations during all of this, but a quick boarding exercise when Cleo hits Vetti's flagship does allow for some good moments between Gawain and Vetti that solidify just who everyone really is.

It's in the second half of the volume that Glass Fleet starts to stabilize and set its course for the final arc of the series. With the realization of what needs to be done, Cleo now has to try and unite the factions within his own group before he can unite it properly with Vetti, someone who is still intent on killing him. Convincing both B.B. Bardeaux and Michel that they now must align themselves with a hated enemy isn't all that easy, especially when it comes to Michel who was toyed with by Vetti in a sexual manner. Even worse is that Cleo has to do this after Vetti sends in yet another high ranking military man to take down the Bardeaux territory and formally put it under his control. B.B.'s role has always been a bit more for the game and status while she defends the honor of the family territory but it changes for her when Vetti causes such widespread destruction of it all.

What really doesn't surprise me is that the creative staff decided that episode twenty-two would be the perfect time to give us a background story for one of the secondary characters. When Eimer sees Cleo giving Michel a smile that she's never seen before, it's the perfect segue way for a flashback where we see how she and Cleo first met and the kind of life she had as a small time slum boss that took on the nobility in minor ways. This is the kind of story that would have fit in better back when Eimer was in prison and got back to Cleo there but would have fit awkwardly because so much of the time was spent on getting to know Cleo better through the old Admiral. This story isn't bad or anything, but it feels very poorly placed within the series as we're counting down to the big action that will save humanity from impending doom by the Black Cross.

In Summary:
Almost from the start, Glass Fleet has been a very uneven show for me and one that has a very strange set of rules to how its universe works. There are great moments of space opera to be found throughout it, but as an overall show it just has something about it that doesn't gel well. This is the kind of series that needed a much firmer hand in setting up what it wanted to do and establishing things much earlier in its run. While it's not the train wreck I thought it would be after the first volume, it is something that I can't help but to watch to see whether it'll get better or worse. It's like a bad accident where you halfway expect the people involved to either suddenly jump up and be perfectly fine or to spontaneously combust. The ideas are familiar and the concepts have plenty of merit but the execution continues to be all over the map still.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,2006 Cosplay Contest, Original TV Spots, Trailers, Textless Songs

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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