IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • 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: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: IPGX: Immortal Grand Prix

IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 17, 2006
Release Date: April 11, 2006

IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
They are defeated for the first time by Team Velshtein, but Team Satomi is left with no time to mope as their next race with Team Edgeraid looks like a real cat versus dog battle!

Both off and on the track challenges will begin to rise as things begin to heat up between Takeshi and Fantine, but can he stay cool enough to beat her in their race against Team Skylark?

The Review!
The IG-1 races continue as Team Satomi bucks for a high placed spot on it as they deal with stronger and craftier opponents.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The full release has a good set of audio selections as there are 5.1 and stereo mixes for both Japanese and English. The Japanese 5.1 mix that we listened to is very solid and the kind of track you rexpect from Production IG in that there is a good deal of activity across the rear speakers and plenty of directionality with the forward soundstage. The mix in general is really good as it's very strong right from the opening song and through the various race/fight sequences, such as when they go through the hoops and around the loops. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either of the 5.1 language tracks.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Not unlike many other Production I.G. series, IGPX is a visual treat that takes the kind of work that they've done on Stand Alone Complex and shows that it can work with just about any other kind of show. The production values in the show are very apparent with the transfer here as the meshing of CG and animation looks fantastic, colors are beautifully vibrant and solid and there's a depth and feel to it that makes it feel so much more alive than many other series. While the Stand Alone Complex material is dark and beautiful, IGPX turns on the lights and shines it on a very interestingly animated world. The transfer here is spot on throughout and the only area where it's slightly off is some of the CG has some jaggies to it during various panning moments but these were only visible the closer I sat to the screen.

With the elimination of the Toonami dub only version of the series, packaging issues we brought up in the previous review are now pretty much null. That said, this volume mirrors the previous one pretty closely as it provides a mix shot of the racers with plenty of speed lines and effects flowing from it as well as a shot of the darkened inside where the pilot is. The layout is fairly standard but it does look good here if a touch more cartoonish than normal due to the speed effects applied to the racer. The back cover is lighter in tone as it has everything set against the wide open sky as it provides a decent summary of the premise. The discs features, episode titles and numbers as well as the extras are clearly listed but the technical grid is the usual minimal kind we get from Bandai releases " there isn't even any mention of the discs being an anamorphic widescreen release. No insert was included with this release.

The menus, done by Littlehaus, are pretty decent with the main menu has about half of it given over to a waving CG checkered flag that has the navigation and logo on top of it while the rest plays out clips from the show through an interlaced style filter. The menus load nice and fast, the layout is quick and easy to use and I like that they did the language selection in that once you select something it's highlighted afterwards so you know that it took. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Continuing with what we saw in the first volume, there's a solid selection of extras here that should appeal to both sides of fans. The second pilot episode for the show is included and the differences between what was done before and what's done for the larger run continue to be very interesting to see. The English side of the production is well covered here between an interview with Michelle Rodriguez, another interview with the two ADR director as well as a commentary track again by the Cartoon Network producers which picks up on some of what they were talking about in the previous commentary.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much to my surprise, the first volume of IGPX proved to be more interesting than I thought it was going to be since I couldn't bring myself to watch the broadcast version. Whether it's the better visual presentation, the considerably superior audio differences or just something where I found the Japanese language to be more comfortable, the series hooked me fairly well by presenting an interesting team sport in a near future. The characters are definitely still in that stage where nobody is really fleshed out yet but the basics were given and it had me looking forward to seeing more.

The second set of episodes for this volume starts to flesh things out more with the characters and makes an interesting change to the dynamic that while not unexpected is something that you don't typically see. A lot of time is spent dealing with the character of River early on. He's been stuck in the backseat position for so long now that he continually bucks for a chance to move up in the team and has lost his ability to be subtle about it. It's led him to being practically confrontation at times, particularly with the team manager, but he also tends to take it out on folks like Takeshi. River doesn't help his own situation much but it's understandable with his frustration level and the way things are being played out since members of the team have contracts and placements that aren't exactly easy to override. Things have gone so far at times that some of the most basic things that he does as part of the team place him under suspicion by those who otherwise wouldn't have an issue with him.

Some of the show's quirky nature shines through in this volume as well. One of the stranger parts is the link between Amy and Luca which gets played up a bit during one battle sequence. Not surprising, members of various teams have promotional gigs on the side which is where they tend to earn a lot more money and one of them is about a dog on one of the teams named Sola. Sola's got an entire dog food line named after him which we see some commercials from that are just plain cute. The IG-1 race has set things up for a race between his team and Luca's team which will be the first cat and dog race of the IG-1 circuit. It doesn't become the main focus of the race as there are other things going on during it, mostly dealing with Takeshi's issues with Cunningham and the way he's being so easily taken down by him.

While a number of characters do get a fair bit of time throughout this set of episodes, River tends to get the most while I think Mitsuko again comes out close to on top with how much time is spent. She's still working through the issues of having taken over the team and dealing with the family name as well as the problems that River brings to the table. Her past does help out in the long run though as the team is dealing with keeping an eye on their budget and bringing in an old timer who is a real whiz at things. The team gets set for an interesting upgrade through unexpected quarters and while it is an area where things seemingly come out of nowhere for nothing, it's an area where you'd expect a team that just made it into the IG-1 would have a number of new avenues for gaining money and materials.

Admittedly, as average as the character sections are, the area that continues to help sell me on the show is the race scenes themselves. With the subwoofer cranked up and the strong use of the rear speakers in the mix, they continue to be an exciting part of the show that's just gorgeously animated. The series in general has some fantastic looking animation but the CG blending with the rest of the animation only seems to get better and better. The races and the fluid motion to it all that blends better and better with each episode with the backgrounds are just fantastic to look at. The show on our widescreen set at fifty inches simply pulls you into the action all the more. It's something where I have to say that the presentation really does make the show more entertaining.

In Summary:
IGPX continues to be a fun show in its second round of episodes with some great looking race scenes and battle moments while the character side of the show is moving through the standard motions. There are some interesting minor hooks here and there but nothing that really draws you in deeper as the characters are still essentially fairly basic and without too much meat on them. That said, the overall package is rather fun and enjoyable and certainly an easy way to pass the time but it's something that so far seems like it'll be fairly forgettable in the long run. There's still plenty of room for things to change though and these early episodes are fun to watch.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,IGPX Pilot Episode 2,Commentary Track,Interview with Michelle Rodriguez,Interview with Eric Sherman

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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