IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 22, 2006
Release Date: August 08, 2006

IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Team Satomi has come a long way in just one race season to make it to the IG-1 Finals, and all that stands between them and the IGPX championship is Cunningham Hume and Team Velshtein. Takeshi, Liz and Amy will have to give it all they got to grab the checkered flag.

A new race season begins and Team Satomi goes back to their old ways of sloppy teamwork. If they don't pull it together, they won't win their first race against Edgeraid. Andre comes up with some new moves that will hopefully keep them in synch with each other to go up against the newcomers, Team White Snow.

The Review!
With the close of the season and the start of the next within the IGPX itself, new challengers emerge to take on Team Satomi and prove their dominance.

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 expect 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.

Continuing with the mixed layout of having the racers and their equipment done in a split format, we get some good looking artwork but the colors leave a bit to be desired. The racing machines is where it sort of hurts in that the two main ones seen here are girls pink and boys powder blue. 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.

The extras are a bit smaller this time around as there are no commentary tracks but we do get the fourth pilot episode of the series and a new video interview with Lance Henriksen talking about his role in the show. Similar to the Mark Hamill piece, this is a good interview..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
IGPX continues to me to be the show that I forget about between volumes but as soon as it's in and that opening sequences kicks off, making my subwoofer come to life like few other shows do, I can't help but wonder why this thing isn't taking off bigger than it is. While the story isn't too much to write home about, it excels so strongly both in animation and in the audio department that it stands above a lot of other shows out there, including many from Bandai itself. Production I.G. has come up with such a visually stunning show that has a great looking transfer that almost every frame shines.

This volume brings us past the halfway mark of the series and the start of the "second" season of the show. The opening episode races through the conclusion of the race between Velshtein and Satomi as things have heated up nicely between Takeshi and Cunningham and we see a race and fight sequence that simply awes the audience as it takes the concept up a bit higher than it has before. Cunningham's been the perfect opening foil for Takeshi in that there's something of a spiritual mix to the way he works the race course and he's even tempered enough that he can deal with a challenger like him. And even though Cunningham is his opponent, there isn't a big bad guy vibe to all of it but rather just that of really intense competitors. Combined with the relationship that Takeshi has with Fantine, this has much closer to a real sports/racing feeling than most other sports shows which go a bit over the top.

While the series didn't have an actual "second season" in Japan but rather just went ahead with episode fourteen, it does start off the second season within the show and has one of the teams that dropped out of IG League 1 and brought in a new time from the IG League 2, Team White Snow. They've made their mark by topping out in that league and earning them the rights to move up and they've got their sights set on a full on victory. The trio is like every other trio in the league in that they're an odd bunch with plenty of quirks, and they're definitely interested in Team Satomi for more than obvious reasons. Their pleasantness with Team Satomi does cause Takeshi and the others to be off guard and a bit more receptive towards them. They use this a couple of times in the first few episodes before they actually get into a race with each other to further the relationship.

But it's not something that's truly odd considering the kinds of cross team relationships that exist, which feels much closer to present day NASCAR racing than any other sport. The new season of the League seems to be affecting the team in different ways and Takeshi the most, so much so that he's almost looking like he's going to be reliant on Fantine to pull him back from the edge that he's now on. With the seriousness of this new season, he's trying to grow up a bit more and become more responsible but he's doing it in the wrong way, going so far as to stop doing all the gaming that he's always been doing. That alone is a cause for concern since a lot of what kept him stable and creative was playing those games, as well as getting closer to Fantine.

There are a number of changes that are making their way into the new season and a lot of it is just an adjustment for the members of the team. They had a good run in the first season and that's raised their popularity level so there are new pressures on them, but a lot is coming from other areas as well such as the new operating system that's in the machines. Combine that with the necessity of coming up with some new moves and formations and Takeshi's flaky nature, there is a lot of pressure that's landing on Liz and Amy. Liz is being set up nicely as the really strong one of the group though and that's helping to make the team stronger in general, including giving her something of a mild mentor status for Amy who finds herself struggling even more now.

In Summary:
While a lot of IGPX is indeed the race scenes and the vibrant and admittedly rather exciting battles that flow from them, there is a good deal of character material built into it as well. There are still a lot of things I wish would be expanded on, especially the general make-up of the world as we get another distance shot of the city and it feels even more curious. While it's not a show that I think leaves a lot of long-term impact, it's one that when it's playing I'm completely absorbed by and really end up enjoying. This may be a show that works better in a marathon session though as the adrenaline from each race builds upon the next one.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,IGPX Pilot Episode 4,Interview with Lance Henrikson

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray 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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