Innocent Venus Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Innocent Venus

Innocent Venus Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     December 14, 2007
Release Date: December 18, 2007


Innocent Venus Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
With Sana taken prisoner and Joe recovering from a near fatal case of stab in the back, it’s time for some a little retribution... and fortunately, there’s a pirate afoot who just might come in handy when it comes to organized mayhem! Meanwhile Jin’s new allegiance to the Phantom is getting ugly, and when the tables turn it’s clear that there’s no one and nothing left to be trusted. As Satsuma gears up for total war, the only thing certain is that it’s going to a blood bath! With half of the Earth’s population already dead, will Sana and her allies be the saviors of the world or instruments of total annihilation?

The Review!
Lots of things happen, things explode and war is made all while a little girl is thrown back and forth between big men.

Audio:
The bilingual release for the series is rather well done though it makes out better in the English version than the original. The Japanese track is the original stereo mix which is encoded at 224 kbps and has a good forward soundstage presentation. Dialogue is problem free and there is some good placement of dialogue throughout. The English mix is given a bump up to a 5.1 mix and is encoded at 448 kbps. This gives the show a lot more impact during its action scenes with more bass and more throws to the rear channels. During the quieter scenes there isn't much difference between the two nor is there during most of the dialogue. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series deals with a mix of locales, from ruins to riches, and handles the varied palettes rather nicely. The darker colors hold up well though there isn't too much detail while the more vibrant moments really shine well. The darker areas tend to show more issues with gradients, especially when various lighting effects are used, but the gradients tends to not show much in the way of artifacts. Some of the blue sky scenes show off some background noise which is also in a few other scenes but overall it's a good looking release that conveys the material well.

Packaging:
Similar to the first two volumes, the overly dark and shadowed nature of the cover art doesn't help to sell it all that well. For the finale, we get the four main characters together, at least what we think are the four main characters, as they sit atop a statue while the partial image of a silver Gladiator is behind them. It's actually a good cover overall, especially in comparison to previous ones, in how its laid out and that it gives them all a decent pose with some good artwork. The back cover is simple yet rather busy as the top portion has a lot of shots from the show across it. The background is a straightforward black piece that lets the text do all the talking as the summary covers the basics. The disc doesn't list what extras, if any, are on it but the bottom portion contains the usual credits section and solid technical grid. No insert is included nor is there a reversible side.

Menu:
The menu design is nicely done for evoking the right mood as bit of eerie music plays over a still of the interior of some sort of computer/command room. There is some very nicely done animation to it with snow on the various monitors which gives it some life alongside the sound of mechanical music. The navigation strip is where the problems come in however as the main bar along the bottom is visible during all three of the main submenus. When you're in the extras, the text for the languages and main menu is visible but not selectable. It's like dangling a path in front of you but you can't walk down it at all. Access times are otherwise quick and fast and the layout works when you realize that visible selections aren't always selections. The language presets is nicely done as it read it properly and it has a section next to the selection that indicates what is actually selected.

Extras:
The only extras included for this volume are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Innocent Venus tantalized us with the last volume by providing a twist in the storyline that could either make or break it. In the end, it all sort of just peters out however as the characters are so minimally defined and the storyline so shallow that you really don't have anything invested in what's going on here. The core problems from the start of the series are still very evident here and are only made worse by what's come since then.

With the final four episodes of the series, I was really curious to see how they'd play out the change of heart that Jin had in the last volume. Would it all be an obvious trick that he was pulling in order to get closer to Phantom once again? Or has he really gone off the deep end or is revealing his true colors at long last? What surprised me the most was that even though his motivations are revealed, it's simply weak in that he's looking for more power in order to move up in the world. It almost feels like it's contradicting everything that had gone before and that he simply had a switch flipped in his head and now he's like this. Moving over to Phantom, it doesn't take long for Drake to make him the new Vice Commander and get him moving forward with the Gladiator program.

Drake at least makes sense in this since he's really just keeping an enemy close at hand which makes him easier to watch. He's also quite aware that Jin has his own motivations for what he does and that he still needs him to some extent, so it works in his favor to have his enemy nearby like this. All of this is very small background material that occurs while Joe and Sana spend time with Shiba only to have all of that fall apart as the battle with Phantom starts to go awry. With the region of Satsuma under fire and everything else seemingly falling apart, everyone is on the run and trying to figure out the best way to stop what's going on.

But what's really going on? That's the problem I keep running into with this series. The core of the story as it deals with Sana, aka the Venus, is that she's the key to creating some great new weapons that will put the world under military dominance through which peace will be achieved. Some agree with that, others don't. There's the issue of Drake basically selling out his own country to the Freedom States and then you have people like Shiba and his friends who want to be a self sustaining country with their own pride. And there's also the fact that they don't want to be under military rule. Living in fear, even when you have nothing to fear, is worse than being subjugated openly. Yet all of these issues which are seemingly the core of the storyline are so meagerly doled out and revealed in a minimal fashion that you really don't get the scope of it all.

Even more problematic is that the core cast of characters and most of the secondary characters are just… there. Jin's change from good to bad really feels forced, Joe continues to be a cipher for the most part and Sana is simply a little girl caught up in events who doesn't understand how to really deal with the situation. And god help me, Gora is still alive. The cast is fairly big considering how many sides there are in this and the various relationships continue to provide an impact throughout, but with only twelve episodes and the poor pacing given to the show, nothing is ever really cemented. I would have liked to have seen more about Renee and Shiba, or Shiba and those that rise with him to save Satsuma, but nobody really gets enough time during the course of the show to be fleshed out. That I come to the end of this and the leads are still like they were at the start really left me depressed about how problematic the show really was.

In Summary:
Innocent Venus wasn't a show that screamed with potential from the start but it had the possibility of being well done and hitting up some good mini-mecha action with a fairly bland cast of characters. It tried to spice things up with flamboyant captains and tattooed soldiers but it never really clicked well as a whole. The series spent too much time just being on the run and not enough examining the characters and exploring the actual ideas and intent of the storyline. So when Innocent Venus comes to an end, they try to do it with a bang but it's one that has you just looking at it without any connection to it. It simply happens and then it's over. And that simply disappoints.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,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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