Kikaider Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kikaider

Kikaider Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     October 06, 2003
Release Date: October 07, 2003


Kikaider Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Ashamed of his own appearance and feeling discriminated for not being a human, Jiro continues to distance himself from Mitsuko and Masaru. While on the run from the police for being falsely accused of causing explosions in the city, he meets a girl who asks him who is most important to him. As he learns the feelings of shame, sadness, and love, Jiro begins to realize his true feelings for Mitsuko. Can robot and human really fall in love?

The Review!
Alone and without friends, Jiro tries to find his place in the world but only comes up against the darkness that seeks to use him.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Sporting a solid stereo mix, the opening episodes here have a good sense of directionality that’s used primarily for sound effects as opposed to dialogue. There isn’t a lot of depth to it, but the track overall sounds quite good, particularly the instrumental moments. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2000, Kikaider is a series that uses the digital animation look to mesh with the feel of the series 70’s style. This results in some rather great looking areas, but also provides some trouble here and there. The transfer has very vibrant colors and a clean look to the show, giving it a very stylized feel with its similarities to the layout and movement of a manga series.

Packaging:
The second volume comes across looking somewhat better than the first since it’s not bright white, but it ends up with a murky image even though it’s using the foil material again. Jiro and some of the villains of these episodes are done in black line art set against the blue background color that’s mixed with the foil, which makes it difficult at first glance to really discern things, until your eyes refocus on what’s really there. The back cover makes better use of the foil but providing a schematic look at Kikaider while fleshing the rest of it out with artwork and story premise information. The discs features and basic production is clearly listed though a bit hard to read due to the foil on some areas. The front cover and the spine earn extra kudos for listing the volume number while the back cover lists the episode numbers and titles. The insert uses regular painting for a variation of the front cover artwork and opens to a listing of each of the episodes and a summary for them. The back of it provides the full credits listing including bilingual actor credits.

Menu:
The main menu is nicely done and keeps in theme with the show in a unique way, utilizing the split aspect of some of the Kikaiders designs. The bulk of the screen is a static image of the body blueprint with selections ringed alongside it while the left quarter of the screen has animation from the show playing over the solid aspect of the body shot all while some of the more action oriented music plays. Access times are pretty fast and the menus load nice and quick.

Extras:
The only included extra is a few pages of character gallery artwork combined with some small text about each character. There’s less than a half dozen pieces in here for it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the surprisingly enjoyable and pleasantly dark opening volume to the series, the show plays things out by separating up some of the characters to give them some time on their own to discover things.

Jiro’s journey, as he’s left the house and those who have helped him so far, takes him from place to place. Wherever he goes though, some of the creatures are out looking for him, causing him to fight and cause damage and trouble. So the news reports start to funnel in to Mitsuko about a man with a guitar who is responsible for much of the damage. While she tries to figure out how to deal with her conflicted feelings over it, we follow Jiro as he ends up in the company of a young woman who invites him in out of the rain.

She’s a curious type, the one to take in a stranger (even a reluctant one) and to reveal much of herself to him. She relates a story to him of some time earlier when a man in a similar situation ended up in her house, wounded and unable to move. Miyuki does her best to tend to him and finds herself falling very much in love with him. Jiro doesn’t become a substitute, but a crutch of sorts that she can unload onto with her sadness. Jiro has a hard time making sense of a lot of this, but ends up becoming distracted when the man Miyuki took care of ends up in the employ of the Dark and finds himself setting up devices to destroy the city.

Much of the remaining two episodes are surprisingly filled with information on the past, as we find Mitsuko learning a lot about what her father was up to and what kind of secrets he had. As we learned about Professor Gill and see how he continues to manipulate Dark and its creatures to his advantage, we see Mitsuko piecing together the various fragments that she finds in the mansion. Jiro’s own construction becomes topic again, this time with Gill providing some knowledge on it but claiming to not know the entire story.

The structure of the two episodes brings out a very creepy feel, particular the floating crosses. While we do get some creatures for Jiro to battle throughout the volume, the best scenes are the quietest scenes as the understanding starts to click and you can see everything being pieced together. Kikaider continues to be an extremely moody show, one that the opening sequences does an amazing job of capturing and really pushing you into the mindset for. The more we learn of the past and just how eerie it all is, the more the music becomes a character in the show itself, illuminating areas in its own way.

The look of the show also continues to come across great, with the digital animation providing an interesting and almost unique feel to the designs that are very much based in the classic sense. Ishimori’s designs, especially how he uses such full black eyes, adds much to the creepiness of the series. While at first one would think that such older designs wouldn’t work in the slick style of today, they’ve done an amazing job of blending the two. Some of my favorite moments come in how they replicate manga moments, such as panning between two buildings and moving them aside as you get closer, much like panning through several panels in a manga.

With its mix of science fiction, horror and action, the show can be a bit hard to pin down but there is just something about it that draws you in if you don’t have issues with the look and feel. This volume has a lot of revelations that make talking about it difficult, but it’s just as engaging as the first volume and continues to be something of a surprise in how much I liked it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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