Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kurau: Phantom Memory

Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     June 19, 2007
Release Date: June 12, 2007


Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
As the twin forces of betrayal and the GPO's expanding dragnet shatter Kurau and Christmas's temporary sanctuary, the Rynax pair is caught in the jaws of Wong and Ayaka's trap. Placing her trust in an unproven ally, a desperate Kurau finds herself facing another team of battle pods. This time, however, she's on the inside of her own combat unit and Kurau gives as good as she gets! But as hot as the metal on metal action is, it's the relationships, between both the Rynax and their human counterparts that become even more volatile! Long buried secrets and emotions ignite the firestorm in the second scorching volume of Kurau Phantom Memory!

The Review!
Living on the run, Kurau and Christmas find that they must place some trust in others in order to continue on.

Audio:
The two audio tracks included on this release are quite solid though the edge definitely goes to the English track. The Japanese track is presented in its original 2.0 mix encoded at 224 kbps. The mix for it is pretty dynamic with lots of nice bass to it and some good directionality to the action effects and dialogue. The English 5.1 mix is done at 448 kbps and really comes across as a much stronger and more focused mix. The subwoofer in particular has a much stronger effect here and radically changes how several of the action sequences play out as well as the opening and closing sequences. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any troubles with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Like many series from BONES, this one has a very wide range to it in terms of its color palette and overall animation. Going through this release a couple of times I'm hard pressed to really find any issue with it outside of some minor gradient problems in the backgrounds and a small touch of cross coloration in some line work once or twice. Colors look fantastic and nicely saturated, backgrounds maintain a solid feel without any noticeable noise or breakup and the fluid moments of animation are very clean. This is a very clean and solid looking release.

Packaging:
Using artwork that wasn't on the Japanese release, this release uses the same kind of style as the first volume to great effect. Working from a white background and adding in some silvers and blues that shine just right, the central image is that of Kurau and Christmas floating together. The stylish artwork of this illustration really shines here and is one of those covers that doesn't feel like it's a churned out piece. The back cover takes the reds and silvers once more and puts the whole thing at a couple of angles. The summary reads well as it's kept level but the pictures and production information is all given at an angle. The technical grid is as well but at a different angle and still quite readable. The insert is a three panel fold-out that has several text interviews with the creative staff. The cover for this release is not reversible.

This release also comes in a disc+box version which provides a solid chipboard box to contain the entire series. Using the same slick feeling design as the covers to the series but with the colors of the second volume, the box has a minimal feel but one that really clicks. One main panel features a close-up of Christmas while the other one contains a close-up of Kurau. The spine uses the artwork from the second volume in a slight condensed form along with the series logo. I wish that they would remove the disc 2 information from the bottom of the box and just provide it as a paper insert but then again I wish that ADV Films would include something more with their boxes once in awhile as well.

Menu:
The menu design for the show at the moment doesn't really seem to make much sense as it adapts part of the background from the cover as its basis. Using dark grays and navy blues as the color mix, wisps of energy float around the mechanical designs that are hidden pretty well in the background. The top level has individual episode selection and submenus for languages and extras as well as a preview for the next volume. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and while it doesn't look like anything in particular it does have a sense of style to it. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets.

Extras:
This volume of the series has a couple of good extras on it. The opening and closing sequences are presented in their clean format and we get a round of production artwork as well. A "key words" section covers various phrases relevant to this new world and there's also a set of Japanese TV spots.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taking the show on the road once again as Kurau and Christmas try to find someplace to live without being pursued, the series tries to expand on the characters while keeping the pacing in good shape. The story doesn't shift dramatically from how the previous volume ended and we get to know the characters a bit better but with both Kurau and Christmas being such one note characters so far it's difficult to really connect with it.

The four episodes on this volume do have some good moments to it as we start to see more of what's going on in the world. What ends up happening is that the good material in terms of understanding the situation comes when Kurau and Christmas aren't on the screen. When they are, it's more of a character piece as the two of them spend their time moving from one city to another and adapting to their temporary lives as live-in waitresses. Kurau does have some good material early on here as she's dealing with the latest arrival from Rynax as it searches her out and causes all sorts of problems. The greater understanding of the pod that it's in as well as showing what Kurau is capable of brings something new to the table.

The same can be said of the anti Rynax weapon that's brought into play in order to capture her. This comes up from the scenes involving those that work with Kurau's father as we see how far the GPO is willing to go in order to capture Kurau. The Rynax problem has certainly been a growing concern for the GPO and those within it who truly understand the situation which is clearly evidenced by the way they utilize this weapon the second it's ready to go. Laying a trap for Kurau by using those she's starting to trust even a little bit hits her hard enough but the trap itself is what does her in. The realization that it's something that could only be fostered by her father sends her on the run even more which keeps her very close to Christmas.

With a good chunk of the episodes focusing on Kurau and Christmas settling into a new location after dealing with what's happened, the series takes a slightly dull turn as we see both of them understanding that life is just plain interesting. Working as a pair of waitresses is something that certainly doesn't keep them out of view nor does Kurau's eventual turn as a Battle Pod pilot. For people on the run they don't blend in that well and end up with rather conspicuous occupations. The good material during all of this comes in other forms, such as more time spent with Doug as we get a touch more on his background. Between him and seeing some of the revelations that are slowly being made within the GPO about Christmas, there is a good sense of foreboding brought into play as well as scenes that don't feel plain goofy.

What proved to be the most interesting however was that a good part of the last episode spent its focus on the character of Ayaka Steiger. Serving as an officer in pursuit of Kurau, she's been a one note character for awhile with her relentlessness and shallow personality. With a good bit of time spent examining her background after a failed attempt at getting the pair, she becomes a far more sympathetic character and her motivations become clearer. BONES really delivers on the scenes that touch on her childhood days both in the artistry of the scenes as well as the emotional impact. While it may be predictable with what will happen, the execution is spot on as is the way it ties into the larger picture as she gets older. This is the kind of material that needs to be done with more of the cast so we can get a better view of what everyone is after.

In Summary:
The first volume of Kurau brought out some interesting ideas but slowly shifted to a show about two girls on the run. That in itself could be interesting enough as the revelations start to play out but with the girls hiding so poorly and ending up in such bad situations it's hard to maintain the kind of seriousness that the series wants to portray. Thankfully the secondary characters and some of the peripheral ones start making more of an impact here and the slow behind the scenes plotting and intrigue picks up the slack. There is some good action to be found in here and a good mix of light comedy and character building but something about how it's playing out just doesn't sit well. Kurau certainly has plenty of potential after that first volume but here it feels like it's being squandered a bit.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Key words, production artwork, Japanese TV spots, Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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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