Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • 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
  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 17, 2007
Release Date: August 14, 2007

Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Arriving in California, Kurau and Christmas seem to have briefly escaped the GPO, but the discovery of a facility designed to extract Rynax power quickly reveals the global scale of the conspiracy set against them. Before they can take further action, Ayaka's task force closes in once again and a series of pitched battles follow, leaving Christmas captured and Kurau with her powers severely impaired. Now her only chance of saving her pair lies in following her assailants back to the moon, where the origins of Rynax power and a confrontation with her father await. A circle closes, and the horrors of Rynax energy will be unveiled, in the third amazing volume of Kurau Phantom Memory!

The Review!
On the run and with little sense of how to actually escape, Kurau and Christmas find their situation becoming more complicated and dire as time wears on.

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.

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.

Similar in design to the previous releases in the series, this cover provides the pairing of Kurau and Christmas together with some really nicely done illustration pieces. The background is once more a hodgepodge of different colors and shapes along with one of the ships that the GPO pilots. 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 as well as shots of the original cover art. The cover for this release is not reversible.

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.

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 DVD spots.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the third volume of the series, Kurau: Phantom Memory hits the halfway mark of the series and I'm still as unsure as to what it's really about as I was at first. The first episode of the series seemed to present something that would be really interesting but instead turned into something more predictable and unfortunately generic. The trademark style of the BONES production is here but the actual plot and characterization continues to be very weak.

One of the biggest hurdles it faces is in that Kurau herself doesn't have all that much to offer. She's a unique creature in that she's a Ryna sapien who has lived among humans for some time and has used her powers in order to become a top notch Agent. This gives her a wealth of moves, contacts and potential but it all feels incredibly squandered as she runs about like an amateur while being hunted. Another notch in this belt comes when she and Christmas flee to America and she believes that simple passport changes will let them get by unnoticed. Such is not to be as the GPO under Ayaka's command is quite intent on catching them at all costs. Kurau's skill set has essentially gone out the window once Christmas came into her life and the chase began.

Kurau's poor instincts haven't served her well for the most part but she has had some successes. One of those comes when the pair are in California and she feels drawn to a place where some Rynax are. As it turns out, a facility similar to the one on the moon exists there and she can't but feel drawn to what it's emitting. Ayaka is able to figure out that Kurau is likely to head there and the facility itself is relatively unguarded when you consider what it's really doing. Kurau's instincts fail in this as well as instead of casing the facility and keeping Christmas somewhere safe first, she ends up just heading right in, tripping the alarms and bringing everything down on her and Christmas once again.

If not for Doug, who himself is barely able to keep up with the foolishness that Kurau causes, the entire game would have been over much sooner. Doug actually makes a bit of progress in unearthing some of the mysteries that are being dealt with in the series as he has a lengthy off screen discussion with Dr. Amami about everything. In the end, it serves to reinforce his need to keep Kurau and Christmas away from the GPO. Everything is pointing towards the moon however and that Kurau needs to talk to her father after all these years to figure out what's going on. But like much of the series to date, it instead provides more questions than answers along with Kurau's inability to remember she used to be a top tier agent.

If there's a saving grace to this volume, it comes in the form of Dr. Amami. His situation with having lost his daughter, twice in a sense, and then having his projects subverted by the GPO makes him a very sympathetic character. The arrival of Kurau on the moon finally gives him a chance to act and once he does it starts to offer all sorts of interesting bits. The exploration of what's really going on in the main research facility but also in dealing with survivors from the moon facility incident. Naturally, his re-introduction to the series doesn't last too long before it goes back to what it was before but what he and one of the secret facilities brings into play gives the show a bit more depth and humanity.

In Summary:
The first four episodes of Kurau teased with a rather interesting premise before it shifted its approach. The second installment of four episodes ended up with a lot of situations that left me shaking my head in general while enjoying the overall design of the series. With this third set of episodes, which brings us halfway through the series, it starts to offer more of its original potential in dealing with the Rynax while still teasing us with what it's all really about. Until it starts to delve into that more it won't be much more than a simple friends on the run kind of series. Kurau and Christmas aren't the most engaging of on screen personalities and the secondary cast of characters isn't much better for what little dimension that exists for them. The production as a whole is competent but the entire plot aspect really needs a lot more vision and guidance to it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Key Words, Production artwork,Four Japanese DVD 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 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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