Kurogane Communications Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kurogane Communication

Kurogane Communications Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2002
Release Date: June 25, 2002


Kurogane Communications Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Kanoto, with his innate distrust of robots, doesn't know what to make of Haruka and her friends. His guardian robot, Honi, is threatening everyone, while Haruka desperately bids for his friendship. Caught between the loss of his parents and the dream of finding other humans, Kanoto must choose sides before the climatic battle!

The Review!
The final installment of Kurogane Communication plays out perfectly, bringing a sense of tension and danger while also taking the time to properly wrap it all up.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though a fairly recent show, it’s a pretty standard stereo track that’s all forward soundstage based. Dialogue is nice and clear and we didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions on either track.

Video:
The transfer is about the same as the first two thirds of the show previously released. Colors look good and solid, though there’s enough scenes where things are clear enough to see the paint strokes. Cross coloration is very minimal and aliasing as well. There looks like some minor color banding in a few areas as well.

Packaging:
A rather interesting cover this time around, as the twin sister robots and the brains of Kanato’s robots sit amidst some of the ruins while we get a green hazy sky background to it. The girls are all smiling, but a touch of somberness to it. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and brief summary of the show at this stage. The discs features and production credits are clearly listed as well, but appears to have been done prior to the grid format that a lot of Media Blaster’s titles are employing these days. The insert provides another shot of the cover along with the chapter stops for all eight episodes.

Menus:
The main menu is laid out in the Flyer’s interactive screen which we learned about in the second volume, with the selections ringed around it. Submenus are setup in similar ways and the layout is nice and fast and easy to maneuver around.

Extras:
We get another nice little round of extras with this volume. There are a number of black and white production sketches and two more amusing comic strips. The dub outtakes also continue here, with Haruka and the twin sisters having a number of good goofs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s a fair amount of ground covered in these final eight episodes, that bring us back and forth between Kanato’s home and the makeshift one of Haruka and her robots. The main goal early on is the safe retrieval of Haruka from the fortress that Kanato calls his home. While he’s showing her throughout the place, the robots are making their way inside to free her, while also getting a feel for what’s going on. They’re also not stupid in that they begin to lay explosives all over to help facilitate their escape.

In all the confusion during the escape, Kanato is brought along with them. This time with Haruka and the robots gives him his first real taste of some form of reality in quite some time. We see flashbacks to his younger days where his “mother”, a robot who he didn’t know was one, raises him and cares for him. We see all the good times as well as the bad, particularly the one that results in her death. But since that time, he’s hardened, and seeing how Haruka interacts with her robots reminds him of his past, but amplified. Things such as the cooking, the baths, the general banter are all new to him and he’s fascinated, though he does try to hide it. In the end though, it just keeps bringing back memories of his mother.

The larger thrust of the remainder of the series brings into play the larger picture. It turns out that one of Kanato’s guardians, Honi, had learned of humans surviving on Mars several years ago. His programming has become skewed over time, and he ends up in the mindset of needing to eliminate all humans other than Kanato to protect him. This has led to him lying to the robots around him and coercing them subtly into rebuilding a Flyer and arming it with a large number of missiles. His goal to destroy the Martian remnants becomes his objective, of which everyone else must stop him.

Kurogane Communication was a real surprise of a series. With it being one of the first “mini” episode series I’d seen, the pacing and style of storytelling was new but I found it to be well pulled off, especially as they moved further into the episodes. The story itself also proved to be very engaging, with a strong cast of characters. The last human on the planet stories have been done many times both in movies, TV and novels, but it was very well done here with Haruka being able to carry off the lead role.

When the show transitioned from the ruins of Tokyo to the land where they came across the first other human, I wasn’t sure if it would be able to keep up the aura of those early episodes. Stories taking place in ruined future cities are usually interesting to me, but this one worked slightly better than most since a lot of it was done during the daylight and there wasn’t a sense of constant life threatening danger. Knowing that there were no other humans about, it also really added a sense of loneliness to things, even with the robots there.

With only three volumes, a low retail price and an excellent story, Kurogane Communication has really grown on us as we watched it, and has turned into one of the better surprises I’ve had in the past couple of years from a show I knew nothing about. Very recommended for those looking for something different and engaging.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches,Mini Comic,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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