Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring Essential Anime Collection - 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: B
  • Extras Rating: D+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 135
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Legend of Crystania

Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring Essential Anime Collection

By Luis Cruz     March 07, 2005
Release Date: February 15, 2005


Legend of Crystania: The Chaos Ring Essential Anime Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
The land of Crystania has been at peace for some time. But like a shallow sleep, tranquility is shattered by nightmares born of the deepest, blackest night. The seals that protect Crystania are coming undone, and the Bell of Wakening tolls on terror after terror being unleashed upon the land and its people.

Tornados, basilisks and Dragon Lords roam, heralding the return of King Barbas. With every second the land is scarred more deeply. Village after village is destroyed, and the gods of Crystania are next. Only King Ashram, trapped in the World of Chaos, provides a glimmer of hope. But will Redon's innocence and Priotesse's love be enough to provide him with a portal home?

The Review!
The three part Crystania OVA series is given the "Essential Anime Collection" treatment but provides little content to be considered essential to one's collection.

Audio:
My primary viewing session consisted of the original Japanese audio track. The track comes through the center channel with no noticeable stereo effects. While free of distortions or other problems, the track sounds flat and listless especially when compared to the remastered 5.1 English audio track. The remastered 5.1 English audio track proved to be a marginally richer experience. The soundtrack makes good use of the front and rear soundstages by adding in ambient effects to liven up the action and enhance the mood of the various locations.

This was especially noticeable during the bell ringing sequence, as the echo effects made it feel like you were in the middle of the belfry. Most of the English cast did a good job bringing their characters to life, but some of the secondary characters did not bring the same energy to the roles as their Japanese counterparts did. While the Japanese audio was not as full sounding as the English soundtrack, it does get the nod in terms of overall voice performances.

Video:
ADV provides a solid, defect free transfer that provides a rich range of colors. From the dark shadows to the vibrant colors of Chaos, the picture is very crisp allowing the varied nature of the animation style to shine. While this OVA series followed shortly after the film, the flat feeling the animation of the movie is gone and is replaced by a feeling of depth to the scenery that was sorely lacking in the original movie. The opening animation contains translations of the credits hard subtitled directly onto the print.

Packaging:
A collage of the main characters set against a sunset is the image used for the front cover. A purple "Essential Collection" banner is across the top of the front cover while a "Digitally Remastered in 5.1" banner is across the bottom. The back cover contains the requisite synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications. There was no insert present in this release.

Menu:
Simple and effective, the main menu features a static image of Sheru/Pirotess while the theme music loops in the background. There are no delays transitioning between menus.

Extras:
The only extra on the disc is the original Japanese opening animation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Once more, we enter the land of Crystania where animal based gods struggle to form a perfect world that operates on a perfect cycle. The initial entry in the series introduced us to the main characters and the world they have stumbled into, but the story did not provide much depth to either. While the animation for this three part OVA has significantly improved, the same cannot be said for the story.

The first act opens up sometime after the events of the movie; Barbas has been defeated, but his faithful followers appear to be making attempts to revive him. Sheru, or Pirotess if you prefer, receives an ominous premonition in a dream about Barbas' resurrection. Possessing a Chaos Ring, the one item that can help bring about Barbas' final destruction, Sheru quickly finds herself on the run from Barbas' minions.

Meanwhile, Redon and the rest of the original cast of outsiders have begun to carve out lives for themselves in Crystania. All is peaceful for them until they run into a mysterious old lady. Prophecy from this lady and the unsealing of a basilisk sends Redon off on a quest to find the Cave of the Sealed which might hold their lost companion Lady Adelisia. A set of precocious twins are sent by the old lady to show Redon the way.

With the characters in place, the plot rushes to its conclusion, as the way to unseal Adelisia also resurrects Barbas. Redon and Sheru must travel into the Chaos World to try to revive the soul of Ashram and put a final end to Barbas' madness. The failing of this OVA series is the same failing the movie had; there just is not enough time to really build up the characters or the world they are in and have it connect with the audience.

The series feels like it is trying to condense a number of novels into a coherent, shorter film version. While the plot does make sense, there is a feeling that too much has been excised from the story to make it fit the time constraints. Various peoples and concepts of the world of Crystania are introduced but never explored; they end up looking more like convenient plot devices rather than elements to help the audience connect to the world and its events.

One example of this is the unsealing of Adelisia; in the movie, she caused a disturbance in the cycle, one that prompted one sect of the Crystanian population to go to great lengths to seal her away. Once unsealed though, her original captor makes no effort to reseal her or destroy her for good. And Adelisia does not factor into the final end game at all.

Her powerful disturbance seems to have only served the purpose of sending her friends on a quest that will ultimately resurrect Barbas. Her character and the concept of sealing could have easily been replaced by any number of other plot devices, and the overall story would not have been affected at all.

The only interesting point in this saga is the introduction of the Crystania gods; they are much like the Greek gods of old. Rather than sitting on Mount Olympus, they are animal spirits that have their own amphitheater for their meetings. And much like the Greek gods, the only difference between them and their followers is that the gods have tremendous power. However, the gods are only given a surface exploration and end up being little more than additional narrators that provide bridges from one scene to another.

Given more time to develop, the Crystania saga may have turned into something entertaining. It created a world with mythological gods, shamanistic elements, and a decent cast of characters flung into unfamiliar territory. However, the raw materials just were not forged into something very memorable.

In Summary:
While the OVA series surpassed the film in terms of animation, it does not do the same in the story department. Both the movie and this OVA series view like a Reader's Digest version of a story that was already a Reader's Digest story to begin with. There is not enough substance to the world of Crystania to provide a connection for the audience to the characters or events occurring in it. Given more time to develop the series, Crystania could have been a decent entry in the fantasy genre. But, it falls short of the mark in many ways and just cannot compare to the better fantasy series out there.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles


Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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