L/R 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: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: L/R (Licensed by Royal)

L/R Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 08, 2004
Release Date: January 27, 2004


L/R Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The world's deadliest sniper arrives in Ishtar so the government dispatches Cloud 7 to discover and protect his target- only to discover the target is themselves! Then Jack and Row must cooperate with Jack's ex-girlfriend to protect Ishtar's mightiest mega-conglomerate, DTI from the terrorist known as 'Angel.' Soon, they track Angel's roots to Ivory Island, where they also decide to visit their friend Noel. However, a paramilitary group ruins the reunion by trying to kill Noel! Buried truths boil dangerously to the surface and threaten to rip the countries apart with violence?

The Review!
The two Royal Agents return for three more episodes that flesh out the land of Ishtar a bit more and move the 15 Year Princess arc forward nicely.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to these episodes in their original language of Japanese. Both language tracks are presented in a solid stereo mix with some excellent moments of directionality during the varied action sequences. Through regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions and enjoyed both mixes quite well.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2003, L/R is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and looks nearly flawless. The print used here shows off a great amount of detail, particularly in the dark areas while still having no bleeding or over saturation in the more vibrant areas of the program. Cross coloration is essentially non-existent here and only the slightest bit of aliasing was visible. While the show lacks some of the vibrancy of a lot of other more current shows, this one achieves the intended look beautifully.

Packaging:
While not quite the same feeling as the first volumes cover due to the darker color scheme used and a few other changes, the cover here offers up a nice mix of images to represent the show. With Jack and Rowe in the foreground and in full color, the backdrop has pieces from the three episodes in dark blacks and blues behind them. The strip does return to this cover but isn’t as strong with the dark purple and the black silhouettes on it. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a large action image as well. The features are nice and clearly listed and the summary gives a nice little premise tease about what to expect. Episode titles and numbers are listed along the back while volume numbering hits the spine and front cover. The insert uses the same purple coloring with the opening page providing more shots from the show and listing the chapter stops and the extras included. It opens up to a sketch that stretches across both panels with a split image of Gray on one side and Jack and Rowe on the other. The back panel provides a storyboard shot from the show.

Menu:
There’s just something in the style of Nightjar menus that I can figure out which ones are theirs quite easily. The main layout here uses the various colored blocks with shots of characters sliding in and out of them set to music from the show. Since they used the color scheme from the cover, the selection bar was difficult to see since it’s a dark purple throughout most of the menus, which was problematic as we kept selecting the wrong items. Selections are accessed along the bottom with fast access times and quick loads to the submenus even with the brief transitional animations.

Extras:
The extras section is pretty minimal this time, with both Japanese and English versions of the trailer (which to me looked identical) and a brief art gallery of production sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume of Licensed by Royalty, a series that we had been told for months that we weren’t supposed to like, I was rather looking forward to the second volume to see if it could keep up the fun level that most of the first volume had, sans first episode. With this installment, a drop to just three episodes, they manage to do so rather nicely while also playing around with the missing Princess storyline.

The opening episodes kicks things off in the rather violent way of a sniper hit on someone who isn’t key to the show but sets the stage for the sniper to take on a new job in Ishtar. With the threat of someone being assassinated at a party hosted by the Delmonts, the Royal Agents are brought in to stop him from killing whoever it is that’s the target, something they don’t know. The sniper, a man named Gray, has taken the job and is definitely in the country with his young daughter, a girl who ends up befriending Rowe in an unusual way and sets herself up to be used by the agents to try and stop the hit from happening.

There are some interesting shades of Leon (aka The Professional) with this episode due to the daughter, which isn’t too surprising considering the popularity of that movie. The episode is rather fun since while it does take parts of seriously, such as the relationship side of things between the father and daughter and the meaning of duty, it also plays loose with other aspects such as just how Gray is able to try and hit his targets from such a huge distance and in such a unique way. The actual hit, once discovered, can be overlooked for its near comical nature just by the way Rowe and Jack handle it.

Though not really listed as a two part storyline, the two remaining episodes on this volume go a ways towards explaining more of how Ishtar works and the powers behind it as well as delving more into the Princess mystery. As if the sniper wasn’t bad enough, now a terrorist has started hitting targets throughout the country and in particular elements and facilities belonging to DTI, the company known as Digital Terra, Inc. This is the company that found the use of the special ivory found in the Ivory Island in nuclear facilities some years ago and has exploited it to the extremes. The Ivory Island is essentially strip-mined and its populace finds work only in the mines or supporting the miners themselves. All of the wealth created by the special ivory benefits only DTI or the Royal Household itself, as they’ve basically annexed the Ivory Island.

The first round of attacks brings Jack into contact with an executive of DTI who used to be his partner in the Royal Houseguards. She brings some of his past back to light, albeit briefly, as well as getting his attention in more intimate ways once more. But she’s more involved with what’s going on with the terrorist attacks by a mysterious person known as Angel than Jack believes and that of course causes problems. Though Angel isn’t found, the attacks are at least traced back to elements in the Ivory Island, which leads to Jack and Rowe visiting there in the next episode. This works out great since it brings us into contact with Noelle again and the entire Princess mystery comes up once more. This starts to become more important to the overall storyline it seems and even gets us up close with the Royals in Ishtar as more secrets are revealed. Damn kids!

Much like the first volume, I’m really enjoying the visual mix and the catchy tunes associated with it. During the second viewing session while writing up the review, we took the entire show in once again in English and have really enjoyed just how well performed this is almost across the board. The accents are spot on and really give this a feel of something that the Japanese version simply isn’t able to get across; the English version gives it much more of a ‘worldliness’ for lack of a better word.

In Summary:
L/R is saddled with a really bad trailer and a first volume that opens the series poorly, but once past those obstacles I’ve found a little show that’s got a great energy of its own and entertains more than it probably should. I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, but each release so far has managed to hit every mark just right otherwise and provided us with just over an hour of enjoyable entertainment.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese & English Trailers,Sketch 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 Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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