The crux of Mar is in full swing, as the War Games are in full flow, a lot of battles commence and Ginta and Dorothy realise some things they may have wished they hadn’t…
What They Say
Let The Battle Commence! We join Ginta Toramizu and his friends in the middle of the brutal War Game, where the MAR team have been locked in battle with the Chess Pieces. They have now reached the Third Round at the Volcano Stage and the MAR team faces the Knights, the strongest Chess Piece fighters. However, Ginta has two new versions of Babbo and so the warring factions are evenly matched. Who will emerge the strongest side and who will end up ultimately victorious?
I decided to go with the English dub for the full 3 discs after being very impressed with the dub in the previous volume. Both languages are in the standard 2.0 format so sadly no 5.1 format. The edited release and various changes made to the openings and endings of the series do make it seem different, but there were no distortions throughout any of the episodes in, so the audio quality was still of a high quality.
The transfer for MAR is bright and vibrant, with colour showing as far as the eye can see. It also seems to be a lot better in this set despite the overlays due to the different nature of the battles and the use of colour scheme. The filters are still noticeable but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was previously. Also, this is one of the few series I’ve seen recently where the use of CGI is converted really well onto the set so MAR definitely scores points for that.
No packaging was provided with this disc.
Each disc has the same menu – with the Toonami music in the background, we see clips from the show with Babbo’s chains surrounding the screen, a picture of Ginta and Babbo on the left hand side on a chess board, with a small sign allowing you to select between play all, scene selection, set-up and on the first disc, trailers. Each section is easy to select and easy to navigate if a little bit unspectacular. The slightly lower grade is due to the fact that despite the new episodes, they use the same scenes in the opening menu as the first set as well as the same pictures during the menu selection.
The only extras are trailers for Buso Renkin, Death Note, Naruto the Movie and Bleach…exactly same as the first set.
Before the review starts, as you can probably tell, this is the review for Mar Volume 3 Set, however there isn’t a review yet for Volume 2 due to not yet receiving the test discs. So keep in mind there’s going to be a few more spoilers than usual during the review as I was forced to spoil myself into what happens between the two sets. (Ironically, the first episode has a mini-flashback using Koyuki and Ginta’s mom to set the scene a bit easier…)
The WAR Games between Team MAR and the Chess Pieces are in full swing as we are already half way into the 3rd Round. Wins for Allan and Jack means a good start for Team MAR but when Snow fights a bishop named Mr Hook, she’s at a huge disadvantage as her ice based powers are very weak in the volcano area the battles are set in. Indeed, she loses but is cheered up by Ginta, who fights next against a weird candle monster named Kannochi. Something learned is if the captain loses (which is Ginta) the whole team loses and thus, the Chess Pieces would take over MAR. Kannochi has known nothing but war and is very twisted with some unusual powers, but Ginta surprises everyone with the use of a new ARM ability for Babbo – an attractive woman named Alice which cures curses (and is pretty attractive much to Jack and Nanashi’s happiness) – and causes the start of a learning curve for Ginta as he realises the emotions of the chess pieces – both good and bad.
The big battle though is between Alviss and the knight Rowan. Knights are considered the most powerful guards of the Chess Pieces, though Rowan at first glance seems very happy-go-lucky and cowardly. However, once his true face shows up, Alviss realises how strong he is, as well as an ironic situation that both of them have suffered thanks to Phantom, only whilst Alviss detests his condition, Rowan revels in it. It ends with Alviss’ defeat, but he knows his limits and to get stronger as Team Mar win 3 out of their 5 matches, allowing them to be successful for this round.
With a day break, Ginta uses Alice again to separate Ed and Alan from their bodies, but her powers can’t remove Alviss’ Zombie Tattoo curse. Despite that, it’s another trip to the Training Gate as one day equals 60 days in the gate, to get stronger for the next round of opponents after witnessing Rowan’s skill. However, this time they have to fight a shadow version of themselves to try and power up their own abilities by defeating the identical clones. Snow rests after her injuries (and her unique connection with Koyuki is again explored, including their feelings for Ginta) as after the training, the 4th round of the War Games begins with a 6 on 6 battle – on Team MAR, Alan and Snow both sit out as Alan wants to see how far they’ve grown so MAR has Ginta, Jack, Dorothy, Nanashi and Alviss against a 6 team of Chess Pieces involving 5 Bishops and 1 Knight, a hideous lady named Rapunzel who is the sister of Garom, who was defeated by Ginta’s Gargoyle Arm previously.
Rapunzel characteristics already show her as narcissistic despite being hideous and wanted to kill anything, especially Ginta. This includes her own teammates, when after the stronger Alviss defeats Mr. Hook easily after he beat Snow in the previous road, she throws rock, papers, scissors to decide their fates. And if they lose, she delights in killing them. This side of hers is psychotic, but it really comes to a detestable head during Nanashi’s match.
Both Jack and Dorothy win their battles (and Rapunzel kills the bishops) so Nanashi faces up against a rather cute Chess Piece by the name of Aqua. Aqua is very different to the other pieces as she’s very giggly, smiling and unlike Rowan, doesn’t seem to have an ulterior motive so it’s odd someone like her is in the Chess Pieces in the first place. Nonetheless, Nanashi being quite the ladies man wants to win, but doesn’t want to see Rapunzel kill her. So in their battle, Nanashi defeats her, but then says he’s exhausted his power so it’s declared a tie. Rapunzel still does the rock/paper/scissor fate, but even when Aqua wins, Girom kills her. It’s the first time I’ve met a character in the series I detested so much, and I felt exactly what Ginta was feeling as he flew into a rage after Aqua’s death. This causes a learning curve in a few ways for Ginta who whilst angry can’t control Babbo’s powers accurately, and also he slowly understands that the War Games isn’t a game – he’s manages to defeat Girom after using up a new power, enraging Rapunzel. With only 5 members of MAR, one has to fight twice and Rapunzel goes in ready to crush Ginta, but Dorothy fights her instead.
Dorothy is an intriguing character as at first she’s has her own agenda in the series, and plays the older sister/love interest for Ginta and the rival for Snow. However, during a brutal fight with Rapunzel that Dorothy barely wins, we see a glimpse of her past, which carries on after the 4th round concludes. This was probably the strongest part of this set on the 3rd disc as whilst the battles were fun, most of them were completely one-sided bar the last two of this round, and there are obvious shounen clichés which stretch back to Final Fantasy and Dragonball Z anyone could have noticed. However, when Dorothy’s past is brought into play, the identity of the Queen of the Chess Pieces is revealed, and the history of the 1st War Games is replayed with this knowledge in mind, causing Ginta to refocus himself and his life.
This arc also has one more thing in that they have to return to Dorothy’s homeland Caldia, where ARMS are also created. During this day off, Phantom attacks the magical town where Dorothy and Ginta are forced to try and protect it whilst everyone else gains new ARMS ready to battle. Ginta and Phantom have a confrontation after Ginta defeats 30+ Rooks showing how far he has come, but he realises that he’s still no match for Phantom as the kid begins to grow up.
The review’s already stretched a bit, and there is still plenty to talk about. The bright colours and vibrant action scenes will find fans of this genre to say the least, and I do enjoy MAR a lot more than other shounen series – maybe because of the growth of Ginta mentally and physically, and Dorothy’s past and how it links with the previous war is a unique twist. Also there’s some interesting points for the future as the next round is due to begin – the most interesting is a very unique Chess Piece by the name of Ash who looks like a walking skeleton but is very friendly to children as he delivers a message to Nanashi and being very polite is looking forward to his battle with Ginta – and the new ARMS the other members have got will obviously bring the next battles into even more interest. It still suffers from being very battle orientated which can drag on a fair bit, and considering all but Girom, Rowan, Aqua and Rapunzel (and she is one of the most detestable and annoying characters ever) were basically throwaway characters of the Chess Pieces, you didn’t see any other outcome during their battles and was very predictable. However, there’s still a lot to look forward to as we see Ginta continue to grow, and despite the battle ridden format, the addition of new ARMS, Dorothy’s relationship with the Queen of the Chess Pieces, her role in the past WAR games, the addition of Ash…it’s definitely a more pleasant experience than I expected.
A lot has been explained, but the long and short of it is that if you enjoy a battle-orientated series, you could go a lot worse than this. Whilst the villains are fairly generic bar Phantom, the heroes do make up for it with a wild variety of characteristics. Dorothy and Ginta however steal the show this set, and with the past and future explored, there’s certainly something to look forward to. Definitely worth a rent if you’re even remotely interested in a battle series.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.