Mars Daybreak Vol. #2 (also w/limited edition slipcase/CD) - 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: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mars Daybreak

Mars Daybreak Vol. #2 (also w/limited edition slipcase/CD)

By Chris Beveridge     November 14, 2005
Release Date: November 08, 2005


Mars Daybreak Vol. #2 (also w/limited edition slipcase/CD)
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Now that Gram is considered a pirate he soon discovers that this lifestyle is unpredictable and dangerous work! After tracking an abandoned city-ship for some pirate-style vengeance the crew kidnaps the granddaughter of the Earth President. But things don't go as planned as she decides to stay with the crew. The Ship of Aurora may be a pirate ship, but it’s considered home!

The Review!
The crew starts to gel better this time around while more of the larger storyline slowly reveals itself.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is a pretty standard one with a fair bit of directionality across the forward soundstage for things such as ships moving across through the water as well as various weapons. Dialogue gets a bit of directionality as well but it's otherwise a fairly standard solid mix with no real issues. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Across a lot of their series, BONES has a certain look and feel to their works and it continues here with Mars Daybreak. While the level of CG interaction continues to go up in terms of meshing with the animation, the series in general has a very smooth and colorful look that's not overly vibrant but has a real life to it. Colors look great throughout and avoid blocking but there is a fair bit of gradient issues that come up with some of the CG sequences, particularly the ships. Aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent and the artwork in general has a very clean and smooth polished look to it that's well maintained. This is a good solid looking transfer overall.

Packaging:
The regular edition release of this release has a good looking piece of cover artwork that features Gram and Vesta set against the Aurora which has an icy white and blue backdrop. The addition of the white as the background works well here and lets the character artwork look much more striking. The back cover is tightly laid out with a lot of open space around it as the bulk of the text and images are kept to a central piece where there are several paragraphs of summary and four images showcasing the characters. The discs features are clearly listed and the bottom is rounded out by production information and very little useful technical information. No insert was included with this review copy.

In addition to the disc only release, a special limited edition release was also made. While the first volume special edition release came in a great tin edition, this special edition release goes with the more standard cardboard slipcover that replicates the front cover artwork with a few raised sections on it while the back cover side of it is identical to the keepcase. The inclusion of the second soundtrack makes this a worthwhile special edition release but with just one volume having the tin it makes for an awkward series on most peoples shelves.

Menu:
The menus here are more animated than usual for Bandai as it moves around an underwater setting that has video panels down below and showcases clips from the show as explosions and other vehicles move by, all set to some of the choral style music that's from the show. Navigation is nicely done along the bottom and in submenus and is quick to access and load. The disc unfortunately did not read our players' language presets and played to a default of English language with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the second volume of Mars Daybreak, the show covers another five episodes that lets us get to know the characters a bit better as well as starting to show some of what the larger storyline may be about. The episodes continue to have a fairly episodic feel to them though they carry over various parts of the storyline with certain characters. The first volume of the series was fairly uneven as it had a lot to introduce and didn't quite do it well but the show settles down nicely in this set of episodes.

The biggest revelation that comes across this volume is what potentially looks to be the larger storyline of dealing, at least initially, with the Stone of the Gods. This comes about in an interesting way as it starts by having the folks on board the Ship of Aurora catching up with the kids that accidentally scraped them in the previous episode. The kids are actually an amusing pseudo-revolutionary group that's managed to kidnap accidentally the granddaughter of the President of Earth. Enora's a bit haughty about all of this since she is who she is but she's not a bad girl by any stretch of the imagination about it. At first she's hopeful when the Aurora folks invade the floating university city that was abandoned some time ago but when she realizes that they're actually pirates she starts to work with the trio to escape. It's fairly comical as they try to hide out inside the city and end up learning some interesting things about the past revolutions that were eventually ignored in favor of a real revolution.

While it is fairly goofy for an episode, the end result is that we end up with Enora on board the Ship of the Aurora and she finds herself interested in hanging around there for awhile, especially since she manages to survive the initiation challenge. As it turns out, her time on Mars was arranged by her grandfather so that she could be there without revealing who she was while taking university classes that revolve around the ancient history of Mars and its aborigine population. She's not quite the classic archaeologist or even adventure seeking styled one but when she comes across one of many replica treasure maps of sorts that talks about where to find the Stone of the Gods, she's keen on finding it. As it turns out for her, she's with the right group as an encounter later in the show has them coming across a group of descendants of the aborigines and the captain finds out the possibility of a real treasure being waved under her nose.

The introduction/expansion of the aborigines and what makes them up is an interesting angle to the show and provides some much needed background on the world itself so that we can figure out just why things are the way they are. It's also interesting to see that it's a situation where the beliefs of people about what the descendants are like doesn't match the reality at all and it's not as romanticized as they think, particularly when it comes to Enora. She does have the advantage of youth in wanting to believe such things so watching her come to terms with the reality is fun, particularly since a lot of the descendants are basically no different than anyone else. The elders tend to have a bit more old time nature about them but that's expected and well played here and it manages to mirror reality pretty well.

A lot of what bothered me with the first volume was with how certain parts played out, particularly early on with Gram acquiring his Round Buckler and the frenetic pace the show seemed to set for itself to introduce so many varied characters and settings without taking the time to really ground it properly. So much is required to make a first episode engaging to bring the audience back that the quality of it is often sacrificed. The first volume had things that were interesting to watch by the time it got to the fifth episode but it wasn't at an area where it demanded the next volume be watched. The same can be said of this volume as well but unlike the first one the characters are more realized and fun to watch as they interact, though there are enough of them that their names are still very unmemorable which works against it unless they're a full on lead character.

In Summary:
The cast of this show is definitely an interesting one as most pirate crews tend to be but there are only a few episodes where this is well covered, such as the shopping aspect where Poipoider is revealed to really be "the man" of the group or the hot spring episode where everyone just has a lot of fun playing off of each other before it goes with the giant squid creatures attacking angle. More and more the cast is becoming familiar but with the size of it they still have a ways to go before their names are memorable. The plot picks up well in this volume as more is revealed about what potentially the larger story is going to be about and it's interesting enough that it makes you want to see where it's all going to go. Mars Daybreak so far has the weakest first ten episodes of any BONES series I've seen but even when it's weak it has some interesting ideas, particularly since this is based off of a video game.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language
English 2.0 Language
English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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