Melody of Oblivion 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: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Melody of Oblivion

Melody of Oblivion Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 17, 2005
Release Date: August 23, 2005


Melody of Oblivion Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Is the saving of innocent lives a worthy cause when everyone else condemns you for the act? This burden weighs on Bocca's heart as he continues his fight against Midnight Hiyoko. But who is the real enemy? Later Bocca and Sayoko arrive at a town filled with mechanical mice and meet a girl who could be a warrior of Melos if it weren't her hatred of warriors.


The Review!
Bocca's journey continues and through his eyes and travels we learn more of how the world is run with the Monsters in charge of things.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both the English and Japanese track are stereo mixes which are pretty decent but not all that engaging. A few areas make decent use of the entire forward soundstage, usually the key action moments or some of the music, but the bulk of the shows dialogue is through the center channel. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is done with some very interesting colors and style that sets it apart from a lot of other series, particularly in how the backgrounds look almost incomplete in a sense or like very stylized pieces of coloring with something akin to crayons but with much more detail. The series plays up the mysterious angle a lot so we get some interesting red and white sky backgrounds that helps change the feel of the rest of the color palette. The transfer itself looks really good here with crisp clean colors, very solid and problem free line work and no cross coloration or much in the way of gradient issues. With the style used in the show, the transfer really makes it stand out all the more and it looks great here.

Packaging:
With the artwork for this release, I have really mixed feelings about it. I really like that they kept the original character artwork from the Japanese release and the general layout of the cover with the larger logo and then the volume name and extra text below it about the setting. The logo itself doesn't use the same as the Japanese one but one a bit more stylish. What I don't like is the seeming need to busy up the background instead of using the white of the Japanese release. The characters stand out more and it's more striking I think on a shelf filled with color. It almost reminds of how some dubs fill in quiet times with extra dialogue that just doesn't belong. The back cover shifts to a reddish background with a mixture of bricks and other shades while providing a few pictures and episode numbers and titles along the right side. The left side has a couple of paragraphs worth of summary of the premise that doesn't give too much away as well as the discs very basic features. The bottom section fills out the production information and then mostly just logos. The lack of basic technical information in an easy to find location here continues to really annoy me on what are generally otherwise very good looking covers. Geneon goes the extra mile here with the reversible cover that also uses the Japanese artwork, this time with both Tone and the little dutch boy standing side by side.

Menu:
The main menu uses the layout of the front cover but without the extra text to it and changes that to the navigational strip. The character artwork looks a bit weak in a few places, particularly for Bocca as you can see the jaggies from where the piece was clipped from its original source. A bit of music plays along to it as well as shifts of animation in an motion piece next to them but it's all fairly short. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is easy through the menus. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets.

Extras:
The extras and setup menus are combined once more and it continues to be something I just don't like. The menus are pretty minimal here with only a textless version of the ending sequence available.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a series like Melody of Oblivion, it really requires a number of episodes to try and come to an understanding of how this work works. While a lot of shows are easy to just jump into with their slice of life mentality or even numerous other genres that you can fit into an existing and easy to figure out model. After watching eight episodes of this show now, it continues to have a very distinct and eerie feel to it but understanding the way the world works is still very slow in coming.

The layout of the episodes isn't exactly problematic but it does allow for some anticlimactic nature to it. The first volume had a massive amount of information and setup to get done and they launched into a strange story right from the start with the hotel and the way that the Monster Union uses its agents to go out and about to do their bidding for them. The storyline was certainly interesting and while it allowed Bocca to be far more advanced than you would expect at this point in the series since he just became a warrior of Melos it gave some interesting insights into what kind of things to expect. The way it runs though means that the first episode here is the final part of that arc and with it being separated from the rest of the arc (and admittedly the length of time since we saw the first volume which was in advance), it just felt less than connected. With as much setup as was given to it the finale feels like it just was wrapped up a bit too quickly.

With that arc resolved, Bocca and Sayoko move on and end up in a very different place as they enter a beautiful looking valley that's got an impressive looking dam holding back the water beyond it. The color scheme is still very familiar though and throughout the trees, walls and other areas there's plenty of blotches of red there that we've seen in the previous stories. The dam itself is eye-catching beyond its general design as someone is the midst of painting a huge image on it of what's close to an eye with a tear drop but a bit more involved. As they approach the damn they're surprised to find a very pretty young boy standing there with his arm stuck in the wall. He's all calm and cool and tells them that he can't take it out otherwise the whole valley will flood.

This starts the strange nature of the town we get to know as the painter, a man named Eichi, comes down to talk to Bocca and Sayoko and takes them around and puts them up in his place for the night. The town is mysteriously bereft of children and woman it seems as well though that's not really touched upon and apparently all the men work in one house where they do calculations. These are based on the swarms of mice that return to the town that supposedly carry the sadness of tears from children. This entire operation is overseen by one woman, a very sultry and attractive woman named Miri. Though it's not obvious at first, she's a marked woman as an agent of the Monsters with the tattoo on her backside.

Eichi doesn't introduce Bocca as who he really is but a traveling art student along with Sayoko but Miri sees right through this and intends to use the situation to her advantage as apparently some sort of tax time is almost upon the town as dictated by the Monster Union. As she starts to lay her trap, Bocca becomes more involved in what's going on as the mice start to attack him and a straightfaced young woman named Tone arrives in town with her own past connected to it. Over the three episodes there's a lot of setup and information doled out as we learn about how the town is now and how it was in the past as well. There still feels like there's a few key things missing that make it all blend together but the final episodes of the arc, similar to the first, will probably bear that out.

One of the appeals to the show continues to be its moodiness and atmosphere. The production qualities are still quite good and the way it's scripted is something that definitely appeals to people who want to have an interesting story fed to them in small bits, almost with a Twin Peaks sort of quality about it in a way. This world is just so vastly different that until we get to that episode or section that hopefully pulls back the curtain more and explains things more clearly the series will have something of a gauze over it.

In Summary:
Melody of Oblivion is an intriguing title and what we saw of the first volume four months prior was memorable enough that once we sat down with this one it all came streaming back to us. So much of that volume came across on odd ways and with plenty of leaps of faith taken in how it's going to work out that getting some relatively straightforward world building episodes that we get here is very welcome. While it doesn't provide many insights into the characters or the world at large, we do get to understand more of the basic works and it's done in the same eerie and teasing manner as the first storyline. This series is intriguing but I'm not sure I can say I actually like it just yet.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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