Mirage of Blaze 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: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mirage of Blaze

Mirage of Blaze Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 22, 2003
Release Date: August 26, 2003


Mirage of Blaze Vol. #2
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Takuya's friends insist he is the reincarnation of th enoble samurai Kagetora, and he has special spirit powers to prove it. Takuya's doubt will meet its final test, as his entire school turns into a spawning ground for armies of the undead.

The Review!
After all the introductions and general confusion of the first volume, the series rotates in a nice two part story and then starts adding in a ton of new Lords to remember and beefs up the entire Feudal Underworld setup.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that has a good sense of forward soundstage directionality at times as well as a bit of depth to it, giving it a better feel. There?s nothing thrown to the rear speakers, but everything out of the front sound solid and free of distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Mirage of Blaze has a very clean looking and problem free transfer. This full frame release is quite dark at times with a lot of the segments taking place at night or darkened quarters and manages to avoid any macroblocking or breakup. Cross coloration looks pretty much absent here and only a few extremely minor areas of aliasing are visible. The show has a pretty dark color palette to it, but everything comes across solid and without any bleeding or over saturation.

Packaging:
The front cover provides a great shot of two of the male leads with nicely detailed and colored shots of Takaya and Yuzuru in their regular clothes. The back cover is essentially one large collage of images from the show with some minor plot points mixed in, almost basically teasing the reader to try and figure it out much like the show itself. The discs production and technical information is all clearly listed and accurate. The insert is basically a one-sheet that lists the chapter stops for each episode with only some faded artwork in the background, but otherwise looking like the front covers background.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice simple static piece that has the Ayako and Chiaki in sketch-mode set against the grays and dark reds while the opening song plays along. The bottom of the menu has all the selections, including access to the single extra here. Access times are nice and fast and submenus load quickly with no transitional animations.

Extras:
The only on-disc extra included is the textless ending, which is nicely placed right at the top menu for quick access. Much like the first volume, I don?t imagine there?s a lot of extras for this short series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first volume of the series, we got all the basic introductions and started learning of the multiple lives of these lead characters who are reborn continually to fight against the Feudal Underworld, exorcising the vengeance spirits and giving them peace at last. There?s a lot to take in, particularly the fun of keeping track of two names for most of the cast while just trying to keep on top of who is who.

This volume eventually moves back into the larger picture, but thankfully we get a nice two part set of episodes that takes the time to focus down back on some of the primary characters and gives them a chance to grow a bit and expand on their nature and provide some small revelations. The focus comes back on Takaya?s high school, with Yuzuru fainting from something and causing much concern. Naoe and Ayako are on site to visit Yuzuru at the same time, but end up discovering more that the entire school feels like a pit of spiritual energy, something that can?t be good.

The school of course finds itself in the midst of a supernatural crisis, as spirits have been showing up recently moaning on and on about ?83 lbs?. With a bit of investigation between the group, they learn that some previously peaceful guardian spirits had been guided from another location where they were at rest to this school, where they now have become vengeance spirits. Through the discovery we learn more of their past when they rebelled against their Lord who had raised taxes to an unrealistic level and how they fought back and were eventually betrayed. It?s a story that was likely repeated over and over in the dark years there for the peasantry.

With the cast paired down and the introduction of a few more members from the Underworld and reincarnated alike, the overall cast grows slowly here and provides the new people a chance to get their words in without a lot of opposition to deal with. The two part episode does a nice job of bringing them into play while also giving us more information on the existing ones as well as providing some good angst for Takaya as he wonders whether accepting that he?s Kagetora means that he?s killing the real Takaya.

The single episode that follows this adventure starts the focus back on the Feudal Underworld in general as it brings more of the political movements of that cast to light and we get treated to some of the infighting and maneuvering going on for position there. It?s all quite intriguing and confusing at the same time trying to keep track of it all with so many Lords names being thrown about and different factions. There?s also some really interesting character revelations between Takaya and Naoe that change their relationship into an interesting direction.

The look and feel of the show continues to be as strong as it was when it started. I continue to really find myself drawn to the character of Naoe as I absolutely adore the depth and feel of Sho Hayami?s voice for this character. This series continues to be filled with Very Pretty Men that gets any of the women in the area stopping in their tracks to see what I?m watching.

Mirage of Blaze continues to build upon its premise of an interesting reincarnation story dealing with the feudal lords of the past still vying for power in the spiritual domain. While the cast can get confusing, the dialogue is fun and the action sequences quite well done. There?s a lot to like here and I?m enjoying it a lot.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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