Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Vol. #6 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 24.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Vol. #6

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Vol. #6 DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     February 05, 2010
Release Date: October 13, 2009


Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Vol. #6
© Media Blasters

More truths are revealed and Chagum now is starting to grasp the danger of his destiny.

What They Say
agum, Balsa, and the others reach the remote Yukue village in search of more information about the Spirit. When Chagum learns he is destined to be killed by the Rarunga, he finally lashes out against Balsa. She has been keeping secrets from him for too long, and the burden of being the Guardian of the Spirit has finally become too much.

Shuga and the Hunters arrive in the Yukue village, and face off against Madam Torogai. They engage in a battle of wills to see who can protect Chagum from the claws of the Rarunga. Will it be the New Yogo empire and its thousands of warriors, or Balsa and her single spear?

Contains episodes 18-20.

The Review!
Audio:
Media Blasters has a pretty good selection of mixes here with four audio tracks, two of which are relatively unnecessary if DVD players are built properly. The Japanese and English language mixes are presented in both a 5.1 mix and a 2.0 mix to ensure the best overall playback. The stereo mixes are done in a standard minimal 192kbps encoding while the 5.1 mixes get the full 448kbps. The 5.1 mixes almost feel like overkill for a lot of this since it’s basic dialogue and little more for the bulk of the episodes. When the big action scenes do kick in, the mix comes across a bit more dynamic but not in a way where it’s really strong. The mix is used more for accent and clarity of placement more than overall impact. We only spent a little bit of time on the stereo mixes and they came across well, stronger with the forward soundstage, but there isn’t a huge world of difference between the two.

Video:
Originally airing throughout 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With very strong production values by Production I.G., the transfer for this is pretty disappointing in a lot of ways. The bitrate hovers in the sixes and sevens for a lot of it, and unlike some of the earlier discs, there’s far less blockiness and noise to be found here. While some amount of noise is expected, it seems to be stronger than it should be in some scenes and the ending sequence in particular, where it shifts from the dark blue to the lighter blue with the headshot of Chagum, really showcases a good deal of banding and blocking as it goes along. Colors look good in general and there isn’t any over saturation nor is there any visible cross coloration.

Packaging:
This release is another sideways piece from the company which looks great with its artwork of Balsa being threatened by an angry Chagum with yet another great backdrop of the world around them. There’s a lot of detail here and a very strong defined look that eludes many other shows. The downside is that they put it in a large jewel case that’s keepcase sized. Other than a few music releases in the US and a number of Japanese releases, you don’t see these kinds of cases often. They’re thinner than keepcases but the non-standard aspect is certainly going to annoy some, especially those that try to transition them to regular keepcases since they don’t fit all that well. The back cover is nicely done with the background from the front cover extended here along with a few shots from the show. The summary runs through the predictable basics of what to expect and there’s a listing of the discs extras as well. The production information and technical grid is solid as always and comes across in a very easy to read fashion.

The front cover for this release doubles as the booklet as well. The interior opens up to several pieces of character concept design items. There’s nothing on the back of the panel though which keeps it from feeling like anything truly worthwhile. It’s not a bad insert, but it’s very minimal overall.

Menu:
The menu design was one that while basic could be quite serviceable if not for the poor look of it. The static image of Balsa and Chagum from the front cover is used here to goof effect overall and it avoids the fuzzy feeling that we had with the early volumes. The navigation strip is simple, especially as the sole extra is listed along the top level, and submenu navigation is easy. Language selection is awkward since once you make a selection, it doesn’t really show what’s selected in any way. The disc didn’t read our player presets and defaulted to English stereo with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the sixth volume of the series, Moribito makes its shift to just three episodes per disc. The release schedule for the show has long been a problem and the dip to just three episodes makes it all the more painful. That said, this volume does work out well in this regard because the three episodes are a fairly self contained quiet arc that works to move the story forward and rearrange where everyone is and their relation to each other. The information gained is fairly minimal overall, but it's the kind of information that goes a long way towards really putting everyone in the right frame of mind.

With the information that Torogai gained previously, the plan is to try and understand it more within this world compared to that of Nayug. The new revelations about the egg eater and the potential destiny for Chagum as the egg guardian has them concerned for his safety and wanting to understand more of how this has worked in the past. Obviously the eggs must have survived before since there has been rain from the sky so the trio heads off to the village of Toumi, a Yakoo village that has little to do with the Shin-Yogo nation as it has tried to keep to its traditions. With a personal collection tot he village, Tanda gives them hope of learning more from their oral traditions to give them clues about how to protect the young prince.

The Yakoo village of Toumi is quite different from what we've seen of Shin-Yogo and the more “developed” areas. It has an even more rural and old fashioned feeling to it but also a kind of warmth and closeness that you don't get from the towns and area around the palace. The way that the village elder recognizes Tanda as a relative of someone there is amusing as it pushes the close knit nature of the village and makes you feel rather welcome within it. Unfortunately, the village has changed over the years and some of the oral traditions have fallen to the wayside and the group realizes that they may not have as much information to gain here as they once hoped.

Some of the traditions have survived through other means though and the events of a hundred years ago start to bubble to the surface. An egg bearer came from within this village back then and one story has survived, as relayed by a young woman named Nimka who helped her great grandmother a lot. Unfortunately, the Yakoo relating the tale to the group don't realize that Chagum is the egg bearer and Nimka talks of how the previous bearer was torn to shreds by the unseen by the Rarunga, the creature from Nayug that is unseen by human eyes. It's a shocking moment for Chagum but one that was going to happen no matter what.

Chagum's growth over the series has been one of its best points and this is another strong moment for him as we get to see him cope with what his destiny may be. It's natural to see him rebel against it and to turn very introspective but it's watching the way that Balsa takes to protecting him yet also making sure he knows he has to face these challenges in her somewhat subtle way. There's a good brief encounter that allows Chagum to realize how events will play out in relation to Shuga and those who have come to find him, but the setup for the next volume is spot on as it seeks to shelter Chagum along woth Togari, Tanda and Balsa for the winter so he can build up his will to deal with everything that seems to be coming.

In Summary:

With the season of feasting slowly coming and more knowledge in hand now, Balsa is even more secure in her mind that she's doing the right thing, even if Chagum isn't. There's a lot of quiet moments throughout this – most of the volume in fact – as it's about exposition and exploration of what the egg is really all about and what's happened in the “recent” past as well. The world of Moribito is definitely building up well, even if slowly, but it's one that feels rich and engaging in the world of Sagu and Nayug. Moribito holds your attention well even when you have three quiet episodes like this and that speaks a lot for how engaging it is.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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