Nazca Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Nazca

Nazca Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     February 08, 2002
Release Date: January 10, 2000


Nazca Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Can a past life affect the future? Kyoji, the only member of a small Kendo (traditional Japanese wooden swordplay) club has his world turned upside down! Sudden visions of past life events during the age of the Incas revive ancient rivalries and ambitions, clouding modern day relationships and turning friends into deadly enemies! Kyoji's former mentor, Tate, fully accepts his past life as Yawaru, an Inca warrior, and has adopted his old ambition to cleanse the world of its weaker elements. However, he also remembers it was the betrayal of Biruka, Kyoji's past life, that thwarted his original attempt! Does the past really play an important role in the future? Nazca is a story of past lives and present conflicts. A story of friendships shattered and reformed by events that happened hundreds of years ago during the days of the Incas!

The Review!
Nazca marks the first new series being released by Pioneer in 2000. Have they taken what they've learned in 1999 and applied well? I must emphatically say yes.
Right from the start, you can tell there's something more to this disc. While it was originally shown as a twelve episode TV series, the stereo sound is a major leap above what you normally hear in anime TV series. The music truly resonates well, almost as good as a solid 5.1 track does. There's also a lot of great directionality in many sequences. The opening song, which I just find beautiful to begin with, sounds fantastic. Check out the sound of the rain at the very end of the third episode. Magnificent!

The only place where there's some quibble is with the video. Probably owing more to the source material than the encoding, some of the slight pans up and down cause a bit of line noise, but nothing too major. The only place where the video tends to suffer more is during some of the weaker computer graphics sequences where it shimmers. Again, with how it's presented, I'm leaning more towards the source material than anything else. The first episode also looks just a touch soft, but several sequences look like they're designed that way.

And let's talk packaging. When we originally got some of the cover artwork for this release about a month ago, most people who had seen it tended to think it looked gorgeous. And it does. With the striking designs and colors on the front cover and the great choices for the back cover, this release is a real winner. The back contains the usual amount of solid information that Pioneer provides. On the inside, the chapter list insert contains a portion of the front cover artwork and lists all the chapters and episode titles for what's contained inside. It looks great!

The menu system is also well done. There are some definite improvements in there that I can only hope that our feedback has provided. Menu selections are quickly accessed and there's no lag between items. Language selection is perfect now. When you select the language you want, the item underneath it shifts to indicate what you've selected. Same for the subtitles. This is a major improvement over earlier releases where after selecting something it didn't indicate that it actually took. Chapter selection is also well done, and very necessary for this release. The three episodes are listed across the bottom to be selected, and above them are 11 chapter mark images. That's right, 11 chapter mark per episode. Is this some kind of record?

But all of this means squat if the show itself isn't good. Melanie and I had originally seen the first episode at Otakon 99 with the knowledge that it had been licensed by Pioneer. We walked out after the first episode.

Frankly, we didn't want to spoil the surprise and pleasure of watching a wonderfully crafted DVD presentation. And now that we've had it, we are glad we did. The show takes an old theme of reincarnation, of old enemies and friends being reborn into a future life to take up the struggle again.

With anime, I don't know if it's a heavily used theme or not, but this is the first time I've seen them use an Inca background for characters and the mythology of it. Their take on it, which I've heard is fairly accurately told, is wonderful. The character designs look great and the voice acting is top notch. After all, I don't think there's been a show I haven't liked that Megumi Hayashibara has been in.

What really stands out is the music though. The opening song and the ambient music used throughout matches so well with the animation and the characters. Everything seems to have blended together really well during the design of this production. Some may find the story a bit slow however, but it does a decent job of setting up how things look to be played out. The characters are introduced and some of their pasts are revealed, and the different paths they may want to lead in this new life.

The only real downside to this show is some poor computer animation that's scattered throughout. When inside the Nazca temple, the characters look almost Tekken-like superimposed over the computer portion. Some of the panning looks stilted as well and one or two other minor bits really don't come across that well.

But these are really minor compared to the overall feel and design of the show. I haven't been this pleased with a show and nearly as giddy as I am about it in quite some time. Even as much as I'm enjoying Fushigi Yugi, Nazca has topped my list.

2000 is off to a great start here.

Features
English Language,Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.

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