Noein Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Noein

Noein Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     July 30, 2007
Release Date: April 23, 2007


Noein Vol. #2
© Manga UK


What They Say
The next 4 episodes in the cult anime hit of 2007.Described by the director, Akane Kazuki as "The Terminator meets Stand By Me".Noein - To Your Other Self will appeal to both male and female sci-fi and anime fans.

Episodes Comprise
6 " Dimension of Tears
7 " Important Person
8 " Secret
9 " Crossing Time


The Review!
Haruka pays an unplanned visit to the alternate dimension of La'cryma, and gets a disturbing look at what her future may have in store for her. Back in our world, Yu's problems with his mother finally come to a head...

Audio:
As usual for Manga releases, you get the full range of audio options here, with both English and Japanese tracks provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1, and DTS 5.1 tracks provided on the 2nd disc in the set. I listened to the Japanese DTS track for this review, which appears to be a simple upmix of the original 2.0 Japanese track and doesn't offer much extra other than some added oomph in the action scenes. Away from the action, dialogue is well placed on the front soundstage, while the audio overall is clean and clear with no obvious problems. A spot-check of the other tracks at various points didn't reveal any problems. It's worth noting that the English subtitles on this release are "dubtitles" of the English track and not a proper translation, in common with Manga UK's current standard practice.

Video:
Video for Noein is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's hard to write about how it appears on-screen as there are distinctly different styles of animation used for Haruka, Yu and "our" dimension, and for Karasu and his colleagues from La'cryma. The former is bright, vibrant, detailed and very easy on the eye, although the designs of the characters themselves are quite simple. There's some use made here and there of CG panning and other CG effects that feels a little out-of-place, but otherwise nothing worth complaining about. Karasu and his comrades use much simpler, almost abstract designs, while La'cryma is portrayed in dark, low-detail scenes that carry a sense of foreboding about them. As a way of drawing a line between the dimensions the story takes place in, it works quite well, although the contrast between the two styles is quite jarring and takes a bit of getting used to. There were no obvious problems with the encode.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The main menu's a rather hard-to-read affair, with the various options overlaid onto a transposition tunnel effect. The currently-selected option is highlighted in yellow and easy enough to make out, but the text of the other options definitely isn't the clearest as there's a deliberate ghosting effect applied. Direct access is provided to each episode (no Play All option, sadly " the disc returns to the main menu after each episode and you have to pick the next one manually), while submenus are provided for Extras and Audio Setup. The tunnel effect is also used as a transition after selecting menu options, so the menus, while they look good, aren't the easiest to use.

Extras:
This release provides another "on location" feature, and an art gallery. The gallery's a strange affair, as it's done with the images overlaid onto the tunnel effect (it's everywhere) and deliberately shifting around and into & out of focus. That makes it quite hard to really appreciate the images the gallery contains " can't think why it's been presented that way other than to show off the tunnel effect gimmick, which isn't really helpful in this context.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Karasu brings Haruka back to La'cryma with him, where he's immediately forced to defend her from the Dragon Knights at the base - unsuccessfully. With the Dragon Torque now secured, the powers in control of La'cryma begin planning how best to use it - and by extension, Haruka - in their fight against Shangri-La's cross-dimensional attacks. Back in our world, Haruka's friends try to figure out what happened to her. Yu blames himself for her "disappearance", while the investigators from the Absolute Critical Prevention Strategy Committee are also keen to figure out where she's gone, after witnessing her powers in action - and on learning that she may have jumped dimensions, they begin to worry that their worst fears may be realised. Meanwhile, Atori and his one remaining sidekick are still in our dimension, and without their connection back to La'cryma they're having trouble stabilising their existence. Later, another run-in with his mother and her overbearing plans for his future sees Yu finally snap.

A disc of two parts, with two episodes focussing on Haruka's time in La'Cryma, and two bringing the story back to our own world and dealing with more that mundane issues that young people must deal with.

The more you see of La'Cryma, the more you wonder just what happened - to go from a replica of our own dimension to a complete wastland in the fifteen years that separate the dimensions implies that a serious amount of destruction was unleashed on the world, presumably by the faceless invaders from Shangri-La, and I'd be very keen to see the story behind that explored further. With Haruka's dead La'Cryman counterpart being mentioned so often, and clearly being someone who meant a lot to many of the characters in La'Cryma, I'd bet we'll be seeing something of the past before too long.

There's not much in the way of real action this volume, other than a short sequence around Karasu's efforts to rescue Haruka " instead, there's a lot of time spent explaining at least some of why the Dragon Torque is so important to La'Cryma, and playing with the concept of everyone in our world having their counterpart over there. Haruka runs into that issue quite quickly, meeting both older versions of her current friends, and their children, during her time in La'Cryma, while Haruka's presence there also has an effect on the people around her that could lead to some interesting developments further down the line. Without the action scenes to speed things along, the pacing of this side of the show does feel slower this time around, but not in a bad way as it gives you a chance to get to know the characters that little bit better. With the first volume having seemed to go out of its way to keep you in the dark, it's good to finally start getting the details, although there's still a lot that hasn't been explained that will hopefully be dealt with later.

Back in our world, Yu has his problems, of an entirely more mundane but no less important way, as his mother once again tests the limits of what he's prepared to put up with. It ends up falling to Haruka's mother to try and talk some sense into her " they'd been best friends when they were younger, when Yu's mother had gone through a similar phase to what Yu's going through now, she just needs reminded about what it feels like, and the Dragon Torque has an unexpected role to play in helping her do that. There are also a few good scenes between Karasu and Yu (the only time when counterparts from the two dimensions meet) " at first glance it's very hard to see how Yu could become Karasu, and it's easy to see why Karasu sees Yu as a "self-absorbed, spineless coward". The interplay between the two of them is something I find fascinating.

Two characters who are touched upon here but don't make much of a splash are Atori and Tobi. After being such a threat on volume one, they're reduced to scraping around for a living and wondering how long it will be before their detatchment from La'Cryma will become a problem " oh, how the mighty are fallen. Their scenes here are really just to remind you that they're still about, and will no doubt continue to be a problem for Karasu to deal with later.

In summary:
My enjoyment of Noein's first volume was slightly spoiled by the lack of information the show was giving out " this volume begins to correct that, and it's that much more enjoyable as a result. This disc is just as well-presented as the first (dubtitles aside), and with the characters continuing to develop and grow the series is really beginning to grow on me. Some key characters seem a little underplayed this time around, but overall Noein is falling into place nicely, and is well worth checking out.

Features
Japanese Language (Dolby 2.0 & 5.1, DTS 5.1),English Language (Dolby 2.0 & 5.1, DTS 5.1),English Subtitles,On Location with Japanese Voice Actor & Director,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Pioneer DV-626D DVD player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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