Noein Vol. #3 - 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: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: ¬£19.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Noein

Noein Vol. #3

By Bryan Morton     September 25, 2007
Release Date: June 25, 2007


Noein Vol. #3
© Manga UK


What They Say
Part 3 of the breathtaking anime sci-fi series from the creators of Mobile Suit Gundam and Escaflowne. The battle for La'Cryma continues. The anime equivalent of Stand By Me meets the Terminator! In the near future, a violent battle takes place between the dimension La'Cryma (protector of humanity) and the dimension Shangri-La, bent on the annihilation of all space-time. A group known as the Dragon Calvary is dispatched through space and time, searching for the only thing that can stop the invasion: the Dragon's Torque.

Episodes Comprise
10 " A Stormy Night
11 " Out of Sync
12 " The Battle
13 " The Wish
14 " Memories

The Review!
Haruka's and Karasu's return to our world causes more problems than it solves, as a steady stream of attackers follow them from La'Cryma, intent on dealing with Karasu's apparent betrayal. Haruka, meanwhile, has to come to terms with the new powers that the Dragon Torque has given her, and she soon learns that even the Torque has its limits...

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:
Another decent set of extras with this release, all on Disc One of the set. First up is the third part of "Noein in Hakodate", following the series director and one of the voice actresses around locations used in the series. There's also a 15-minute "Storyboard to Screen" feature, following the development of the series, and another artwork gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Uchida is recalled to Tokyo for a status meeting on her investigations into Haruka and the strange events surrounding her. Her organisation has been looking into dimensional transportation - they haven't carried out a real-world test yet, but the theory shows that there could be problems with dimensions becoming twisted as a result - and what she's seen around Haruka and detected of the appearances of Karasu and the others would seem to back that up. People are beginning to play with things they don't really understand - and nobody's listening to her when she tries to warn them of the consequences. With the possible end result being the destruction of everything - all dimensions - she needs to get someone to pay attention, quickly.

Meanwhile, in Haruka's home things seem to be getting back to normal after her return from La'Cryma. Well, apart from Yu's mother suddenly being nice - but that counts as an improvement. Her friends are naturally curious about what happened to her, but while Haruka's perfectly truthful in telling them where she's been, for some reason none of them believe her - until they meet Karasu. Atori, meanwhile, is aware of Haruka's and Karasu's return, and begins planning how he can destroy the Dragon Torque. Going though Karasu would be too difficult - but if he were able to get at Haruka through Yu, that may be an easier option...

Things begin to ramp up a gear with these episodes of Noein - between the constant stream of enemies coming after Karasu from La-Cryma, to the direct intervention of Shangri-La in events and Uchida's growing concern about what she's seeing unfold, there's a lot for the various characters to deal with " and that's before we get on to Haruka coming to terms with the Dragon Torque's abilities and limitations.

One thing that adds to the interest while these episodes unfold is that way that the "future" and "present" versions of some of the characters meet and interact with each other. Yu and Karasu are the obvious pairing, and they don't get on any better in these episodes than they have before, but other counterparts also make appearances here, and in one or two places their meetings are quite touching. For Haruka, it's heart-rending all around " these people coming from the future, all sworn to kill Karasu, are her friends, and it hurts her greatly to see them fighting " but they have their reasons and they're not about to listen to reason.

The final episode on the disc deals with what Haruka can and can't do with the power of the Torque, as she finds herself in the past, watching the events that led to her parents splitting up and desperately trying to change things " but she's stuck in the role of an observer. She can see her past, she can see the past from other dimensions & how little differences led to changes there, but she can't change anything. It's an interesting little lesson in learning to live with the pain of your own past that is a great character piece for her.

There's less of the everyday slice-of-life storyline here, though. I'd enjoyed the glimpses you got into the lives of Haruka and her friends through those scenes, but the pace of events over these episodes has picked up to the point where there's not much room left for them, and the La'Cryman's have become the focus of the story. The series loses a little of its appeal because of that,, although it's still very enjoyable viewing.

As good as Noein is, though, I can't recommend buying this disc, as Manga in their wisdom have decided to abandon the individual-disc release of the series without actually finishing it. There will be a complete collection released later in the year " if you want this series (and from what I've seen of it up to this point, it's well worth it), wait for its release instead of buying this.

In summary:
Noein continues to impress, with some good character work for Haruka and Atori and some well-executed action sequences as Karasu finds himself on the end of a death sentence. All things being equal, I'd recommend this volume, no question " but with Manga having abandoned the release of the remaining volumes, it's simply not worth buying. Wait for the complete collection.

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

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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