The second half of the series brings things to a more serious nature as events push Sora closer to the moon.
What They Say Welcome to Edo, a town where the finer things in life are strictly forbidden. You can't have fun, you can't earn money, and you certainly can't strap a princess to a rocket and blast her into space - but none of that will stop Seikichi. Making things explode is his calling, and if the little man with the big rocket can send his lady to the moon, the city of Edo just might become bearable again. Contains episodes 14-26.
The bilingual release for this series is a bit of a surprise as it wasn't one that I was expecting FUNimation to do a 5.1 mix for when it comes to the English track. The original Japanese track is in stereo encoded at 192kbps and come across well though without any surprises. The forward soundstage mix does nicely with a bit of oomph for some of the fireworks and action scenes but overall it's mostly a dialogue and mild comedy piece so it doesn't have too much stretching to do. The English mix does well in the 5.1 encoded at 448kbps as it gives it more clarity and impact overall. It's not a huge upgrade, but with it coming across as a bit louder and more defined, it stands out more. Both tracks are good throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The thirteen episodes for this release are spread across two discs in a standard seven/six format. The show has a very clean and vibrant look to it that mixes with the more earthy backgrounds, though they're more often than not lighter instead of murky. The style of the show is fairly typical for a comedy and it uses it well with the backgrounds having a good look to them with little issue outside of some minor noise in some of the darker scenes. Character animation is quite good and has a clean flow and movement about it with no problems creeping in such as cross coloration or line noise of note. Madhouse has produced a decent looking comedy here with some nice touches in its style that translates well through the transfer.
The second installment goes big with its cover artwork as it features Sora and Seikichi together in the center on top of the moon while the majority of the rest of the cast is ringed around them with a star filled and fireworks filled sky. It's really quite busy but it manages to work well since it ties in so much and has such and active feeling to it. There's an extra bit of definition for it as well with a orange checkered stripe along the left side that's thin which keeps it from dominating. The cover gives off an upbeat and fun feeling to it which is pretty much what it wants to achieve. The back cover is a fair bit darker but that's because it wants to give focus to the fireworks. The design has a simple summary through the middle while surrounding it with shots from the show and a good strip of upbeat characters images underneath. The bottom is given over to the standard production credits and technical information which is hard to read as it's orange against black and done using a small font. The cover is reversible as well as the left side has a breakdown of the discs with the episode numbers and titles while the other side features a few of the supporting characters.
The menu design definitely fits in with the kind of things we saw with the packaging where each disc has a static screen with a piece of character artwork with bright colors behind them. The bottom section features the navigation strip which keeps it simple with its features but is quick and easy to access. With a bit of music playing along, it's a fairly upbeat menu with its design and it sets the mood for the show as well as it can. Submenus load quickly and the layout is clean and easy and the discs did not read our players' language presets as it defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.
The only extras here are on the second disc with clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first installment of Oh! Edo Rocket left me feeling rather unsure about the whole endeavour. The mixture of the row houses and the time period with science fiction elements isn't bad, but it lacked a sort of consistency to it to make it feel natural. With it mixing in the comedy to it, it allowed them to do whatever they wanted. The first half played fairly loose with things because it also had a rather serious side to it at times which felt like an odd transition. That happens as well here, such as a bit of an uplifting scene that leads to a couple of workers happily pissing into the river only to have the Blue Sky Beast lunge out and rip them to shreds.
While the first set moved between the two in a fairly awkward manner, this set spends a lot of its time on the serious side. So much so that it felt like a different show at times because it tried to move into a bit of depth with them and the motivations, such as Gin who now finds himself working and leading the Men in Black and having to do things that goes against how he feels about his friends in the row houses. Events pick up significantly when it comes to the Blue Sky Beast and Akai's relationship with it, or more specifically her, as we learn that certain situations can lead to these aliens splitting into separate bodies. While the Beast causes trouble, it can literally separate from the woman Akai is living with that he names Yu, who starts to soften a bit as he falls for him.
The back and forth in dealing with the authorities makes up a good part of the first seven episodes here as they try to stop the beasts and Sora's real nature gets discovered. That causes quite a few problems, especially as Ginjiro knew and that just reinforces to Seikichi that there may be some kind of relationship there that both of them don't want to admit. But it also slowly gives Seikichi the clue that he really does have some feelings for her. Their relationship is pretty innocent overall and it's thankfully not forced much, even when events get further along and some serious choices have to be made. When the show is in serious mode, it's treated that way and a lot of it comes down to Seikichi's surprise but also his promise to try and get her home.
That aspect is what fills the second half of the set as everyone begins to come together to figure out how to do it. There's a lot of help from above, which doesn't feel right, as the government starts bringing in workers and there's a nudge towards the whole project being used as a way to show off its technological prowess to other countries so they won't try and invade. It's a curious approach to take and it brings in all sorts of power players to help which only adds to the kind of surreal nature of things. There are a fair bit of humorous moments about it but even here it turns serious as the various methods that are used to get Sora to the moon invariably fail. They do their best to keep it light and use all sorts of gags and tech items to spice it up.
Oh! Edo Rocket does largely play like the first set, it's just more defined at times. It opens with some amusing bits, such as a test that has Seikichi and Akai stuck in a hot air balloon, but it makes those serious turns as well such as the slicing and dicing of the construction workers. The time period it takes in is again well represented and I liked the interpretations of various advanced tech items in this form but the excessive rocket use made that lose its novelty as it went on. Some of the gags work, especially when they do one towards the end about life on the moon, but some of the structures built and the reality of the aliens living up on the moon (and among us!) left me sighing more than finding it interesting or amusing.
Oh! Edo Rocket has a pretty good idea but the execution of the series didn't work from the start. The series opened with us feeling like we missed a few episodes and it had a wide cast where the majority of them were there just for sight gags or the quick one liner. The mixture of comedy and action has its moments, but it ends up going too violent at times. The marriage of the two does not go well and it felt off. I liked some of the gags about the play since it's based on one but the kind of nudge nudge wink wink aspects only served to make it too self aware. Especially when they put on a play in the show about the show that's based on a play. Cute in a way but it represents the way the humor really did not work for me overall.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitle, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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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