Orguss, Super Dimensional Century Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Running time: 96
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Orguss

Orguss, Super Dimensional Century Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     July 12, 2007
Release Date: September 25, 2007

Orguss, Super Dimensional Century Vol. #1
© ImaginAsian Entertainment

What They Say
In the year 2062, the world's two superpowers are fighting a long and brutal war. In a desperate attempt to win, pilot Kei Katsuragi is given the mission to detonate a super weapon called the Space/Time Oscillation Bomb. The bomb explodes, but the results are completely unexpected: a multitude of dimensions, times, and realities are unleashed into the world! Can Kei reverse the effects and bring life back to normal?

This edition includes a series keepcase designed to hold discs 1-8.

Contains episodes 1-4.

The Review!
Thrown into a future where time and space has collided, Kei becomes a hunted man for more than one reason.

Though the majority of Imaginasian's releases will be single language only, Orguss makes out a bit better due to their being a partial dub made back in the early 90's. Only the first seventeen episodes were dubbed though but that track is used here thankfully, keeping it preserved for those that want to see a few name actors early on. That dub track is done at a decent 192 kbps for its stereo mix and it shows a strong difference in overall volume level compared to the weak mono Japanese track, also done at 192 kbps. Once you're in the show and you crank up the volume a bit it doesn't really matter much and it's pretty much just what the source material is. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 1983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This single layer disc contains the first four episodes of the series with a very minimal set of audio tracks to share its bandwidth and space. The results are interesting overall but it clearly shows that the dual layered format is pretty much required for a cleaner look. Part of it may just be the source itself as well. The first four episodes come across decently here though it doesn't start to really look better until it gets to the second episode and away from all the space sequences. The opening episode with its heavy blacks and blues showcase a lot of banding and macroblocking in the backgrounds. There's a bit of aliasing as well but what you do see feels incredibly mild after watching the trailer for this and the other two shows on the disc.

Once the show moves to much greener and bluer pastures, it maintains a more solid feeling as those colors have a better look to them. Blocking decreases quite a lot and the banding is harder to discern. There's still a fair bit of aliasing during the pans and zooms though but it's difficult to say how much is related to the age of the materials. With this being close to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the show, there is a certain leniency that I want to give it which is reflected in the grade, as well as the knowledge that this is one of those "only way" to see it methods. I don't have high expectations of how this will look and I keep coming back to the idea that it looks better than my VHS tapes did for the most part and I'm content with that.

Orguss is one of the first anime titles to be released under the TitleMatch program in which all the authoring is done as normal but instead of replication it's done through burning to DVD-R, giving smaller publishing houses a chance to do some Print On Demand DVDs. Containing the usual CSS protection (that has been effectively useless for what, seven years now?) it's essentially the same as a regular release except in how it's actually put to disc. We popped this disc in a few of our players to see if we'd have any compatibility issues and it worked in just about everything except for our Toshiba TV/DVD combo unit.

The packaging design for the series is pretty decent and space sensitive and thankfully not like some Korean drama collections I've bought that are simply discs on a spindle. The oversized keepcase has a series of hinges in it where each side holds a single disc as does the interior sides of the cover. The volume comes with the first disc while the remaining seven in the series are sent out in just sleeves. The front cover artwork has a good looking illustration piece of a few of the main characters which really sets the mood as it's clearly an older show. Fans of it and those that like series from this time period will b drawn to such things much as I am. The back cover has a good clean feeling to it with a starry background that contains the orbital elevator as well as Kei's altered ship. The summary covers the basics of the series itself as well as the shows release history. The technical grid along the bottom details what to expect from the release overall and does include a note that it is made up of DVD-R material that may not play in older players.

The menu design is simple but fits nicely with the show though that TMS Classics logo is a bit bigger than I care for. The static background is a shot of space with an edge of the Earth showing where the orbital elevator reaches out. It's got some great colors and richness to it and some of the opening vocals play along the surprisingly long 94 second loop. The right side has the logos along it while the left has the navigation strip which is simple considering how little is really here. Access times are good and fast and everything loads without a problem.

Though some may not consider it, the English language track from the 1993 version is listed in the extras as is the nearly ten minute long video art gallery. This has a lot of great looking pieces, some with notes on them, for the mecha designs and more. The colors are very vibrant and the stills look fantastic. Also included is a series of trailers for various Imaginasian properties. If you watch the anime segment before the show itself, you'll find yourself feeling like it'll be a horrible looking experience as the material shown here is just awful looking.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Super Dimensional Century Orguss is a thirty-five episode series that you almost have to be surprised that it didn't end up as a fourth installment in the Robotech franchise. Following Macross and being done essentially by the same crew at Studio Nue, it has a very distinct similarity to that series both in character designs and mecha designs. This is good and bad but the good generally outweighs it, particularly if you're a fan of Haruhiko Mikimoto and his character designs.

The show initially takes place in 2062 where the planet has fallen to war pretty heavily and there doesn't seem to be much left. One of the more contested aspects of the war is the massive orbital elevator that provides a gateway into space. The war has been getting worse for some time and now there's a plan to use a special Time/Space Oscillation bomb on the power planet that deals with the orbital elevator and Kei Katsuragi is one of the pilots that must provide protection for the soldiers that have to manually arm it. The entire mission goes poorly once the enemy starts its counterattack and the entire thing is called off. Kei can't stand to let bomb just self-destruct so he tries to set it himself only to have it go off prematurely. The bombs effects send him twenty years into the future to a very different world.

Though Kei is fairly clueless for awhile as he can't figure out what's going on, the bomb that went off caused a variety of "Earth's" to collide into one which has produced a patchwork world. The sky has a low time/space field to it which can ruin machinery that gets thrown into it so most people keep to simple low flying vehicles. The various cultures that have survived into this new patchwork world have found a balance of sorts that works and Kei ends up falling in with a group called the Emarn. Traders by nature with a gypsy like style, they're also a bit different in appearance by the tendrils that they have from under their hair. Kei ends up staying with them after his arrival brings in a group called the Chilum, a militaristic society that is in search of people like Kei as they hold the key to fixing the world.

The first four episodes have a somewhat lackadaisical feel to them as it takes a fair bit of time to really get going and into some of the key moments of figuring out how all of this works. The cast isn't expansive but there's a good number of people introduced early on here both before Kei goes into the future and afterwards. The Emarn he falls in with is mostly made up with women which fits with his womanizing ways. Kei's promiscuity is brought up a lot early on as he's had plenty of girlfriends and he finds himself easily attracted to the Emarn Mimsy as he keeps trying to hit on her. Kei apparently believes in the James T. Kirk style of understanding the natives. With the series running for thirty-five episodes, there isn't a huge rush to explain things but they do provide a lot of subplots and potential here.

Orguss is something of a nostalgia experience for me as it was one of the shows I got into early on when US Renditions was releasing it on VHS. The series unfortunately stopped at episode seventeen so we only saw half of it and have wondered about it for almost fifteen years now. At the time, there was a lot of draw for it due to its similarity to the Macross series and for being something new that most fans of commercial products hadn't seen before. Imaginasian has been good in getting the English track on here so I can re-experience that version of it while immersing myself in the original which I've never heard. There are some amusing differences, notably in how Kei is referred to as an Idioblast in the English but an Idiosynchratic Point in the Japanese. It's also wonderful to finally hear the end song again which just makes me incredibly happy for some reasons.

In Summary:
Orguss is heavily mired in nostalgia for me but it's also a show from a time period that I want to see more of. Taking some elements from Macross in mechanical design and character design due to the same studio being involved, Orguss is a hard sell for fans of new shows but is one that will appeal to a lot of older fans who want to see more like this. The series has only begun to reveal itself with these first four episodes but it has a certain kind of charm and fun to it that was representative of the time. The hand drawn animation from them has a kind of life and warmth to it that I miss in newer shows as well. Orguss has a long road ahead of it across the next seven volumes and I'm eager to finally see the second half. There are issues to be had here, but Imaginasian is on the right track with what they're doing. If not for the knowledge that this was a DVD-R release and the limitations placed on it by being single layer, it'd be pretty indistinguishable from any other release. For the price and what it's offering, it's definitely worth checking out.

Japanese 1.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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