Orphen II Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Orphen II

Orphen II Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 07, 2004
Release Date: March 02, 2004

Orphen II Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Things are really starting to heat up! After failing to destroy Orphen with monsters, Flame Soul decides to take the psychological approach. Now, Orphen and his friends have to fight a creature that can create alternate realities and blur the line between fact and fiction. It?s a good thing that Hartia and Eris have come back to protect Orphen. But will they end up doing more harm than good?

The Review!
With Orphen ready to go meet the Order and get it over with, Flame Soul finally gets things underway to make his big move.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This continues to be a straightforward stereo mix where the majority of dialogue is through the center channel with only a few scant moments where there's some faked directionality across the soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear though and there weren't any noticeable dropouts or other distortions.

Originally airing in 1999, the transfer for this second season of Orphen looks about on par with the first season but a touch better. There's a significant drop in the number of dark and murky night scenes in this first volume which lets the softness that was prevalent during a lot of the first season out of the picture. Colors are much the same style with backgrounds being somewhat bland but solid while the foreground colors such as characters are much more vivid and varying. Cross coloration creeps into things in a few places and there's some noticeable aliasing, but neither are showstoppers.

Continuing the look for this season, the cover here looks really good with a book like feel right down to the binding. The center of the front cover has a full shot of Orphen with that grin of his while a closer shot of Lycoris is behind him but somewhat more lightly drawn and detailed. The back cover has a strip of images from the show itself and a very brief summary of the opening episodes. While we get volume numbering on the cover and spine, the back cover only gets episode titles and no number listings. The production credits and extras are clearly listed, but some of the features in the technical box are a bit obscured with a reddish brown color used for some of the text since they tried to blend it to the book format. The insert provides a larger shot of the front cover color image with more detail visible while the reverse side cobbles together the layout of the back cover but drops most of the bottom half.

The main menu layout uses elements from the cover set against the book format, with two cards overlaying it. One card uses the artwork from the front cover and insert while the other provides direct episode access and the usual selections such as languages and extras, all of which plays music. Access times are nice and fast, and since there isn't much here on the top level, things load quickly without any transitional animations.

The extras section mirrors the earlier releases, with the clean opening and ending sequences; the original opening and endings are here in clean form as well as the new one that transitions with the last episode on this volume. You have to watch the first opening to see the second opening with the same for the ending sequence. There's also a new series of comical dub outtakes. The outtakes continue to be an area where your mileage will vary on how humorous they are, but they do generally get a couple of chuckles out of us.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume brings the show just to the halfway mark in the series and works things so that there's a fair tease going on as things move forward to give the Flame Soul plot some movement, though of course the entire thing is just a ruse for the larger evil lurking around looking all innocent and cute.

Of course, this series works in its usual ways, which means that while we do get two episodes that are part of the bigger picture, we get two standalone episodes that basically continue what we've seen up until this point. They are fairly humorous episodes though, so it's not all bad, but it'd be nice to get more meat in the series. The opening episode has Lycoris being taken advantage of by Volcan without her realizing it and she ends up giving him her money purse in exchange for a lot of junk. When she goes through all of it with Orphen and the others at the inn they're staying at, one of the items activates its magic and the middle aged woman innkeeper suddenly finds herself running at a fast pace and unable to stop. This is actually one of those "coincidences" that happens since her dead husband was a marathon runner who used to talk of the beauty of being one with the wind and now she gets to experience it. But while she's doing that, the others are trying to stop her and the strange creatures that once again show up.

The other standalone episode is rather well done, where Volcan comes across a small snow glove of a house in the middle of nowhere. Before he knows it, the two of them are sucked into the little world. Since Orphen and the group are traveling nearby, Orphen and Lycoris do a little exploring over one hill and suddenly find themselves sucked into the same world. What's amusing about the world is that everything is so real yet so bland; the snow is like sand, the food on the table has no taste and it's not cold. But when Volcan starts complaining about things, such as it not being snowy enough, that increases, or when they're all huddled inside, he's thankful there are no monsters. That's the cue for lots of nasty monsters to show. It's all a riddle of course that Orphen has to solve to get them out, but it's an interesting device used elsewhere many times but done well here also.

The plot episodes work across two ways. While Orphen and the others continue their journey to the Order so that he can refuse them, those in charge in the Tower of Fang continue to find that Orphen is the focal point of all the strange monsters that have been appearing recently. They've decided that he'll continue to be followed, discreetly, which leads Hartia and Eris to don their costumes once more and follow them. These two continue to just be amusing as hell when they interact with Orphen and the others. While Hartia continues to don his New Black Tiger outfit and generally be useless, Eris mixes it up between her real self and the White Club persona as she's decided she's really going to get to Majic this time and make some sort of move. Her desire of a relationship with the young lad is just cute, though she gets mixed up in her desires once that costume gets on her though.

The flip side of things is that Flame Soul, who continues to sink deeper into mental illness as he continues on, starts his plans to take out Orphen in revenge for the death of his brother and the mental collapse of his mother after he returned from training to find out what happened. He ends up making his move when the Tower of Fang folks are at one particular town everyone has stopped at on the journey and spawns numerous creatures to attack the citizenry and Orphen's companions so that he can focus just on Orphen. Flame Soul's deal in all of this is pretty shallow all told, which is why the mysterious redhead who shows up during all of this is likely to be the one really pulling the strings and supplying a fairly weak sorcerer with all the things he's been able to do.

In Summary:
While the standalone episodes are good, the series desperately needed the meaty episodes here. While it looks like it's back to more standalone adventures next, this disc provides a good balance of what was needed to help move the show forward some more. Flame Soul is definitely a weak "floopy" villain, but it's been interesting seeing the kind of creatures he's thrown at Orphen as well as his own mental degradation while reflecting on his brother and mothers condition. My hopes for something as really interesting as the first season are pretty much gone by now, so I'm simply enjoying the show for the characters and the comedy and what little plot actually comes along. The series likely could have been a lot better though.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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