Orphen II Vol. #6 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B-

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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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Orphen II

Orphen II Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     August 02, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004

Orphen II Vol. #6
© ADV Films

What They Say
With seemingly impossible odds stacked against him, Orphen will need all his prowess as a sorcerer to save the world from the most destructive force he's ever fought. His journey is almost over, but will it be his last?

The Review!
Coming to a quick conclusion, the final three episodes of the second season of Orphen run wild with emotion and action.

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.

While the style remains the same, the artwork for the center piece works nicely for this particular volume as it has a shot looking up into the sky and clouds and you can see everyone sort of falling towards the camera so to speak. The illustration style is minimal but it works nicely with everyone smiling. 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. There isn't an insert this time around but instead a four panel fold-out poster with the full piece that was used for the cover artwork.

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. There's also a new set of 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)
With the second season of the show running shorter than most seasons done, things come to a close with episode twenty-three, meaning that we get just three episodes on the final volume. While the show has gone by relatively fast before, one less episode makes it go by even faster. These episodes in particular make it even worse in a way since it's got plenty of action and climax so there's an urgency to the show that keeps it moving well.

There are several conflicts, physical and emotional, that come into play as the series draws to a close. Orphen's attempts to rescue Majic from the control he's been placed under is nicely done since it really lets Majic finally show off what's inside him, even if it's not his real personality. The confident and strong Majic is a nice change of pace and Orphen plays it all just right for a teacher who lost his student only to see him shine still. For Cleao, I was surprised to see the way she's changed over the course of both series. For her, the closeness she's gained with Lycoris has left them nearly as sisters so when Lycoris is attacked by some goofy monster, Cleao's ability to just yank out her sword and really go to town is a good evolution for her. While she's not a master swordsman or anything, nor has she really ever been shy about expressing herself, her character has continually gotten stronger over time and willingly puts her life on the line for both friends and beliefs.

There are plenty of other action and confrontational moments, such as Hartia's battles as the Black Tiger or Majic's close moment with an almost-girlfriend, but the bulk of the show focuses down on the villains and Orphen and Lycoris. MacGregor and Esperanza's pact with the heavenly being continues to compel him to do what the being wants since everything is all about his daughter and the fact that she's been saved. On an emotional level, Lycoris tries to deal with the revelations about what's being done in her name as she remembers her past with Esperanza and tries to reconcile it with what she's become. MacGregor's self-righteousness about what he's doing since it's all for his daughter is strong here as well and sets it up well for a situation where while you can disagree there are parts that will agree with what he's doing. And since there's a heavenly being involved in all of this, the final fight to figure out what will happen is unsurprisingly large in scale and puts the fates of many into a small number of hands.

Overall, this season of Orphen was decent but something about it just didn't compel the way the first season did. The overreaching plot for the season just feels much too stretched out and could have been played much more effectively in probably half the length. Granted, the draw of the show is the characters but they ended up in too many routine gags and jokes throughout that started to push this into bothersome territory. The series played out in two halves, with the first half giving up Flame Soul as the supposed villain only to learn that someone else was pulling the strings. Of course, we don't get rid of him entirely and have to suffer with him close to near the end of the show as well. His inclusion worked early on but as it progressed he just became overused baggage that the show couldn't shake.

In Summary:
Orphen: Revenge isn't bad but it's a very middle of the road fantasy series that could have been a lot better if they hadn't decided to take the easy route of making it a traveling buddy picture. I enjoy the characters and even got to like Lycoris more and more as the show progressed, but the general plot line throughout the show just didn't do anything really fun or interesting and instead played it safe throughout. Orphen's a show that held a lot of promise from when I saw the first few episodes of the series way back when and at the end of it all, I wish it had taken more chances instead of playing it as safe as it did.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung P341 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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