Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project Blue Earth SOS

Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     April 14, 2008
Release Date: March 18, 2008


Project Blue Earth SOS Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
THE ALIENS ARE AMONG US, AND ATTACKING FROM WITHIN!

After thwarting the alien's initial attack, Earth's defenders are faced with a new sinister enemy within. Soulless humanoid suicide bombers have begun destroying G-Reaction powered civilian and military vehicles and the body count escalates! Meanwhile the rocket ship Invincible is quickly built to help defend the Earth.. but on its maiden voyage it's rendered helpless in outer space with life support systems fading fast! Young geniuses Billy Kimura and Penny Carter, together with ace pilot James, must rescue the astronauts as well as work with the Labyrinth Alliance to save Earth from the next deadly alien offensive!

The Review!
The war against the aliens gets serious when they begin to use humanity as its best weapon.

Audio:
This OVA series has some great production values to it that extend to beyond the video side as the Japanese have actually ponied up for a 5.1 mix. ADV Films has complemented that with an English 5.1 mix that uses the same elements and both tracks are solid overall. Unsurprisingly though, the rear channels aren't used all that often overall but there is a greater sense of placement and clarity with the dialogue in general. While the mix overall isn't terribly aggressive nor does it really stand out in a way that sets it apart, it is pretty well done for a mix that uses the rear channels on occasion but keeps its emphasis on the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released throughout the second half of 2006, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Project Blue Earth SOS has some fantastic production values when it comes to the animation itself and it really shines beautifully throughout the ninety minutes it runs here. The animation is very clean and crisp with some wonderfully fluid moments that remind why OVAs generally are considered to be better than TV series in this regard. The mixture of the CG and regular animation comes across very well and the overall presentation is very clean. Beyond some basic aliasing going on during zooms and pans, colors are vibrant and solid with very little noise in general. While the bitrate doesn't run terribly high for the most part, it looks really good on our setup.

Packaging:
The second installment mirrors the first in general design which means it's trying to figure out how to use that logo well enough considering its awkward phrasing and length. This one is much darker than the first as it features some of the action moments along with more of the violent and darker characters. This contrasts the first one which is pretty light and airy in its way. The back cover is a bit cleaner and smoother as well as showcasing some of the lighter campier aspects of the shows origins with the taglines. A series of shots from the show are along both sides and a decent summary covering the basics of the premise. A bit of production information is along the bottom as well as what features are on the disc while the technical grid lists everything clearly, though the aspect ratio isn't exactly done in the best way. No related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

In addition to the disc only edition, there is a disc+box edition as well. Done using a heavy chipboard box to hold all three volumes of the series, it uses the same kind of opposing color designs that we've seen with the first two volumes. One main panel is dark and evil looking similar to the keepcase with the set as it features the alien ships moving over darkened cities cast in a red hue. The other main panel is brighter as it has the various aliens hips over blue skies with lots of clouds along with a few of the characters running about. The spine has a slight mixture of both but is mostly just good looking character artwork. The design overall fits the show pretty nicely and works as well as it can with the large logo. As is usual with boxes from ADV Films, there's nothing here but it and the disc/keepcase.

Menu:
The menu layout for the show is pretty nice even if it is a simple static shot of an action sequence of the aliens attacking with their ray guns. The background utilizes a lot of what we've seen from the front cover and it works nicely enough with the added vibrancy that the resolution brings. The bottom strip features the navigation with an amusing cursor choice all set to a bit of the upbeat instrumental music playing along. The layout is very easy to navigate with individual episode access at the top and quick loading submenus. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which was a definite plus in ease of use.

Extras:
The only extra included is a clean version of the opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In its first two episodes, which was the same as four episodes for the runtime, Project Blue Earth: SOS left me cringing during a lot of it for what it was trying to do. A Japanese take on Western science fiction from the fifties but updated with some modern sensibilities, it was a smorgasbord of things that just didn't gel together well at first since it wanted to cover so much. That particular area of science fiction has always been difficult for me though I continue to try reading my fathers nickel and dime books from that time period. Something about the use of very basic and generally inaccurate science just gets under my skin, never mind the whole "atomics" aspect of it.

To my surprise, the second two episodes of the series plays out much better and far more enjoyable. With much of the setup out of the way and the basic cast of characters introduced, Project Blue Earth: SOS is able to just focus on the story and moving forward. One of the appealing aspects of the series is the way that it continues to hide who the aliens really are for the most part until about halfway through the fourth episodes. It has a real War of the Worlds feel to it in that regard which lets it work the mystery side pretty well. Once that's revealed though it turns into Independence Day a bit as they go through the autopsy process and figure out what makes it tick. That sets up things for the next two episodes as they'll likely discover some easy way of fighting back. It's following the traditional model of books and films from this period so it's doing things right in that regard but it lends itself to a certain kind of predictability.

Since the actual introduction of the war with the aliens in the previous volume, the world has changed pretty drastically in some ways simply because of the way that Metropolitan X came into being. The world has rallied around it and has been looking to them and the UN for reassurance and proof that they can fight back against the evil. That faith is shaken when a series of very simple suitcase bombs begin to surface around the world causing a great deal of mayhem. It's more psychological than anything else as the targets don't cause widespread damage, but seeing an airplane blow up or the Eiffel Tower toppled has a certain effect. What makes it particularly damaging is that the aliens have somehow managed to use certain deceased people to carry out the suicide missions, people who seem to be unconnected to events.

The personal side does show early on when it's discovered that Penny's parents are both bombers under the control of the aliens. Seeing that puts Penny in a difficult position of how to deal with it and he essentially retreats from the world. That of course sets Billy off since he's trying to figure out how to track down the possessed people and save more lives before they cause more damage. The relationship between the two boys is tumultuous which is to be expected but it really comes across as forced at times. The two are both pretty smart in their own ways and they're both proactive in dealing with things for the most part but as a pair they just don't mesh well because of their personalities. In a way, the show is at its best when they're either apart or not on screen at all.

Project Blue Earth: SOS takes a nice twist in the second episode here as it ratchets up the alien invasion by having them actively demanding a surrender and setting the stage properly by shutting down the G-Reactors around the world. That leaves everyone in a panic since so much has transitioned to those devices. The ones in the most trouble is Billy's father who is on board the new aerial warship Invincible which is out in space. The first half of the show deals with figuring out how to deal with the dead G-Reactors and then figuring out how to save the world. The action picks up considerably in this episode as the aliens are finally up front about their intentions and make holographic appearances across the world with their demands. Add in more variety to the ships and vehicles that they use and they become a fair bit more interesting.

In Summary:
Looking back at the episodes a few hours after watching them, I find that it's somewhat difficult to put into words why I liked these episodes more than the first volume. Everything about the first volume with its awkward setup and poor character introductions is pretty much irrelevant here as the story is moving forward and things are happening. The shows strengths still come in the form of its animation style and the great fluidity throughout it as well as having more time per episode to tell its tale. At the same time though, each episode feels like it could be cut at the halfway mark and would fit into an easy to digest broadcast format. The middle volume of the series tightens up the characters a bit more and gives us more to deal with when it comes to the aliens. Much of it is still incredibly predictable if you've read any amount of classic Western science fiction but they've picked all the right things to work with and only a few of the bad things like truly awful character names. Project Blue Earth: SOS still has me pretty ambivalent at this point but that's a step up from how I felt about the first volume.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening Sequence

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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 11:27:40 PM

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