Ragnarok Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 200
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ragnarok

Ragnarok Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 29, 2008
Release Date: January 29, 2008


Ragnarok Vol. #2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
The evil plague that threatens the land continues to spread as the bold band of adventurers trudge daily further into the heart of darkness. Led by the young swordsman Roan, each new battle with the Dark Lord's minions threatens to be their last. But as the noble band of companions see it through, skills flourishing, the ruthless onslaught of monstrous confrontation cannot delay them from destiny.

Now the path is focused, and now evil has a face. From the dusty tombs of long-dead tyrants to the high heavens cut through by the flight of an archer's arrow, Roan and his rogues venture forth into history! For where the will is strong, there is a way! Fate waits patiently at the end of their travels as the journey continues...

Contains episodes 10-18:
You're My Brother, Aren't You?
All is Only Despair
I Can't Do It
The Protector
Why Won't You Answer?
Don't Worry, I'm Here
I Can't Save Anyone
You Are Already Tainted
I've Known All Along

The Review!
The cast grows bigger alongside the increase in danger as Roan and company have to become better at their jobs and quickly.

Audio:
The bilingual presentation for this release is a bit of a surprise as both tracks are done in stereo encoded at 224 kbps. There's a touch of extra impact in some of the action scenes that lets the mix stand out a bit more in general, but when it comes to dialogue and other ambient sounds it's a fairly standard full center mix. The music has some occasional good moments where it feels wide and there are a few moments of dialogue placement that fits, but for the most part it's a standard weekly action show when it comes to how it's mixed. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in Japan in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this looks to be in good shape and the episode spread, five on the first disc and four on the second, isn't unusual in the slightest. The bitrates for the series doesn't have any regular rate but there are numerous scenes where it sits in the sevens and peaks into the eights. The opening and closings tend to be the lowest due to the alternate angles but that isn't where the show hits the most snags. The series seems to fall victim to practices that Gonzo uses on its lower tier shows in that it features a horrendous amount of banding and that translates poorly here. When it's at its strongest, it macroblocks severely since it's all tied to motion. It's more noticeable when you're watching nine episodes in a row perhaps. Noise is fairly mild throughout, though you can see some motion in some of the dark blue backgrounds, and overall it looks decent throughout but the banding and gradient issues are just heavily distracting when they hit. Some problems just don't stand out much but these aren't like that.

Packaging:
This double disc set is in a standard black keepcase which has a hinge inside for the first disc while the second one is attached to the back interior of the case. The front cover artwork is surprisingly dark and detailed as it puts Judia along the bottom and lets one of the main bad guys take the center stage across the background. Baphomet is certainly imposing looking and the scene he's placed in only makes it more apparent. The series logo is a touch small, but familiar, and they do make good note that this is a double disc set instead of just hiding it like some others do. The back cover is fairly traditional with a large character shot of Maaya and Yuufa along one side while the rest of the background is made up of small shots from the show itself. The summary is simple but covers the basics and there is a breakdown of the episode numbers and titles to highlight just how much content there is here. The bottom portion is the standard data crunch with a lot of production information on top of a squished technical grid. No real insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu designs for the series are pretty straightforward and unsurprisingly simple considering the value of the release. The main menus are designed around a piece of character artwork and a fantasy oriented background that gives everything a nice feel and in a way seems more distinct than some of the scenes in the show itself. No motion to speak of but there is some good if brief instrumental music that sets the mood nicely. The navigation is simple as there are no extras and only the second volume features any trailers. Access times are nice and fast and we kept to the menu selections for our audio/subtitle options due to the opening and closing angle issue. It also doesn't help that the subtitle track for full subtitles continues to be listed as Japanese.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening nine episodes of Ragnarok was something that while enjoyable at times, it had all the traits of a typical action/adventure series without some of the charm that it needed. Everything came together in a pretty predictable way and you could easily see which characters were going to stick around and how the relationships would play out. This set of episodes essentially offers up more of the same while continuing to get a bit darker and violent. It also plays havoc with the concept of time.

The journey that the cast has gone on has certainly changed from the beginning in a way as Yuufa and Roan were simply looking for their beloved older brother and friend. The discovery that Keough is either changed or under some evil influence has their goals changing a bit so that they can rescue or save him now from whatever it is. Keough doesn't seem to want to be saved of course and he's got his own plans in motion and has no problems with eliminating old friends or even possibly his sister. Yuufa and Roan have lucked out in that Iruga is intent on helping them out and trying to either save or kill his friend as the situation warrants while others are helping as well. There is some distrust though after the events of the previous volume involved Takius, but such things tend to work themselves out in a fairly predictable manner as these nine episodes move forward.

It's the moving forward part of the show that's really awkward at times. With the group in such disarray after a few fights and some very minor revelations, Roan finds himself in a position where he cannot do what he promised in defending Yuufa. With Keough being so strong and others being taken down alongside him, Roan's mentality is shattered and he turns into what seems like a lifeless zombie as he wanders away from everyone and spends a lot of time training against monsters in order to get stronger. It's all about getting stronger for him now regardless of the cost to his sanity. The time spent out training has him so lifeless that he even falls in with an unsavory for a group before he's finally found by a Crusader.

This gives him the proper path to follow for the strength that he's looking for, but it comes at a strange cost to the show itself. The timeline of everything is very off in how it's told as Roan ends up becoming a very powerful Crusader in nearly the blink of an eye. We get some very minor moments with the rest of the cast as they're continuing on their journey, but the disparity is so extreme that it's really jolting how it plays out. When Roan returns to the group, he's incredibly powerful and can actually push back on Keough now which certainly comes as a shock. He's not the only one that goes through this though as Yuufa herself does the same when she realizes later on that she can't handle a certain scenario and needs to move beyond Acolyte and into a Priest level. It happens so fast that it just unbalances the entire thing since it feels like it's incredibly easy to level up to something powerful.

With nine episodes on this volume, much of this is about refocusing the journey that the cast is on. With the leveling up that's going on, there has to be a reason for it beyond just getting stronger and better at their chosen profession. The initial reason of saving Keough is enough to start, but once they start to unearth the reasons behind his transformation they learn that there is a really dark "true evil" out there in the ancient capital and is intent on raining destruction down on the world in order to purge it of what ails everything. That's a lot more incentive for everyone to get better at what they're doing, but it always comes down to some of the basic fantasy-ish elements that go wrong. When the gang hits the ancient capital city, they work hard to deal with the undead spirits that are being controlled there, but they are only five or so people. A concentrated effort by more people would work better, and eventually comes into play, but then the balance is ruined once Yuufa is leveled up.

In Summary:
Having now seen up through episode eighteen, I really have to wonder what fans of the game think of the show. Often you have many fans that dislike anime/film translations of their games simply because much of the magic is lost and/or the characters are just unappealing. And that's all before you get into animation quality or the plot itself. Ragnarok has a huge fanbase to it but there isn't anything here that really stands out to me and says that it's a beautiful online gaming world that I want to visit to see more of. It comes across more as a standard action/adventure series that's using the name and a few trappings from the game but that's about it. It's lightly enjoyable, surprisingly violent and dark at times but mostly just fluff. It is certainly enjoyable for the price and amount of content which makes it a very impulse by and one that's even easier to continue with. It isn't a show that you go out raving about though.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

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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