Montague's crusade against all who oppose them sees both Romeo and Juliet banished from Neo Verona, each unaware of where the other has gone to, while the crackdown in the city is beginning to create an undercurrent of rebellion - but while it's still not yet time to overthrow the tyrant, new futures are already being built...
What They Say
Romeo and Juliet share a romance not meant for this mortal coil. Their love has the power to alter the course of time - and change the world they must if there is to be any help for the future. Together they'll discover the brutal truths of both past and future while maintaining their devotion to a love once found only in fairy tales. All the while, villainous Conrad Montague opposes their union and crushes Neo Verona with a boot to its throat. As their cherished city tumbles down around them, Romeo and Juliet have no choice but to face an otherworldly destiny that threatens to destroy them both...
13 - Pulsation ~Guided~
14 - Solemn Responsiblities ~In the Circle of These Arms~
15 - The Self ~The Way Forward~
16 - One Person ~So Dear~
17 - Cruel Tyrant ~Darkness, The Origin~
18 - Aspirations ~In Each Of Their Hearts~
Audio for this release comes in Japanese 2.0 stereo and English 5.1 surround versions - I listened to the Japanese track for this release. The soundtrack is clean and clear, with no obvious problems or distortions, but neither does it go out of its way to do anything particularly flash - it's simply competent and does what it needs to do, which given the profile of the series could be a little disappointing.
Video comes in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and for the most part looks very good - there's an almost pastel touch to the colours used that give the setting a bright feeling without being too brash, animation is fluid, and there are no obvious encoding problems. Definitely nice to look at.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Menus follow the usual MVM pattern - static main screen, this time featuring the show's logo underlaid by a faded-out image of the star-crossed lovers, with options for Play All, Episodes, Setup and Extras running along the bottom of the screen, while the opening song plays over the top. There are no transition animations between screens, making it all quick and easy to use.
There's a decent selection of extras this time around. The creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences make their traditional appearance, along with the show's original 6-minute-long trailer and an extensive gallery of artwork, which includes the coverart from the Japanese DVD release, production sketches and colour promotional artwork.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Romeo and Juliet are returned to the city, and for many of the citizens it's the first confirmation they've seen that the Capulet house still survives. Juliet's allies are already planning her rescue, but they're also aware that they'll have to bide their time until an opportunity arises - meaning that Juliet will have to be left in Prince Montague's "tender" care for at least a while. The Prince sees Juliet's links with his son as seduction and an attempt to bring down his house, though, and orders her public execution. It's a decision that Romeo does not take well. Meanwhile, news of Juliet's impending execution forces plans for her rescue to be brought forward - but it seems that someone (or something) else has decided that Juliet must live on...
It's too early in the series for either Romeo or Juliet to be facing the chop, of course - their time has not yet come, and so Juliet's escape shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The circumstances around it are intriguing, though, with aid coming from within Montague's own ranks - something which seems to trigger a rise in the Prince's paranoia and the beginning of a crackdown against anyone who would dare oppose him. That crackdown begins with Romeo's banishment from the city, and continues as some of his closest allies fall foul of the Prince's worsening mood. The Prince has never been a nice man, of course, but events in this disc just paint him in an ever-worsening light as the story unfolds - and this despite an episode being devoted to explaining just how he came to hate the Capulets (in some ways not unreasonably) as much as he does. It's all quite literally the sharp end of court politics, and fascinating to watch.
But it's also not really the main event. That's still the doomed love between Romeo and Juliet, who spend all bar a few minutes of these episodes apart - Juliet in Mantua, where she and her bodyguards have fled to seek safety, and Romeo in the barren Gradisca Mines, where his father banishes him to for defying him - and the majority of the volume is devoted to giving them time and space to think about the paths that their lives have taken, and to find their own independence and the will to do what they want to do, regardless of family loyalties. We also get to see more of the reactions of others to the couple's relationship, and while the Prince's is the most prominent, it's worth keeping an eye out for Hermione's appearance as well. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, after all. This is where the TV series actually has an advantage over Shakespeare's original - it had around 2 hours total to cover all this ground, and I can remember from seeing it myself (back in 'O' Level English Literature - showing my age here) that the play moved along at a fairly rapid pace, trying to fit everything in. Now, though, GONZO have around 10 hours of airtime to play with, and they've used some of that to good effect to provide a lot of background material and to build the lead characters' personalities more thoroughly - the story may be diverging drastically from the source, but the little side trips we're getting as a result are proving to be worthwhile.
There are still unanswered questions in the background, though: Montague's history has been covered from his viewpoint, but how accurate is that tale? Where does Escalus and its guardian truly fit into events, now that they seem to have taken a direct interest in Juliet's case? Just how much can Romeo do on his own before incurring the further wrath of his father? There's still plenty of ground for the series to cover before the 'unfortunate event' unfolds (I'm still assuming that GONZO haven't written that out!), and time is running short to do it, with just one volume left.
I've said before that the more I watch of Romeo x Juliet, the more it impresses me, and this volume has just reinforced that feeling - the sooner I get the final volume in my hands to see how GONZO handle to closing act of the story, the happier I'll be. This volume in a lot of ways provides a breather in the Montague - Capulet "war", but does so in ways that still kept me glued to the screen, waiting to see what happened next, and there aren't too many shows that have managed to do that lately. Highly recommended.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Creditless Opening and Closing, Art Gallery, Original Trailer
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.