Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: C
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 120
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ruin Explorers
By Justin Emerson
February 18, 2002
Release Date: July 25, 2000
Well I'm a fan of Fantasy Anime, so I figured I'd check this one out. From what I'd heard this was a fun, 4 episode OVA series, and this is indeed true, much like Burn Up W from ADV. In fact, it appears this DVD and that one were done by the same production studio, plus the keepcase formats are EXACTLY the same (I can move the disc, the outside cover, and the insert on the inside and the two would look exactly the same) which is a dead giveaway. Unfortunately, that means that this disc suffers the same problems as the Burn Up W disc did, although it seems that on this disc the effects are even more pronounced.
The Audio is fine - both the Japanese and English audio tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks. I spot checked the dub, but I still couldn't stand it after watching the original. In general I just don't like ADV's dubs, and in contrast to Chris I don't find Jessica Calvello very appealing. But I suppose I'm very hard to please. ^_^ The Audio gets a B+ because technically it's fine, but ADV didn't include and tracks besides Japanese and English, and they didn't remix it into 5.1 or anything fancy.
The Video is where this disc breaks down. Now I watched this disc at first on my PC-DVD setup and I could not BELIEVE the amount of rainbow effects on this disc. The video does NOT look up to par with other Anime DVDs. Come on - this is 2000, not 1998 when DVD was in its infancy. I expect far better now. As Chris said, it all starts to go bad in the first scene. We're given a backstory of the world that the story takes place in by a narrator while these tapestry paintings are shown to us depicting events from the past. Well, the way that the paintings are drawn is NOT encoded well by ANY stretch of the imagination. I was so shocked that I took the disc out to my standalone player with a TV and played it, and it STILL looked horrible. There are these gigantic wavy rainbow lines which warp and populate the entire screen while these things are being shown. It's terribly distracting. To make matters worse, rainbow effects appear on the majority of the disc. Even when you're just looking at characters' faces, you can see rainbow effects between the cheeklines on their faces. This is also the first disc in which I've seen the _subtitle borders_ exibit rainbow effects! And the hard-matted subtitles for the opening and ending songs also look terrible. I don't know what it is about this disc - maybe it's the source material, maybe it's the encoding process, but whatever it is the end result is BAD. Then on some still pictures, I actually saw pixellation. That's right, STILL PICTURES! For instance at the next episode previews and during this sorta eyecatch sequence (it's not really an eyecatch since this was an OVA, but it's closest thing I can compare it to) we have some still pictures of the characters, and on my computer monitor the pictures actually look pixellated! There is a definate lack of quality in the video on this disc which I find inexcusable. Shame on ADV! First this authoring house screws up Burn Up W, and now they do even WORSE on Ruin Explorers.
And as for the basically useless alternate angle feature, I didn't even know about it until I read Chris's review, since I neglected to read all the features on the back of the keepcase. If I have the Japanese language track selected, it should automatically show me the alternate credits. I shouldn't have to switch manually - that's just dumb.
The Packaging is basically the exact same as the Burn Up W release. The same keepcase, the same retention mechanism, the same useless insert with a pretty picture and then ads for other ADV DVDs. Blah, unexciting. The picture on the front cover looks nice and the back has some decent information.
The Menus are animated and have music, and the transitions between places are nice, but the music gets really annoying on anything but the front page. The Extras there aren't very useful either, there's a nice picture gallery, but the other two "extras" are links to the ADV Website and the DVD Credits. Huh? You call those Extras!? And then you have the typical ADV trailers including a trailer for....Ruin Explorers? Oh boy, a trailer for a disc I already have, that makes sense...
The Content is the only redeeming quality of this disc. I thought the series was fun and at least semi-original. The similarities between the title of this disc and "Tomb Raider" are completely coincidental. ^_^ The story is about two women who scour ancient ruins in search of relics and such that are worth money. Somehow they end up getting caught in this big quest to find the "Ultimate Power" and rescue the kingdom from this incredible evil sorcerer dude. OK, so that in itself doesn't sound very original but the show really is different.....kinda...I guess. OK well I suppose it's nothing groundbreaking but it's still fun. If you can overcome the horrible video quality of this disc then you might enjoy it.
I don't recommend this disc unless rainbow effects either don't bother you or don't show up on your TV. I found the video problems distracting throughout the entire disc. Hopefully ADV will not deal with this particular authoring house in the future, or they'll clean up their act and get the encoding process right.
Hollywood+ DVD Decoder card w/Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 Desktop Theater 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers