Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: D
- Age Rating: TV 14
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 39.98
- Running time: 600
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Rune Soldier
Rune Soldier Complete Collection
By Mike Dungan
November 12, 2005
Release Date: September 13, 2005
Rune Soldier Complete Collection
What They Say
© ADV Films
This set will come on 6 discs in a chipboard box and contain all 24 episodes with English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. These discs are the same as the original singles.The Review!
The fantasy/comedy based on Ryu Mizuno's popular Lodoss franchise gets the ADV thinpak treatment.Audio:
For the purposes of this review, I watched this show in its original Japanese and the English 5.1 mix. The English audio was clear and used the forward soundstage well. The Japanese audio track wasn't quite as distinct in the forward soundstage, but offered more depth. I had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either track during regular playback.Video:
Rune Soldier uses a very bright and colorful palette of colors, quite in contrast to the usual fantasy story. The transfer looks good. I didn't notice any significant issues with cross-coloration or aliasing. The subtitle track had a surprising number of small typos and inconsistencies, including the spelling of Corwes’s name to Corwess for the duration of one disc, and then changing back to Corwes. There were also inconsistencies between the subtitle track and the character’s names in the ending credits, such as Rijarl becoming Regerl.Packaging:
The box is a sturdy chipboard box with some beautiful artwork. The front features a lush collage of Melissa, Genie and Louie, but oddly, not Merrill. The back cover features all five of the principal female characters in diaphanous gowns. The spine image is a simpler image of our heroes. The top has a small image of the characters in super-deformed mode, and the bottom has another small humorous image of our heroes in a typical Louie-induced pickle. The bottom of the box also contains all of the technical specifications. The individual covers are the same as the single volume releases, which is a good thing. More of the gorgeous lush and often hilarious artwork is used, with a parchment background to set it all off. The back covers have a single image of one of the six principal female characters, with scenes from the volume and volume summary. The overall packaging of both the box and the covers is very attractive.Menu:
The menus feature some gorgeous artwork, each disc showcasing a different character in both the main menu and the language set-up menu. The main menu has some small animation in the top right and bottom left corners, but no transition animation to slow down load times. All the menus look as if they're set on parchment, in keeping with the fantasy theme.Extras:
As the single volume releases of Rune Soldier were light on the extras to begin with, nothing was removed for this thinpak release. Clean opening and ending animations and ADV previews are pretty much it. The only true extra is to be found on the fourth disc. "Gunning for the Guardian" is an interactive game where you move the cursor over a picture of the lake. There are three different "fishing holes", and selecting them brings up one of three random scenes from one episode about our adventurers taking a fishing vacation. The clips are English dub only.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fantasy genre has been done to death, right? Well, yeah. But Rune Soldier decides to take the conventions of the genre and have some fun with it. Enter Melissa, Merrill and Genie, a band of female adventurers. Melissa is a priestess of Mylee, a beautiful blonde who uses her powers to fight. Merrill is a cute and diminutive brunette thief. Genie is a statuesque long-haired Amazonian warrior with a sexy body. What they're lacking is a magician to help them get past the magical barriers that separate our three adventurers from their treasure. Unfortunately, in the town of Ohfun, the only female magicians they discover are in the guild, going to school and too inexperienced to help. The female apprentice magician they talk to is Ila, a pretty redhead with a penchant for hoarding magic items. She declines their invitation, but introduces them to Louie, her classmate. Louie is tall and strong, but unfortunately for our heroes, he's also pretty dumb. He's the adopted son of the leader of the magician's guild, but he's not much of a magician. He'd much rather punch his way through any trouble than use his magic. After a disastrous first meeting between him and the girls, they pass on him.
Everything changes when Melissa goes through a ceremony to discover which hero she is to serve, as is the custom of priestesses of Mylee. She receives a divine revelation from Mylee that Louie is the hero she should follow. Trying to serve the loud, crass, simple Louie leads to her catchphrase, which is said constantly through the series; "This is against my will!" But with Melissa bound to Louie, the others have no choice but to accept him. Louie is the sort to punch first and ask questions later, but he's also got a strong sense of justice, his one saving grace. He slowly is accepted by the adventurers, but he's also always in line for abuse and ridicule from them for the bonehead stunts he always pulls.
The other characters in the show who have important recurring roles are Foltess, a pinch-faced teacher at the school who has a grudge against Louie; the afore-mentioned Ila who's love of magical items comes in handy for the adventurers and even accompanies them on the occasional adventure, she also is romantically interested in Louie and isn't entirely sure what to do about this beautiful priestess who has sworn to serve Louie; Celesia, a beautiful Elf who befriends the group and helps them out on a few occasions; Conrad, a vain and flamboyant knight of Romliearth who is pursuing Melissa; and a rival group of adventurers. They consist of Elizabeth, another priestess of Mylee; Reynard, the hero she serves and whose grace, charm, and good manners are in marked contrast to Louie; Lily, a young girl priestess of Pharis; and Jakinson, a short old man in Chinese clothes who seems to be a simple servant to Reynard, but is actually a highly skilled fighter, so much so that even the powerful Genie isn't sure she could beat him in a fight. Elizabeth is a rival to Melissa and loves to flaunt her hero in front of Melissa. Melissa's shame at what a dismal failure Louie is as a hero is a constant source of humor.
The stories are mostly stand-alone in nature. The first volume introduces the characters and then takes them on an adventure to a mysterious forest to find a 500-year-old oak so Louie can replace the wand he broke in his first adventure with the girls. In the second volume, they accompany some priestesses in training on a quick adventure, meet Conrad, who won't take no as an answer from Melissa, Merrill has an ordeal protecting her jar of gold coins, and Louie has to work hard to finish all his neglected homework and complete a practical assignment in time to attend a festival with Ila. In the third volume, some forgotten magic from the past is resurrected causing it to snow in the summer, and our heroes, with Ila in tow, have to do something about it. There's a story about a little girl who wants to find a rare flower for her sick grandmother and we meet Elizabeth's band of adventurers as they look for a missing miner. In the fourth volume, we get the first hint of a bigger story, as the gang runs across a mysterious army on the western border. It's a good episode that focuses on Genie's backstory and ends with a violent fist fight between Genie and Louie. Merrill meets a very wealthy man who wants to marry her, everyone goes on a little vacation which leads to some of the best fanservice in the show, and another hint of a larger story is found when our heroes discover a monster farm, right near town. The fifth volume has Louie entering a fighting match, Merrill buys a new home, Louie accidentally triggers one of Ila's magical items which causes him to transform repeatedly, and Louie and Genie enter a cross-country footrace. In the final volume, we get our last stand-alone episode. When Merrill gets sick, Melissa volunteers to take her place in her many part-time jobs. Her complete and utter failure in each one causes her to doubt herself, but Louie's positive attitude and willingness to help gives her the final reassurance she needs that Louie really is the right hero for her to follow. The final three episodes are one story arc that sees an army of the old guard attempting to take back the throne they lost twenty years earlier. With Louie on a school assignment, it's up to the three girls to decide for themselves what to do. There are traitors and double-crosses and a sweet redemption, and of course, Louie punching up a storm. It's a satisfying ending to a fun series.In Summary:
Rune Soldier takes the fantasy genre and turns it on its head, having a lot of fun in the process. The episodic nature of the show means there are episodes that run from the sweet to the heartbreaking to the ridiculous to the sappy. But it never takes itself too seriously, much to its credit. Both the Japanese and English dub tracks have plenty to recommend them. The actresses for Melissa are excellent in either language. Kikuko Inoue gets to add a strained quality to her usually sweet delivery as she struggles with Louie's rampant stupidity, while Shelley Calene-Black's constant exasperation perfectly suits the character. Both show excellent comedic timing. Both Katsuyuki Konishi and Jason Douglas play Louie with a nice touch of goofiness that can quickly turn into heroic exuberance. On the down side, I thought Rumi Kasahara as Elizabeth overacted just a bit too much, and Jenny Strader as Ila on the English side was a little too wooden for my tastes. Overall, though, it's great in either language, and fans of one or both languages won't be disappointed. Since there are no extras missing from the new release, the $40 price for the series is a bargain.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player