Rune Soldier Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: D
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rune Soldier

Rune Soldier Vol. #2

By Dani Moure     November 22, 2004
Release Date: September 20, 2004


Rune Soldier Vol. #2
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
You know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing as the girls just can't seem to shake Louie. This time, it's a field trip for some junior priestesses. The purpose? To clean out a zombie nest and give the juniors some training. But when the zombies keep coming, it turns into a learning experience for everyone!

Back in town, Melissa's old fiancé surprises everyone and demands her hand in marriage. Will Louie defend her honour? What's Merrill saying about a Darling Jar? And what surprises will Louie and the girls find in the Palace of Ordeals? Crack open your textbooks and get ready to find out in the next thrilling volume of Rune Soldier!

Comprises episodes 5-8 of the comedy anime series.

The Review!
More adventures with swords and sorcery are upon us in this volume of Rune Soldier.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself was a fairly standard stereo mix for a television series. I really enjoyed the performances of all the actors for the main characters; they all play off each other perfectly, especially when the three girls get together to complain.

The English language track is presented in 5.1, and it sounded fine while writing the review, though it didn't seem that enhanced over the Japanese stereo track. The dub sounded pretty good, with most of the main characters seeming to spark a similar chemistry as their Japanese counterparts. This is another series I look forward to watching in English when I get the time.

Video:
The transfer for Rune Soldier is on par with most recent ADV transfers. It's extremely fresh and clean, looking great for the most part. A few scenes seem a little blander and less vibrant than most, but that seems to be more how they were drawn than a problem with the transfer itself. I noticed no artifacts or aliasing during regular playback, and I only spotted a few areas of very minor cross-colouration. Subtitles are slightly larger than the ADV UK norm (they're the same size as their US counterparts on this disc), and are in a yellow font as always.

Packaging:
Packaged in a clear keepcase, the cover looks great, based on one of the episodes on the disc. It features Melissa in her over-stressed out pose looking distraught, while in the background we have Louie on one side and Conrad on the other. Again, it's a really nice piece of artwork to use. The show logo and volume information are in the bottom right hand corner, and I like that it's labelled and numbered on the front here, unlike some other recent ADV shows. Disappointingly though, there's no volume numbering (or name) on the spine. My only gripe with the cover is the placement of the BBFC rating (much like volume 1) – it definitely would've fit better in the bottom left (this seems to be a recurring theme), as it covers too much of Louie's face this time. The back cover is clean with a nice image of the Ila, and the usual volume and series summary with screenshots. ADV UK's excellent info boxes list all the technical information.

The cover is also reversible, with the both the front and back opting for a more comedic look, with all the characters in their super-deformed mode.

Menu:
The main menu is mostly static, with a world map on the bottom left that draws dotted travel lines as the menu loops, and the main image of Louie from the cover takes centre stage. The episodes are all selectable from the right hand side, and I was glad to see a scene selection menu present, too. The sub-menus follow the style of the first, all being static with different character images, except for the scene selection menu. Different background music plays over each menu screen. In general the menus fit well with the show and look quite nice.

Extras:
My only complaint with the disc is the extras department, which simply contains a standard textless opening and ending, which I'm expecting to see on each volume since it's been on both so far. Not exactly riveting stuff.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having greatly enjoyed the mix of fantasy, adventure and comedy found in the first volume of Rune Soldier, I was keen to see how the series would build on that and go forward with four more episodes. While it still works really well, and still proves to be great fun, the episodes in this volume did lose a touch of the spark present in the earlier volume for me. It's still hugely enjoyable, and I don't want to put anyone off just with an opening comment, but it may have something to do with me having seen a lot more fantasy comedy (in the form of Slayers) in between watching the two volumes.

The adventures continue for our merry band of adventurers in this volume. Merrill, Melissa and Genie are still reluctantly a group with Louie in the middle, and they all still think he's as useless as ever. His friend Ila supports him wherever possible, but she's about the only one. This batch of episodes introduces us to a group of junior warrior priestesses, who Melissa is charged with training, and who end up sticking around a lot longer than you might expect. Initially, Melissa takes them to some ancient ruins where the aim is for the girls to rid the ruins of zombies. Of course, Louie ends up along for the journey, but Melissa is unable to tell them that he's actually her true hero. It all goes wrong though when Louie and Melissa are surrounded by zombies, and end up falling through a hole deep inside the ruins, separated from everyone. Following that crisis, which is brought to an amusing conclusion, Melissa's fiancée shows up (yes, you'd be right in thinking this is all very Melissa-centric thus far). This episode is quite farcical but also hilarious, as Conrad (the fiancée) ends up having to fight in a duel with Louie at Melissa's request. If Louie wins, he will go back to his hometown and never return, but if Louie loses, Conrad gets to be with her. She thinks it'll be a bit of a doddle for Louie, as Conrad's apparently a wimp... Or so they all think, until Merrill oversees him showing off some impressive swordsman skills, which spells trouble for Louie, with a pretty expected but amusingly executed outcome.

With Merrill having made some money in the last episode, we get an... odd episode devoted to her and her jar. Yes, her jar of money, and exactly who might be after it. It's quite funny in spots, but while watching it I couldn't help but think how absurd the whole thing is, especially when Louie gets involved. The whole sequence with the golem is hilarious, but it's a bit out there even for this series. It just didn't seem to fit quite well. A stronger episode would be the last on this disc, which sees everyone in Ohfun getting involved in the Mylee Appreciation Festival. Preparations are afoot for most everyone, but Louie is forced to finish some homework. When he does, he joins the others, but Melissa's trainees are determined to thwart him at every turn, only they miss every time and end up getting someone else with their tricks. Getting back on track with the humour, despite its repetitiveness at times, it's great fun and the ending is really done quite well, even if it turns into a farce again (it is a comedy, after all!).

The episodes on the whole are quite a strong batch, though it does waver somewhat during the Merrill's jar adventure. What's nice about this volume is that there are some really nice character moments, notably between Melissa and Louie. Certainly, while she's still down on him all the time and embarrassed by him, she does grow to appreciate him a lot more by the end of this volume, and you can really see that he's starting to win her round with his charm. Louie himself is much the same as always - an oaf who loves to fight with his bare hands but he always has his heart in the right place. I really liked how he's starting to win the ladies over by being himself though; he has a natural charm despite his misgivings and always sticks up for his friends.

One of the interesting things about this batch of episodes for me was how they all come off as a bit Melissa-centric. Now, I'm a big fan of her character and how she's having to come to terms with Louie's presence, and I still find myself laughing when she starts doing her "against my will" moaning when talking about him. But if she's not a favourite, or grates with you sometimes, these episodes may be a little hard to bear. Certainly the first two feature her more heavily than the other two girls. It's strange weighing it up because in fact Genie and Merrill are always around, and Merrill even gets her own episode. Genie is in the background a lot and gets a bit shafted in terms of screen time and characterisation, but I think in tandem with that because most of the growth centres around Melissa and her acceptance (or not) of Louie, it comes across as a lot more centred around her than it actually is. Even with the Merrill episode snuck in there, I was left with a lot of Melissa on my mind as the I was reflecting on the disc, even though the other characters were there.

I'd have liked to see more Jenny, too, though I know she's a supporting character and will only appear in a select number of episodes, I do think she's great (and very funny), and I'd like to see a lot more of her. An appearance in each episode to provide some humour (without realising it) would go down a treat! Likewise, Ila doesn't get that much screen time, though she is always around and with Louie, and I like how she sticks by him despite how stupid he can be. Her involvement in the duel was a nice gesture and shows that she and Louie are good friends. I'm really enjoying watching these characters interact and their relationships change.

In terms of production, the opening episodes here maintain pretty much your standard level of animation quality. The character designs are particularly appealing to me, as they have a nice fantasy feel but also are very realistic in the style of drawing. The music in the series is also pretty fitting at the best of times, though as you'd expect it tends to blend in more than a lot of other series.

In Summary:
While a bit of the magic of the first volume was absent here, the second instalment of Rune Soldier was still a blast to watch. Witty, well-written and hilarious, this is a series that will certainly appeal to fans in both the fantasy and comedy crowds. I can see why some people might be turned off my the slight repetitiveness at times, and the slapstick humour might frustrate them, but for everyone else I can't imagine Rune Soldier not getting at least a few giggles. There's not too much story at this point, but there doesn't need to be at this point as the creative team were doing just fine with it. Apart from a few spells in a couple of the episodes, this series really clicks its elements together well. With a great presentation from ADV, this is a highly entertaining series to enjoy on a miserable day. I definitely recommend it.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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