Rune Soldier Vol. #3 - 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. #3

By Dani Moure     January 16, 2007
Release Date: November 15, 2004


Rune Soldier Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
In this fantasy series from Ryo Mizuno (Record Of Lodoss War), three women, Merrill, Genie, and Melissa make their living raiding ancient ruins. However, when the trio decide to set their sights on a ruin guarded by a magic seal, they decide to hire a magician. Unfortunately, the only magician available is a crude young novice name Louie. Saddled with this brash newcomer, the newly minted quartet embarks on a great adventure.

These episodes find the gang gearing up for an uneventful summer. However, when Louie takes a job as a porter, things start to take a turn for the weird, beginning with an improbable snowstorm...

The Review!
Louie and friends' adventures continue in the latest 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 for the part of an episode I sampled, though it didn't seem that enhanced over the Japanese stereo track with most dialogue coming from the centre channel. The dub sounded pretty good, with most of the main characters seeming to spark a similar chemistry as their Japanese counterparts.

Video:
The transfer for this volume is quite 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 artefacts 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, and are in a yellow font as always.

Packaging:
Packaged in a clear keepcase, the cover looks great, with Celecia in front and Ila and Louie just behind. The artwork used for these covers really has been nice, even if slightly busy. 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. The back cover is clean with a nice image of Isabel, and the usual volume and series summary with screenshots. ADV UK's 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 Cecelia 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 again contains just the textless opening and ending.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a considerable break, getting back in to Rune Soldier was a pretty easy task. With the characters being quite fun and memorable, and the stories being episodic and pretty easily accessible, I just had to start watching to get right back in to the swing of things. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite as good as I remember though the show is still highly enjoyable.

It all begins on this disc with a two-parter, which sees Ila get a letter from Master Banarl, a magician who is trying to complete his research on weather control magic at the Tower of Four Great Magics. Naturally this coincides with some snowfall in town, so the group agree go to the tower to investigate, but their travels aren't exactly easy. On their way they meet an elf called Celecia, who seems to have powers of her own and asks to join them, obviously having her own reasons.

With the group forced to overcome some spirits and a blizzard, and Louie getting into the usual trouble (with genie angered by it all), they eventually arrive at the tower, but are greeted by another problem: a flesh golem. Louie inadvertently starts a fight with it, not knowing that Ila knows the password to let them through unscathed, so Genie and Louie battle it out with the former being surprisingly helpful. Eventually they reach the final room and against all odds it's left for Louie to come through.

These episodes work quite well in getting back into the swing of things, although for me something about the story didn't quite click. It seemed lacking some of the quirky comedy that sets Rune Soldier apart from its ilk, and although there wasn't really anything inherently wrong with it, I struggled to really get in to the story. The character relationships remain as good as ever, although Melissa is getting a little frustrating in her endless downs on Louie even when he does something really good. What was great about these two episodes was Celecia, as she added a different dynamic to the adventurers and kept Louie on his toes by giving him something else to think about.

The second episode on the disc was my favourite of the bunch though; the most like the Rune Soldier I remember from the first two discs. Louie and the crew go on a new search after hearing information in a bar, only they run into another priestess on the way. Isabel is something of a rival to Melissa, who is less than happy at not only her presence but that of her hero, Renard, who seems far more like a traditional hero than Louie will ever be. They are accompanied by two others who seem to know each other. This other group have the same goal as Louie's, but although they start off racing, Louie and Renard eventually agree to work together and split the profits (much to Merrill's chagrin). It doesn't go to plan (does it ever?) of course, and things get messy as the cave they're in begins to collapse before they've reached their goal.

There are some really good scenes sprinkled throughout this episode, best of all the one near the end when Melissa refuses to leave and instead stands by her hero and helps to what could be the bitter end. It's almost as though (at least temporarily) she's realised that he might not be the best hero, but he gives it his all anyway. The rivalry between Isabel and Melissa is also well played upon, and with some great comedy added to a little bit of drama at the end, it works really well.

The final episode was disappointing though, somewhat sweet but ultimately coming off a little bland. A little girl whose grandmother is ill asks Louie and his adventurers to help her find a flower that holds deep memories for her grandmother, so she can see one for what could be the last time. Since Louie is so kind-hearted, he agrees, but there's a twist in that the flower doesn't grow in Ohfun. There is one in the Guild greenhouse, but the strict Headmaster, who isn't too fond of our Louie, isn't exactly jumping to lend the flower to him. So clearly, Louie has to find other means to get a hold of it. And you can pretty much see where it's going from there. It's all a bit predictable and just didn't really click for me.

And that's a bit like this whole volume for me. It's not bad, far from it actually. It's still got a great cast of characters who extend the fun they have on screen to the audience, but sometimes things just don't seem to add up even though all the numbers are there, and that's exactly how this volume felt for me. Fun and enjoyable, but lacking that spark that I remember the first two volumes had. Hopefully it's just a blip and things will be back on track soon.

In Summary:
Though it does seem to be losing a bit of magic as it goes on, Rune Soldier is still fun and entertaining. Though these episodes didn't all quite work for me, they might do for you so if you've loved the characters up until now, definitely continue as there is definitely much to enjoy here. For me, it's a slightly disappointing volume, but I am sure it will be back to its winning ways soon enough. It's still one of the few good fantasy, swords and sorcery type shows of recent years.

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

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.

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