Rune Soldier Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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. #4

By Dani Moure     January 23, 2007
Release Date: January 17, 2005

Rune Soldier Vol. #4
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
It ain't gonna be pretty!

Strange deeds are afoot in the country of Ohfun. On the western border an army has begun to gather in secret. Whispers of names from an old conflict keep getting louder, not to mention rumours of monsters and of a magician who may be growing them in secret. But between Merrill's impending marriage to a rich heir and a vacation spoiled by a giant lake serpent, there's no time to spare for justice.

Still, when the adventurers come across an actual monster farm in the ruins of an old estate, they decide a little house cleaning is in order - even if it means making a mess!

The Review!
Things get a bit funnier in the latest outing of Rune Soldier.

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 stereo track is presented in the same manner as the Japanese one, and it sounded fine for the part of an episode I sampled. The dub sounded pretty good, with most of the main characters seeming to spark a similar chemistry as their Japanese counterparts.

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.

Packaged in a clear keepcase, the cover looks great yet again (these covers really have been consistently good, if slightly busy), with Louie in front of a couple of the girls with his face covered up. The show's 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.

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 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.

Yet again all we get are the textless opening and ending, which have been on every disc so far now.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though the last episode of Rune Soldier left me feeling a little disappointed by how things played out, this volume was a fair bit better, slipping back into the fun and fancy free adventuring I'd remembered from the first two discs. The show still hasn't really recovered the magic that really lit up the first four episodes, but it does begin to regain some momentum here.

We begin with a very good episode revolving around Genie and Louie's relationship, as Louie finally stands up to Genie, in a way that seemed very unlikely by this point in the series. It all blows up after the group have met Barb, an old friend of Genie's, who tells them that there might be trouble along the border they've been exploring for treasure. When a group of mercenaries attack our band of adventurers, Genie tells everyone else to run while she stays and holds them back. But Louie refuses to go, and it all kicks off. No matter how Genie belittles him and tries to get him to leave, the headstrong Louie finally sticks to his guns, even when it comes to fisticuffs.

It's great to see Louie really stand up to Genie, particularly as she's never even taken him seriously as someone with a bit of fighting skill. You almost feel proud of Louie as he even takes punches to draw out the real reason why Genie wants him to leave so bad. As a friend he knows that she has some sort of issue and tries to get to the heart of the matter, in his own way, no matter the cost. And that is truly the sign of a good friend, and just proves that for all his failings Louie's heart really is in the right place.

With a bit of a dramatic opener, things ease back into the comedy side with a case of mistaken identity in the second episode. Merrill is selling flowers in town when a man called William Wilder approaches her, and takes her to his home. He's a member of one of Ohfun's richest families, and shows her things she could only dream of. His reason for doing so? Merrill saved his life, and he wants to repay her by marrying her. Of course, Merrill never actually saved his life so the question remains " who is eh actually looking for?

This episode really played out well, with some fantastic scenes of Merrill savouring the opportunities William gives her. Whether she's having a bath in money, feasting at the end of the longest table you'll see or trying on multiple wedding dresses, she's clearly having a ball and it's great fun to watch. Not only that, but seeing the rest of the gang wondering what on earth happened, finding the right woman and perhaps being a bit jealous is a lot of fun as well.

Next up is the obligatory beach episode, as the gang run in to Ila, who invites them to parents' lake house for a bit of a vacation. It's a bit of a throwaway, although definitely fun, as the group go out fishing and try to catch the so-called guardian of the lake. Melissa gets a fair bit to do, which is only fair after the rest of the girls have had their focus already, and the bait used to eventually make the catch is utterly hilarious.

The final episode sees the team head out to a set of ruins that supposedly houses a hidden treasure box. Isabel and her team turn up as well, and the two groups go in and start killing the strange monsters, which Louie realises have been conjured by magic, to try to get to their goal. In the basement, the groups discover a shop of sorts that has been used to create all sorts of magic, but it appears that someone is working behind the scenes.

With some amusing comedy in the early part of the episode, such as Louie and Renard battling it out to discover the password to get in to the ruins, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is another standard episode. But the final portion hints at more, as Ila goes to a party for the regent of Ohfun, Lord Dardanel. Renard is also there, and it turns out he is actually a prince. As Louie questions who would create a monster of the sort they faced deep in the basement, we see some manoeuvring behind the scenes, as certain people are looking to uncover the secrets of the ancient magic, and won't let anyone (definitely not Louie!) stand in their way. It's the first hint of an ongoing story we've got, but it's quite dark and foreboding, and leaves the outlook for our adventurers not quite so bright anymore.

In Summary:
This volume looks to be the beginning of a return to form for Rune Soldier, after the minor blip that was the last disc. Aside from the slightly throwaway holiday episode, the others here contain a great mix of comedy and drama, and the characterisation is strong as always. Particularly interesting were the last few minutes of the last episode, as it was those that really made me eager to see where things go with the next disc. Judging by this disc, it looks like the series may recapture the magic it had early on sooner than expected.

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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jnager 3/13/2012 12:25:16 PM

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