Rune Soldier Vol. #5: Fists of Folly - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rune Soldier

Rune Soldier Vol. #5: Fists of Folly

By Chris Beveridge     December 02, 2003
Release Date: November 18, 2003


Rune Soldier Vol. #5: Fists of Folly
© ADV Films


What They Say
Louie enters the ring once again! This time, it's for a tournament pitting fighters against each other in true hand-to-hand combat. Conrad and Leonard join in on the party, but the party turns to panic when it's found out that the host is a target for assassination.

Of course, Louie still has plenty of time to practice his punches. Whether it's fighting ghosts in Merrill's new home, or sparring against Genie in a wine-carrying foot race, he has more than enough to keep him busy. But a storeroom full of magical items becomes the devil's playground for busy hands, and when Louie's hands latch onto an item that can change a person's shape, he learns that some things are better left untouched!



The Review!
Sliding into the late teen episodes, an area where you either get bad filler or some great arc episodes, Rune Soldier breaks the mold and has some great standalone stories to still tell.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix provided here is a decent one with some minor directionality across the forward soundstage and a touch of depth to the action. Through regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The materials here for the transfer continue to look very good. While a number of recent fantasy shows have been darker in color and tone, Rune Soldier goes much brighter and vibrant with its colors. There’s some slight edge cross coloration going on in character hair, but is very dependent on the system you watch it on. It was invisible on our Panasonic player via component cables but the TV/DVD combo shows it more clearly. Colors are solid throughout and aliasing was pretty much non-existent.

Packaging:
The clear keepcases and reversible covers continue here. Though the style is the same as past covers, the coloring used is a bit darker which causes this to look a little more bland than we’re used to, but we still get some gorgeous artwork. Ila in particular looks great here but it’s Genie who gets the main props for this piece. The back cover shows off a bit more artwork and a few shots from the show while surrounding the summary of what to expect with these episodes. The discs features are clearly listed though no mention is given to extras. Episode numbers are listed and the volume numbering is only on the front cover, nothing on the spine for it. The reverse cover is much like the past volumes, where one side has the super deformed versions of some characters in the circle while the back cover does a reworking of the other sides back cover. The insert has more great detailed artwork, with this cover showing a gorgeous shot of Merrill with Genie looking on while it opens to have episode summaries surrounded by character design artwork. Two pieces of a larger puzzle are also included here as well as two small stickers of character artwork.

Menu:
The menus here are very nicely laid out with each screen featuring a different character. The main menu has the cover artwork image with some small bits of the screen doing some in-show styled animated movements while some instrumental music plays. The layout is pretty simple and straightforward but with some very vibrant looking artwork. Access times are nice and fast and with a very minimal transitional animation, load times are swift.

Extras:
The extras for this volume are pretty much the same as before, a clean opening and ending segment.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rune Soldier continues to be a series that surprises me. There’s very few that manage to do standalone stories for pretty much their entire run that are mostly comedy based and actually continue to be funny for the bulk of the episodes. Rune Soldier, with its varied cast and excellent performances in both languages, hits the marks just right and has me chuckling with each episode.

The round of episodes here again shift between most of the characters, giving each a chance to shine and pairing them up differently. Louie gets to kick things off after he finds the girls entering him into a fighting tournament in some town they’re going through, one of the bigger tournaments going on these days. Sponsored by a wealthy merchant with the prize being a very expensive looking crystal eagle. Each woman finds a reason for wanting the eagle and they push him right into it. Even more amusing, Conrad has found his way to the tournament and has entered it, claiming that victory will allow him to set a date for his marriage to Melissa.

The tournament is highly amusing, since it’s a non-magic/non-weapons tournament. This works in Louie’s favor at least in regards to Conrad since he was intending to use all his magical weapons to win. Surprisingly, even Renard is in the area and has entered the tournament. There’s a number of rather good comedic lines throughout it as the fights go on and the audience watches, but the show does try to throw in a little drama as they Merrill learns, much to her chagrin, that there’s an assassin in the tournament who wants to eliminate the merchant sponsor.

The best episode comes in its simplest form. Louie finds himself helping Ila clean out one of the storerooms of magic items. He accidentally pricks himself with a black egg shaped item. Some time later, when Ila accidentally activates the item, Louie finds himself changing forms. Hilarity ensues. Normally I’d say that with sarcasm, but it just works so perfectly here. Louie initially kicks off as an attractive woman who Conrad tries to buy clothes for, as we see from Louie’s perspective. Once he realizes what he looks like, he heads right for the sauna rooms to hang out with the women (well, after he fondles himself a bit first). But his luck goes steadfastly downhill not longer after that, as the magic item gets worked over a bit and he finds himself changing to an old man, a baby (with Melissa having the great line of being sorry she can’t provide milk for him) to a giant squid with legs…

It’s just simple physical and sight-gag comedy, but it plays out just so well here that it manages to not feel routine or overdone.

The other two episodes provide a good mix; Merrill loses her home in a storm and decides to buy a rundown abandoned place but ends up setting loose some sealed spirits who died in battle on those grounds years ago. While she’s initially so gung ho about getting her own home and making it fit her desires for furniture and design, she’s just as upset when the knights start tearing up the place on a nightly basis. The other episode has Louie and Genie going against each other in a cross country race where they have to carry their own bottle of wine to help celebrate the holiday. It’s actually quite comical but it also works to show just how far Louie has come sine he started hanging out with the group.

This material is just a whole lot of fun. Smooth writing, good animation and fun scripts.

In Summary:
This series continues to defy my expectations and I keep expecting it to falter mightily at some point but it never seems to actually happen. These characters play so well off of each other and the secondary cast members that the timing is just right. While it’s not highbrow comedy and it doesn’t dip into the low brow much, it’s solid comedy tinged with fantasy action and adventure and some plain silliness. Far more enjoyable than it should be.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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