Rune Soldier Vol. #6: Louie Punch - 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. #6: Louie Punch

By Chris Beveridge     December 14, 2003
Release Date: January 13, 2004


Rune Soldier Vol. #6: Louie Punch
© ADV Films


What They Say
What happens when you put one finicky priestess together with the part-time work schedule from hell? Melissa reaches the end of her rope filling in for a fever-stricken Merrill. When Louie hears of her plight, he vows to help-that is, if Melissa's juniors will let him!

Then, disaster strikes when a partisan army invades Ohfun. Taking his most trusted advisors, the king leads his army to battle, leaving the capital open to a coup d'etat. It's up to all the adventurers to band together and rescue the country from a traitor's clutches!

Don't miss the climactic confrontation between soldiers and sorcerers alike! It's an all-out battle to decide the fate of a nation in this final, spellbinding volume of Rune Soldier!

The Review!
As the series comes to a close, we get some great comedy and a solid three part wrap-up storyline that lets everyone shine.

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:
This series has been blessed with some of the best cover artwork I’ve seen this year and the final volume is no exception. It’s a cast shot of the lead characters done up in the same illustration style as previous covers with the rich detail and lush coloring. Luis gets the center spot here and is filled with vibrant reds, blues and greens. 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 some gorgeous detailed artwork, with this cover showing a an image of Ila, Melissa and Merrill together 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 the same as before, a clean opening and ending segment.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Rune Soldier has been very pleasantly episodic with great standalone stories that have given everyone their time in the sun, there have been a few elements along the way that have hinted at something larger for a background storyline. With this obviously being the last volume, there’s little time to really get it going but they take the last three episodes and provide a tale that brings the bigger picture into view a bit while still focusing on what makes this show so enjoyable.

But before they get to that storyline, they sneak in one last standalone story that’s just great. We’ve seen what Merrill goes through in the past to earn some coin, but we haven’t seen just how many jobs at any one time she actually has. When it all finally overwhelms her and she becomes sick, Melissa goes to stand in for her at the various jobs, which range from construction worker, fortuneteller, near-nude dancer, maid and more. Melissa ends up failing at almost all of these jobs and she finds herself being fired constantly, though she hides it from Merrill. Just as things seem their bleakest though, Louie and Ila come to help her out at one of her jobs and try to make the best of things. The episode does a great job of showing a different side to Melissa but also ends with something of a really tender moment that is pure payoff.

The three-part storyline that kicks into gear afterwards brings the countries past into light. Or more specifically, it brings the nation that King Rijarl is trying to promote into the picture as the country itself is very old but the nation is new. With the capital of Ohfun, we start to learn about a time twenty years prior when Rijarl worked in such a way as to remove a number of aristocrats from power as they tried to keep him from consolidating his own power. Once destroyed in politics by Rijarl, they fled the country with the promise of coming back some day. So now, twenty years later, they’ve come back with an army to reclaim what they believe is their right.

With the arrival of the army at the borders, the king and the senior advisors head out with much of the military to deal with the impending threat. But unbeknownst to the king, one of the people he’s left in charge while heading off is part of the plan and he brings the city into a state of martial law and manipulates those left behind into setting up the city to be ripe for an invasion. During all of this, Louie ends up becoming involved by helping out on the magical side of things with Master Foltess who is being used himself. Louie manages to see through everything that’s going on (eventually) and tries to fight against it while nobody else realizes the deal.

Though there’s the larger plot to what’s going on here and things are fairly serious, there are numerous solid character moments, particularly from the secondary cast with Isabel’s adventurer group. The primary cast gets most of the good moments and several of the minor points hit in past episodes come through here, but in the end it’s the cohesiveness of the group that really shines. Remembering back to just how against Louie everyone was at the beginning of the series to seeing them fight things out here together shows just how well the evolution of things has gone even though it’s been almost all episodic.

In Summary:
Rune Soldier was a real surprise once we got into it. A fantasy oriented comedy is something that’s been many times in the past and some notable ones that we haven’t cared much for as well. Rune Soldier just managed to tickle the funny bone in the right way and kept us laughing throughout just about every episode with nothing really weak in the end. The characters won us over quickly as well as the general setup of the shows location. Comedy is one of the hardest things to write and can be extremely different from person to person, but this one just scored with us. Very recommended for a good fun time.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Texltess Opening,Textless Ending

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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