Saber Marionette J Collection 3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 44.95
  • Running time: 225
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J Collection 3

By Chris Beveridge     June 19, 2001
Release Date: June 19, 2001

Saber Marionette J Collection 3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
The leader from every corner of Terra 11 have decided to hold a council in Japanese to determine what must be done about Faust's invasion. With the lives of everyone on Terra 11 hanging in the balance, their Decision is final! The true purpose of the maiden circuits is finally reveled! And that knowledge could mean the loss of his beloved marionettes forever!

The Review!
The final collection of Saber Marionette J manages to avoid some of the usual problems of this segment of episodes seen in most series. While a number of the early ones do seem filler-ish, they actually do quite a good job of cementing the relationship between the girls and Otaru, which is quite important.

For the purpose of this review, we listened to the disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout this track we had no real problems with it at all, it's a fairly typical two channel soundtrack with little in terms of directionality outside of a few key moments. Dialogue is clean and at a normal level and there wasn't any noticeable distortions. Bandai went above and beyond here by including a Spanish language track on top of both the Japanese and English tracks.

For the most part, things continue to look really good here. This collection got viewed on our Skyworth player as opposed to the first two collections, so there were some definite differences. While the grain is still there, the player gives it almost more of a film-like feel and felt less distracting. Some cross coloration does creep through over the course of the eight episodes, but it's very minimal and didn't detract from the show.

Keeping in the same style as the first two collections, the third one is also in a slim double Amaray case. Bloodberry gets the front and center picture this time with a good looking picture and lots of nice vibrant color with it. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and a good summary of the end arc. Features and production credits are nice and clearly listed. The insert gives another look at the front cover while the interior opens up to a nice picture of Hanagata and Panther as well as chapter information.

The menu system is laid out using various bits of animation mixed in from the show with a numerous musical bits throughout each of the submenus, such as animation playing in scene select along with music. Things are laid out in a fairly logical way and everything's easy to get to. Access times are fairly slow though, especially when navigating between episodes, making the play-by-episode route fairly cumbersome.

In addition to the SMJ Databank with character information, we get the third US exclusive music video by DJ Lord Richard. This time it's the Bloodberry feature, which is nicely mixed in 5.1 and provides 3 sets of subtitles for it. This is a nice slick extra that I wish we'd see more of, as I know there are a number of talented folks at the various companies who love to do things like this.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There's a lot going on in these episodes, and some of the stuff sort of stretches believability for the rules set up within the world, but then again the entire Japoness region is designed around not looking as advanced as the other countries, even though the technology lies underneath most of it.

One of the bigger developments of this arc of episodes deals with the trio of women working for Faust. They find themselves cast off and banished from Gartlant after yet another failure to acquire the maiden circuits from the Marionettes. Even with their lord and master no longer wanting them, they find their way back to Japoness to try and take out the Marionettes again. All they live for is to please Faust even if he doesn't want them, and they try again and again.

The story that revolves around one of their last attempts works quite well, as we get to know more of why Tiger and the others do what they do against all things. The Marionettes can't believe that they'd give their lives up when they have so much to live for, where as Tiger and the others can't understand why the Marionettes won't give up their lives when there's so much that they love. It's an interesting way of presenting opposite yet similar story arcs, as the two groups of maiden enabled girls are quite alike.

Japoness also undergoes a number of changes as we move through this arc. The city finds itself under attack several times, causing evacuations each time. The first big full invasion by Gartlant turns a good portion of the city into ruins, with the massive sphere with bunny ears floating over things and knocking over the various taller buildings. The fight sequence with that and the marionettes running around proved to be fun. But I ended up rolling my eyes a bit when the Japoness capital castle started to bring out their giant robot after playing a game of giant chess.

That's one of the areas where the technology just doesn't fit, but it can belong. We just spend so much time in the feudal feeling Japoness that when we do get to mix it up with Gartlant or the Mesopotamia starship, the show feels forced and clunky.

When the show moves into its final segment dealing with the Mesopotamia and the origins of Terra II in general, it works out pretty well as it sheds a lot of its Japoness feel. The Marionettes are all in their final stages and what they were made for becomes revealed. Faust and Otaru actually start working together as their genetic goals are the same. The way things play out in the final couple of episodes is pretty good, but in the end felt about as average as the series itself has felt.

Saber Marionette J was decent if unexceptional in total. For those that don't watch a lot of shows, it's easy to see it become a favorite, especially if it's one of the first ones. If you've seen a lot of shows, you may find little here that makes it really stand out against the large wave of shows that get licensed.

Japanese Language,English Language,Spanish Language,English Subtitles,Bloodberry Music Video,SMJ Databank

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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