Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #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: C-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 17, 2002
Release Date: August 06, 2002

Saber Marionette J to X Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
All is not right on Terra II. Lorelei, the key to the future of the entire planet, has been kidnapped! Otaru, feeling responsible, sets out to rescue her - alone. But things go from bad to worse, as Gartlant rises from its ashes and begins a new rampage. And it looks like Faust himself has resumed his evil ways!

The Saber Dolls can't believe it, and they are uncertain of what to do. But just as things look their darkest, it's Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry to the rescue. And they have another new ally this time around who intends to put Faust in his place!

The Review!
It’s war! Gartland has resurfaced and all of Terra 2 is in peril as the evil empire has risen once again. Of course, you actually have to have an empire for it to rise again.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Listening to the Japanese track we had a good pro-logic experience with the music making good use of the rear channels. Sound effects and dialogue are all forward based and had some nice moments of directionality throughout it with no noticeable dropouts or distortions.

Using a similar style to the SMJ Again OVA release with the digital look, the show fares out better by not being as polished and looking as fake as a lot of that series did. The main problem throughout these episodes is the rising level of cross coloration as it is just about at a really annoying level. Colors throughout looked good and there was little in the way of aliasing. If it wasn’t for the cross coloration, this would have been a gorgeous looking disc.

Bloodberry gets the big nod on this cover, with her normal look being the brighter colored one while in the background she gets a more traditional look while lettering floats all over the images. The back cover provides a number of animation shots from the episodes and a good summary of the discs. Features are clearly listed as well as the discs episode numbers and titles. The packaging also gets the volume numbers clearly listed. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens up to provide smaller summaries for each of the four episodes. The back cover provides some production credits and voice actor credits for both languages, though only the Japanese get the match-up to the characters.

The menu is similar to past releases in using the maiden circuit animation but gets an update by using the new animation of it from the ending. Other parts of the ending animation end up in the various submenus as well. The main menu provides most of the good stuff and moving around is pretty easy and load times are nice and fast. The animation is pretty brief in general, and if you’ve seen past SMJ releases, you know what to expect here.

There’s two extras included here this round. The first is a small but great looking gallery of artwork that’s in full color and provides some excellent character pieces. The second is another 5 minute video piece, this time called Man and Machine, and deals with the relationships between the two while having clips of Kotobuki talking again. This is yet another near-fluff piece done by the AnimePop people and they continue their use of the annoying over-coloring of live people talking. There’s also the audio on this, which is about a tenth of what the audio on the rest of the disc is. The only part I found even the slightest bit interesting was getting to see Syd Mead talk some. I admittedly had little interest in hearing what an Akadot editor has to say on the whole thing. And AnimePop, if you’re going to put your website address at the end of the credits, bloody well have one instead of it being an domain registrar seller. It only makes a barely professional looking job worse.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The introduction of the full plot starts to become apparent here as we get three episodes in a row that are actually pretty well done, outside of the fact that it seems like it’s going to be a retread plotline. While we’ve had several episodes worth of relative peace and harmony among the nations of Terra 2, an evil is ready to leap up and take over everything.

That’s right, via radio and video, Gettle places demands on the world in the name of the empire of Gartland, insisting upon the surrender of all nations to them and the surrender of the marionettes. Gettle actually has an excellent bargaining chip to do this, in the form of the kidnapped Lorelei that is in his hands. The reaction around the world is panicky, but as usual, we focus on the Japoness area.

Otaru’s already in deep trouble having lost Lorelei previously to the kidnappers, and the council that oversees things is reading him the riot act. Otaru does realize what’s happened and takes it well, but in the end his apologies don’t make it. He’s given the job of rescuing Lorelei and ending the threat against Japoness. So it is indeed the tale once again of one man against evil. And with the desire of Gartland to get their hands on the marionettes, he keeps them out of the battles as well.

On the side of Gartland, or via the mobile fortress that Gettle and the others appear to be working out of, there’s plenty afoot. Apparently the desire for the marionettes lays in the fact that they alone know where the Japonesger is, the sizeable mobile suit that made an earlier appearance. This piece of hardware, with its plasma engine, will allow Gartland to make moves it couldn’t do otherwise. The people of Gartland aren’t all that sure about this, especially since they’ve changed their name to Gelmania and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of Gettles forces in the nation.

But when Faust makes a reappearance as the actual leader of this change, along with the Saberdolls, the entire show starts taking on a new twist. On the one hand, it almost quickly falls into feeling like a retread of the final part of the original TV series. But it also plays out an important part of the larger picture that fans likely had asked the question of way back when. So in that respect, it’s rather good that it does play out, and that it does it very well in these episodes.

While all of this goes on, we do get more of a look at the players behind the larger picture. There’s definitely something nasty being planned, and hopefully they’ll start moving into the plot as the cast moves forward into exploring the nation of Xian. At least there aren’t any damn Pontas’ there. I hope.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview,Art Gallery

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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