Saikano Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saikano

Saikano Vol. #3

By Luis Cruz     September 13, 2004
Release Date: September 07, 2004

Saikano Vol. #3
© Viz Media

What They Say
In the wreckage after a battle, Chise is reunited with Tetsu, and a new relationship begins. Meanwhile, Yukari still longs for her boyfriend, who was killed in the first air raid. When she comes across a downed enemy pilot in the mountains, he sadness turns to hatred, rage, and bloodshed. Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse, a huge earthquake hits bringing forth yet another disaster...

The Review!
One word accurately sums up the third volume of Saikano... powerful.

For my primary viewing session, I took in the Japanese audio track. Most of the content comes through the center channel, as the focus of the episodes is the dialogue. There are a few action sequences that utilize the front soundstage quite well. The track suffered from no noticeable problems; everything was clear and sharp with no distortion. The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful, and everything from music to action to dialogue is balanced well.

While anamorphic fans may be slightly disappointed, Saikano has been given a gorgeous 4:3 letterbox transfer. The colors are lush and vivid making the surroundings almost come alive; the digital animation really shines in the panoramic views of the city. At times, it appears more like a photograph than a piece of animation.

The opening and ending credits contain hard titled credits rather than the original Japanese credits; the beautiful opening and ending songs are not subtitled. In an odd twist, they subtitle the original Japanese episode title cards.

A sad Chise, wings outstretched, flies above a fiery sky while Tetsu takes shelter behind a boulder. The remainder of the front cover has the series logo with volume number and title stretched across the middle. It is another stunning, eye-catching cover for the series. The back cover contains the requisite disc specifications, plot synopsis, production credits, and screenshots. Inside is a one-page insert containing the chapter listings on one side and an amazing picture of Chise flying above a city in flames.

Viz has a track record of producing simple yet stylish menus, and Saikano proves to be no exception. The main menu features four options along the bottom of the screen. A very brief animation is played when switching between menus. The remainder of the main menu features the series logo at the top, the picture of the Chise from the front cover near the bottom, and a muted series of clips from the episodes playing across the center of the screen.

Viz packs only two extras onto this volume. First, we have a gallery of fifteen pieces of production art. The other extra is a twelve minute interview with the voice actors for Akemi and Atsushi.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It is a rare occurrence to have a series, animated or otherwise, make a lasting impression in me, one that ingrains itself on a deep level. Saikano has been on the edge of that boundary, and this third volume has finally pushed it over it and made it into a series I will never be able to forget. The volume opens with Tetsu and Chise reunited in a city surrounded by the enemy; the pair takes a day off from the war to do a bit of shopping in the deserted city. Meanwhile, Chise's hometown is busy tracking down an enemy pilot that was shot down over the forest.

A huge earthquake soon hits Hokkaido leveling most of the city; the school is converted into a makeshift hospital. This too fades quickly, as the hospital is made over into a base for the retreating Japanese army. Through all these events, nearly every character experiences a dramatic change in themselves and their relationships with their peers.

The above summary is nebulous and does not do the material justice; however, to say more would be to cheat one out of a powerful experience. There are a number of visceral scenes punctuated by insightful, powerful pieces of dialogue. The series refuses to paint war with terms like "right", "wrong", "good", or "bad". Instead, it has the characters asking the hard questions about life, questions that can never be truly answered.

While war and death has been a part of the series, it has been something that has been shadowing the characters and the audience, something they see peripherally. These episodes starkly contrast as they place war and death right in the faces of the characters and the audience; the characters must deal with death head on and on an extremely personal level.

Each moment connects on a strong, emotional level; the pacing and editing is done quite well making each scene heart wrenching. It does not attempt to cheat the audience or soften the blow; it puts a real face on what war, death, and loss mean on a personal, human level. With only three episodes left, the writers have the plot white hot as it reaches its conclusion.

In Summary:
Stop reading this summary and go buy this DVD and the two that preceded it. Something this powerful does not come along all that often; the imagery and dialogue blend well together and paint a very real, very emotional picture. It is a brutal but honest depiction, a rare combination in any medium. Very highly recommended, Saikano is quickly becoming one of my favorite series of the year and of all time.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Voice Actor Interview (Akemi & Atsushi)

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable


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