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DVD Review

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 290
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sands of Destruction

Sands of Destruction Complete Series

Sands of Destruction Complete Series DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     January 19, 2010
Release Date: January 26, 2010


Sands of Destruction Complete Series
© FUNimation

With the Destruct Code in hand, Morte sets out to end the world that has wronged her so. Unfortunately for her, she’s accompanied by a wimp and a little bear that kicks ass.

What They Say

Morte is a lonely beauty with an axe to grind and a grudge against the world. Her brother died in the war between men and beasts, and now she's out to make everyone pay for her loss. That's where Kyrie comes in. This wandering cook may hold the key to unlocking the Destruct Code: a mysterious orb capable of eradicating everything in existence. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, but these heroes are up to no good.

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review!
Audio:

The audio mix for this release is pretty standard fare for FUNimation with the Japanese language done in stereo, encoded at 192kbps, while the English language gets a bump to a 5.1 mix at 448kbps. The show doesn’t have all that much to it though it does a nice job in some of the action scenes with a bit of directionality and impact to them, while the English mix punches it up just a bit more with volume and clarity. The songs make out the best overall in both tracks and the show has a clean and solid feel to it with no discernable problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:

Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show has its thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a seven/six format that has it looking pretty good. Sands of Destruction has a fairly clean and simple look to it with good looking colors that stand out clearly without being oversaturated. Outside of some gradients being visible in the backgrounds, there’s little to find serious fault with here as it maintains a good solid feel with only some noisy backgrounds in darker scenes which are fairly few and far between. Line noise and cross coloration are absent here and it’s a pretty pleasing transfer overall working with good source materials.

Packaging:

Sands of Destruction has a standard packaging release from FUNimation with a slipcover holding two clear thinpak cases inside it. The slipcover is nicely done with a good action pose for the primary trio of characters set against a sandy background. The logo is nicely done, tying into the game itself, and it pushes both the serious side with Morte and the goofy side with Toppy being Toppy. The back of the slipcover has a good clean look with some shadowed forms of the trio as well as several good shots from the show of a decent enough size to show it off a bit. The summary is a bit plain – and hard to read at times when the shadow of Kyrie crosses over into it, but it sets up the basics of it well enough.

The thinpak cases have a lot of artwork with them as well, with the first volume showing off the primary trio together with smiles on their faces while the second has Nadja, Lia and Agan together. Both covers have a bit of a rougher feel to them with more angular artwork but they look good and show off the characters well. The back covers are kept simple wit shadowed forms of the various characters there against the same sandy background that’s elsewhere as well as having the disc number above the episode numbers and titles. The reverse side artwork is really nice too and feels less rough than the front covers as it has more groupings of the cast on the left sides. The right side under the disc is kept simple with just the logo and the disc number. No show related inserts are included in this release.

Menu:

Sands of Destruction has rather predictable menus for its release as each volume uses the artwork from the reverse side cover of that respective volume along the right side of the screen. The logo is kept to the left which looks good here while along the bottom is where the navigation is. They tie it together well with the sandy style background while also using a dark red strip along the bottom where the navigation is to give it a bit more grounding. The colors and detail look very good here and they generally set the mood for the show fairly well. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast, though as is the norm the discs do not read our players’ language presets unlike discs from other companies.

Extras:

There are a few extras to be had with this release that are kind of cute if a bit strange. They’re all on the second disc and we get the standards with the clean opening and closing sequences. The strange extras are the four interviews with various characters from the show, with Agan, Toppy, Nadja and Morte all providing little basic cheap animation things about themselves or the show. They tend to run between four to seven minutes each and are just… unusual.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Based off of the game of the same name, Sands of Destruction is a thirteen episode series that comes across as fairly predictable but executed in a smooth and enjoyable way. The show takes a lot of what the game is about by all appearances, having not played the game and going by what’s I’ve researched about it, but like any game to anime adaptation there are differences and the anime must stand on its own. It does that pretty well as it offers up enough that’s interesting but doesn’t get the time to truly explore it.

The series takes place in a world where the seas are made of sand, though it actually doesn’t play that huge of a role in the show overall outside of a few episodes and only limited in some of them. The world is made up of several races but it boils down to two basic classifications; the beastmen that are the superior beings and the humans that live under their thumb. For the most part, it seems as of the two sides don’t come together all that often though there are instances of humans living alongside beastmen, though obviously more subservient than anything else. This is the weakest part of the show as there is a strong push by many to promote harmony and equality among the two races because it’s so rare. Yet it seems like almost every other episode introduces us to a place where that harmony does exist.

What’s about the make the world a whole lot worse, or ended as the case may be, is a young woman named Morte who has acquired an object known as the Destruct Code. This item came into her possession when the body of her dead younger brother arrived back home after he lost his life as part of the rebellion against the beastmen. Realizing what she had and its mythical legendary status, she took that and the anger in her to set out and use the Destruct Code to wipe the planet clean of everything, reducing it to nothing but sand and allowing it to start over in hopefully a better way. And knowing that it will kill her and everyone else seems to be just right since her anger is paramount at this point.

Where her journey goes awkward is when she acquires a pair of traveling companions after bar brawl that goes badly. The first is that she meets another human named Kyrie, a young man who has been pretending to be a beastman so he can get better paying jobs and earn a living wage. While he’s not bad at the knives and can take abuse fairly well, he’s still a rather wimpish character and doesn’t get directly involved often. But he has a good sense of right and justice and that’s what keeps him moving and helpful most of the time. On the other end of the spectrum, coming into contact with these two purely by accident and suffering from guilt by association, is a Little Bear beastman known as Toppy. With a pirate-style look to him and bright yellow fur combined with an eye-patch, he’s a big believe in being a Hero and lives with that mindset, doing what needs to be done whether it’s human or beastman. He’s definitely the heroic out in front type here who is constantly saddled with being labeled as a Bear, which he detests since he’s a Little Bear.

Morte already had the label applied to her that she’s the World Destruction Committee by the World Salvation Committee and having two more people with her only makes it all the more real in the eyes of those that hear about what’s going on. Though naturally uneasy at first and Morte is fine with them leaving at any time, the trio eventually starts working together on the journey though they’re not convinced about what Morte is doing for very obvious reasons. But someone suggests to them at one point that they may be the ones who will change her mind and soothe her hatred so there is reason for them journeying together. And as is noted by others as well, the trio invariably only seem to do good during their travels and help out people constantly that are in difficult situations, though it isn’t always obvious that will be the end result of what they do.

While there are numerous obstacles in their way as the travel and deal with local situations, the main group that’s after them is the World Salvation Committee and they’ve sent off a pair of beastmen to do just that. Nadja and Lia are the two sent out after them and they’re a curious pair, with Lia being an young looking long lived beastman with a very short temper while Nadja appears to be a halfbreed hoping that this mission will get him in better with the committee. He’s more even handed and actually has some good observations along the way about what Morte and the others are doing and realizes that what they’re sent out to do may not be the reality of the situation. The pair have some good moments but tend to be a step or two behind everyone else rather than on the proactive side. They really feel as if their passive antagonists for the lead characters here with how they aren’t always as closely involved in numerous episodes.

The production company behind this is Production I.G. and their work here does make this a better looking show than it deserves to be. Everything about the story and characters is fairly standard, though it doesn’t quite delve as heavily into a cliché of the week feeling, it’s made better by a strong set of visuals to it and good animation and character designs. It’s not a top-notch production with amazing detail or the most fluid animation you’ll see on TV, but it’s above average in some ways and that helps to give it a bit more depth. Unfortunately, most of the show feels like a fairly standard quasi-fantasy feeling with villages and towns (and bizarrely enough, robots thrown in at the end) but there’s a lack of consistency when it comes to the beastmen themselves as well as anything that really helps tie it all together in a logical evolutionary sense. But that’s asking more of a thirteen episode series than we’re allowed probably.

In Summary:

Sands of Destruction is about what you’d expect from a show based on a video game. It’s got all the basic questing material to it, works through some standard story ideas and builds up to the climax which you can guess from the beginning what it would be like. That said, it does have some good moments and the characters are fun at times to watch as they slowly work together after finding themselves in each others company. It has a good look to it, thanks to Production I.G. working on it, but in the end you know what you’re going to get here. I wish there was more done with the unique nature of the world these characters inhabit as well as being a bit clearer on the beastmen/human issues, but I had no real expectations for a thirteen episode series based on a game, so I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s not bad, it’s just not memorable, though they did a great job putting it all together.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Character Interviews

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 3:25:58 PM

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