s-Cry-ed Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: s-Cry-ed

s-Cry-ed Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     April 27, 2003
Release Date: July 15, 2003


s-Cry-ed Vol. #1
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The aftermath of a mysterious environmental catastrophe has left the land in complete desolation! While mankind has been able to rebuild the city, the catastrophe has caused some humans to undergo genetic mutations granting them special powers and abilities. These genetically enhanced humans are known as Alters.

Kazuma has spent his entire life in the wastelands relying on his special powers to survive, but when a secret organization called 'Holy' threatens to take away his freedom, he will be left with a choice to join or die. His fight to seek the truth behind the 'Holy' will rage and consume humanity and Alter alike!

The Review!
The folks at Sunrise provide another anime series that shows just how different a “book” and “animation” project can go.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With a nice pro-logic track, the audio here makes out quite well, though most of the pluses appear to be with the music track than actual dialogue or sound effects. The rear speakers help beef up the music nicely with some low throws to the rear speakers while dialogue and sound effects play out pretty normally across the forward soundstage with some minor directionality. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we heard no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, s-CRY-ed benefits from a beautifully clean print with lots of vibrant colors and some of the latest in digital effects. The resulting transfer here is spotless. As with other Bandai releases, the opening and ending credits are untouched, with a full credits translation playing after the final episode. Episode titles are also left in, with soft subs providing the translation, which is also done during the eye-catches. Colors in this show look great, darks are nice and solid and cross coloration is pretty much non-existent. Fans of this show will be really pleased by the transfer.

Packaging:
This is another release in the Platinum Edition line, and if I remember from the .hack release correctly, the “silver bar” at the top is much smaller this time around and looks much better. The main cover features the very active and bright imagery of the two male leads of the series in action poses. Combined with the background colors, it’s definitely eye-catching. The back cover provides a collage of cast shots along one side while the rest is filled with a good summary of the shows premise and the various details and technical information. The spine has the volume numbering while the back cover also provides the episode numbers and titles. The insert has the same artwork as the front cover but without the volume title or the platinum bar. It opens up to provide a map of the Lost Ground and where everything is as well. The back of the insert provides the full credits and cast list, with both the English and Japanese versions matching up actors to titles.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice piece with the opening song playing briefly set to the static image of Kazuma in fight mode while the glowing imagery of an Alter user moves behind him. The submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast. The layout is pretty standard and we had no issues in moving about.

Extras:
There’s a nice selection of extras here for the first volume. With each episode having a slightly different opening, we get all five of them here in textless form. We also get a textless ending to round things out there. There’s a multipage Lost Ground Express segment that goes into detail about the what and why’s of the Lost Ground, things that do help make the whole worldview make more sense. The last is the design gallery, a 64 page series of conceptual designs, animation shots and text that goes over the characters of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When this disc first arrived, I figured I’d be able to put it in the same pile as other recent shows where I’ve been reading the manga, so I’d end up with a good idea of what to expect from the anime.

Surprisingly, it’s not quite true. While the basic characters appear to be the same, the plot so far is quite different in its approach to introducing everyone, which gives me hope that it does indeed splinter off nicely from the original works, providing a real alternative world to the original piece. The concept itself is interesting, where twenty two years ago, “something” happened that caused a big chunk of land at Tokyo to turn into the Lost Ground. This area essentially looks like massive earthquakes hit it with a lot of plates rising high into the air. The result is that this area is now an island itself, physically separated from mainland Japan by water.

Within this new area, now called the Lost Grounds, something else has arisen. Something like 1% of new births there are born with special abilities, which become labeled Alter users. These people are able to use their special abilities to create all kinds of things out of thin air, some of them creating massive guns while others manipulate small orbs to do their bidding. With these young people growing up in an area that essentially became cast off from the mainland, they tended a bit more towards violence, letting their abilities lead the way. While Japan tried to ignore the problem, the rest of the world insisted upon a solution.

Enter HOLD, a privately funded group that established a base of operations within one corner of the Lost Grounds. Their walled city, which grew over the years to where it is now, provides a sense of normalcy and real-world interaction for the Lost Grounders who come there, as well as tricking mainlanders into feeling safe while on the Lost Ground. While HOLD provides policing services and attempts to deal with the local populace, they still needed a group to handle the Alter users. This gave rise to HOLY, a group of young people who are Alter users themselves, but are on the side of HOLD. Their main goal is to subdue and contain and then retrain any and all rogue Alter users.

Those who do no conform are imprisoned.

On the other side of the coin, we’re introduced to young Kazuma, an Alter user who hires himself out for various jobs, though they all seem to be on the side of doing good. We initially see him rescuing the mayor of the city after he went outside the walls. Of course, Kazuma’s rescue job goes unappreciated by HOLY, as they see him as just a threat, which leads into the ongoing back and forth chase between them and him. Kazuma, as the central character to the series, is an interesting choice. He’s not altogether bright, he lives by his Alter skills and he’s not terribly good at managing the money he gets from his jobs. And that’s a critical part as he lives with a much younger girl who takes care of the house and depends on him.

This opening volume, with its five episodes, covers quite a lot of ground. We get introduced to a number of HOLY characters, and in typical anime fashion we learn that while they’re going to be considered the bad guys and Kazuma the good guy, HOLY is just as layered as some of the best villains. The lead character of HOLY, Ryuho, comes across enough as a not so pleasant type, but as we peel the layers away from him and bring in a new cast member whose related to his past, things begin to change in how we view him. It’s these kind of characters that tend to bring a lot to a series, much more than your typical cardboard villains.

The series so far features quite a lot of action as well, which is helping it live up to some of the comparisons I’ve heard to things like X-Man and Dragonball Z. Favorable comparisons mind you. While fights don’t take forever, they’re done quite stylishly and with some interesting and neat tricks. Visually, they’re quite fun to watch, with lots of posing and general grunting/angst stuff applied to it.

While some of these episodes feel a bit uneven and a bit rushed in trying to set things up, as well as introducing a few too many characters too quickly, there’s something quirky and intriguing about the show. There haven’t been too many shows in this style lately coming out, so I ended up enjoying the first volume and am curious to see where it’s going to go. Fans of this series are going to adore this release.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings (5),Textless Ending,Lost Ground Express,Design Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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