s-Cry-ed Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: s-Cry-ed

s-Cry-ed Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     September 14, 2005
Release Date: August 22, 2005


s-Cry-ed Vol. #2
© Beez


What They Say
20 years ago, a cataclysmic earthquake destroyed the prefecture of Kanagawa and detached it from the rest of Japan. The region was known as the 'Lost Ground'. It was later realized that part of the population born in this region had the ability to change and create matter. They are known as the Alter Users. To control this potential threat, Japan set up a police force, HOLD and within it, a special unit, HOLY made up of Alter Users whose aim is to combat the renegades.

Episodes Comprise
5 - Mimori Kiryu
6 - Zetsuei
7 - Asuka Tachibana
8 - Mad Sprict

The Review!
s-CRY-ed continues its something-for-everyone approach, serving up a large dose of fighting action on one hand while working on some behind-the-scenes plotting on the other, and proving in the process that you can't please all of the people, all of the time.

Audio:
Audio is provided in 2.0 stereo in both Japanese and English. I listened primarily to the Japanese track, which is very clear and makes good use of the available channels. Battle scenes in particular have a lot of effects coming from the sides, which helps add some depth to the soundtrack. There were no obvious problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 format, and is generally very good looking - s-CRY-ed makes heavy use of bright colours and detailed backgrounds which definitely add to the feel of the show. There are some darker, underground scenes on this volume - while these lack the detail of the above-ground scenes, they still look good. As with volume 1, there are some problems with line noise if you pay close attention, but it's nothing serious. Subtitles use a white-on-black font which is easy to read, if a little on the small side. There are no obvious encoding or subtitling errors.

Packaging:
Beez have come up with another nice-looking cover, featuring Kazuma in one of his happier moods along with Kanami. The rear cover features the initial form of Ryuho's Alter and a few screenshots, along with episode summaries and a techinical information panel, while the inside has character summaries and artwork for Mimori and Kanami.

Menu:
The main menu follows the pattern set by volume one, but focusses on Ryuho and his Alter instead of Kazuya. The various menu options (Play, Episodes, Setup and Bonus) are listed on the right of the screen while a slideshow of the various stages of Ryuho's Alter runs on the left. The episode select screen runs a series of clip shows for the various episodes, while the other screens feature static images of other characters from the series. With no transition animations between screens, it's all very quick & easy to use.

Extras:
A good selection of extras are provided with this release. Short text-only character profiles are provided for Kimishima, Zigmarl, Tachibana, Cougar and Scheris, along with 'translation notes' that explain some of the terms used in the series (I'd call this more a "glossary of terms" than "translation notes myself). There are also textless opening seqences for episodes 1-8 (each episode's opening differs slightly) and two "sound comics", where the show's VAs provide the voiceover to a passage from the s-CRY-ed manga, with the manga pages presented on-screen while they speak. These are definitely nice extras, and are a different way of looking at the series, although there are some areas of pixellation used to censor out parts of the images in places. I'm not certain if these were present or not on the original Japanese release, but they're worth mentioning.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Being no real fan of fighting anime, watching s-CRY-ed is something of an exercise in taking the bad with the good. Let's get what I take as the 'bad' out of the way first - the macho posturing, angst-filled moments and testosterone-fueled combat scenes. Kazuma has at least progressed from looking to get some sort of recognition from Ryuho to using his Alter for good reason - protecting the people who life in the Lost Ground who are being used and abused by HOLD and HOLY. It's a plus-point for the series that you can see his character developing, even if he's happy enough to admit himself that fighting's all that he's good for.

His main opponent in these episodes is Asuka Tachibana, whose 'Eternity Eight' Alter is one of the most useful I've seen yet - eight balls of power that Tachibana is able to manipulate at will. Defence, offence, even a handy light source, they can pretty much be used for anything - except to defeat Kazuma, apparently. Tachibana's main reason for joining HOLY was to have a shot at a normal life - he even has a normal girlfriend, Cammy, to go with his dream - but HOLY doesn't tolerate failure and after losing to Kazuma, Tachibana is stripped of his post. His only way back is to tackle Kazuma again and win. Their second fight triggers an enormous release of power, leaving the pair trapped underground and forced to help each other if they've to have any chance of returning to the surface. Their underground adventures lead to both men gaining a greater understanding and respect for the other's way of life. In between the over-the-top Alter action, this is actually a good piece of storytelling that adds a lot to both characters. The range of things that Tachibana can do with his Eternity Eight also makes their battle scenes some of the best yet, although I still think they're stretched out a little too long.

Away from the fighting, there's plenty going on to grab the attention. For pure comedy value, there's Cougar's attempts to strike up a relationship with Mimori - even though he still can't remember her name. The way he tries to chat her up, and his reactions when he sees her with Ryuho or Kazuma, are priceless. More seriously, there's pressure on HOLY from the politicians to get the Alter users under control, which leads HOLY commander Martin Zigmarl to initiate a round-up of all known Alter users. With reference being made to them being shipped off to a lab on the mainland, it's not hard to figure out that something not good is going on behind the scenes. In some ways this has the same ominous feel surrounding it as Witch Hunter Robin's Factory, and given that some HOLY members don't seem entirely comfortable with what's going on it seems it's something that's going to play a bigger part in the story in future.

The strangest episode on the disc is episode 8, "Mad Sprict" (that's not a spelling mistake, even though 'Mad Script' would make more sense in the context of the episode). When a group of his friends are seized by HOLY, Kazuma comes up with an unexpected solution to finding them - he joins HOLY himself, much to the disgust of most of the organisation's other members. Commander Zigmarl is publicly keen to see him join, but privately he's aware that it's unlikely Kazuma would have had such a drastic change of heart. He has a way of turning Kazuma into a loyal employee, though - HOLY member Unkei's Alter power, Mad Sprict, allows him to control the actions of others by writing them into a story, and Zigmarl's just commissioned him to write the story of Kazuma's new life in HOLY. What follows is a fun little episode that shows Kazuma unwittingly following Unkei's story, before a practice battle with Ryuho break the spell.

In summary:
I have to admit that s-CRY-ed has grown on me a bit with this volume - while I still don't have a lot of time for the fighting side of things, there's enough going on between the other characters and with behind-the-scenes conspiracies to keep me interested. Despite that, though, it still feels a bit too much like the show is trying to be all things to all people, and it doesn't quite manage to pull it off.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Character Profiles,Translation Notes,Textless Openings (Episodes 1-8),Sound Comics 25 & 39

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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