Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: ADV Films UK
- MSRP: 12.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Shadow Skill
Shadow Skill Vol. #2
By Dani Moure
December 17, 2007
Release Date: August 20, 2007
Shadow Skill Vol. #2
What They SayThe Review!
© ADV Films UK
The past comes back to catch up with Elle and Folli as we find out some more about their relationship and how they came to know each other.Audio:
I listened to the English stereo track for my review, and didn’t notice any technical problems with the track. The mix itself is very much typical stereo, with nothing about it standing out in particular. The dub is very enjoyable, with all the leads performing well. I spot-checked the Japanese track and didn’t notice any problems with it either. Video:Shadow Skill
is an “older” series, and it shows. The colours are quite drab in general, but that’s more the setting than anything. The transfer is as good as you’d expect from ADV, presented in full screen with no noticeable problems. Subtitles are in a nice yellow font (ADV’s usual), and I didn't notice any grammatical or spelling errors.
This is another ADV dual language release, with English and German on the same disc. As such, the openings and endings are presented in their original kanji form, with full translated scrolls for the opening and each ending in the extras menu.Packaging:
The front cover features Diaz and Gau posing, with the show’s logo at the top and the volume title at the bottom. The background is very brown, something of a theme for the show. The volume number is on the spine, while the back cover features a description of the show, some screenshots and the show’s credits. A technical grid contains all the important details at the bottom of the cover. The reverse side of the cover features the same artwork as the front cover, but the background is a moonlit setting instead of the brown. The other side features some lineart of Gau.Menu:
The main menu is very simple, with a reddish background featuring Elle’s face, and all the text selections, while some music plays. The sub-menus are all text-based. Access times are fast, naturally, but the menus are very uninspired.Extras:
The only extra here is a preview for volume 3.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Shadow Skill
was a bit of a surprise. While I was expecting a show filled purely with fights to the death and not much else, what I got was a cross between a comedy, drama and a fighting show that ended up being pretty funny and enjoyable. The second disc is much the same as the first, following along in a similar style and presents us with a few quite poignant character moments as well.
Things begin on this disc with Elle and the gang unsurprisingly having to take on a job to pay off some debts, but this one sees them having to do a bit of reconnaissance. Tasked with helping some old soldiers defeat their enemy, the group first have to find them and then join forces to full effect to stop the guy in the forest. Although much of this first episode is by the numbers, there’s a good subplot with Kyuo that adds a bit of much needed meat to the story. She is hiding some scars she’s got from what she thinks is being clumsy in battle, but when Elle realises what they are she works to try and convince her that her battle scars are a good thing and should give her confidence. It all ties in nicely to how the episode wraps up, and shows once again that our hard-headed Sevalle is actually someone who likes to take care of others before herself.
In the second episode, we meet White Lightning, a young man that helps the group out, but in doing so ends up falling for Kyuo in a big way. He starts almost stalking her, and that naturally raises the eyebrows of her friends. Though he does seem harmless, he also finds time to have a big fight with Gau in which we get to see what the power of Kyuo’s love or friendship can do for someone’s confidence! Truth be told though this is a fun episode, I found it to be a bit of a throwaway, although it did introduce White Lightning. It probably doesn’t help talking about it having seen the next two episodes, which completely wipe the floor with it in terms of character development and story.
The first sees the return of a man from Folli’s past, who comes to remind her who killed her master, who was also her father. A bit predictably, that turns out to be Elle, and so the two end up going head to head as Folli looks to get revenge at long last for the death of her loved one. There’s a great sense of tension between Elle and Folli as they show down, but also some reluctance on both sides as well as there is clearly a tight bond that has formed between the two since they’ve been travelling together. The episode does a great job of showing, for the first time in the series, why Folli and Elle are such good friends and why the bond between them is so strong. Although the outcome is a little bit predictable in how things turn around, it works really well for the characters as both stay true to their personalities throughout it all. It’s this episode that really shows you that Shadow Skill
is a series worth investing time in.
In the final episode, we get even more backstory as this time it’s Elle’s past catching up with her. After some amusing antics as she’s forced to pose for her Sevalle statue, we meet Elle’s older brother Diaz. There’s a lot of her past that gets dragged up, especially how Diaz ended up not becoming Sevalle himself because of having to take care of Elle, and we see a more vulnerable side to her as well as how Gau can ultimately help her and protect her when he is by her side.
With these final two episodes, we really get a feel for who these characters are and what makes them tick. In fact, all four of the main characters – Elle, Gau, Folli and Kyuo – get a fair bit of screen time and development over the course of this disc, and it’s great to see that while fighting is still an obvious drawing point for the series, there’s a far deeper story and set of characters than there first appeared.In Summary:
The second volume of Shadow Skill
does a great job of taking what worked in the first volume of the series and building on it with great effect. There are some excellent character moments over the course of the four episodes here, with the stand-out ones being in episode 7 between Folli and Elle. The show really took me by surprise with that one and then following it up with another heavily character driven piece, as it shows there is actually a fair bit of depth to the series that wasn’t initially apparent. As it is, given the cheap retail price, I’d definitely recommend giving this show a shot.
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.