She, The Ultimate Weapon Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Other
  • MSRP: ¥5,800
  • Running time: 88
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Saikano

She, The Ultimate Weapon Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     April 01, 2003
Release Date: March 28, 2003

She, The Ultimate Weapon Vol. #5
© Other

What They Say
The anime - based on the manga by Shin Takahashi - is a sci-fi love story about a high school senior named Shuji who finds out that his beloved girlfriend Chise has been turned into the ultimate weapon against the enemy.

The Review!
The final volume of Saikano comes in and?. Augh!

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. As that?s the only track included, it made our choice easy. While a number of OVA?s have been done in PCM audio lately, this 13 episode TV series gets the Dolby stereo mix, providing a solid mix for both the dialogue and the music behind the show.

The folks at Gonzo have managed to produce another visually stunning piece with this transfer. Although they show is letterboxed but not anamorphic (a continuing problem that Gonzo simply must address), it looks fantastic. Colors are solid and vivid, aliasing and cross coloration appear to be non-existent and the overall look and feel of the transfer is just sparkling. The three episodes here look great on this dual layered disc.

The final cover is another great piece that has partially clothed Chise and Shuji lying together in embrace. While a quick look would indicate that it may be something somewhat smutty, knowing that this is a dark ending causes the feel to be very somber. The logo is provided in both Japanese and English here and just has that ?so simple it looks great? look to it. The back cover provides a few pictures from the show itself as well as a summary of the shows main plot. The discs technical features are all clearly listed in the grid format I love.

The menu is a bit flashier than a lot of Japanese menus, using a similar style to the Saikano website. Selections are easy to figure out along the bottom with a few tries, but the thankful part is that when you get into language selection, the selections are provided in bilingual format, so it?s not as much guesswork. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is definitely nice on the eyes.

There?s two extras included this time around. The first is a ten-minute long behind the scenes/making of segment that is not subtitled. The second is a six minute long session that comes from the December home video release party where they have the actors come out and talk about the show, show off some game footage and other PR related bits. This also is not subtitled.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a highly emotional fourth volume, I was pretty much afraid to go into the fifth and final volume knowing that these last episodes are not going to be pretty. And all told, it?s not a fun adventure, but it?s also the kind of adventure that really keeps me enjoying anime.

The final three episodes here take Chise and Shuji on their final journey together as they head off from their safe town and go to start a new life, though a pretend one in just about all respects. With their own professed love for each other and traveling as if they were married, they eventually settle down in a town much like the one they left. Chise takes up a waitress job (that brings in a lot of people from the docks, as they love the cute little girl) and Shuji goes to deal with the fisheries that are left.

Their life is still a challenging one, as they both work hard and Chise is living on what few pills she has left. Their time at home is a strange sort of raw passion that only goes so far, as they never truly consummate their love or marriage. As it all progresses, you can feel the life of everyone simply winding down though, much like the pills. Shuji continues to believe that there?s a future he can give her, but that dark kernel inside him keeps telling him that he has to be the one to end her life to save everyone else.

But the end to all things must come and this one proves to be fairly traumatic for all sides. The end is actually fairly long and drawn out, which ends up minimizing some of the overall emotional impact. I think it could have been much stronger if it had been an episode shorter and written more tightly in the middle episode here, but part of the style here is the way things are drawn out. There are some truly great moments though, as well as some interesting examples of differences in cultural writing.

One of my favorite moments has Shuji standing on a balcony as nature comes whipping towards him. Though he tries to defend himself, the most he lets out is a low grunt to brace for it, but that?s it. If it had been written in by a Westerner, I could easily see it being more primal there, as I could see myself in the same position by simply letting out a scream against the impending doom he was facing. Some sort of resistance right to the end.

Saikano has been a really interesting series. The laid back style to it, which can certainly bore many people. Once into things though, the payoff is most definitely there across the final half of the series. They manage to avoid a lull that many thirteen episode series seem to have these days and instead provide some of the best episodes of the series. This is not a series that will bring happiness and joy, but it is a series that does what few series do, and that?s present and ending that is final.

I?m thrilled that I managed to see this as it was released on disc and hope that Gonzo attempts some more subtitled fare in the future. For those wanting an emotional rollercoaster, this is the series for you.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Subtitles,Behind the Scenes Featurette,Press Event

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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