Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars

Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 08, 2005
Release Date: September 27, 2005

Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars Vol. #4
© Nozomi Entertainment

What They Say
The final confrontation draws near!

The press conference revealing the government's space diplomacy negotiations has caught the world by surprise, but no one could be more shocked than Hajime when he discovers that his father is the government spokesman! When the secret government base where Kazuo is working at is attacked by an alien invader, Hajime discovers that the father that he always believed to be just an ordinary businessman is more involved with aliens than he ever imagined.

But Hajime’s not the only one who is taken by surprise. The news of the negotiations and the attack upon the base has sent shockwaves through the Sanemori Clan. The once small fires of discontent within the Clan have flared into an all out quarrel. Jou and Baku are pushing Lady Momoe to appeal to the Galactic Federation for help, but she seems strangely unwilling to do so. With a new wave of invaders threatening their borders, they may not have much time left to reach a resolution before it’s too late..

Meanwhile, advice from Setsuna during one of the recent battles has Harumi reconsidering her relationship with Kyoichi. Now, she must finally face him and tell him the truth behind what really happened 11 years ago..

Contains episodes 17-21.

The Review!
As more alien forces start making their way onto Earth, the people of Tenmo must stand by themselves as those in power continue to make diplomacy movements.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is of an action/adventure type and there are plenty of areas where there is some good directionality across the forward soundstage, generally in the action sequences, as well as a well placed dialogue track that is generally center channel bound but it gets around on occasion as well. It's not a giant stand-out mix but it's one that conveys the actions in the show properly. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being a Madhouse produced show, the animation in here is really quite attractive and smooth throughout though they do go something of a minimalist approach in some of the style and design, but it works well with the kind of story being told and the visuals are generally very clean and straightforward but with enough detail to keep it interesting. The transfer in general is solid here with no problems with aliasing or cross coloration. The opening and closing sequences are done with alternate angles so that one of them has the original Japanese logo and credits while the other has fully translated credits and English language production information.

Packaged in a clear keepcase, the front cover is awash in a couple of shades of pink and purple that has the standard character art shots of Harumi and Kyoichi together. While the poses are fairly standard, it's an eye-catching cover with the shading and colors used and it looks good. The back cover keeps a similar layout and provides a few shots from the show and a lengthy set of summary paragraphs that cover the basics. The discs features are clearly listed and a well laid out technical grid keeps everything very easy to find for the technical parts. The cover is reversible though the opposite side is identical to the front cover but it uses the original Japanese logo instead (as does the spine) so you don't need to refer to it as Shingu. One area that Right Stuf is continually getting better and better at is the booklets and this one is really good. It covers a range of terms from the show and talks about the world of. The back of the booklet even has a couple of panels from a strip written about the show.

The menu layout is designed the same as the front cover with Harumi and Kyoichi's picture while displaying the selections along the right side, all set to some of the music of the show. The layout is simple and easy to use with no navigational quirks and features an easy way to move between episodes in the scene selection area. The menu listed our players' language presets properly but when played they went to a default of English language and sign/song only subtitles instead.

This volume has a couple of extras but nothing too major. There's a section of character bios which I'll avoid since they may have spoilers, an art gallery and an on-disc version of much of the production notes found in the booklet.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When it comes to watching the majority of five episode or more releases, I've always found that there's a bit of a drag along the way when watching it in one sitting. A moment or two of wondering just how much more is left so you can get it over with or the feeling that you've seen too much of it and it's all starting to blend together. Surprisingly, Shingu avoids both of these feelings and in fact goes by so fast at times that it feels like I've missed episodes along the way. The show has so much going on in a small manner that's so engaging that you don't even realize how quickly it's all come and gone.

And just as we've sort of lamented in the previous volumes, the style of storytelling used in the show makes it rather difficult to really talk about the show in any depth or detail because everything that's playing out is rather subtle and very much in motion. The main storylines from the start of the show are still very much in play here and little has truly changed in that regard. But just like a good novel, the people that are running throughout these storylines continue to grow and reveal new things about themselves and the location itself becomes just as much of a character as more of its history is unearthed and explored.

On the students side of things, there are some good interesting things that occur in this volume. The growing familiarity between Nayuta, Muryou and Hajime is fun to watch since they now have something of a cease fire going after Nayuta learns the truth behind the Festival club isn't what she thought it was, so she's now more than happy to help out and participate with it. The club's ideas of showing existing festivals and trying to come up with something for new and old residents to work together on is the main focus of it and not the Shrine Deviation festival that she thought it was. Seeing back into that particular piece, it's easy to understand why she's against it as it is the event that helps to identify which children have the powers within themselves to be more than others, such as Protectors or the Chosen ones. The Festival club itself also gets to participate in some fun events now that they're closer to finalizing their own goals and there's a cute sequence where they go to one of the elementary schools along with other clubs to talk about what they do.

While the overall focus is on the trio's relationship, the ones that come across the best here are Kyoichi and Harumi. The two of them have a very intertwined past as becomes evident here from flashbacks and talks about events from the past with their parents. Harumi's time as a Protector in training with her father and seeing what happened to them as young children is intriguing as part of the larger picture but it's also great to see Harumi taking a very proactive approach to dealing with the latest alien threat that's come down to the planet. Having realized they can't defeat the Shingu in space, the goal is to eliminate the people who can control it. And even smarter, they're not going after the ones with the powers to control it or attack others but rather the core person who must channel all of the others. Seeing faceless villains that are smart is a great change of pace and the focus is well kept on the personal ties between Harumi and Kyoichi for it while still pointing out what Muryou has to do and the toll it takes.

The larger Galactic Federation side of the storyline continues to be very interesting as well, from the start with Hajime's father bringing more of the information to the public to the areas where we see some of the ways the various members of the Sanemori clan are playing both sides of the fence in order to ensure that they'll win no matter what. While it's been obvious before, it comes out in plain language this time around that while the protection of the Shingu and its power is a key thing, that importance doesn't quite extend to the people of Earth itself or even really those people doing the protecting. There are forces aligned on each side regarding bringing Earth and its people into the Galactic Federation and as all of it is looked at and debated, the people of Earth cannot expect help as the forces outside the Federation continue to arrive and make their own plans regarding this power. Watching the numerous characters maneuver during all of this is just plain fun and fascinating to watch as each little movement opens up and reveals something new.

In Summary:
Shingu's covered an amazing amount of material in the twenty episodes that this volume brings us up to and there is simply a lot to keep in mind when watching it even as two very different but tightly connected stories play out. Seeing how each of the actions impact the other is half the fun and the way the seeming disconnect is really an illusion though the students don't quite realize it most of the time. There are some great revelations in this volume as more of the past is examined and it's balance with some great action sequences that really make you wonder exactly how it will finish out. Shingu is a show that simply should not be passed up if you're looking for something to really sink your mind into.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Special 8-page Booklet, Character Bios, Original Production Notes, English Production Notes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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