Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: C+
- Menus Rating: A+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 60
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Sol Bianca: The Legacy
Sol Bianca: The Legacy Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
August 22, 2000
Release Date: August 22, 2000
Sol Bianca: The Legacy Vol. #2
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Captains Log: Reminder, when the tarot cards tell of trouble, next time believe them! A terrorist violated the Sol Bianca today, but fortunately, he played the situation to Jani’s strength and she was able to answer the situation in her favorite way – with guns blazing. It’s good that Jani’s able to control herself or she’d be a real problem. Speaking of which, Feb is getting more out of control, and the cards are warning about trouble again. I hope it’s those annoying Blue Comets. They’re easier to deal with than Feb’s attitude. - AprilThe Review!
The second of three discs, the middle section of this six part OVA series has made its way to the shores of region 1. After enjoying the first volume, I wasn't sure if the second volume would make the grade, but boy was I surprised.
Pioneer has indeed gone above and beyond by including four audio tracks on the disc. In addition to separately mixed 2.0 tracks for those without 5.1 setups so they don't have to deal with poor audio downconversion, there are also the two 5.1 soundtracks in Dolby Digital. Right from the start of the show we're treated to an aural feast. There's lots of beautiful panning moments and spot on discrete sounds to each of the speakers. If this is just the beginning of anime in 5.1 sound, the future is very bright for those who have the decoders for it. Dialogue was clean throughout without any hint of distortion I could hear.
With the first disc, I was completely blown away by how gorgeous the show looked. While many couldn't stand the digital panning effects and the layered look, I find it fascinating and love to watch it. That's also present here, though not to the same extent it was earlier. What is present here is such a beautiful image and transfer, I was speechless after the first few minutes. This volume of Sol Bianca is the first anime I've watched all the way through on my newly placed HDTV that's been minimally calibrated. It looks just as gorgeous as many of my region 2 releases. There are a few bits of pixellation and edge enhancement here and there during some of the more jaggedly drawn pieces, but that's with an eye looking solely for that kind of problem.
The colors are so beautiful as well in their vividness. During the first episode, there's a monster that's running loose that's dark green with red piping/stripes along its body. The lack of bleeding and vibrancy of that color was gorgeous. When said monster is destroyed and its green "blood" splattered everywhere, it followed in the same way. To me, this is simply a beautiful transfer.
The packaging for this volume is nowhere near as eye-catching as the first one was with it's colors. The focus goes more towards grays and almost a sketch look to the characters. The back is done up similar to the first volume with a brief synopsis and several shots from the show and mostly the creative information. The insert provides a few more animation shots with a different background than the cover along with episode and chapter marks.
The menus... where do I begin. I have no secret agenda here at all. The folks at Nightjar have done the impossible and made a menu system that I enjoy even more than the first Sol Bianca one. This one is also based on the animation in one of the episodes with a grid pattern. While it's not as slick in the branching to other menus like the first one, this one more than makes up for it by being bilingual depending on the setting you have and it's in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The amount of music and sounds and voice clips used throughout is wonderful. You know you love a menu when you can't stop playing around with and should be watching the show itself. This company needs to be hired by every studio at least once to let them see what they can do.
Of course, a lot of this comes down to the show itself. Many people found the first two episodes to be undynamic and slow or uninteresting whereas a lot found it to be something quite rarely done with OVA's. The slower pacing is definitely there in the first two and there are bits of it in this volume as well, but things are definitely picking up.
The first episode, The Cleaner, has the crew taking a rest after escaping from the Terra Force on a planet where the police are for hire. Jani heads out to check out the city and ends up spending a lot of time checking out a truly spiffy piece of weaponry. While there, a booster takes over the Sol Bianca since the crew was practically dead from being tired. Jani sees this on the news and procures this spiffy new weapon and heads back to the ship to save the day.
When she arrives at the dock, there's dozens of policemen from different private policing services trying to get her to buy their services. She makes short work of their requests though and heads deep into the ship, though aided by one policeman who made his way in undetected.
What follows are some very humorous moments between Jani and the cop. There's also several very violent moments between the two of them and the Booster when they encounter him. The episode overall is self contained, but it's a good if brief character study of Jani.
The second episode, Lovers, kicks things up a few notches as we go into the three episode arc that will conclude with the next disc (and will conclude the OVA series as well).
The ship docks at a pirates world, where there's a laidback attitude about things. Most of the people there aren't pirates in the true sense that they think the crew of the Sol Bianca is. I have to admit I'd debate whether the crew are pirates myself, but within the universe that's constructed here, they are.
While visiting around, we get a few tidbits of what's going on. Mayo is attending her virtual school which is very interesting to see how it's done. Jani's getting worried about the way their lifestyle is going and wondering how long it can last, Feb's getting frustrated with everything and April... April has zero gravity sex.
This ends up leading to a huge fight between April and Feb, causing Feb to leave the ship. Doing what she's done best so far, she goes off to drink her worries away. As things would happen, it doesn't take long for the Terra Forces to show up and abduct her.
With this episode finally kicking off the multipart storyline, there's lots of interesting little bits scattered throughout. The group of pirates the Sol Bianca crew initially hangs out with (and eventually has more involvement as the episode progresses) has some interest characters. There's plenty of Spanish spoken (and not translated into English, simply subtitled in Spanish, much to my pleasure). There's some talk of Earth and the way of life on that world.
There's a bit more explored in the relationships between some of the characters as well, such as the first meeting of April and Feb and why Mayo is being taken care of the way she is by June. The interaction between the characters and the other pirates is interesting as well, especially when they agree to join the rescue attempt to get Feb back. The entire rescue sequence alone is wonderfully animated and while not brutally violent, doesn't pull too many punches.
Sol Bianca isn't for everyone. But for those looking for a taste of something similar to older science fiction books, this is definitely a good series and one that has a pacing that will keep you interested. Combined with the beautiful animation, character designs and the transfer, this series is fast becoming a high point of the 2000 releases from Pioneer.
Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Extended Length Preview Trailer,Animetronic Video,Character Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster gold plated component cables and Sony speakers.