Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A+
- 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. #3
By Chris Beveridge
February 13, 2001
Release Date: February 13, 2001
Sol Bianca: The Legacy Vol. #3
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Captain's Log: We may fight, but families are important, and Feb's departure has fractured the family of our crew. Fortunately, Jun has a lead on Feb and on Mayo's family, so if we're lucky, we should be able to celebrate two family reunions. It will probably be a big fight to get Feb back from the Earthian's headquarters, and she may not even appreciate a rescue. Still, family's worth fighting for, and if we didn't like a little rough, we wouldn't be pirates! --April.The Review!
For those buying the series as it came out, there was a near six month delay between volumes two and three. My first recommendation, before even reading this review, is to go watch the first two volumes again. You will enjoy this much more if you do so, especially if you watch as many and varied shows as I have inbetween these two volumes.
If you're picking these up after the whole series has been released, you've saved yourself from quite a wait and get to enjoy a finely crafted show without the frustration a lot of us went through!Audio:
For our primary review, we listened to the Japanese DD 5.1 mix. After the previous two volumes of solid 5.1 mixes, I was certainly not disappointed with this mix. The number of fully immersive sequences isn't high, but where it's using all the channels things sound great with a very well balanced separation. The front soundstage is where a lot of this is really making out good with excellent directionality, far more than I'm used to in a normal TV series or other stereo soundtracks. The music also makes out exceptionally well with the 5.1 mix. The score lends itself well to a more full enveloping sound. This is definitely a winning soundtrack to our ears.Video:
More wonderful stuff here. I almost feel bad for raving so much about the great quality of this disc, but I can't help it. The source materials are obviously top of the line, matched with great authoring and simple gorgeous animation, the result here is very much like theatrical quality anime. The style used as well as the coloring brings about a more film like feel at times throughout the episodes, and this disc is no different. No rainbows to be found, absolutely no line noise (woo!) and no visible artifacting or other compression effects. As we watched these two episodes, we simply lost ourselves into the program and loved it. It doesn't get much better than this.Packaging:
After the first gorgeous cover, I was fairly disappointed in the second volume. The third volume however redeems itself with some gorgeous artwork, which I believe contains parts that was used for the original Japanese cover that contained this image of April. The dark purples and blacks mingling together works well and provides a striking looking color with the flesh tones of April and her hair. The back is in the same style as previous volumes with a few animation clips at the bottom and a brief "captain's log" of what the episodes are about.Menus:
Going with what works, the menu system is identical to the first volume with the use of the Sol Bianca's computer screens mixed in with the selections. Access times are fast and great to look at. Even with all the releases that have come out since this series started, this menu ranks as one of my absolute favorites. It looks great, it sounds great and it works great. Extras:
The Animetronic video looks fairly similar to the one found on the first disc (is it the same?), but that's not the real attraction to me here. In addition to ten pieces of conceptual artwork about Mayo and the Sol Bianca, we're treated to six pieces in an image gallery containing the original Japanese DVD covers. I believe this is the second or third release I've seen that's contained these kinds of images, and it's probably one of the few galleries that I really look forward to seeing. Fans love seeing original cover artwork!Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the fast paced and all over the map action of the previous episode, things start off here on a fairly mellow note with Mayo learning something about her family being on Earth and Jun telling her that she'll do her best to get her back to her family.
This is actually indicative of the underlying plot of the two final episodes of this series, family and ones place in it. The crew have fragmented since Feb's desertion to the Earth military forces in the last disc, with April being positively devastated and almost out of touch with her crew. When the ship arrives at Earth however, April begins to come alive again as they struggle with a site that's positively hard on the senses.
After hearing for all their lives of the beauty of Earth and just how it would look from the stars, they're surprised and awed to find that a shell has been built around the planet. Anyone with a bit of SF background will enjoy this variant of the Dyson sphere and those who've read some of David Brin's short stories will note the similarities between the shell of Sol Bianca and the eggshell of his work.
Throughout the two OVA's here, there's a ton of revelations about the Earth armada, the shell around the Earth and the city named Lotus at one of the entry ways to it. The Sol Bianca itself has some of its history revealed, though in a more oblique way than some may care for it to be. There's a good number of large scale and personal battles that get fought, making ample use of the mixed CG and anime style to great effect.
The character driven side of things also work well, with more of Feb's personality and problems coming to the forefront and Mayo gets fleshed out a bit more. The main problem with the character driven side of the story is while they're all expanded, they're not in any way fully explained out as things are left in hopes of a sequel. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion, as it doesn't wrap everything up in a neat bow at the end.
Much can be said of the overall story. Things do come to a climactic sequence and then there are moments of revelation and surprise. But there is also a fair amount of setup for things to follow, with the Stone of the Sun that April acquires and the general changes to the crew of the Sol Bianca.
The animation for this show continues to excel over previous episodes. Much of the animation here felt very much like a lot of the theatrical level anime that I've seen from recent years. The character designs combined with the layered coloring style look great here. Some of the softer areas, such as Mayo's room in the beginning, just render so beautifully here that at times I'm surprised that it's anime. Some folks will balk at the slightly heavier use of CG in the final two episodes, mostly used during the large scale fleet battles, but I found it to be a lot better than most of the other kinds of CG that are seen on most TV series these days.
Sol Bianca: The Legacy definitely isn't for everyone. The style isn't typical, the storytelling is slow and steady and the CG will turn a sizeable segment of fandom off. Those like myself will find a real attraction to the pacing of the show and its feel of older science fiction novels in its approach. I really hope that more is in the works, even if it's a lower animation style TV series. The show feels a lot like Science Mythology as opposed to Science Fiction, something that could really stand out in today's marketplace.
While I'm not sure that this will make it into our essential collection, I highly recommend it.
Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Animetronic Clip,Character Designs,Japanese DVD Cover Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.