Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- 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 Roman Martel
February 18, 2002
Release Date: February 13, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.2
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 2.5
Well it's taken quite a bit for this series to finally come to its conclusion. I remember when I first got a glimpse of this on the Wanted 2000 disc. It's been almost a year and now I can rest comfortably knowing that Sol Bianca is finished. And yet deep down I wanted more from this series. But alas (puts hand to head in an overly dramatic way), it was not to be.
The previous dics have all been flawless in the technical department. And this disc keeps up that fine tradition. Sol Bianca has great sound and sharper than sharp picture. How I long for the full 5.1 speakers at my parents' house! The menu is the same one that we had on the first disc. It's fun and it looks just like the main computer of the Sol Bianca. I'll say "Great job!" to the crew that did the menus. These menus have quick response time, fun graphics and sound. These menus have almost been the highlight of the series (that's kinda sad really). The keepcase is eye-catching and it has all the information you need, ratings, channels of sound, extras, number of episodes, length of time and region codes. And what goodies come on this disc? Well you got another animetronic music video, and you get a character gallery for Mayo and the Sol Bianca. You also get the covers for the Japanese release of the series.
Alright, I'll give my typical warning here. I'll review the final disc (spoiler free) first and then do a series review, which will probably contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The two episodes on this disc continue to have the same look and feel of the other episodes. Since this is all computer-generated animation, it has that incredibly clean look to it. You also have lots of motion by the camera in scenes and it allows you to get some great shots, especially during the end battle of the last episode. On the minus side you've also got some really bad looking pans and some moves (mostly by ships flying by) that just look bad. These pop right off the screen in such a way that you just shake your head and mutter something about computer animation. It's a mixed bag here. In the design area I did like the look of some of the new ships and the city of Lotus, but some of the new characters have a bit of a generic bland look to them, and it takes some getting used to. The sound works great and at times surpasses the visuals. The Sol Bianca and its super weapon have some great sound design to them. I also enjoyed the sound used in the sequence where the Sol Bianca is pulled into the earth-shield. It's a top-notch sound job here, about as good as the stuff from Cowboy Bebop.
The story is pretty cut and dried. The girls go after Feb and try to find Mayo's parents. Of course Gyunther and Rammy are preparing for the Sol Bianca to arrive and have a trap set up. But is Gyunther really in control of the whole thing, or does another sinister power lurk behind the scenes? Well I found it rather easy to predict the outcome of most of the battles and all the "surprises" were pretty weak. These episodes lacked the fun or the intensity that they should have had and most of it is due to the weak writing and the fact that none of the characters are more than flimsy computer generated images. You don't really feel any danger or any thrills or anything really. Most of the time your are enjoying the animation style or the design and not really paying attention to the plot. So needless to say I was very conscious of time passing in the "exciting conclusion" and when it was all over you just smirk and wonder what you should watch next.
The acting has been all over the place. At times it's decent, at other times it's pretty weak. I'd have to say watch this one in Japanese. The acting seems to be better even if the script is pretty much the same. I think the cast was kinda bored with the plot and flat characters, I know I would have been. While it's not a horrible dub, it has moments where you are pulled out of the action, and find yourself wondering what made the actor say the line like that. Stick with the Japanese cast.
I have to say the opening theme really works well with this series. It fits with the opening credits and it works in key sequences in these two episodes. The end theme is pretty good too. It's totally different from what you expect in this kind of show. The rest of the score is pretty average. It never really jumped out at me for good or bad reasons. It supported most of the action but it wasn't interesting enough for me to look into getting the soundtrack... but I wouldn't mind getting a copy of the opening theme.
Was it an entertaining conclusion? Yeah, kinda. It was mostly just happening and it passed some time. It has fit in with the rest of the series, but it is pretty much what you expected would happen and doesn't really try to do anything different or unique. If you liked the rest of the series, then feel free to get this puppy. It wasn't weak enough for me to stop buying, but it could have been much better.
*** Series Review***
As a series, this should have been better than it turned out. It seemed to have all the elements of a fun space adventure. It's got cool ships and three female pirates wrecking havoc around the galaxy. The design and animation was impressive. But once again it comes down to the basic story and how to pull it off.
On the positive side of things this series has a great look to it. It's nice and shiny and it sounds great too. It' impressive while you have it on, and the full 5.1 audio tracks on it blow you away. Most non-anime fans looking for some fluff will have a blast. In many ways it reminds me of a Hollywood film, where the budget allows you do some spectacular special effects. So in that way it's entertaining.
But picky ol' me, I want a bit more out of anime. I just expect more I guess. This series had six episodes to create an interesting situation and make the characters come to life, so by the time you get to the big finale, you should be on the edge of your seat. Instead you are wondering if you'll be done in time to watch a rerun of Iron Chef. I think we just had a weak script and weak story line. What could have helped this series a great deal would have been some snappy, crisp dialogue. At least then, it would have had some great lines to keep you laughing or smiling. But at times the characters get too serious, and things begin to drag. The addition of Sancho (the wisecracking hologram) should have been fun, but came off as cheesy and cliche. It would have worked better if one of the girls had been the smart-ass. Jani could have done it and it would have complimented her tough girl stereotype. But the lack of a light element also decreased the fun aspect of the show.
Now I do understand that the characters were all established already in the original Sol Bianca series, but this was to be a prologue of sorts. Time could have been spent creating the characters and fleshing them out. Instead it seems that most of what we got was lots of great animation and ways to show off how cool the ship designs were.
As far as the plot revolving around the search for Earth goes, it was uneventful and predictable. The big huge surprise that Earth was now a dead world and worthless to anyone, didn't come as much of a surprise. The motives behind Gyunther, Rammy, and the Admiral were all flimsy and not well fleshed out. The Admiral was just the bigger villain that the other villains even turn against. More time needed to be spent creating a better motive to these characters; it might have heightened the action a bit more.
As for the girls and the way they interact, again it was pretty bland and stereotypical. Feb seemed to be actually going somewhere in the second disc but she kinda fizzles in this final set of episodes. Jani is pretty much the big, simple-minded girl who will just hit something until it breaks. April was kinda interesting but she was the hot-head that loses confidence and then comes back at the end. June, was typical android/robot/synthetic girl character (snooze). Mayo was pretty bland as the little shy kid who comes through at the end. But even stereotypical characters can be fun if the situations let them slowly expand out of those stereotypes (like Outlaw Star). This never really happened, or when it tried to happen it was handled poorly.
I must say that I found it more entertaining than Angel Links (at least at this point in Angle Links). But I think if you want to enjoy a good space adventure, watch Outlaw Star or Cowboy Bebop. If you want more of a mecha show, Gundam Wing will work. And if you just want to see girls kicking ass, then Bubblegum Crisis (the original or 2040) is also better. This series would make a good rental, especially if you've seen everything, but as a purchase it's a bit disappointing.
Roman J. Martel
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