Solty Rei Vol. #1 (also w/box) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Solty Rei

Solty Rei Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     January 16, 2007
Release Date: January 23, 2007

Solty Rei Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Roy Revant is living the hard life of a bounty hunter in a broken city - a city where thousands have died in a mysterious event called the Blast Fall. Those who survived share the sting of loss. Countless Resembles walk the streets, people whose mangled bodies have been rebuilt with high-tech prosthetic devices. Yet there are those that even science cannot mend.

Roy needs a miracle to escape his rut... and one night she falls from the sky. Like countless others, Solty is a Resemble, but one unlike the world has ever known. A young girl without a past, soon she will have a family. But in this world, pain and alienation are never too far away...

Contains episodes 1-6:
The City where the Aurora Falls
A New Dawn
The Girl in Blue
Waterside Panic
Beloved Daughter

The Review!
When a girl falls into Roy's life while out on the bounty hunter job, things start to get far more interesting for him.

With three audio tracks, FUNimation has their bases pretty covered here. Providing both a 5.1 and 2.0 English mix as well as the original 2.0 Japanese mix, Solty Rei covers the bases well with both the action and dialogue. We listened to the show primarily in Japanese and it was solid but without much real flair to it. Dialogue was well placed and the action sequences have enough sense of directionality about them but it's a fairly typical mix for a show of this nature. We did listen to the English 2.0 mix as well and had essentially the same kind of sense about it. On both language tracks we didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This release is one that had me dreading it because it takes a new show and puts six episodes onto a dual layered disc. The end result is one that manages to hold its own, barely, throughout many of the scenes. But it also provides a number of really bad looking areas that just don't work well. In general, the show has a decent enough look with a clean color palette that doesn't stand out heavily or look to vibrant but also avoids looking murky. There is detail visible in some of the darker areas and the show is free of cross coloration which is a plus. Where the problems lay, and they're visible in just about all the episodes, is that a lot of the colors don't maintain a solid look. Solty's hair, particularly during close range shots, showcase a fair amount of blocking. Mid range shots are a mixed bag as background characters, which are often stationary, tend to look really fuzzy and have a fair bit of noise to them. This is also true of the CG vehicles that whisk about as they lack a really solid feel to them. There's also a scene in the sixth episode, where we're looking into an oncoming vehicle with the leads driving and if you watch the wiper blades it looks like they're practically ghosting with a fuzzy speckled look. There are areas within the opening credits which look bad as there is some visible rolling in the animation and the close-ups showcase some very obvious jaggies. A lot of this probably would have been minimized if it wasn't six episodes.

Solty Rei is the latest title to hit with a slipcover though at least things are changed-up a bit here. The slipcover features the artwork that's been making folks giggle or roll their eyes as it has the two leads facing each other sort of with a bland gray background to it. Where the humor arises is in that she's so short and his jacket opens so wide that it has a really, er, bad feel to it. The slipcover is even worse in that the gloss that's used for the character artwork has left his jacket where her shadow lays to be way too dark so you can't get the detail right, making it even more awkward. The back cover has a full length shot of Solty with the same kind of background as the front cover and she's essentially by herself along the top half. The bottom half provides the summary in small text and a slew of very small shots from the show. The extras and episode titles along with numbers are listed as well. The bottom is given over to the usual very small technical grid and production information. There is simply a lot of empty space here and a lot of stuff kept to a small area.

The keepcase is where something a bit decent was done, though maybe it's just a packaging error. Most times when you take off the slipcase you get the same thing on the cover, which is a bit anticlimactic. This time the reverse side cover is facing out and the slipcover design is on the reverse side, so you get new artwork when you take the slipcover off. It's a small thing, but it made me take another closer look at it when I first got it all out.

The menu design uses the artwork from the front cover, though with a brighter background, and thankfully it doesn't look as unintentionally bad as the slipcover does. The logo is shifted to the lower left and the navigation strip is done in the same style as the episode titles, all of which is set to an upbeat piece of instrumental music. Access times are solid and navigation quick and easy but my usual complaints are here once again. I continue to dislike not having an angle option within the setup area. I mean the "audio" area even though we do subtitle setup in there as well. We didn't even bother checking our player presets due to the continued non-labeling of subtitle tracks.

The extras are pretty minimal with this release and that's probably a good thing since the video side is already suffering. The opening and closing sequences are presented in their textless song format and we get an installment of English language casting material. Unfortunately this is just like previous ones on other titles where you cannot scan forward nor are there chapter marks. The only way to get out of it once in there is to hit the top menu button or stop the disc. The lack of being able to quickly showcase a particular performance continues to make this a very difficult to use feature.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Solty Rei is the latest Gonzo series to show up in FUNimation's stable of releases but unlike some of the other shows this one has a much more bland feeling to it. Running at twenty-four episodes, the show sports some good looking character designs by Shuzilow.HA and solid enough direction from Yoshimasa Hiraike but the entire concept just has nothing in it that feels fresh or with a strong enough hook.

The premise of the series revolves around a fairly futuristic city that's split in two, one where there are people who are considered true citizens called competents and then those who are considered incompetents. The difference between the two is that one is a fully registered citizen that is able to utilize all the resources of the city they live and work in and are guaranteed certain basics. If you don't have a registration card or aren't in the system, you're basically trash outside the wall in the crumbling remains of the city. The area is still in recovery from an event twelve years earlier called the Blast Fall where the unexplained Aurora-Wave had a massive lightning strike that caused massive damage.

One thing that has helped people recover from this event is a technology called "resemble." Essentially a way to create cyborg parts, people are able to take their broken bodies from the Blast Fall and become fully functioning citizens again. There are limits though and only a certain percentage of a person's body can go through this. There also seem to be some limits on how people can change themselves, in that we don't have any truly outlandish looking people and most of what is unusual comes from methods of interacting with machinery. Naturally, it's also quite expensive so there's an element of crime and corruption that's grown into the process. One of the holy grails of those that work on these resemble processes is creating a 100% full on resemblized person.

So it's little surprise that the series revolves around a young girl who arrives in the midst of things that's 100% resemblized. Falling into the life of a bounty hunter named Roy Revant who works for the Maverick Hunters Office, she ends up saving his life during the confusion of a capture so he takes her in briefly to make sure she's all right. Next thing he knows, he's got something like a puppy following him around. Solty ends up in yet another situation that helps Roy out and through the usual kinds of misunderstandings and minced words they come to an agreement where they'll sort of tolerate each other and work together. Roy works well as a grouchy older type who lost his daughter in the Blast Fall event and is continuing to look for her. He's not quite so disgruntled as you find in this kind of show but he has a bit of that rough edge that Solty is able to soften.

At the same time, Solty's introduction to the group dynamic brings Roy into more interaction with others. The company he works for is run by the woman his best friend was married to and she lost her husband in the Blast Fall as well, which has led to them being at the least respectful of each other and the different way they work. When Solty enters the mix, she befriends Maverick's daughter Kasha as well as her mother. Solty's complete lack of understanding of certain social basics, like clothes, lets her play mother again but also gives Kasha something of a friend. From there the show starts drawing in other members, bounty hunters from other groups and your occasional thief.

Where the show ends up not necessarily falling apart but coming across as weak is that the opening six episodes really don't have much going for them. The show is basically a series of standalone stories once we get past Solty getting into the routine. Each episode kicks off with a little tidbit about how the world is in this setting but half the time it feels like they put in a caveat of how that isn't really related to anything the show is going to be about. The main sense of continuity along the way is watching Solty realize just how powerful she is as a fully realized resemblized person and helping out Roy and the others. What she never realizes though is just how awful her outfit looks. Thankfully everyone else does but they're too polite to say anything.

The look and design of the show is one that has some nice moments to it but has some of the more generic feel to it. I admit to liking the way the CG'd cars look when they're zipping along but those scenes are short. When they're on screen longer they don't have quite the appeal. There isn't any real visual hook into the show to set it apart from any number of other ones that run with the same concept either. The Aurora-Wave part only shows at night and even then it's just a brief glance at it in the sky before they pan the camera elsewhere for the story. The character designs are pretty good though as I rather like Shuzilow.HA's material and they at least have a group of characters that's out of the school age realm other than Solty and Kasha. The older characters definitely help but that only goes so far.

In Summary:
Any series that has a poolside episode in the first five is one that has me incredibly wary. Episodes like that are generally just filler material, though at least they do have a good bit of fun with it here as the various characters all have very different agendas and try to use Solty in a manner of ways. But that kind of feeling is how each of the episodes felt in that they were just sort of going by the book. After the first six episodes, I'm still not quite sure what the point of all of it is or where they intend to go. There's definitely plenty of episodes ahead to work with, but I'm just wary that it's going to be more of the same.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Cast Auditions,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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