Solty Rei Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Solty Rei

Solty Rei Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     June 07, 2007
Release Date: May 29, 2007

Solty Rei Vol. #4
© 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. In the desert sands beyond its borders, Solty will befriend the hardest lesson she has yet to learn.

Unfortunately for the RUC, things aren't so clear cut. As the pieces come together, the sum proves more confusing than the parts... For when the dead arise and end up in charge, something rotten's afoot. Paths cross in the sun-baked sand and unlikely allies begin to converge. But when there's hot blood on most hands and cold betrayal behind every word, both heroes and villains will fall.

Contains episodes 15-18:
Safe Haven
Half Kidding
Welcome Home

The Review!
Just like in the comic books, dead doesn't really mean dead no matter what you do to a body.

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. 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 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.

Continuing the trend of slipcover releases, this installment provides another one with a glossy look to it. The four women of the RUC get a cover to themselves and they carry it off quite well with lots of dark black uniforms that are highlighted by their lovely legs as well as the soft white background. The back cover has a full length shot of Solty and Roy with the same kind of background as the front cover. 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 slipcover, though with a brighter background. 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 opening and closing sequences are presented in their textless song format which are the only extras available here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Almost as soon as the series manages to do something different from the norm it falls right back into place pretty quickly. Though there was plenty of downtime in the previous volume as everyone reacted to the events, it at the least felt real as everyone was dealing with it in different ways. The emotions for some of them, particularly Roy, actually worked well as the events weren't easy to deal with and he simply lashed out and ended up being less than alive himself.

Roy continues in his funk for a large portion of the four episodes on this disc and now it's just sad to watch him. Thankfully they don't actually bother to show him all that much up until he starts getting going again and even then he's fairly minimal for the remainder of the volume. Where the focus is kept this time around is in two distinct areas. For Solty, she's been spending her time out of the city and has ended up in a place where an older man and a younger man are living together. The young man, Will, is a happy go lucky type who is all about the moment as he continues to build his own airplane out of junk parts. Joseph on the other hand has become nothing more than a spectator in life after past incidents. Both men have managed to live well enough together but things change as Solty arrives. Even as downcast as she is she's still able to change other people in a positive way.

While the premise of the multi-episode storyline is obvious in that it's trying to revitalize Solty in a way that gets her interested in life again it doesn't really stand out all that much. Will is a decent enough shallow character with a one note trick to his name. His laid back attitude is good for Solty in that he's not demanding and is pleasant enough with her both in general dialogue but also with a few jokes. But once he starts coughing up blood you can see how the whole subplot is going to go if you couldn't already. What was very amusing about it was the entire deal with the plane as Solty decides to just build it from scratch without a second thought. The concept of the subplot works well enough but like a lot of things in Solty Rei it really lacks in the actual execution.

The other main subplot isn't a surprise either though I am surprised it happened so quickly all things considered. The focus on the RUC and the mysterious things that Ashley has planned helps to flesh out a bit of the Blast Fall and some other events that have been going on. Tying into what we learned from Joseph we're now clearer on just how dangerous he really is. The tests he's been running with Accela have been useful but he has a new candidate that's far exceeding what she's done. Having Rose step in from the land of the dead wasn't a surprise but it did induce some eye rolling. She seemingly isn't exactly the same person as she was before and is now firmly controlled by Ashley as he's placing her in charge of the unit that Silvia and the others work through.

Rose's return is something that was easily expected since dead doesn't mean dead in most series. The change in personality isn't unexpected either but it doesn't really do anything new here as you can see how it's going to progress through the end of the series. The middle of the series had some real potential with how it could play out after they killed Rose and made an actual big deal out of it but this just minimizes right from the start. The show started to act a bit more seriously from that point and it carries through into the RUC storyline in this volume but the quick return of Rose as Ashley's new prodigy simply rings hollow. Not surprisingly, this is how I've felt about much of the series outside of most of the third volume.

In Summary:
Solty Rei's chance to do something different has passed them by as it has gone down more traditional routes instead. Solty's story in these episodes is bland and far too predictable, so much so that you could watch the next episode previews and previous episode recaps and be completely caught up on it. The RUC storyline has more potential as the things that Ashley is up to starts to unfold a bit more but the introduction of a new member into the group unbalances things. Solty Rei doesn't fall into the realm of being a bad series but rather that of a mediocre one. There are some nice hooks to it at times and the details help to give it some personality but I never feel like I want to linger with it more than I have to.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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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