Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle / Lover's Rain -

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: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sonic Soldier Borgman

Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle / Lover's Rain

By Chris Beveridge     July 20, 2004
Release Date: July 27, 2004

Sonic Soldier Borgman: Last Battle / Lover's Rain
© ADV Films

What They Say
As the surviving members of the Borgman team try to adjust to a normal life, a new wave of cyber-crime stalks the city. Now the last three bio-enhanced humans on Earth find themselves pitted against the most monstrous foes they have ever faced.

The Review!
After a solid 35 episode TV run in 1988, the two following years saw two OVAs produced for this series which claim to fame seems to be character and mecha designs by the unique Koichi Ohata.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for it is very center channel based but manage to avoid hitting anything really high pitched and scratchy. The music makes out the most with the stereo channels in giving it a full feel but there's still pratically no real directionality to the mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback with either track in regards to distortions or dropouts.

Originally released to video in 1989 and 1990, the two OVAs here look rather good considering their age. While they're not the highlights of what OVAs were back in those days, they're definitely ahead of their broadcast contemporaries and that quality in detail does show through in a lot of the scenes. Some of the backgrounds look somewhat soft and showcase some blockiness in the large sections of color, such as a dark red or pale blue background. Aliasing is pretty minimal overall though and there wasn't any noticeable cross coloration that we could see. Colors in general look good and most of the mid range shots maintained a good feel without losing much detail.

The front cover does a simple collage of pieces with a central focus on the obvious lead character of the trio while the backdrop for him has the various suits and mecha involved in the show. It's a fairly dark and murky cover outside of the character artwork which gets done up in a surrounding hue. It's not a bad cover per se but just one that's fairly bland and mediocre. The back cover makes up for things a bit with a lot more character artwork as there are several shots from the show surrounding a very small summary of the shows premise. Considering they skipped the TV series they really don't help much with the premise here. The usual array of production information is here, for both OVAs and for the US production of it as well as the very handy technical grid. The insert has a shot of a scene from the first OVA while the reverse side is an advertisement for the two soundtracks ADV has licensed.

The menu layout is a simple affair here with a static set of character images in action poses against an indistinct background. The shows good looking US logo lines above it and the selections are down along the left, all of it set to a brief piece of music from the show. It's a decent looking menu with no frills to it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very easy to navigate unless you get into the scene selection area where it all sort of moves in ways that don't make much sense at times. Much like just about every other ADV disc we have, this one played according to our players preset language selections.

Only one extra is included but it's the kind that old time fans will definitely want. Running about twenty minutes in length, we get the Borgman in Concert piece which has four of the voice actors doing a performance in a small club setting that was done to promote one of the OVAs probably. It's fairly typical of these pieces, especially from the 80's, where you can feel the campy feel to it but you can still get into it fairly well, especially if you lived through things like this the first time around. Only a few of the songs get their full treatment as a lot of them are done in partial before shifting to something else. It's a fun little piece and one that was enjoyable to close out the viewing of the disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back in 1989 and 1990, two OVAs were released to follow-up the 1988 TV series Sonic Soldier Borgman. Last Battle and Lover's Rain each went to present two different aspects of the original series but ultimately serve as epilogues of sorts to it and help bring things to resolution for some of the presumably long standing arcs within that particular show. While it's fairly easy to catch up with things as it moves along and understand the basics, the real emotion and character growth parts of the show are visible but not really connected due to not having seen where it all came from.

Some time in the near future, there was a project that worked to created cyborgs for some purpose that wasn't covered. Only three were successful before the project stopped; Ryo, Chuck and Anice. Working with those who had developed the project, they went on to fight various foes that dealt with some kind of psycho power called Yoma. And presumably other kinds of enemies as well. When all is said and done though, it's been three years since their adventures together which seemed to have ended with the deaths of those involved in the project, leaving just the trio of cyborgs out there. They've all gone off to live their lives. Chuck works as a police officer and is in love with a young woman named Miki, also a police office, but who is the granddaughter of a powerful wealthy family. Ryo and Anice live together outside of a NASA base somewhere where he works on rockets and she's ended up as a waitress since her skill set is useless in that area.

While Ryo and Anice go through some relationship troubles, enough so that she's finally left him and taken up a job back in Tokyo for a company that's built Heaven's Gate, a massive energy base/satellite project, someone out in the world has started working on cyborg technology again. The woman who created the trio, Memory Gene, was at least a decade ahead of modern technology when she created her Borgmen, so the arrival of new cyborgs in the city that are causing trouble is a mystery since all project participants are dead. Chuck and Miki begin their own investigations and send a request to a friend of Ryo's to come to Tokyo to help out, as it turns out not all the participants are dead. Since Ryo can try to use the time there to work things out with Anice, he's all for going.

Things all tie together easily as they discover very quickly who is behind the creation of this new set of cyborgs and the show shifts into straightforward action mode as some characters are kidnapped, others are manipulated and the bad guys set loose their army of cyborgs on the good guys when his base gets invaded. While it's all by the numbers, there's some decent style to it and the characters seem interesting enough. Since the trio have special armor they wear when fighting, we get to see some near-sentai like moments as they take on the bad guys. And since Anice is one of them, she doesn't play the typical female captive character too much or for too long, but rather we see her doing some of the more dangerous work initially in the investigation. This is the kind of show that had a lot of appeal back when it first came out with fairly strong leading women, good robot action and some solid production values. But now, without the stronger ties that the TV series would bring to it, it comes across as a pretty average show.

The first OVA runs just over an hour in length, which does give it enough time to tell its tale without feeling too rushed. The second episode runs just over thirty minutes and is a more personal tale that focuses on Ryo and Anice. Amusingly, while others day show up in the show such as Chuck and Miki, only Chuck does any talking. Miki's character is there but for whatever reason her voice actress isn't, so she's just quiet and giving knowing smiles and nods throughout it, which I just found amusing. The tale for this episode focuses on the guilt that Ryo's been feeling over the death of Memory as well as focusing on the repercussions of his guilt on the cyborg side of his body. Where this fits into the continuity isn't clear since parts of it feels like it comes before the first OVA while other areas feels like it comes after. The tale is a bit awkward in how its told since it's dealing with characters we've not met or had interaction with so there's some displacement to it. Much like the first OVA, it's easy enough to catch onto the basics and work from there though.

In Summary:
The world of the Borgman is an interesting one based on what little bits of its history and design we do get to see. The characters and the concepts are all fairly standard fare with some nice flair to it but we're coming in on the epilogues to the show instead of the beginning or even the middle. It's easy to catch up on the basics in taking in the two OVAs here but there's just something missing from making it what it means to those who've seen the whole thing. The two OVAs here do a good job of telling their tales as well as they can and they are enjoyable and fun to watch but they just lack that little bit extra both in history and in style to really set it apart.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Borgman in Concert

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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