Soul Taker Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Soul Taker

Soul Taker Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 28, 2002
Release Date: April 23, 2002


Soul Taker Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Kyousuke pursues the mysterious Runa by following a psychic resonance, but he only discovers more danger. Death stalks the same path as the truth leading Kyousuke into Kirihara traps and conflicts with the Hospital Mutants! The secret to Kyousuke’s powers and the truth about his past may lie with Runa. But who is the real Runa?

Fleeing from her pursuers, she hides by splitting herself into other Flickers. Each one helps Kyousuke uncovers a sliver of the truth more unbelievable and suspicious than the last!

The Review!


Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a very slick sounding stereo presentation. There's a fair amount of directionality throughout the episodes and the music comes across fantastic. The music is the primary place where things are sent to the rear speakers as well. There's no dropouts or other audio issues at all, essentially a solid pro-logic audio mix that fits the material nicely. If anything, the track sounded a slight bit lower than most other shows.

Video:
This is just an absolute treat. There's so much style and flair to the animation that this anamorphic transfer really brings it to life. The vibrancy of the colors is practically reference material. The numerous blacks and darker colors are very solid, and the swaths of straight colors shows no color banding or breakup at all. This is just gorgeous. We noted no cross coloration at all and even aliasing seemed to be non-existent.

Packaging:
Similar to the wraparound box on the Ah! My Goddess movie, the Soul Taker cover is a holographic style piece that shimmers in various areas depending on how you hold it. This is definitely very eye-catching, especially with the dark cover artwork used here showcasing Kyosuke in his tattered clothes with the energy sword on against a vague image of Shiro in the background. The back cover uses it as well with the various pieces of text, giving it a really interesting feel. The back presents a decent summary of the show, a good listing of its features and a listing of the episodes and their respective numbers. The insert provides a shot of Shiro along with the chapter listings.

Menu:
The evocative style of Soul Taker shines through with the main screen here with the Shiro tipping his hat and the darker image of Kyosuke and his alter ego burning bright next to it. Moving between menus is nice and fast and the layout works just right. Selections are easy to see what it's set at and access times are nice and fast. Great looking stuff, especially a neat layout in the scene selection section.

Extras:
A good selection of extras makes it into this release. The opening and ending sequences get textless versions provided, which is a treat to see since there’s so much detail to them that you miss during each episodes showing. There’s a section of special openings that showcase some of the commercials and the WOWOW broadcast version of the first episodes opening (which wasn’t on the first disc, nor the Japanese disc). There’s the usual production art gallery as well. The neat gallery is the one for the McFarlane action figure of Soul Taker. What’s particularly neat to me is how the images kept overlapping each other as you moved through it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second batch of episodes for Soul Taker jumps right into the storyline without looking back on the previous episodes with any kind of recap. This works good if you remember things well, but may be a bit confusing otherwise. Once things get rolling though, I found it all flooded back nicely.

The opening episode puts us on the road again with Kyosuke as he searches out the various Flicker’s and tries to save them from the Hospital and Kirihara group. This one leads him to a remote feeling all girls school where fifteen girls have disappeared recently. We’re shown all of these girls in some twisted poses in black and white as one of the Hospital mutants, Narugami, sings his awful songs. We end up following Kumogi as she watches over Sayaka, the apparent Flicker of Runa for this adventure.

The addition of Kumogi, the pink haired nurse girl from the earlier episodes and from the Hospital, is an interesting move but not altogether unexpected. She’s decided she’s hard in love with Kyosuke and convinces him she’s given up her ways with the Hospital and will help him out in his quest. Shiro doesn’t believe a word she says and wants to send her on her way, but something in Kyosuke makes him believe. It works out well since she’s easily able to slip into the girls school and track down and protect Sayaka.

Things progress as expected with Narugami making his move only to have Kyosuke contradict it. What makes it exciting to me is just how well it’s executed and almost how haphazard it seems at times. It’s a visual treat much like the earlier episodes, especially with Kyosuke being confronted with dozens of crosses and girls on all of them.

With this being a short series, there’s thankfully little room for a lot of filler, so the storyline makes a strong move with the middle episode as we get introduced to the Director of the Hospital. Though an outwardly nice looking gentleman, his hidden self comes out strongly during confrontations with Kyosuke here. The battle between the two is pretty fierce and one of the more straightforward visually presented ones as well. Watching Soul Taker be tossed through buildings upon buildings is a thrill of some sort. But the Director comes with a lot of information as well, as he blames Kyosuke and his sister for everything that’s going on, and presents his side of the story that Kyosuke didn’t know. Whether there’s much truth to it though is the rub.

This all gets balanced out by bringing in some revelations about Shiro as he and Kogumi do their own operation inside of the Kirihara building. Shiro let Kogumi in on a secret Searcher that the Kirihara had made over the years that can seek out the Flickers, so the two are heading up that operation while Kyosuke rescues another Flicker. The resulting new information about Shiro is welcome, since as a man of mystery in a short series we have to know more about him fairly quickly, and it helps to start define his character more than a one-note semi-mentor for Kyosuke.

While the second volume of the series feels less than the first, it’s just not as hyper as the first volume and moves into more traditional storytelling, albeit in some obscure styles at times. I’m enjoying it just as much as before and can’t wait to see more.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,McFarlane Toys Design Gallery,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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