Spectral Force - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: D

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Spectral Force

Spectral Force

By Chris Beveridge     May 30, 2003
Release Date: June 03, 2003

Spectral Force
© ADV Films

What They Say
In a time when demons rule the world and mankind seeks freedom, human rebels gain control of the demon-slaying sword Tenmaken and attempt to assassinate the Demon King Janus. To preserve the sovereignty of her homeland, the half-human, half-demon Princess Hiro must overcome her deep hatred of the humans or face a war that will ravage the entire world!

The Review!
The anime adaptation of the manga has finally arrived, though the manga that was supposed to accompany it continues to be nowhere to be seen.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Sporting a stereo mix, this is a pretty basic soundtrack that doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of directionality. Dialogue is mostly center channel based while the sound effects and music make use of the full stereo channels, but not with much depth or direction to it. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no issues with distortions or dropouts.

Originally released back in 1998 and 1999, Spectral Force’s transfer here has a number of problems, the majority of them looking to be source specific. There is a lot of CG in the show combined with traditional animation, a combination that provides some really bad mixing in areas. The CG sequences often have a fair amount of aliasing to them as well as chroma noise. During one sequence where a character is running towards the screen, I doubt there was one solid line on her as it was all broken up. Cross coloration is minimal but crops up in a few places. The main offense comes down to the problems of the poor CG combined with what looks to be cheap animation.

The front cover has the image of Princess Hiro set to the left while she’s being surrounded by a number of the undead, cast in their ghoulish grays and blues. It’s a decent looking cover, but a closer look reveals what you can expect from the animation style itself. The back cover has one partial piece of animation and a couple of menu shots, but is otherwise filled with the summary and disc features. The lack of animation shots here and the tell tale words of “based on the hit video game” should have warned me, but it was late at night. The discs features are nice and clearly listed, and they’re actually pushing the 5.1 mix on the English track here, a welcome change from past releases. The insert provides a variant look at the front cover while the reverse side provides the chapter stops for both episodes and lists what trailers are on here.

The menu layout is fairly simplistic, mostly because there’s little on the disc. The main menu is a static image of a map wit the shows logo through the center and the faded image of Princess Hiro behind it. The lower left has the “North” directional arrows, and ringed around that is the various selections to make. Access times are nice and fast and moving around is pretty easy with no transitional animations.

The only thing here that may be considered an extra is a trailer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So many things to warn me, so little heeded. In addition to the previously mentioned piece about this being based on a video game, usually a bad sign in and of itself, and the lack of real animation shots on the packaging, the end of the first episode provided another clue about this show. The English adaptation copyrights are for 2001. So, potentially, ADV has been sitting on this title for about two years.

It wasn’t long enough.

Odds are, my lack of enjoyment with this title stems from not knowing the video game and not having read the manga. With the two episodes here, the show moves with the feel that so much of the information they would normally provide is already brought to the table by the viewer, that they won’t bother spending much time with it at all. In fact, for the majority of the two episodes, the characters very rarely refer to each other by name, making you wonder who is who, especially in the first episode.

From what I can gather, this is a time on Earth in another time and age, in a land called Neverland. In the 997th Demon Year, many many years into the Neverland Wars, it looks like the balance of power will shift. The world of Neverland is made up of three races. Humans, Gods and the Demons that rule it, providing a balance that is required. In an effort to change things, the Gods have created a sword called the Tenmaken, that has the ability and power to kill the Demon King Janus. Once Janus is dead, humans can overrun the land, pray to the gods and prosper mightily. And the time has come for one such warrior, a young man named Chifon, to do so.

The show spends more of its time focused on young Princess Hiro however, a half human and half demon girl as well as being the second daughter of King Janus. Janus, being a nasty old demon, tarried nicely with a human at one point and produced this young woman who has had to deal with a number of hardships growing up in the lands of the demons. As we get to know her, she’s sent off by her elder sister with a group of hired human mercenaries to deal with a clean-up issue of sorts nearby.

All of this is a ruse to get her away while Chifon attacks the castle and kills Janus, thereby setting into motion an awful chain of events. With the one being that kept the world in line by fear now gone, the human clans are all arming themselves to go to work and eliminate the remaining Demon Forces so that they can live in peace (until they start killing each other again). Princess Hiro finds herself in the position of having to defend the Demons and dealing with her own hatred of humanity as time is running out for that race.

In addition to the really thin plot and characterization, we also get some of the worst looking CG sequence seen since some of the first hentai to go into the CG realm. This is the kind of work where afterwards, you really wonder what the creative team thought and whether they wanted to use a pen name for it instead of their real name. The blending of the CG and animation is horrible. In trying to describe it, I’m almost at a loss for words.

I had little expectations going into this show but almost nothing in the way of preconceptions either. After it, I can’t wait to watch a lot of other shows to wash away the memory. The mixture of all the elements that just did not work here resulted in something that just feels like a really bad train wreck.

Japanese Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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