Speed Grapher Vol. #6 (Viridian Collection) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Speedgrapher

Speed Grapher Vol. #6 (Viridian Collection)

By Chris Beveridge     March 26, 2008
Release Date: April 15, 2008

Speed Grapher Vol. #6 (Viridian Collection)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
The final supper has begun, and the glutton comes in many forms. The city watches in fascinated horror as the wicked takes on the corrupt and the ruling class is brought down to its knees. Saiga crawls out of darkness into the destruction, and international eyes turn to the crises, driving the stakes ominously high.

Hope fails as Suitengu drags Kagura off for his final stand, the populace in panic and the government strangely silent. With the full story revealed at last, Saiga prepares to come face to face with his adversary on a far different field of battle. The history books will have a new chapter, marking the day that a photographer crossed fates with a dark angel, reshaping Tokyo's skyline in a quest to save a young girl trapped by greed.

The Review!
Coming to a fast paced and violent conclusion, Speed Grapher closes things as well as it can while providing for a fair it of sex and action.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a solid stereo mix to it with a fair amount of directionality across the forward soundstage throughout the episodes. A good bit of it comes from how the shutter sound is worked and angled during the various uses of it. Dialogue itself is also well placed with some good noticeable movements and locations provided during the course of the show. The English track also sports a 5.1 mix which added a bit more clarity and definition to the vocal lines and strengthened up the music and effects a bit as well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with 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 show is a bit tricky in trying to pin it down because it's using some different styles to effectively tell the show. For example, we have several scenes as viewed through Saiga's camera and it's very grainy and shaky but it's well encoded. When it shifts to the present day time, there's a much clearer picture but it's still rather soft with a somewhat washed out palette. There are a lot of vibrant colors mixed into the show overall and in key scenes, but it has something of an intentional cold and shallow feeling to it in a good number of the scenes. Because of how the tweak out the colors and some of the effects, you can see some banding in scenes and what looks to be some mosquito noise but it's not unexpected with the way they've designed the look of this. More noticeable in this volume, possibly because of the player we're using now, there is much more noticeable noise in the background and shifting of colors. The closer you are the more noticeable it is so the impact will vary likely.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but bolding up the text with a bright red color instead of the softer gray, Suitengu closes out the series with a very striking visual. Sitting on top of one of the nastier villains from these episodes, the background is in flames with blood dripping from everywhere. His design and expressions just exude much of what the background is made up of and is very striking and powerful. The back cover has a shot of Kagura from the show and ties it to some of the visuals from within as it strikes a bolder look with green and yellow being the dominant colors. The lengthwise look of the animation is followed up by having the summary, red on black, also angled while the production and technical information is angled in a completely different direction, making you twist the case around to get all the info. There are a number of shots from the show included but they're so small they might as well not be there. The reverse side complements the front cover with Suitengu once against but looking more like he does in the show instead of the stylized front cover.

Using the artwork from the cover with a zoomed in shot of Suitengu's face, the colors are punched up a bit and almost hit a bit of a garish level when it comes to the pinks, particularly where the navigation strip is. The actual menu selections are only slightly angled and on top of each other so there isn't any additional problems in navigation. The design overall fits the feel of the show but it's a bit surprising at first, though the mellow music in the background does plenty to easy things. The navigation is quick and effects and we had no problem getting around. The disc did not read our players' language selections though and figuring out subtitles on the fly isn't pleasant since they're listed as *** instead of being properly labeled.

The final round of extras are pretty solid but continue to have some of the same problems that plague many FUNimation discs. The standards are here in the art gallery and the clean versions of the opening and closing songs as well as the latest round of character profiles. The character cast auditions close out here and they're encoded the same as the previous ones which just makes me not want to even listen to them. The fact you can't get out of it other than stopping it or doing a top menu is very annoying. The Saito Documentary has its third and final installment as it covers more of the shows production and a new round of character profiles is included as well. One really nice albeit brief new inclusion here is a round of outtakes from the English language adaptation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Similar to my feelings with Basilisk, Speed Grapher is a series that has been entertaining a number of ways but also frustrating. There's a certain love/hate relationship going on with it as it has many simple faults both in execution and its attempt to be mature by increasing the sex and violence. The final four episodes of this brings both into play and while the show ends on a very solid note with plenty of closure, the same issues continue to plague it.

With these being the last episodes everything that's been going on starts to come to a head. The opening episode deals strongly with Ginza as she's slowly but surely gotten deeper into everything. Her exposure to her boss who is apparently a low level member of the Club brings her to the understanding of how expansive this is. With the realization that seemingly every high level cop, media executive and above are all part of it, the country looks more and more controlled and mollified than ever before. The fact that it seems to cater to such strange fetishes that are often beyond what's considered acceptable only makes it all the more vile. With her boss being one that's truly twisted in his love of women's legs, to the point of cutting them off, she's able to draw out more about him while frantically trying to escape.

Kagura's story for these last episodes isn't much of a surprise. Having been sequestered along with the good doctor who is trying to figure out how to cure her, she's again subject to the whims of others. This time she's in the grasp of the Prime Minister in his official residence and his fetish is a particularly sick and twisted one. As seems to be common among those who are touched by the abilities she can grant, the Prime Minister's ability brings out his ugly side. But he's also a smart man and through his power and connections has managed to steal the Club out from under Suitengu's grasp, leaving the Tennozu Group without its base of power. Using the military and other politicians and executives under pretenses, he's able to isolate Suitengu and begin his final move against him, thereby solidifying his position. As always seems to be the case, there is much more than meets the eye in terms of who is higher up in the power structure and we see that it reaches some strange heights here.

The main fault that I keep hitting with the show becomes the main storytelling method once again. While Saiga begins his new quest to get Kagura, he has to go through not only the Prime Minister's side of things but also Suitengu. Again. Kagura has always been the prize in the show because of what she can do but she's traded so much among people that she has lost her value as a person almost completely. When she ends up back in Suitengu's hands this time around it's for all the marbles which means his plans for revenge are now at the highest levels. The show takes on an international flavor as Suitengu's true motives become known and the possibility of the entire country being taken out because of it raises the stakes considerably. Of course, it can all be solved by a man with a camera.

At the end of it, Speed Grapher has been an interesting series to watch since it took some chances, played it hard and fast but at the same time kept to what works. That part is what made it a chore to watch during certain arcs because it felt like we had just done that. In a shorter series it would have been harder to really build the kind of relationship that Kagura and Saito need in order to be effective. But even across the full length of this series, because of the amount of times they're separated, they never formulate a really good relationship. It's tenuous at best and in the end makes the sacrifices that they make for each other seem a bit more hollow. The epilogue in particular, with its five year forward gimmick, just paints an even bleaker picture of how strong their relationship truly is. I really liked a lot of how the show built up its ending with Suitengu and the money, but the personal relationships fell flat.

In Summary:
Speed Grapher has plenty of things going for it but seemed to squander it along the way. It had moments of brilliance and some good fun with trying to be an mature show but that aspect tended to feel more like teenage posturing of what they believe mature should be. The conclusion to the series reaches for a big level and hits it in some ways but doesn't have the full emotional impact that it should. There's a certain swagger to how the show feels but in the end it doesn't have the ability to truly back it up. There is a lot to like here but execution and pacing could have used a lot more work.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Saito Documentary Part 3,Character Profiles,Character Cast Auditions,Outtakes,Image Gallery,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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