Speed Grapher Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • 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

By Bryan Morton     February 07, 2008
Release Date: February 04, 2008


Speed Grapher Vol. #6
© MVM Entertainment


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.

Episodes Comprise
21 – All Hail the Glutton
22 – Money, Money, Money
23 – Tender Grave
24 – The Roppongi Crisis


The Review!
The story of Saiga, Suitengu and Kagura comes to an end, and if you were expecting an epic final battle, you'd be spot on. But there's just a little bit more to the story on this final disc that may just change you opinion of at least one of the characters…

Audio:
English language 5.1 & 2.0 tracks are provided, along with a Japanese 2.0 track – I listened to the Japanese audio for this review. Good use is made of direction with this track, with sound effects & dialogue appropriately placed on the soundstage according to what's happening on the screen. Dialogue is also clear and easy to pick out, and there are no obvious problems with the encoding.

Video:
Video comes in its original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format. Speed Grapher tries for a somewhat gritty on-screen look, with use of colour palette and background detail changing from scene to scene in what seems to be an attempt to influence how the viewer will feel about particular scenes. It works surprisingly well, with the atmosphere of the series being enhanced by this little bit of creativity. There's a little colour banding in places, but it's not hugely noticeable and there are no other obvious problems with the transfer.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
Menus are a simple affair – the main screen is a mostly-static piece, with an image of Saiga and the Goddess off to one side. Options are provided for audio select and extras, while direct access is provided to the 4 episodes on the disc. Submenus are static screen featuring other characters from the show. It’s all simple enough to use, although there's a short transition animation when you start to play an episode that slows things down and serves no useful purpose.

Extras:
Along with the usual art gallery and clean opening & closing sequences (with a new closing animation this disc), you also get another set of cast auditions for the English dub, and the final part of the documentary looking at Kagura's Japanese VA. Not a bad selection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Making good use of being in captivity, Dr Ryogoku's been reading through Professor Nishiya's notes on Kagura's condition, trying to find a possible cure for her, but he hasn't been having much luck. Ginza, meanwhile, has problems of her own, as she finds herself in the unusual position of being helpless as the police commissioner threatens to kill her, while Saiga, very much the worse for wear after his latest fight against a Euphorian, heads back to the surface. With the Roppongi Club due to finally re-open, it looks as though Suitengu's plans are coming to a head - but the Prime Minister has other plans.

Later, Saiga confronts Suitengu for the final time, trying to persuade him to let Kagura go. Suitengu's reply is simple: if Saiga wants her, he'll have to take her by force. It's not so easy to have a straight fight in a building that's already under heavy attack, though – and even when Saiga's able to make it to Kagura's side, Suitengu's not yet done...

Action fan? Then you'll feel right at home here, as between Saiga, Suitengu and the Prime Minister there's a battle that runs almost the entire length of this volume, and while I'd normally be complaining now about the final battle being stretched out for far longer than it should have been, in this case I can't – there are regular breaks in the action to let the combatants catch their breaths and let the poor, helpless Kagura get a look-in, or to explain some outstanding story point, before battle is rejoined. Those breaks help make sure that you don't just get fed up, and even let you get something more out of the sequences than you would otherwise have had; it's not just one long, seemingly endless, sequence.

In the short break between the fight sequences, there are a number of issues addressed – the origin of the Euphorians, the real reasons for Suitengu's grudges against the Tennozu family and the political class; a past connection between Saiga and Suitengu that hadn't been revealed before; the fate of Suitengu's sister, Yui; and a settlement to the romantic feelings of Saiga, Kagura and Ginza. That's a lot to cover in the short amount of time that's allotted to it, but there's some good stuff in there – the reunion between Suitengu and Yui was easily the most emotional scene in the series, for a number of reasons, and was another scene that help re-paint Suitengu not as someone who was inherently evil, but as someone who had been seriously wronged in his life and who was out to put things right – in his eyes, anyway – even at the cost of his own life. He's just maybe gone a little overboard in his methods.

Due to the way events play out, it's Suitengu and Saiga that hog most of the limelight – the other characters are pushed to the fringe of things, although they still have their roles to play and are still important to the plot in their own ways. Ginza's been a character I've loved and hated almost equally through the series, depending on which side of her personality is dominant – her unhealthy obsession with Saiga has been an issue for her in the past, and there are times here when you think that it's going to come to the fore again, particularly when she's dealing with Kagura. There's a short exchange between the two of them at one point which perfectly captures the feelings that are going through Ginza's head, and it's the way she resolves with herself what she's going to do that finally redeems her and places her firmly in the "good guys" camp. Other characters on both sides of the battle get their own little moments of redemption and finality along the way, as well, and along with an epilogue sequence that covers the fates of the surviving characters a few years after the final battle, helps to make sure that there's a proper sense of closure to the story.

In summary:
Speed Grapher has been a mixed bag, overall – some really good moments padded out with a lot of formulaic Euphorian-of-the-week stories that kept the ideas on offer from reaching their full potential. The "good" has been good enough to outweigh the "bad", on the whole, and this final disc closes the series out in a way that, if you've stuck with the story this far, should be more than satisfying.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Saito Documentary Part 3,Character Cast Auditions,Art Gallery,Creditless Opening & Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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