Spiral Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Spiral

Spiral Vol. #2

By Dani Moure     April 20, 2007
Release Date: March 12, 2007


Spiral Vol. #2
© Revelation Films


What They Say
As Ayumu and Hiyono continue to investigate the murder of Mr. Imazato, an impending danger lurks. Hiyono becomes the target of the Blade Children's latest ploy, who issue Ayumu his greatest challenge yet - a chance to settle things once and for all! But, a poisonous puzzle must be solved before Ayumu can claim victory. Could Hiyono deal the Blade Children a devastating trump card?

Episodes
6. Blind Spot In The Web
7. The Choice Of The Nonbeliever
8. Day Of The Defeated
9. All Things That Are Possible To You

The Review!
The Spiral begins to unravel in the latest compelling volume.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review. The mix sounds good, with the music and effects coming across quite well. I noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical issues with this disc.

I briefly sampled parts of the English 5.1 track, and from what I heard the English performances seemed quite likeable, and it flowed well. I didn't notice any problems with this track while checking.

Video:
The transfer here is pretty good. The colour palette is quite vibrant at times but at others it comes across as a bit bland, but it's all well-represented with your standard quality Madman transfer. There were a couple of moments during the opening where I noticed a bit of artifacting, but it was negligible.

We also get alternate angles for the openings and endings. This means that you can either watch the translated, English credits in the opening, or the original Japanese opening with kanji, and the same for the ending, depending on which language you select from the menu. It works well and caters to both sides of the audience, though Funimation could perhaps be a bit more comprehensive with their translated original Japanese credits.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

Packaging:
The front cover looks nice, featuring an image of Hiyono, with some shapes and Ayumu looming in the background. The logo, episode numbers and disc title are at the top of the cover. The back cover has a layout similar to other new Revelation releases, with a bit of text at the top, some images in the middle, and a volume description at the bottom. Technical information isn't in a grid but is clearly stated at the bottom of the cover. Also of note is that the spine lists the episode titles between the letters of the word "Spiral".

Menu:
The main menu is mostly static, with the cover image of Hiyono present, as well as the logo of the show, volume number and selections. There is a bit of movement in the background, and it all looks very blue. A piece of music plays over the main menu. Sub-menus are all static, sporting the same design but with just the text selections available, and they don't have any music playing. Once again, there's also no scene selection menu. Overall, as is often the case the menus are functional but just very bland in their design.

Extras:
The first extra on this disc is a series of occasionally funny dub outtakes. We also get the usual textless opening and ending, and a rather bizarre "prologue to series" which is actually just a clip mostly featuring Ayumu on the phone.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the first volume of Spiral was quite enjoyable and showed plenty of potential, this volume steps things up a notch and is all the more enjoyable for it. Where the first volume had a few stand-alone stories to introduce the characters, and events all seemed quite unrelated with the exception of the running "what are the Blade Children?" question, this volume pushes things closer together and ties it all up nicely into the running story.

There are still plenty of mysteries to go around, especially regarding exactly what the Blade Children are and what they are doing, but certain things come to the fore that give us some explanation into Ayumu's role in the proceedings, as well as his brother Kiyotaka's. With the death of Imazato in the previous volume, the investigation gets under way and naturally Ayumu wants to be at the forefront of figuring it all out. But with him suspecting the Blade Children for what has gone on, naturally Hiyono becomes a target and they have to be careful to ensure her safety while they continue with things.

Of course, the Blade Children are behind it all, and it is Rio's first little scheme of many to come. To try and exonerate herself of the charges relating to Imazato, she plants a bomb in a little bear and has it go off so she is caught in the explosion, covering up the fact she has a rib missing (as, apparently, all the Blade Children do). But Ayumu isn't stupid and goes to her in hospital, having figured out her role in things.

There's a quality little play by Rio at this point, that really shows she will go all out to outwit Ayumu by any means. Rather than just try and pull one over on Ayumu, she goes for the psychological take and instead tries to make him doubt himself by tricking him good and proper. She offers two glasses of water and empties an identical sachet in each one, saying one contains sugar and the other saccharine. The latter will kill the person who drinks it, and she tells him it'll taste bitter. He quickly figures out it's all a big bluff to test his resolve, figuring out that there's sugar in both because she wouldn't give herself a 50/50 chance of survival.

So to prove his point Ayumu starts to drink, only to find that it tastes bitter, so he stops. As Hiyono quickly points out, Ayumu is right " the glass he drank actually contained a bitter medicine " but the brilliance of Rio's play comes to light as she successfully made Ayumu doubt his own resolve, and that throws him into a downward spiral of self-questioning. It's a different side of Ayumu to see, as he displays a complete and utter lack of confidence, just by being caught out once. Thankfully Madoka is on hand at the right time to be sentimental and provide Ayumu with a reason to go back to what he does best.

The ruthlessness of the Blade Children becomes more apparent later, as the cat and mouse games continue with Ayumu battling to rescue Hiyono from Rio and Kousuke, but it's all part of their games. They are more than happy to off Hiyono should the opportunity arise, particularly Rio who, despite a lack of emotion at times, seems as though she'd really enjoy it. It's also clear that there are reasons for what they are doing, manipulating Ayumu and testing him at every turn. Kiyotaka is obviously involved in some way as well, given how they constantly mention him in their conversations about Ayumu and how he is their saviour.

While it's nice to see the story starting to come together, especially earlier than I'd have expected, my biggest gripe with the series does remain. Yes, it's a mystery show and most of those have a lot of exposition, but at times during these episodes I found myself wanting to shut Rio, Ayumu and Hiyono up and tell them to stop explaining every little detail. I suppose the show is meant to be enjoyed by slightly younger viewers as well, and perhaps the writers felt the details needed as much explanation as possible for the timeslot or something, but honestly they could've cut down on at least some parts of the exposition. That's my only real problem that remains though, as the mystery itself is really starting to get interesting.

In Summary:
This volume is an improvement over the last, particularly in terms of story. The overruling mystery is starting to get really interesting as the characters make strides in discovering the truth, and the characters provide enough interest to carry things as well. While the show is a bit heavy on exposition, Spiral is just starting to get good and if it can build on the momentum from this volume, I think the show will become a winner.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Outtakes,Textless Opening and Ending,Series Prologue

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.

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