Star Ocean EX Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Star Ocean EX

Star Ocean EX Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     May 23, 2005
Release Date: May 24, 2005


Star Ocean EX Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Claude and his crew cross the ocean and arrive at Port Linga of Lacour Kingdom. They encounter Precis Newman, a cute and prolific inventor girl there. They decide to help her find mysterious moonlit flowers called Metox that have a special power to heal her friend's deadly illness. Little do they know what a quagmire they are getting into. They charge into the deserted holy land in search of the magical plants and encounter many hideous monsters. Rena and Celine get possessed by an ogre and try to kill Claude and Ashton! Can they accomplish their mission and come back alive?

The Review!
As the first half of the series is covered here, we get treated to a side quest that eventually sets our heroes back on course at the last episode..

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. We also listened to it in English in full the next day. Both tracks for this show are pretty solid but not terribly engaging stereo mixes that make decent use of the forward soundstage but without a whole lot of noticeable directionality but rather in a more full manner. We had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback on two separate players.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is filled with a lot of rich colors and vibrant pieces but it's not entirely free of problems. Mostly visible when it comes to the large areas of a single color in the character animation itself, some scenes exhibit some amount of color banding going on and some minor blocking associated with it. On our 50" setup, it was pretty noticeable when it came to some of the greens or hairs with characters, but down on the 20" set it was far less pronounced and much harder to see. Otherwise, the transfer is pretty much problem free as there isn't any noticeable cross coloration or much in the way of aliasing during movement.

Packaging:
Geneon continues to do a great job with a lot of their series by getting the Japanese artwork. The cover for this volume goes for the really cute with Precis getting it all to herself. With her design being filled with pinks and purples, it's bright enough just with that but they did a nice job of bringing in a purple flower for a close-up in the background which just looks like she's exploding from it. The back cover provides a small number of shots from the show and the background reuses parts of the front cover to provide a fairly dark looking piece. The episode numbers and titles are listed here as is a good summary of the premise and the shows video game origins. Mix in a clean and easy to read set of extras and basic disc features as well as some production info and you've got a good looking back cover. The insert provides another shot of the front cover on one side while the reverse lists the episode numbers and titles for this volume as well as the release dates for the remaining volumes in the series.

Menu:
The menu layout for the series is decent if somewhat uninspired with a series of blocks in a science fiction style where inside each of them there are different pieces of static artwork or animation from the show running around. It's not set to music per se but the thumming sound you'd hear if you were watching Star Trek: Next Generation and listened to the background noise of the ship there. Access times are nice and fast and the menus load quickly as well as correctly use the players' language presets that I have, earning it a few extra bonus points.

Extras:
The only extras to make it into this volume is the continuation of the character profiles which as mentioned previously are fairly useless with a minimal amount of information provided for each entry.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Star Ocean EX continues to play by the formula book with this set of episodes as it wraps up the first half of the series with what's essentially another side quest before launching the second half of the series with an episode that actually gets everything back on course, though not without playing through more scenes where you can predict what's going to happen from the title card.

Star Ocean's not a bad show mind you, but it does fall into that category that if you've seen any decent amount of shows over a few years, it's easy enough to predict. When the group arrives in the next town on their journey, they go through the usual routine of splitting up so that they can do what needs to be done. Secure some lodging, see if anyone can translate the book and get some food. It goes a little awry this time as Ashton finds himself spending time with a young girl who is stuck in her room due to her illness. He'd seen her from the window and she had dropped her ribbon which he brought back and then started to tell her tales of the outside world.

His time there brings things full circle to an earlier even though that you prayed was isolated but knew better. When they first arrived in town, they were practically accosted by a young highly energetic woman who was chasing some strange object that raced past them. When she crashed into the group, she found herself surprised to see someone like Claude who she realized fits her mental image of the idealized prince. At the same time, Ashton ends up falling hard for her just from looks alone and does his best to impress her but she's got eyes for just Claude, which of course gets Rena practically stamping her feet over it. It's mildly amusing and cute but I'd almost say there's enough sexual tension in the group as it is.

So it's really little surprise when it turns out that the Precis is the friend of the little sick girl. And what way to better tie Precis into the group than to have the ribbon fly out the window again but go on a very extended journey that requires Ashton and Precis to spend the day together searching for it. You get to know her fairly well, such as her ability to build weird strange devices of wrong sizes and you get the feeling that she's probably got a few disorders of some sort with the way she acts, but Ashton continues to fall hard for her during the various little quests that go on here. The big quest that everyone goes on is one to find a plant that can be used in a medicinal mix to help the little sick girl but it requires going into one of the regions where the Sorcery Globe creatures have taken over so the supply has run out as nobody has ever returned from there.

Oh yeah, remember that Sorcery Globe? Apparently the writers did too. Well, to be fair, they've kept the characters in the town due to the book which could help them as they try to find someone who can translate it and it all just gets wrapped up in the Precis storyline since she happens to know a doctor who knows everything that may help. Over the course of the three episodes they cover a lot of ground but it really does feel just like that side quest that you need to do in order to acquire that character that you know will help but is just plain annoying. As cute as her design is, I keep finding her just as annoying.

The last episode does get things underway again as the group has moved on to Lacour where there are people actively working to understand and stop the Sorcery Globe. We get the full on introductions of the big new kingdom style city and all that comes with it, including sword thieves. As it turns out, the city is preparing for a big tournament of fighters to showcase their skills in an effort to bring the citizenry out and lighten the mood after all the darkness that's going on. Tournament… tournament… can you see where this is going?

In Summary:
With yet another member now joining the group, the traveling party is pretty much full but Ashton continues to be my favorite character. He's just got a great rapport with his twin dragons and they mess with him constantly, from swiping his food to laughing outright at his larger than life tales. The trio really is one of the highlights of the show but even they get wrapped up in the problems that plague these kinds of shows where the tension is all tied to one simple misunderstanding that if someone just took the five seconds to clear it up it'd all go away. This set of episodes brings the series back on track eventually after it does some required party building but the series is still very much a prime example of formula followed far too closely and without anything really special to it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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