Star Ocean EX Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     November 07, 2005
Release Date: November 22, 2005


Star Ocean EX Vol. #6
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
After dodging endless bombardment fired from the castle, Claude and his friends fight through relentless waves of drones. When they find themselves in imminent danger, the Lacour Hope unleashes a devastating blast. However, once the smoke clears, a gigantic mechanized tower emerges from the origin of all evil, the Sorcery Globe. It's time for Claude to step up and prove he's the chosen warrior, but how does Rena's mysterious past fit into the puzzle? The ultimate war has gotten underway!


The Review!
Meeting the final challenge only to find several levels of bosses to clear, Star Ocean EX finally comes to a conclusion.

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:
After some single character covers, the last cover for the series has a good looking shot of the three male leads together with a fiery background that uses Claude's Hahoka fiery phoenix move. The characters look good though not quite as good as the single character covers and Ashton's dragons in particular come off nicely here and overall it's a decent way to end the run when you'd normally expect a full cast shot. 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.

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 extra to make it into this volume is a set of character artwork images in a gallery format that made up the original Japanese covers and several of the US release covers. Unlike some other DVD cover art galleries, it doesn't show the full Japanese release artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Star Ocean EX comes to an unsurprising close with the final four episodes on this volume as the group has finally made their way to the Sorcery Globe and must face the evil within before the planet dies. With its origins as a video game and the basis on the manga series that ran alongside it back in 2001, there really aren't any surprises as things play out much as you'd expect. Defeat the Globe only to realize it's bigger than you thought and there are things inside that must be taken care of, resulting in more "bosses" to be faced.

Even with the worst of video game to anime conversions out there, I try to avoid making heavy comparisons to how a show plays out in a video game manner but Star Ocean EX just makes it almost impossible to not make the parallels. As expected, everyone that's been a character of note throughout the series has survived to this point and through a variety of means have arrived just outside the Sorcery Globe alongside each other, especially after dealing with the shipwreck in the previous volume. Even Opera and her long lost man make an appearance here and just in the nick of time as well. Leon has managed to fix up the Lacour so that it can provide one powerful shot – and only one shot – against the Sorcery Globe but the thing cannot be moved easily to where it needs to shoot. Since Ernest has the escape pod/space ship at his disposal, they're able to use that to bring it in nice and close and fire off the one round that will end it.

Or at the least, reveal the next level of the prophecy. Once the shot is fired, the vegetation is essentially cleared away and the revelation of the Black Moon comes true, sending waves of despair throughout the group. The prophesized moon is the piece that talks of how everything will be drawn into it and as the various cast members make their way inside to battle out the last villains, we learn of the alien race that really controls the entire object and its purpose of sucking up a planets life energy and transferring it across time and space to their homeworld so that they can survive. All of this is given some great significance that may make more sense to those who played the game but the focus is kept on the characters as they try to deal with the things in front of them and not give up in the face of incredible odds.

That of course is one of the main thrusts of the storyline about not giving up but also working with your friends, the true friends who will never abandon you, at the moment of need. Claude's given some decent minor characterization as he has to face choices as the fate of the world looks its most dire and Rena has to do some bad flip flopping in her own character as she learns the truth behind her before things hurtle forward to their obvious conclusion. The unfortunate downside is that the two of them could have had some rather good moments when they faced these hurdles but the motivations for it were essentially left back in the first or second episodes and rarely revisited since then without seeming like reminders and not real driving factors.

There's one scene in this volume when everyone is standing together outside of the Sorcery Globe after its true nature is revealed and trying to figure out what to do next, mostly asking Claude. The size of the group is really telling here as it feels like far too much like an actual party of secondary characters surrounding the leads that conveniently show up when needed. A couple of them have had enough episodes to provide some character to them but a lot of them are just so shallow that half the time you can easily forget their name which is never a good sign.

In Summary:
At times I've felt like I've been overly harsh on what's basically such a simple and harmless show but its nature has just agitated me at times with arcs that were blatant side quests or things that could have been accomplished with half a lick of dialogue instead of a few episodes worth of adventure and swordplay. It is for the most part the embodiment of mediocre video game to anime conversions as it does things that will annoy the gamers by changing or eliminating some characters while those fresh to it will find it playing out too much like a game itself. These kinds of shows can be done and done extremely well but this one is simply there.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Japanese Cover Art Gallery

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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