Starblazers Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+/D
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Voyager
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Starblazers / Yamato

Starblazers Vol. #5

    July 09, 2001
Release Date: July 09, 2001

Starblazers Vol. #5
© Voyager

What They Say
Every day of the Star Force's journey brings them closer to Planet Balan, the halfway point on their long journey to Iscandar... and the home of a strategic Gamilon base commanded by the fearsome General Lysis!
As the distance from Earth increases, so does the urge for some to return, despite the urgent need to obtain the Cosmo DNA machine that will cleanse Earth of its radioactive poisons. But Lysis is preparing a master plan that will stop the Argo cold - and end all of their cares forever!

Contains Episodes 18-21

The Review!
OK, volume 4 slipped quite a bit, now how’d volume 5 stack up?

I popped this disk in, fully expecting the worst, and was pleasantly surprised for 3 episodes. The slight graininess and soft transfer that’s been the major scourge of this series from day 1 is still present, and there were some film flaws (which were in the VHS version as well, I never noticed it until I got the DVD and did a side-by-side comparison), but the laziness factor of volume 4 seemed to be gone.

That was, until the last episode of the disk.

Can you say, “major compression issues,” folks? After a solid showing by Creative Digital Solutions on disks 2, 3, and 4, episode 21 looks as if you’re watching it through a piece of gauze. Major compression artifacts show up in the space backgrounds (and in this episode, there are a lot of them), and in general the transfer has taken a nosedive. I fear for volume 6 after seeing this episode. And this is on my 23” TV, I can imagine what it looks like on a bigger one.

Come on, Creative. I expected more.

OK, from here on out, I won’t mention the lack of openings, endings, eyecatches, and previews any more, unless they’re magically restored in series 2. We all know the story here.

The audio is back up to the standards set by volumes 2 and 3. It’s in mono, of course, but with none of the issues with distortion or bad equalization that was present on volume 4.

Good God but that’s a nice cover! Quite possibly among the coolest covers I’ve seen on an anime release. How can you argue with Lysis sneering at the Yamato as it dives into the Balan sun? I am willing to overlook the usual continuity goofs with the background series 2 image and inconsistent spine colors because that picture is so good. Interestingly enough, the screenshots on the back look quite faded. But again, I can overlook those easily.

Menus are exactly the same as previous disks, which to me is a good thing.

Not much this time. Just some artwork and short bios about some of the secondary and walk-on characters. And who decided the cook’s name was “Slops” Mulligan? That looked like a fine dinner they were having in episode 19! Warning - there are spoilers for one of the supporting cast's character arcs, so beware when flipping through this section.

Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
We get two more semi-filler episodes that drive a couple of character arcs forward and fills in the backstory of one of them, then we’re back in the main story arc in a big way. And we’ll stay there for the rest of the first series.

Episode 18 starts out with a pilot insisting he's Sandor (you have to see it to believe it. He dies, and then Sandor (the real one) comments about his "close encounter" moments later). This obvious creative skating around the censorship issue is actually pretty funny. After we get past this, Sandor and Wildstar go and investigate a Gamilon weapon that sends out high-frequency sound waves that try and shake the Yamato apart (remember one of the 10 Laws of Anime - that sound in space is so much louder because there's no air to get in the way!), and was responsible for Sandor's, yep Sandor's close call. Mainly a Sandor episode, we see a lot of his backstory filled in, and a connection between he and Wildstar is forges, via Sandor's friendship with Wildstar's brother Alex. All I want to know is what kind of lunatic would have exploding bionic arms and legs! Did I mention that was Sandor in the cockpit of the first plane that got shaken apart?

I believe Episode 19 was aired out-of-order. In Episode 17, Captain Avatar undergoes surgery, episode 18 shows him fully recovered and back on the bridge, and episode 19 shows him still weak from the surgery. I know for a fact that this was the order they aired on Japanese TV, so maybe this episode slipped behind in the production schedule. In any event, this episode focuses on communications officer Homer, who with unknown help from a Gamilon relay satellite, has been speaking with his parents back on Earth. His father, sick from radiation poisoning, dies while speaking with him (covered up in the American cut). So what does Homer do? He snaps, jumps ship, and tries to swim through space back to Earth. He discovers the Gamilon relay satellite and comes back to his senses. Wildstar finds him and together they destroy the satellite.

Episode 20, one of my favorites, brings us back into the story arc. The Star Force has reached the half-way point to Iscandar, only to discover it's a major Gamilon base. Wildstar insists on engaging it, while Venture (predictably) opts to avoid a confrontation and make up for the time lost in skirmishes. Wildstar convinces the officers, including the Captain, that the reason they're behind schedule is that base, and if they didn't take it out, they'd only have to fight their way back on the return trip. As they prepare for the attack, something strange happens. The Balan sun, which orbits the planet, begins descending. Wildstar had it figured out, the sun was artificial, and General Lysis was using it as a weapon to destroy the Star Force (and his base, but that meant little to the General). A convenient call from Desslok telling him, clever as his strategy was, do not sacrifice the base, saves the Star Force at the last minute. They destroy the sun, and the base, with the Wave Motion gun. After all the pieces are picked up and the wreckage studied, Wildstar is promoted to deputy Captain, recognized for his natural leadership abilities and intuition.

Finally, Episode 21 brings the Yamato-Lysis rivalry to a head. Lysis, on trial, is convicted of crimes against Gamilon and sentenced to death. Desslok pardons him on the grounds that, dangerous as he is, at least he tries. He then puts him in command of a special task force. The remainder of the episode deals with talk of tactics and preparations for the battle. Unfortunately, this is where the disk ends.

Disk 5 started out nicely by turning around the problems with disk 4, but then took a major nosedive at the last episode. And now that we’re through the filler episodes and back into the real meat of the story, the compression problems can be both forgiven and made more apparent. You might ignore compression issues and immerse yourself in the story, or the compression issues may become that much more noticeable because of the quality of the story. Star Blazers fans will be happy to have these episodes in a format that isn’t gonna degrade like the VHS tapes (or at least like my VHS tapes) did, but the more hard-core Yamato fans will be disappointed by having two disks in a row (not even counting disk 1) not up to the standards they should be. If VEI intended this to be a lackluster release, they shouldn’t have done such a good job with disks 2 and 3. On the other hand, things did start out well with this disk, so maybe there was just an authoring goof-up.

At least it’s got a nice cover.

English Language,Art galleries on the Star Force and its Friends & Enemies,
Scenes from the next episode of Star Blazers Part VI coming soon on DVD

Review Equipment
Sony 23" Trinitron TV, Sony DVP S360 player, "Jury-rigger special" audio set-up, KLH speakers.


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