Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Super Robot Wars Original Generation

Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     December 27, 2007
Release Date: December 11, 2007



What They Say
In a future not far removed from our own, humanity has recovered from the calamity of having been struck by two separate meteorites, and has reformed under the banner of the Earth Federation Government. But all is not as it seems, as teenager Ryusei Date learns when he attends a tournament for the robot fighting game Burning PT. In one fateful moment, Ryusei will learn the truth – that Burning PT is in fact a training tool for top-secret mobile weaponry called Personal Troopers, and that the Troopers exist to fight off an alien menace that has already begun to move against us...

The Review!
Recruited with a burning passion for video games, Ryusei discovers that the world is at risk of invasion from an alien race.

Audio:
This TV series is presented in monolingual form with the original Japanese stereo mix. Similar to some past releases from Bandai Visual USA, it's a very well done stereo mix at a 448kbps rate which really lets it have a lot more clarity and impact. The forward soundstage presentation is good throughout, though it doesn't have quite the depth that some other shows might in a similar situation. With its TV origins however, there aren't a lot of high expectations here but the show does a good job with placement and clarity. The music in numerous scenes comes across very well with a rich feeling to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2006 and early 2007, this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The visual presentation for this series is very striking with lots of big bold colors, rich looking CGI and an overall sense of depth and presence to many of the scenes. As has become seemingly standard for this company's releases, the bitrate is consistently high which results in some very solid looking scenes. The series has no real breakup or noise to its backgrounds or character animation which gives it a very appealing look on a large screen. It's not problem free though and the issues appear to be more source related. The first is that the CG tends to have a bit of line noise to it during the panning sequences, but this is relatively minor overall considering they avoid doing many pans and zooms over the machines. The other is that there are a couple of instances of visible banding which leads to some very minor blocking. Beyond that however, the show looks gorgeous.

Packaging:
The cover art for this release has a good classic feel to it as it features a trio of the leads, one of which hasn't been introduced yet no less, standing in front of a trio of super robots. Set against a star filled background, the colors and designs really look great here with some solid detail and appealing colors. It's a standard layout but it works well in hitting up what a lot of mecha fans want from their shows. The back cover keeps things a bit dark and murky for the background but it provides several shots from the show and summaries for the episodes on the release. The top section is probably the worst offender as the series background paragraph is done in a font that's difficult to read. The bottom portion of the cover runs through the main staff and the voice actors as well as a decent looking technical grid that covers all the important information. While no reversible cover is included, we do get a very nice booklet that runs through the world background for the series and several pages of character designs, notes and mecha information for what's introduced in these episodes.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is simple but it goes against tradition in a small way in how most US companies do their menus. The menu is split in half with the cover artwork on the right side, with a bit of the Earth showing to add more lighting, while the left side contains the navigation strip. With nothing on the disc but the show, subtitle selections are on the top level as well as individual episode access. The menu has a very brief bit of animation that it runs through at the start and then settles into its loop with music. This is where it's interesting in that unlike the standard design of a 30 second loop, they've done a 4 minute loop of music. Moving about the menus is easy, which isn't a surprise considering how little is here, and it naturally defaulted to having subtitles on.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Super Robot Wars: Original Generation – Divine Wars is based on the Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation game that appeared on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance handheld. Done with completely original characters, going into this show was fairly awkward since we've already seen the sequel OVA series. Nothing like working backwards on a show, is there? Since that OVA stood alone in its own way though, all that's really spoiled here are basic elements such as whether the male lead will step up to the plate and save the day.

Divine Wars, which runs twenty-five episodes, takes place a couple of centuries from now after mankind has had some rough times. Progress was slowed for quite awhile after two meteorite impacts hit the planet and a series of small wars brought humanity to the brink. Eventually things turned however and mankind became united under the Earth Federation banner. Progress began again, but seven years ago another meteorite hit. This one didn't cause worldwide chaos however, at least not yet. Within the meteorite it was discovered that there was a lot of alien technology and information that is quite beyond what humanity can do. It was also discovered that there is an alien race out there called the Aerogater's which are intent, for an as of yet unknown reason, on destroying humanity.

So in preparation for the eventual war, the Earth Federation did they only thing they could do. They built super robots and created a video game to put out into the population in order to determine people who might have the aptitude for it. With the super robots being based on the alien technology, they're quite advanced and have some hidden abilities which are only hinted at briefly during the first two episodes. That's the hook that introduces us to young Ryusei, a man who is going to have to give up any college dreams due to his mother being in the hospital and his need to work. His main focus in the short term however is playing in the Burning PT championship where he hopes to showcase his raw and reckless talents.

With the first two episodes, it's all quite predictable here in how things go. We see through the championship fight how the simulation works and how the SRX group behind the super robots ferrets out their potential Samples to become pilots. The championship even turns to chaos as expected when some of the mobile infantry of the Aerogater's show up and Ryusei finds himself inside a real version of the Personal Trooper from the game. The setup runs through more expected moments as he's being recruited by the SRX under some pressure for his "crime" of using a real military Personal Trooper and we start to see some of the conflicts within the military organizations that are dealing with the Aerogaters.

As predictable as it does get at times, it does present the show in a strong way. The execution of events may be easily seen but they're animated well and the combination of the CG and regular animation works quite well. The mecha designs are attractive as are the "bug" Aerogater mobile infantry suits that we see early on. There's a good sized cast that will be introduced throughout this, which we know from the OVA as well as the opening sequence, and conflicts are easily seen through that same sequence. Divine Wars really feels like a classic show that's just been given a facelift in the visuals and a bit more streamlining in what works for setting up a show like this. I'm even amused at the nod that was given towards the apparent SRX leader by naming him Major Plissken. How can I not enjoy a show with such an obvious Escape from New York reference?

In Summary:
Bandai Visual USA has a very attractive presentation with this show, from its packaging to the actual visual and aural side of it. Having been exposed to the OVA previously, there's some familiarity here from that but also from having seen many shows similar to this. The series has a nice glossy feel to it which gives it some life while running through predictable action moments and introducing the core cast of characters. That said, the pricing on this is obviously going to turn a lot of people away. At this point, I think Bandai Visual USA would have been better off just dropping this into the market in a box set at whatever price they would have in Japan. The only people interested in this are those that would import it at that price with subtitles anyway. Doing this as a nine volume series just drags out the pain too much for those that will pony up for it. Fans of the show that are taking the plunge will love it but for everyone else it's just another data point for a strange and seemingly cruel release strategy.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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