Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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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: 49.98
  • Running time: 72
  • 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. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 02, 2008
Release Date: January 08, 2008


Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #2
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.


What They Say
In the South Pole, a top-secret meeting is held between the Earth Federation Government and an alien race dubbed the Guests. But negotiations are shattered when a scientific organization goes on the offensive, attacking the aliens in the name of humanity and declaring themselves the Divine Crusaders.

The fight for the Earth sphere has begun, and along with new teammate Raidiese F. Branstein, Ryusei and Aya will be forced to turn weapons against former allies in an all-out battle: the Divine Wars!

Contains episodes 3-5:
The Third Man
The Wings of Disaster
The Guests from Beyond

The Review!
The back story continues to expand as the SRX Team is formally put together and the Real super robots begin to show up.

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 second volume goes for a decidedly darker look as it brings in a pair of mecha that look very mean while the character artwork has a similar feeling with their expressions. The use of little known or un-introduced characters isn't a surprise since the first volume does it as well. . 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 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 the sun in the distant background adding a bit 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)
After a far too brief first volume in which we were teased with the potential of the series, this second installment with three episodes starts to get things underway more firmly. Serving more character introduction material and setting up more aspects of the world, Super Robot Wars starts to take on a bigger view of things as an opposing side comes into play. At the same time, Ryusei has to learn that piloting one of these robots isn't quite like the videogames he's been playing all along.

Though they aren't formally labeled it until the third episode here, the SRX Team starts to come together well in this set of episodes as the third addition arrives. A survivor of a testing accident on the moon, Rai is the cool and collected veteran pilot who knows he doesn't have anything to prove. That grates up against Ryusei's rookie role easily enough but Ryusei contains enough deference to Rai's experience most of the time. Rai fills the role he has pretty well both in skill and design as he brings a touch more maturity to the group. He's also a key addition since he's there to support Aya in her role as captain. While she has the rank, her training and experience have her somewhat unsuited to that position when it comes to combat and Rai is there to give her the help she needs.

With the cast growing, there's less focus on Ryusei which is a good thing since this seems like a show that will really work better as an ensemble piece. Ryusei continues to be the core of it, but there is simply so much material to introduce throughout it that he doesn't take center stage constantly. When he does though, it's more to get his ass handed to him more than anything else. Training sessions aren't going well for him as the adjustment from game to reality isn't as smooth as it could be. In mock battles against enemy tanks, his mindset of a robot being superior has the tank jockeys proving him wrong and lording it over him. It's admittedly all standard material for shows like this, but it's competently executed and plays out well, which is essentially the theme of the series so far.

While we spend a lot of time with the SRX Team and the Federation side of the show, we're also getting a look at what's going on elsewhere. Though the Aerogaters are the big bad villains of the show, we're given another nod towards the phrase about man being his own worst enemy. Led by Professor Zoldark, the EOTI is preparing for things in their own way and have recruited an array of pilots for their mysterious projects. One of those pilots is Tenzan, the player Ryusei went up against in the championships. His portrayal here showcases his lack of team playing but also highlights just how strong his skills are, two things that will likely get him into a lot of trouble if the writing continues in predictable form. Through him, the EOTI begin to tip their hand to the Federation just in time to make everyone far more nervous about a mysterious ceremony about to get underway at the South Pole.

In Summary:
With two volumes and five episodes out of the way, I find myself enjoying this show quite a bit. It's not heavily plotted but it has a bit of meat to it in what it's trying to get done. The requisite silly aspects are here, such as Aya wearing the uniform she does with the micro skirt, and much of the way the military awkwardly works at times, but it manages to come together in a clean fashion. It also helps that the mecha and action sequences really work very well with the CG and designs. Super Robot Wars isn't high art, but it's a very slick looking show that hits all the right notes so far. All that it's lacking is something to take it to the next level, to move it beyond average into something far more engaging and interesting. As a video game gone anime, it's certainly leagues ahead of many awful ones that have been out in the past, and that alone is a saving grace I'm very thankful for.

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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