Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 18, 2008
Release Date: February 12, 2008


Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #3
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.


What They Say
Having publicly revealed the threat of alien invasion to an unsuspecting public, Prof. Bian Zoldark leads the newly christened Divine Crusaders in an all-out offensive against the Earth Federation Government. In the ensuing conflict, Sanger Zonvolt of ATX Team is taken captive and Sasebo Base is completely destroyed. But when Capt. Daitetsu Minase takes control of an ultra-powerful assault carrier called the Hagwane, the Earth Federation Government will take the war to the DC's front door... by leading a direct assault against their main headquarters!

The Review!
The war becomes a real reality when Zoldark shifts from being a professor to essentially leading a conquering army in the midst of a war to push humanity to the next stage.

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 third installment of Super Robot Wars goes for a fairly standard look as it features three of the pilots in the foreground looking all serious while behind them are three of the super robots that populate the series, all of which has a nice slightly cloudy background to it. 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 several pages of character designs, mecha designs and 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)
With the third volume of the series we get up to episode eight through the three episodes here and I'm simply reminded again of how bad the good old days were when we had eight volume releases, never mind nine volume ones for a show of this length. The series continues to feel like it's taking a lot of time to get anywhere because of the low content value (especially for the price) and with even a small amount of time between volumes it's easy to forget exactly what's going on with a cast so large and constantly growing.

Even after watching these three episodes, I'm hard pressed to really say all that much about it since it's focused on a lot of things in a very light manner. The previous volume ended with the meeting that was about to take place at the south pole and that only goes badly when Zoldark's side starts up a war with the aliens. That whole premise is sound on one level as the idea is to force humanity to look outward more, motivate properly and get behind one flag in order to grow as a race. Forcing it through a war isn’t an unusual school of thought but it's one that typically does not do well in the long run since it's incredibly hard to sustain even in this kind of near future environment. Having just read through a large chunk of Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence novels and a war with aliens lasting for twenty thousand years, something like this feels rather quaint and simple on so many levels.

Where Super Robot Wars can excel is in providing lots of big giant robot action moments. These episodes provide that in spades for the most part as you have two main sides of the human element, one of which is split into two competing factions, as well as the aliens that haven't gotten all that involved just yet. The south pole incident is exceptional when it comes to the action as the CG robots really look fantastic when set against the backgrounds here. The colors are so rich and vibrant and have a great fluidity to them that it's all quite appealing. The robot designs don't move easily in some ways, there's an amount of realism to some level here and the fighting isn't all big and boisterous. That's not to say we aren't watching big colorful robots slug it out here, but they do try to keep it more serious than silly. That isn't helped by some of the outfits that the characters wear, but really, the characters aren't the show just yet.

The characters really aren't in the show much at all yet either. The first five episodes were fairly decent in that they focused around Ryu and his move into the SRX team and understanding what his role was going to be. That discovery phase was pretty predictable but it's a tried and true formula that helps to explain the foundation of many a series. Where the show starts to become more complex – too complex – is in these episodes as the various sides all expand with lots of rivalries, past histories and more. Just look at the ending sequence right before it goes to the next episode preview where they have a line-up of all the characters. It looks like it goes on forever. Everyone and their cousin is in this show and has a bone to pick with someone and it all becomes quite overwhelming as everything picks up here. The few leads from the first five episodes get far less screen time here and it's a detriment to the show.

In Summary:
Visually appealing, Super Robot Wars hits up some really great moments when it comes to the style and action that populates these three episodes. It still lacks a real heart and connection with the characters that pilot the machines though which makes it rather easy to lose interest as it plays out. The big action moments are where it's engaging and I continue to surprisingly really like the CG in the show. But that can't carry things yet and these episodes feel like they pull away too much from the few characters I was getting to know, leaving me feeling like I'm a bit adrift in a big set piece with nobody I know. If this was the second disc of a standard six disc release it'd play out much different and likely hold my attention far better than this.

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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