What They Say
As the Aerogater threat grows ever larger, the Federation opts to strike first with Operation SRW, an assault mission pitting the combined forces of the Hagwane and the Hiryu Kwai against the Aerogater's White Star fortress. But the sudden betrayal of a Federation member will leave Aya badly injured and cast doubt on the future of SRX Team. Meanwhile, Kyosuke and the others dispatch and begin Operation SRW...but the first enemy they will face will none other than Kusuha Mizuha!
Twists and turns with plenty of deceit are realized here as trusted allies are anything but.
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.
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.
The covers are generally dark to begin with but this one feels it even more so with the character art having a pairing of characters with black hair. Combine that with the darkened nature of the mecha and it’s certainly a foreboding piece in general but one with some really appealing designs. 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, special messages from the voice actors and a glossary page.
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 light added to the top to brighten it all up, 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. I do continue to be disappointed that they still don’t do any advertising of their other titles with their releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back in the early 2000’s, talking about the eighth volume of a twenty-six episode series would be talking about its conclusion. Not so with Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - Divine Wars as this volume is the penultimate one as there are still three more episodes to go. As such, this volume covers episodes twenty-one through twenty-three which means there’s plenty of buildup and revelations but no real payoff just yet. That’s all reserved for the finale of course.
Quite a lot has happened in the recent episodes as Zoldark has been taken out of the picture and DC is a shadow of its former self as those that were still there couldn’t quite control it in the same way, or retain everyone in it either. Even worse is that the Aerogator threat has become paramount once again as they’ve decided to wipe out Geneva while also kidnapping a number of military pilots for unknown reasons. Strangely though, the rest of the world has been left unscathed and that’s causing all sorts of rumors and theories about what may really be going on, mostly centering around an eventual occupation by the Aerogators. That doesn’t sit well with anyone, but it’s easy to see the general public falling for that potential after seeing what happened to Geneva.
These episodes initially revolve around the plans to deal with the Aerogator threat by having something new used in the next battle. Putting Ryusei, Rai and Aya together in their SRW robots, the idea is to use the OOC (Out Of Crack?) feature that will actually combine the three robots together into one massive beast that can defeat everything. That requires a test run and Aya is incredibly nervous about it as there are a lot of unknowns about it. There’s also an interesting history that may be going on with it as well as Aya wants Plissken to tell the others about it before the test, but he agrees to tell them about it afterwards. If only there would be a test, however, since the Aerogators have decided it’s time to attack again and they go deep into China.
Not unlike previous volumes of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - Divine Wars, what sells the show once again is the big action scenes. There’s a lot of character interaction material going on in these episodes, but the attraction always seems to come down to watching the giant robots slug it out or prepare for battle. A good chunk of the last episode revolves around that preparation and it gives a very good epic feel as everything and everyone races off to where they need to be. Prior to that, it’s a very pitched battle in China that attracts as it’s done in a very dark setting with flames everywhere. It’s one of the few scenes where it really feels like the entire place is facing destruction and crumbling around them.
If there’s anything to dislike about this volume, it’s the pivotal turn that has you questioning everything you’ve seen before. While there have certainly been some possible hints here or there, the change of allegiance by one of the SRX members is really a surprise. Hindsight helps a lot and you can see the possibilities there, there hasn’t been anything that outright screamed of a double agent/traitor, and certainly not like the previous character that switched allegiances. This kind of move does feel like it came out of nowhere and it throws off the dynamic of the show pretty well, especially since it simply causes confusion. It’s not that the character was one that I particularly liked a lot, but at this stage of the game it feels more like a ploy than good storytelling.
Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - Divine Wars continues to be mecha porn for me. This volume provides a good deal of it but it sadly brings in material I don’t care for, which is the combination mecha aspect. It’s like watching a good hentai show and suddenly there’s some futanari in the middle of it. The action side of the series is strong here again but that isn’t a surprise. The character side of the series is relatively the same as previous volumes in that it’s chaotic, filled with too many characters and doesn’t spend enough time with any of them to really do anything with them. And with the surprise revelations here, it just adds to that shoehorned in feeling that a lot of it has. All in all, Super Robot Wars: Original Generation - Divine Wars is beautiful looking action material that’s saddled with too many, well, people.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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.