Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #9 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Review

Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13+
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 72
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2

Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #9

By Chris Beveridge     August 04, 2008
Release Date: August 12, 2008


Super Robot Wars: OG - Divine Wars Vol. #9
© Bandai Visual USA

The series draws to a close as the fight against the Aerogators reaches a climax over the fate of mankind. 

What They Say:

No Information Available.

What We Say:

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 final installment of the series concludes with more of the same as it features a rather dark cover overall that’s punctuated by lots of characters with varied colors and mecha that are the same. The combination fo the two elements works very well overall and there’s a lot to like about the covers in how they provide many characters and mecha together with the kind of poses that they do. It’s almost… quaint. 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 special messages from the voice actors.

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 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. 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.

Extras:
Unlike all the previous volumes, we do get some extras here and some welcome ones at that. Clean versions of the various opening and closing sequences are presented at long last and they look and sound great here. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t follow the standard model of including them on each volume since they’re always fun to check out even after so many episods of seeing them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Super Robot Wars - Original Generation - Divine Wars series finally comes to a conclusion, though it’s more of a closing out of a first chapter of things than a full on end of the storyline. The series finishes out everything pretty neatly within the first two episodes before it decides to spend the last episode with a bit of character clean-up and standard epilogue material as it has to cover quite the range of characters. The large cast of the show has always been its appeal and its danger as you’re sure to find someone you like in it but you’re also bound to not see them get the kind of attention you’d like. That they kept bringing in new characters seemingly through the last few episodes didn’t help much either.

The first two episodes are everything I expected from the series at this point and it paid out in spades. With the various factions finally pulling together in some form against the Aerogators, the big pitched battle against the real bad guys gets underway in earnest. Taking place in space, it’s a cavalcade of mecha flitting about and engaging each other in all sorts of destructive acts. It’s even given something of a big Death Star moment as the monstrous Niviim device is brought into play where we learn the real goal of the Aerogators. Seemingly originally intent on just acquiring the planet or in it for the fun of destruction, now it’s revealed that they want to utilize mankind of its aggressive nature and rework them into their own personal military force to deal with the real big threat out there in the galaxy.

Well, isn’t that special.

With the size of the cast, there are plenty of one-off fights that get time and attention during all of this big epic material. The change of heart that Plissken had earlier is given some good time as he deals with his former subordinates. There’s also the fun twist that Aya’s sister is found to be the notorious Levi Torah who is dominating the attacks against humanity at this time. Toss in a few other folks from the Aerogator side, including the ominous sounding “Final Adjudicator”, and you’ve got a whole lot going on. The battles are pitched but the problem comes once again in that with all the uniforms and helmets that the good guys wear, it gets pretty hard to see who is who at times and to make the right connection. That lends the fights to be more eye candy than anything else.

On the positive side with the characters, they do try to spend the entire final episode in dealing with all of them and how they’ve landed with the conclusion of the main arc. The size of the cast makes it hard to really give them all the time that they’d need, but they do touch on nearly everyone in showing what’s going on. The changes are all done in order to set things in place for the OVA series that does follow this (and came out before the TV series in the US) and it is interesting to see how some of them come out. Ryuusei doesn’t get the most time but his moments are spread out across the episode as he finds his place in this new world order while getting ready to go make the important visit to his mother. The story ostensibly was told around Ryuusei but he was never truly the central character that we could home in on and focus on. He is the character that was pretty much the one constant after the first few episodes though so it’s good to see some sort of closure with him and his mother at long last.

In Summary:
Super Robot Wars - Original Generation - Divine Wars was a series that I was actually rather interested in from the start but is one that was incredibly difficult to really take hold of as it went on. With a cast of seemingly thousands, a storyline that turned on a dime and not enough time spent to really connect with anyone, it simply never found the right balance to become an engaging show. The lack of a real central character, even in an ensemble cast, hurt it quite a lot since nobody got enough time to be properly fleshed out. When you can’t connect with anyone in the cast – or identify them half the time – it simply washes over you. Thankfully, the series does provide a huge amount of mecha love and it’s all pure eye candy that was a dazzle and a treat to see on the big screen. Bandai Visual USA put out a top notch presentation here – and they should for the price – and that certainly made it all quite enjoyable on that level. But it can’t salvage an otherwise very problematic show, one that’s aimed at a very small audience these days sadly. Fans of this series already know all about it and its issues and will love it anyway. Super Robot Wars - Original Generation - Divine Wars isn’t a show that will go far beyond its small intended audience.

Features:

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings

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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