Suzuka Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: 15.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Suzuka

Suzuka Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     December 31, 2007
Release Date: December 17, 2007


Suzuka Vol. #2
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Realising he might never amount to more than just a friend, Yamato finally finds it within himself to confess his feelings to Suzuka. But whoever said change is good didn’t think things completely through! Fazed… okay, temporarily fazed, the young man decides to step up his efforts. And what better place to pursue a high jumper than at track practice? As mixed signals and high school hormones keep the gang busy running in circles, it seems as if just about everyone’s jumping to join the team! And as Suzuka tolerates nothing but the best from her team mates, setting the bar pretty high… Well, Yamato’s best just isn’t good enough! When love is not a spectator sport, the only question is, who will go the distance?

Episodes Comprise
6 – A Day at the Park
7 – Decision
8 – Distance
9 – A Frame in Time


The Review!
This one’s going to be hard to rate honestly… When a series begins to get you on a personal level, it’s never going to be a loser, and with this volume, Suzuka almost reached into the past to pull out a very personal story. Ever suffered unrequited love? Then this disc could do the same for you. Blissfully unaware of such things? Then it may not have quite the same appeal…

Audio:
Audio is provided in both English and Japanese 2.0 tracks – this time around, I listened to the Japanese track. Like it English counterpart, it’s a fairly basic stereo mix – the setting doesn’t really give much opportunity for working out the soundstage, so there’s no real direction to things, but it’s clear and easy to make out.

Video:
Video is presented in its original full-frame aspect, and makes good use of a bright- colourful palette to bring the show’s setting to life. The transfer itself is also good, with no noticeable problems.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The main menu uses the a nice manga-style image of Honoka, against a plain background. Options are provided for Play All, episode selection, language setup and extras, and a piece of the show’s background music plays over the top. There are no transition animations, so it’s all suitably quick & easy to use.

Extras:
A bit more effort on the extras front this time out. Along with another art gallery dressed up as a school yearbook, and creditless versions of the opening & closing sequences, there’s a commentary track for episode 6, featuring the dub VAs for Suzuka and Yamato.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
A happy day out at an amusement park turns sour when Yamato’s hormones get the better of him and he confesses his feelings to Suzuka – only to be firmly rebuffed. Despite being rejected, though, life goes on for Yamato - even though he's having a hard time finding the enjoyment in it again. Every time he sees Suzuka, he sees the fun they had on their day out, before he opened his mouth and spoiled it. Now, she's back to not even speaking to him, and while pretty much everyone he knows seems to have figured out what's happened and is trying to cheer him up, he's just not interested. Help comes from an unlikely source, though, when Yuka shares her own experiences of rejection and convinces Yamato that maybe it's not time to give up hope yet.

He takes the plunge and joins the track and field club - something that most of his friends had advised him against, and that Suzuka really doesn't look happy about. For all the effort he puts in at the club, Yamato still has no luck getting any closer to Suzuka - if anything, she seems to get even colder towards him, and although he doesn't know it his friendship with Miki and Honoka probably isn't helping. When there's a selection meeting for an upcoming event in Tokyo, Yamato decides to make his best effort to make the team. Not only does he manage it, but he makes it in personal record time - but when even that doesn't seem to make Suzuka warm to him, he decides it's time to try direct confrontation. Her answer? That she really doesn't like him. After that put-down, what can Yamato do to try and change her mind..?

Strange to relate, now, but these episodes picked me up and dropped me back around 15 years, to when I was still a teenager (don’t do the maths, please!) and very much in love with someone who, in hindsight, didn’t feel the same way. I did everything I could to spend time with her – I took up martial arts, milked common interests for all they were worth, but eventually realised that her feelings were so focussed on someone else that I was really wasting my time. It took me about 7 years to figure that out – Yamato manages it somewhat quicker (a couple of week, by my reckoning), but the emotional impact on him seems to be much the same. That little trip down memory lane also points out in wonderful technicolour exactly how much of an asshole I must have seemed at the time, as that’s very much how Yamato comes across here.

You see, the red cord of fate may have these two joined at the hips, but they’re so caught up in their own little worlds and with their own little needs – Suzuka and her fixation on Kazuki, Yamato and his fixation on Suzuka when there are other possibilities in the field – that neither of them really sees the bigger picture of what’s going on around them. Of the two, though, Yamato’s by far the more annoying, as his determination comes across a lot of the time as just arrogance – and once Suzuka makes her position abundantly clear, he just takes the huff and goes off to sulk, leaving me with far more sympathy for Suzuka’s position than for Yamato’s. I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for Honoka and Miki, who so clearly are on a hiding to nowhere here.

But then, the course of true love never did run smooth, and there are still quite a few episodes of the series to go. The story could go in several different directions from here, some of which would make for some very touching viewing and some that could be infinitely annoying – and perhaps the biggest issue I have with the series at the moment is that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I know what I want to see, but Suzuka is playing its cards very close to its chest and is very much keeping me guessing.

In summary:
This volume covers some aspects of young love that a lot of people will have been through at some stage or another, when blind determination takes on a hopeless cause. If you’ve been there, these episodes may well work on a level beyond just entertainment, and that’s what makes me rate the volume so highly. If you missed that part of growing up, then there’s probably not as much here to “connect” with and drag you into the story – in which case it probably won’t work as well. Either way, though, this is definitely worth a look.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Aoba High School Yearbook,Voice Actor Commentary for episode 6,Textless Opening & Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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