Suzuka Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • 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. #3

By Bryan Morton     April 07, 2008
Release Date: April 21, 2008


Suzuka Vol. #3
© Revelation Films


What They Say
Yamato has fallen in love at first sight and the race is on! Yamato's heart takes him on an impulsive trial of heartache and self-discovery as he pursues Suzuka Asahina, the most popular girl in his new school. Personalities clash as the competition for Asahina's love and attention grows with every life event.

Episodes Comprise
11 - Showdown
12 - Misunderstandings
13 - Lips
14 - Blessing


The Review!
Pulling less personal strings than volume two did, this volume of Suzuka still manages to keep me glued to the screen - but you'd be forgiven for think Suzuka herself wasn't the main focus of the show anymore...

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:
This volume's cover features Miki, waving cheerily, set against a bright orange background. Not the best colour, but a decent piece of artwork nonetheless. The rear has the usual promotional blurb, screenshots and disc information, while the reverse, visible through the clear keepcase, features some uncharacteristically fanservice-y artwork of the girls.

Menu:
The main menu same image of Miki as the packaging, this time set against a summer sky. 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:
No much here - a gallery of screenshots dressed up as the school yearbook, and creditless versions of the opening and closing songs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
After his latest falling out with Suzuka, Yamato's thrown a bit of a hissy fit and has decided not to attend the track meet - after working so hard to get selected for the school's team for it, that's just a little bit selfish, and to Suzuka it just proves that he hasn't been taking the track club seriously. Yasunobu isn't exactly pleased with him, either, and drags him forcibly down to the school - even if he won't race, he can see what effect his decision has on the rest of the team. They get there just in time to see Arima, a member of the visiting team and former rival of Kazuki's, giving Suzuka some unwanted attention - his barbed comments about her lost love are enough to move her to tears, and that's enough to make Yamato run to her defence.

Later, though, Honoka's long-standing feelings for Yamato get the better of her, and on impulse she makes her move - and Yamato realises that he may have overlooked the person he really wants to be with...

A lot of what I've read about this series has been quite critical of Suzuka herself - the way she treats Yamato, almost stringing him along but then cold-shouldering him for no apparent reason. On one level I can see where those criticisms come from, but I see her more as a girl with issues to work through - Yamato's helping her, perhaps unwittingly, but there are going to be times in that sort of situation where you'd want to take a step back (do I really have feelings for Yamato? Am I betraying Kazuki, or his memory, by being with him?) and wait until you're ready to move to the next stage. That's where their relationship is, but being an inexperienced teenager Yamato doesn't see that - he's just seeing a girl who's blowing hot and cold, and who really just wants to see results for his effort, preferably sooner rather than later. It's an aspect to his personality that I don't particularly like, but I also have to admit he's a lot less annoying generally on this volume than he was last time.

It's Suzuka's changing interest in him, though, that begins to push him away - and his own need for instant gratification that perhaps makes him respond to Honoka's advances the way he does. First up, I was surprised with the way she grabbed the bull by the horns and finally made an effort to get her dream guy - she's been painted all series as the shy & quiet type who wouldn't say boo to a ghost, but she grows ever more bold as this disc goes on, and I enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell. But I also can't see their relationship lasting, and expect that there'll be heartbreak coming for her down the line - and I like the character enough that I'm dreading seeing it happen.

The reaction to Yamato and Honoka getting together is as you'd expect - surprise from the guys that he went for anyone other than Suzuka, bemusement from Miki (and if the happy couple survive the roadblock thrown at them at the end of this disc, I get the distinct feeling she may try to crowbar them apart herself), and public indifference from Suzuka - although in more private moments, you can clearly see her disappointment. Perhaps that will teach her the price of delay, even though in some ways her actions are understandable.

Unlike some teenage romance shows, though, Suzuka rarely annoys me - its characters are all well-rounded and grounded in reality, not vengeful airheads who over-react to every situation. Yes, there's drama here, but it's not overplayed and never reaches the level where you just want to slap some sense into someone. Characters do have annoying aspects to them, but they're not so prominent that you come to hate them for it. The end result is that you want to see how events turn out, and whether they get who or what they want - and that's a measure of the show's success.

In summary:
Maybe not quite as good overall as volume two (although Yamato's a much more likeable character this time around), this instalment of Suzuka still managed to keep me glued to the screen. A good job has been done of building the characters into people you can care about, so that you enjoy the highs when they happen and dread the lows that you can see coming. Definitely looking forward to seeing more.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Aoba High School Yearbook,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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