Tactics Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tactics

Tactics Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     January 12, 2007
Release Date: January 23, 2007


Tactics Vol. #3
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Kantaro Ichinomiya and his team of monsters and demons are back solving supernatural mysteries. Haruka, the demon-eating goblin, questions his reliance on the team while also growing closer to them. The fox demon Yoko, heiress Suzu Etogawa, Sugino the White Goblin and wife Muuchan also return for more supernatural adventures.

Contains episodes 11-15.

The Review!
Slowly building a rogues gallery as well as delving into a somewhat bigger story arc, Tactics hits up five more episodes that doesn't stray from its formula.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. A Japanese 5.1 mix was made for this show which is what we listened to though the stereo mix is also included thankfully. The 5.1 mix isn't bad by any stretch but it doesn't add much in terms of real directionality or sounds to the rear speakers. It does provide more clarity to the forward soundstage though and overall gives the mix a bit more power. The Japanese release was only a PCM mix so I imagine that this is a remastered mix done by Manga as they tend to provide 5.1 mixes for most of their shows. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials for this show look like they're in fantastic shape and there is a lot of good detail to the show in general as these early episodes almost look like OVA quality pieces. During a lot of the scenes in the episodes proper, colors are very solid with a great smooth feel and warmth to them. Blocking is very minimal and difficult to pick out of most scenes and aliasing and cross coloration is essentially non-existent. The opening sequences are some of the best moments as the colors simply pop out at you. This is a great looking transfer.

Packaging:
After Kantaro got the last volume, Haruka gets it this time around with an expression that's almost sad looking if it didn't also convey something of complete disinterest. For those that like the character though, it's certainly an appealing cover since it uses the dark brooding type motif nicely. This one gives us a fairly simple purple cover in the same manner as the earlier ones. The layout of the design along with the sideways logo and colors works really well here and this is a very appealing cover that stands out very strongly. The back cover brings the purple shades and design pieces to it as it provides for a couple of shots from the show that displays its darker nature. The summary is pretty solid and each of the episodes is listed with mini summaries for them. Though there's no technical grid, the features and extras for the release are clear and easy to find but I wish they had a better method for the technical side since you can't tell that the show is widescreen until you put it in the player. Contrary to the previous volumes, the run time is now much more accurate as it lists 120 minutes and mentions the bonus features aren't included. I'm very glad to see this since so many people found the previous method to be less than honest.

Menu:
Very few menus really have much in the way of motion these days but this one is nicely done as pieces move and flow about when you go between menus. A good part of the layout is made up of the character art while there are scroll pieces where the navigation strip is as some of the instrumental music plays along to it. Load times between menus is pretty good though it does have some minor motion to it but the overall design makes it appealing enough to look at. Due to there being multiple Japanese language tracks on it, we didn't go through the standard method of letting our player presets pick it up and manually selected the Japanese 5.1 track and subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are much lighter for this volume but there is still a few nice inclusions to be had here. A new music video, Premonition Infinity, is included as well as some of the original TV commercials. These tend to cover both the show and the merchandise ads that were done for it. A new image gallery is also included. .

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tactics moves right along with another set of five episodes that starts to bring in a few new elements to the show. It's a bit of an awkward disc at first since it has the second half of a two part storyline but once past there it starts to work on a larger storyline. Even then however, the series keeps to its well established pattern and doesn't stray from it all that much.

Where series like this tend to have more problems, at least when being viewed in bulk like this, is that it has certain events happen in certain ways almost every episode. Almost like single episode mysteries, you can figure out exactly when the revelation will be. Each episode here brings in some particular spirit or goblin that has to be dealt with and they can't get out of that. One episode that focuses on Kantaro's editor, Reiko, has her going through her job and showing the various difficulties that a woman faces in that position during this period in time. Difficulties that seemingly don't change over the decades either. It is potentially an interesting enough episode, but they have to bring a spirit into it to deal with her - benign that it may be " and it just feels incredibly forced.

Some of the bigger picture for a storyline begins to emerge with this volume as Kantaro and Haruka have to deal with the realization that someone is hunting Haruka. Initially it's just your standard spiritual issue that has them involved, but as it progresses we learn that there's far more. A series of goblins making their way through to a particular building begins the investigation, but as it begins to spiral deeper we see that there is a woman named Ibragil who has under her command a few very powerful men. Individually they appear to be capable of handling Haruka, knowing some of his weaknesses, and are able to keep Kantaro and Haruka at bay. Almost like a series of tests to see how strong Haruka is, they manipulate situations to these ends. Some of them are fascinatingly beautiful, such as the first instance where the woman who hired Kantaro ends up wrapped in some beautiful flowers.

Others are much more interesting, such as when the pair are brought in to help investigate the discovery of the Unebi ship. Based on actual events to some extent, the ship Imperial Navy ship disappeared en route from its origins in France where it was built and no survivors or wreckage was ever found. In the storyline here, the ship is found some time later near Mt. Fuji and is in terrible shape. The troops that found it however end up disappearing as well by the hands of a very vicious goblin that the survivors called a goblin eater. This of course draws in Kantaro and Haruka and their investigation brings them up against Ibragil once more as she manipulates events to determine how Haruka can be used in her plans.

Most of the episodes have a fairly good consistency to them in terms of bringing about the appropriate atmosphere of creepiness and mystery. Though there are still plenty of shortcuts being taken in the animation, they're done fairly well as the show looks good. There are times when it could look better as the bit rates get low for the video, but there are so many stills and small movement sequences that they're able to get away with it more. A lot of the appeal still comes from the settings as the locations are often quite good looking and the designs for things, such as wallpaper and even curtains, all add a lot to how this comes together..

In Summary:
Though Tactics doesn't really break any new ground, what it does do is work the genre in a competent and enjoyable way. The characters haven't reached any serious kind of depth to them but they're all pleasant on the eyes, have enough of a personality to them and interact well. On a weekly basis, it's easy to get into an episode and enjoy it. But when taken in larger context like this, the repetitive nature of the setup during the first half is more apparent and can lead to being less engaged in it overall.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Still Gallery, TV Spot, Premonition Infinity Music Video, Japanese TV Commercial, Japanese Merchandise Ads

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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