Tekkaman Blade Set 3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 400
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tekkaman

Tekkaman Blade Set 3

By Chris Beveridge     August 23, 2007
Release Date: August 14, 2007


Tekkaman Blade Set 3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
It is 2300 AD. 192 years after the world has united, "ORS" (Orbital Ring System) was built 300 km above Earth. ORS functioned as the center of industries, and provided energy to Earth. One day, unknown outer animals (or human beings?) attached and occupied ORS. Their next target was Earth.

To protect Earth, the United Earth formed a special unit called "Space Nights." During a battle, Space Nights saved one mysterious boy's life. His name is D Boy, and he can transform into "Tekkaman Blade." He fought against the enemies for Earth, and beat them one after another. But there is a strong enemy standing in front of him. This enemy looks just like Tekkaman Blade. What is the secret of D Boy? Why can only he can transform into Tekkaman Blade? What is the enemies' purpose of invading the Earth?

Contains episodes 34-49.

The Review!
Tekkaman Blade comes to a conclusion with its final batch of episodes that pushes Takaya even further through the wringer.

Audio:
With this release being a presentation of the show as originally broadcast and new no English language adaptation to it, the only track included is the Japanese 2.0 mix. Presented at 448kbps, the stereo mix comes across quite well for a show of this age with a fair bit of directionality. Compared to the previous English only edition which had some severe problems during it, this one sounds pristine. It isn't the kind of mix that will excite compared to more recent shows but it's a solid presentation of the material itself outside of a PCM mix. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of these sixteen episodes.

Video:
Originally airing in 1992, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. In its Teknoman version, we had commented on how soft and poorly taken care of the source materials were and wondered how much of it was in the original Japanese materials. Watching these sixteen episodes, spread across three DVDs instead of the two that the English version was done with, it's almost a night and day kind of presentation. The source materials for this release are in far better shape than that version though not completely free of issues. While there is occasionally a touch of softness in some scenes, where the materials here suffer is in some white specks and general print damage. These moments are noticeable and somewhat consistent throughout all the episodes but I have to emphasize that they are minimal and simply indicative of the materials of the time. Colors look rich and vibrant here, backgrounds are solid and there's nothing really visible for the most part in terms of cross coloration. The bit rates for this release are consistently in the sevens to nines and having it across three discs helps a lot. Fans of this show will likely love what they see here, particularly if they've seen the Teknoman collection first.

Packaging:
The Tekkaman Blade collection release is in a rather simple but slick package here that has a really good feel to it. Designed as a chipboard digipak, the front cover is sideways layout that has a deep black background with a great visual of Omega and Blade set against it. This is the kind of design that excels in its simplicity and is very eye-catching. The back cover isn't sideways and it contains a bit of Tekkaman artwork from the show and a couple of very small screenshots. Between them is a decent summary of the premise while the rest of the cover is rounded out with the production and technical information. No insert is included but the interior has the clear plastic digipak holders with character artwork behind it.

Menu:
Using the same artwork as the front cover across all three menus, the design here looks just as good as the packaging does. The colors look just right, plenty of detail and with the bit of vocal music applied to it, it sets the mood. The only complaint I can have and it's incredibly minor is that the font used for the "Star Knight" section just doesn't work as it reads more like "Staa Hnight" than what it should. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is quick and simple across all of them. Only the third volume has extras on it as there aren't even trailers on the first two volumes. The discs correctly read our players' language defaults and brought up the subtitle track as it should.

Extras:
The remaining extras for the series run about fifteen minutes or so and they're interesting pieces to close out with. One is an eight minute piece that, in high quality fashion for the time, explores Shinya's past in an interesting way and provides for some intriguing parallels to his present situation. The second bonus video runs about five minutes and is essentially a look forward at a potential sequel series that the creators dreamed of in that it moves forward two years and shifts the focus onto Aki. Both are great looking and have plenty of promise to them but the length of this first series certainly scares me from the potential of more.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tekkaman Blade has been a series that is both difficult to get through yet surprisingly fun. Over the course of the forty-nine episodes, it has so much that you could call filler or just poorly paced that the entire series feels longer than it should. At the same time, there are sizeable chunks that you can't just write off because of how it ties everything together in the grand scheme of things. Yet with all these episodes, too many characters fall to the sidelines and aren't developed as well as they should be. And that's what makes the ending so anti-climactic.

Over the sixteen episodes on this volume, the series progresses from the changes made during the second set. With the world being overrun by the Radam monsters and trees and the Space Knights essentially being down for the count, having the small band of them reunite with Takaya pushes things forward again. His journey to find a crystal that he can use to get to the moon is the impetus that keeps him going and sends him towards some of his more deadlier enemies. The initial arc brings him up against Goddard, also known as Tekkaman Axe. One of the teachers that both he and his brother had, he's essentially an uncle to him which makes it no less difficult than all the other battles he's fought.

In his single minded drive to reach the moon and stop Tekkaman Omega, Takaya has to face off against many of his family members and relations. Though there are some good heated battles with Lance and Sword, both of which are incredibly underdeveloped to the point where it feels like filler, the most emotional aspects always come back to Tekkaman Evil. Takaya's brother, Shinya, has such a closely tied history to his brother due to their being twins that you can feel strongly that there is something deeper to the fight. Shinya isn't quite on the verge of hysteria over his fights with Takaya but he's becoming slightly unhinged in his need to best him. So much so that Omega actually pulls him from the ranks for awhile and seals him away to stew in his own thoughts.

While there are numerous big battles and plenty of smaller ones along the way, what keeps this as engaging as it has become is the characters. Though many are little more than ciphers even at this point, the main focus of the relationship between Takaya and Shinya is where it's at. The two of them have numerous flashback sequences to their youth when they competed and had vastly different experiences in their lives. Each has a different personality and it's made all the clearer through the way they grew up together. The flashbacks, though sometimes referenced a bit too much when taken in full, also provide some good nods towards other members of the family. But it always comes back to Shinya's need to best his "older" brother. A brother who was born only thirty minutes before he was which meant he always had to call him his older brother.

The weakness of the secondary cast makes a lot of the battles in this volume more problematic to get through. Goddard as Tekkaman Axe manages to work out well enough, mostly because he waxes romantic about the past with both boys and makes his preference for Shinya clear, but the others are woefully underdeveloped. Sword and Lance are both kept to the absolute minimum and Sword only gets a small bit of back story given to her towards the end. The worst however is the portrayal of the eldest son, Kengo. With his role as Omega, he's essentially the true big bad villain out there that Takaya has to defeat. So much time is spent on his fixation with Shinya that the final battle is pushed to the last episode and it feels so anti-climactic that you don't get any sense of pressure or drama to it. The relationship that Takaya has with his family and people close to him is kept squarely on Shinya and with a good helping for Miyuki. Beyond that, it's so weak that it slows down and weakens the story.

With the last set of episodes for this series, it's little surprise that we get a couple more recap episodes. Even in collected form I have to admit that I didn't mind them that much considering how much of the show I've seen so far. Taking stock of the series this late in it and with the various revelations made gives the recap a solid feeling and does remind you things to be aware of as it comes to a close. Potentially even better is that it gave the animators a chance to pump up the quality in the last two episodes. So much so that some characters don't look at all like they did before. It's more reminiscent of the high quality extra material in the first volume, especially with Shinya who doesn't look at all like he does in the series overall. You have to love that they change hair colors for characters right at the end. Aki in particular makes out well from the animation upgrade as she's far more detailed and fluid and is given a better hairstyle. It does give the impression however that this is closer to what the animators wanted to make rather than some of the weakly animated episodes throughout.

In Summary:
After watching it in Teknoman form and then in its original form, I wasn't inclined to be particularly into the series. The Teknoman version didn't exactly enamor me and the basic problems I had with that version are still fairly evident in this one. At the end however, I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than I did before. Not only the Teknoman incarnation but also the first two editions of this version. These final episodes ratcheted things up a notch and put Takaya through several levels of hell, to the point where I had to wonder just what more they could do to him. Of course, they show that in the bonus episode Missing Ling as you see how Aki treats him. Overall, Tekkaman Blade has gotten a great release from Media Blasters in these three editions and other than a full on new dub, fans could simply not ask for much more.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Two Bonus Episodes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 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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