Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: A
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Kadokawa Pictures USA
- MSRP: 79.99
- Running time: 600
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Third, The
Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye Complete Collection
Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye Complete Collection Anime DVD Review
By Bryan Morton
March 29, 2011
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye Complete Collection
© Kadokawa Pictures USA
One of Nozomi's lower-profile releases, by way of Kadokawa USA, The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye follows young woman Honoka on her adventures through a post-apocalyptic world where The Third, a branch of humanity with unusual abilities, keep control. But their control appears to be under threat...
What They Say
One Girl. One Tank. No Problem.
In a devastated world overrun by monstrous bugs and ravaged by outlaws, there's only one person to call when you really need a job done right: Honoka. With a sixth sense for danger, sword skills that are second to none, and a smart-aleck A.I. tank by the name of Bogie, she's ready to tackle any job and solve any problem for her clients. But while crossing the desert one night, she finds a young man alone in the wasteland. It' the first step of a journey that will challenge even Honoka's amazing skills to their very limit!
Audio is presented in English 2.0 and 5.1 versions, and Japanese 2.0. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, and it's a perfectly serviceable stereo track - dialogue is clean and clear, background music doesn't drown anything out, and there's decent placement of voices and effects when that's called for. It's not going to set the world alight either, though. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Video comes in its original 1.78:1 aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. It's a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest - the desert setting of the series doesn't give much chance to show off visually, and the series appears to suffer from the sort of problems in some episodes that you'd normally associate with budget problems (off-model animation and that sort of thing). Night-time scenes, of which there are many, also suffer from occasional visible artefacts in the encoding - nothing too annoying, but there nonetheless. Probably the weakest part of the series overall.
The set comes as 6 discs in individual keepcases (they appear to be the same as the individual releases), all wrapped in a "proper" thick slipcase. The sides of the case feature manga-style character artwork of Honoka and most of the characters she deals with through the series; the top and spine feature the series logo; and the technical information panel can be found on the bottom. There are also three double-sided penciboards, again with a nice selection of character artwork. The discs themselves come in clear keepcases, each with double-sided covers and with a card booklet of supplementary information. The front covers of each set feature yet more character artwork, while the rear features the usual disc information, promo blurb and screenshots. No complaints here.
Menus are the same throughout the set - a static screen featuring the cover art of that particular disc, with the opening song playing. Options are provided for Play All, Scenes, Setup and Bonus Features. There's a short transition animation when you switch screens - a pet hate of mine, as it slows things down considerably - but it's at least straightforward to use. While the episodes themselves are in 16:9, the menus are in 4:3 aspect.
The majority of the extras can be found on disc one of the set, which features a gallery of character artwork, character bios with commentary (continued on disc 2), 2 music videos and a set of trailers for the show. The later discs have further character bios, and creditless versions of the opening and closing sequences. Not a bad selection, all told.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
A global war in times past has left the planet a barren wasteland, although the survivors have done their best to rebuild. The detection of a strange object entering the atmosphere from outer space - with some characteristics that hint it may not be natural - causes some concern, but those in control, the Third, put the issue on the back-burner, for now. Out in the desert, meanwhile, a young girl named Honoka earns a living by destroying vermin and taking on other jobs, with the help of her sentient tank Bogie. A routine trip out to the dunes reveals something unusual - a human (or humanoid) alone in the desert, at night, and under attack. Doing what comes naturally, Honoka goes to help - but what she finds isn't quite what she was expecting...
The man she picks up is Iks, who is soon revealed to be not of this world. What his true mission is remains a mystery throughout the series, but it's clear that he's observing, learning about humanity and its strengths and weaknesses, and doing his best to keep out of trouble until the time when he needs to get involved in humanity's destiny becomes clear. Iks latches on to Honoka, who he hires as his "guide" to the world, and becomes involved in her adventures from there.
The Third, as mentioned, are the rulers of the world. Their red third eye (or "astral eye", to give it its proper name) give them certain abilities, including the ability to control the high-technology that the Third have maintained and that they strictly deny to the normal populace. Honoka falls somewhere in-between: she has an astral eye, something that she keeps permanently covered so as to hide her true nature; it also grants her abilities, but not the ones needed for her to be one of the Third herself. Her destiny lies elsewhere. Along with her you'll find Bogie, the AI who controls her tank and keeps a protective eye on her; Joganki, one of the most high-ranking members of the Third, who also has a very personal interest in Honoka (although whether this is a romantic interest, an interest in her abilities, or a combination of the two is never quite made clear; Millie, a young girl who Honoka feels a deep sense of responsibility for; and Paife, who on paper is a school nurse but who is as good at sorting out trouble as Honoka is. She just uses guns instead of a sword.
As for Honoka, astral eye aside she appears to be as normal as any girl her age - just working a rather unusual trade, as bodyguard / troubleshooter / general dogsbody for hire. Her control of a sword is uncanny, her compassion for others almost limitless - but in her day-to-day life, she comes across as normal as you or I would. The world she finds herself in is typical post-apocalyptic fare, with pockets of humanity living in towns and cities spread across a desert wasteland. Hydroponic farms provided by the Third provide food and water, while out in the desert strange and deadly creatures roam - hospitable it isn't. The last series I saw with a similar setting was Desert Punk, but The Third thankfully is a lot more sane that that.
The series is split into a number of self-contained arc, each one taking Honoka on a mission or journey and showing us a particular side of her personality - the care she shows for Millie after her father is killed, her reluctance to kill, her determination to complete any jobs she agrees to take on. They also tend to provide an excuse somewhere along the line for her to prove her action credentials, either through use of her sword (her nickname is Sword Dancer, after all) or her personal mech armour (or PSP as the series calls it, but those initials are too linked with a certain handheld device for me to really want to use them). Her battles are proper set-piece affairs, impressively done and at times on a massive scale. But in pushing the boat out with the battle scenes, the show seems to have left itself with minimal budget for elsewhere, and there are at least two episodes here that are what 4chan might call QUALITY - they're packed with clearly off-model characters and other signs of cost-cutting that really jar when you see them. Colour me unimpressed.
While the production quality leaves a lot to be desired, though, the story itself is pretty damned good. The focus on Honoka's good nature is there for a reason, which is made apparent during the show's final arc and ties together Honoka's adventures, the Third's interest in her, and Iks' reason for coming to the planet in a situation where Honoka and her compassion for others proves to be key. But just as enjoyable is the journey to get there, the various adventures that are had along the way - her arguments with Bogie, fending off Paife's attentions, trying to figure out what Iks is after. While there's an action strand underpinning everything, for the most part the series is very understated and relaxed in the way it goes about things, being driven mostly by the characters - and the way it's done makes it both entertaining and a little inspiring. It's all about the better side of human nature, after all.
Ultimately, story and characters are more important (to me, anyway) than production values, and The Third wins on that count. It's not outright impressive in any way, but it wraps you in humanity's better nature, personified by Honoka, and takes you to a laid-back place while you just let it flow over you. Very enjoyable to watch, and well worth picking up.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Reversible DVD covers, character bios (including some with commentary by Megumi Toyoguchi, the voice of "Honoka"), Japanese voice actor interviews, music videos (including some with karaoke music tracks), U.S. series trailer, six color booklets, three exclusive pencil boards
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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