Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Kadokawa Pictures USA
  • MSRP: 24.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Third, The

Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 27, 2007
Release Date: July 31, 2007


Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #1
© Kadokawa Pictures USA


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's the first step of a journey that will challenge even Honoka's amazing skills to their very limit! Contains episodes 1-4.

The Review!
When a mysterious gentle man falls into the Honoka's life as a jack of all trades of the desert, everything starts to heat up.

Audio:
This series is presented with the standard options of the original Japanese stereo mix as well as an English stereo mix. In addition to that it's been given a spruced up English 5.1 mix, at 448 kbps as opposed to the other mixes 192 kbps, which gives it much greater clarity and sense of impact. The 5.1 mix provides something that gives the show a fuller feeling that enhances the overall presentation and once again illustrates the need on the part of the Japanese to stop mucking around in stereo so much. The stereo mixes certainly aren't bad as we listened to this primarily in the Japanese language and it fit with the show well enough. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series marks the first time that Right Stuf has worked with anamorphic materials for the anime side and the results are pretty good overall. There is a lot of material here overall with over two episodes worth of additional material in the extras. Upconverted to 1080p the flaws are more visible though with blocking going on in some of the light blue night time backgrounds and a couple of other areas. Shifting it down to 480p reduces it a lot and we found that the blocking was even more reduced when we checked it out on our 50" Panasonic set via component. The blocking tends to come into play with the various gradients that show up and this is the only real issue with the release. The visuals from the series are very strong in many scenes with some very beautiful moments that come across wonderfully. Cross coloration is a non-issue and aliasing is very minimal overall. With the next volume having less extras on it things may be better as there will be more space to work with.

Packaging:
Though a touch too cutesy considering the material overall, the cover art for this release looks good. A full length shot of Honoka with a big smile as she waves about her sword is set against the desert background along with Bogie. The mix of elements works really well here to show exactly what kind of show to expect within while also making sure to play up the cuteness factor a bit. The cover art has been used in a lot of promotional material in the last couple of months so it's a very familiar piece. The back cover goes for an in-theme style look with some good colors to it as it uses blacks and oranges to good effect. A few shots are included of the darker moments from the series as well as some much smaller shots to flesh it out. The summary covers the basics while the special features are all clearly listed. As usual, there is a good technical grid along the bottom that contains everything in a very easy to read format. The cover is reversible as it has the Japanese artwork which contains a pairing of Honoka and Millie that's just as bright and cheerful as the main side. Also included is a very heavy stock insert that provides poetry summaries of the episodes, character artwork and comments as well as some illustrations.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is fairly simple but has some nice design and animation elements to it. The main menu uses the front cover artwork in expanded form along with the PSP visuals to tie it all together with the navigation strip. A bit of music plays back during it and there are some nice animation moments to it as it reloads or as it shifts to the show itself. Moving about is quick and easy and the design is intuitive while still flowing well. Access times are fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The first volume of the series has a copious amount of extras to it that are quite a lot of fun to watch. The character artwork section is pretty traditional in that you have it broken down by character and step through each of the pieces. The character bios on the other hand breaks tradition a bit in a good way. Going into each character there is a bit of artwork and a summary but there's also a commentary. The commentary is done by the Japanese voice actress for Honoka and it showcases a short clip, often a couple of minutes or less, of character design artwork with comments about the perception and design of them.

The big extras included is in the voice actor interviews. Two separate pieces are here with video interviews with the voice actors for Honoka and Iks, both of which run just around twenty minutes each. Each of the interviews goes into a lot of production material as well as the usual EPK fluff but there's always some good nuggets and insights into the productions in these. The only downside is that it's a one-chapter section so it's not easy to skip to certain areas to see more. Unlike some other companies releases though you can fast forward and menu out of it. Also included in the release are a pair of music videos that run about five minutes each.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on an original story by Ryou Hoshino with illustrations by Nao Goto that ran in Monthly Dragon Magazine, The Third: The Gird With The Blue Eye is a twenty-four episode series that's being released by Kadokawa Pictures USA in conjunction with Right Stuf. This release marks the third time that Kadokawa Pictures has worked this way by using a different distributor to handle the title and the results once again are very pleasing.

The story at first is one that is familiar enough but done with just the right mixture of style and restraint to almost feel old school in a way. Taking place in a future where the world has succumbed to cataclysmic events in a war, only a small handful of humanity is left as well as those that now rule it. The world, at least the part we get to see, is reduced to mostly sand and ruins and it is overseen in gleaming towers by a group of people called The Third. These pale looking people have a third eye of sorts on their forehead that's red and they do seem to posses certain powers though at first we're given to just seem them as holders of positions of power. Under the Council of the Third, they manage this world to keep it in line though it isn't clear that they are exactly otherworldly.

The show is focused a bit more on the conventional as we're introduced to Honoka, a jack of all trades who works the desert to do any job she's hired to outside of killing someone. Acting traditionally as a transporter or an escort, she does whatever will she's asked to make the money she needs to survive and buy her fun things. Working with a sand tank that has been restored by one of the best Technos in the area, Bogie provides some of the real heart of the series as an AI built into it. Some of the narration for the show comes from him as he talks in a past tense about the events that are unfolding as Honoka's life changes with the arrival of a man named Iks.

With a world that's controlled by the Third, things that could upset the balance are carefully watched and dealt with. Such a thing happens at the start of the series as something has entered the planets atmosphere with a sense of intelligence about it that the Council could not determine. Not prone to acting rashly, they instead send out their minions to investigate which of course ties in to what Honoka finds while out on one of her jobs. That mysterious thing is of course Iks, a gentle man with the ability to accelerate a persons healing. Iks' arrival on the scene has him staying with Honoka for a bit as she is on a job and through his eyes and Bogie's narrative we start to get a better feeling for this world and all that it entails.

Similar to most series of this nature, it takes a few episodes before things really start to gel. There is a fair bit of ground to cover in explaining the basics while introducing the core cast of characters and putting it all together. The Third finds a good balance for this as the action moments don't continue on too long nor do they feel too short as it goes through familiarizing us with how it all works, be it the copycat spiders at the beginning or the way that those involved with Technos are controlled and monitored. By the fourth episode things start to become clearer about what all is involved here with these characters as everyone has more to them than is plainly obvious at first.

One area where The Third treads where few others do is in the realm of poetry. Adding this element to any show can always add an aura of pretentiousness but they manage it just right here both with the poetry itself but also the placement of it. Honoka's a fairly solitary type even with a companion like Bogie which figures into her love of the desert which feels like it's where she belongs. Having scenes with her sitting out on the dunes reciting lines from her favorite author Donna Myfree doesn't feel out of place. These are often some of the most beautiful scenes when taken in total as the night sky backgrounds and the quiet of the scenery really sinks in. It does have that aura of pretentiousness but it doesn't feel like it's trying to cram it in there to be different or self important.

The design of the show is fairly striking at times as they've done a very good job with making this not feel exactly like any number of other desert based series. The backgrounds in particular really shine with lots of detail and a real sense of wonder. The mechanical design is also equally solid as things like Bogie and other sand vehicles look like they'd fit in well in this kind of world without much problem. The characters are a bit standard as well with the Third beings coming across as pale and slender while most of humanity is roughing it with what little they have, but there is a good mix of characters throughout it that stand out well enough. Honoka does seem to play up a bit of a stereotype at first but as the layers are revealed and her personality comes out the design really suits her with the fatigues, boots and tank top. As much as she tries to portray the tough girl she does still have that softness to her that allows her to be appealing across the board.

In Summary:
The least known of the first three properties that Kadokawa Pictures USA has brought over, The Third is in a way the most traditional of them as well. With animation by Xebec that's solid and beautiful there is a lot of appeal here in the characters and the setting. The storyline itself is one that will take time to build up but it has a lot of good hooks to it early on and provides enough intriguing material as it reveals itself to definitely warrant more viewing. In some ways a lot of the scenes here, particularly the quiet ones with Honoka out on the dunes, come across as very cinematic which is very appealing. Though restrained in its design because of its setting, The Third manages to find some great ways to shine. With it not following a traditional manga format of storytelling there is a lot of potential here and this production has some very solid elements to it all around. Fans of this genre will likely be quite pleased by this and the title has some strong mainstream appeal to it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Art Galleries, Character Bios with Commentary by Megumi Toyoguchi (Honoka), Japanese Voice Actor Interviews, Music Videos

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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