Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #4 - 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: Kadokawa Pictures USA
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     February 04, 2008
Release Date: January 29, 2008


Third, The: The Girl With The Blue Eye Vol. #4
© Kadokawa Pictures USA


What They Say
Something's wrong with Millie. While she maintains her normally bouncy outward appearance, her friends can tell it's merely a facade hiding the sadness she feels deep in her heart. In an attempt to raise her spirits, Honoka decides it's time for a short vacation! What could be more fun than exploring the strange, unexplained legends of the desert? But some myths are all too real, and Honoka's group soon finds themselves in a life-and-death struggle between three mysterious creatures!

Contains episodes 13-16.

The Review!
Honoka takes a vacation with Millie and the series brings in a fair bit of the past and the fantastic at the same time.

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. With there being less lengthy extras on this volume, the increased space has allowed for some better peak bitrates when needed throughout the show. The average is still relatively the same and the results are still very good looking throughout. The series has some stellar looking backgrounds to it and they're wonderfully realized here in the authoring for the most part. The blocking that was visible on the first volume has eased off considerably though there are still natural gradient issues that crop up from the source material.

Packaging:
The fourth installment of the series is another hard sell when it comes to the cover artwork. It's very dark and almost depressing as it features Honoka passed out and topless with a wounded look on her face. It actually avoids using the bloody mess that she is from the show, so looking at it after seeing the disc may color ones view of it. The background is murky with a lot of dark colors and an evil looking visage of Leon who is the main villain of these episodes. 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 has Honoka running along with the fairy and Kamui at her side, which is just as dark as the front cover is. Also included is a very heavy stock insert that provides poetry summaries of the episodes, character artwork and comments as well as some background 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 character bios continue to break 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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Past the halfway mark, The Third takes an unusual turn but one that fits in with the way the show has worked to date. So much has been going on that a good breather to deal with some smaller personal issues is rather welcome, especially since it once again provides the viewer with many wonderful background shots that really captivate the mind. So few shows have backgrounds like this that stand out so strongly and consistently that The Third is simply a visual treat when it comes to it.

The visual treat doesn't come right at the start though as the opening episode has some very second tier animation to it in comparison to the rest. The character designs are pretty flat and, while not off model, they feel rather unfinished and without the usual polish that one has come to expect from the show. The story revolves initially around having Honoka return the Emporium for some minor upkeep and repairs on her lovely tank and from there we get a sense of how things are going. She's a bit more reflective than usual and has come across as a bit more mature. Her reputation continues to grow but she's able to hold her own, such as when a hunter comes to her looking for her to be a guide. She's uninterested since she has other plans and is able to handle it in a rather businesslike fashion.

Where the focus is on these episodes for a good chunk of it is on Millie, the young woman that Honoka had saved earlier and set up in the city with Paife helping out by keeping an eye on her. Her situation has gotten worse since the death of her father and it's starting to affect her physically now as she's going into deep sleep states at the drop of a hat but it's entirely psychological at its core. Honoka hasn't had a chance to really heal the rift between the two or to take the time to spend with just her. The solution presents itself readily enough as she decides to take a vacation and bring Millie along with her and Iks should she agree to. With the adoration that Millie has for Honoka, there isn't much need to convince her to participate in the trip.

The trip itself certainly isn't uneventful, but it is a rather curious trip as the ideas of legends and folklore of the desert to reality. With the world in the state that it is, it certainly isn't a surprise to see a variety of different things living out there on and under the sands. But this takes an odd turn along the way as it deals with two very distinct pieces of folklore. The first is that of a wolf that roams the dunes and has for some time. The other is the desert fairy, a bright twinkling (naked!) little thing that is apparently looking for something. Both of these turn up in connection with each other over the course of the four episode storyline and they really do feel out of places. Iks serves well as a conduit of understanding about them, but the apparent revelation that's offhandedly said about the fairy being a "Star Seed" just takes you out of the show.

These events tie to the bond that's being rebuilt and strengthened between Honoka and Millie. The two have been together off and on for most of their lives but it's the last few years that are the strongest. Millie still hasn't properly dealt with the death of her father and with Honoka busy on jobs, she hasn't had the one person she feels the closest to nearby to talk to. Paife recounts some good things about how Millie has been coping, but Honoka knows deep in her heart that there is a rift between she and Millie and it must be worked out. But like most people, they dance around it or just keep silent and unsure of how to really fix it on their own. Watching how this plays out in conjunction with the storyline involving the folklore as well as the mysterious hunter with powers that disconnect you from the reality of the show so far is surprisingly engaging, but there is still just a sense that something is ever so slightly off with these episodes in the worldview.

In Summary:
While this installment of the series does feel a bit weaker than previous ones, and doesn't have much at the moment that seems like it has a strong connection to the larger storyline, it's still a rather engaging show. There is also the first episode here which is off in the character animation and that takes you out of the show pretty quickly as well considering how consistent and solid the animation has been from the start. Yet even with the issues, at its core is a very interesting set of characters that are involved in stories that don't feel rushed and have a real sense of beauty and wonder about them. The Third is unlike a lot of other shows out there these days which works for and against it, but for the most part it's all a positive for me. This is the quiet before the storm I think and I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes about after this.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios

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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