Tide-Line Blue Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tide-Line Blue

Tide-Line Blue Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 08, 2007
Release Date: May 15, 2007

Tide-Line Blue Vol. #1
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
A natural disaster of apocalyptic proportions, the event which would only be referred to as the "Hammer of Eden" resulted in the flooding of over 90% of the earth's landmass and the near decimation of the entire human race. Fourteen years later, in spite of these events, mankind perseveres.

With the last remnants of humanity banding together on the few remaining landmasses, civilization is rebuilt; and with the ideal goal of creating a world unbound by the bonds of race and religion, the New United Nations is formed. However, not all agree with the New United Nation's diplomatic mission. When one man in command of one of the few remaining nuclear submarines decides to mold the world according to his views, the fate of the world could once again be at stake.

The Review!
With the world essentially no more than a series of islands now, one man has decided to make war in order to forge the future he wants to see.

This series includes a pair of stereo mixes but is the kind of show you want to go back and smack the Japanese producers for not doing a proper 5.1 audio mix on. Encoded at 224 kbps, the stereo mixes do a good job of presenting the series but at times it feels like it really lacks any serious impact to it. Directionality is generally minimal as characters tend to be center stage when talking and subtle sounds, such as when people are inside submarines, are generally non-existent. The mix is decent enough for what it is but it could have been a lot more. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Filled with lots of rich colors along the way, particularly in the blues for obvious reasons, the transfer for this series is pretty solid in general. Colors look vibrant with plenty of fluid animation throughout and it avoids cross coloration and noise in the backgrounds. The couple of problems that do crop up along the way are fairly separate but still tied to issues beyond encoding itself. The first is that in a number of the blue sequences, there is a noticeable gradient throughout. It's not as pronounced as some early digital shows, but they're perceptible. This is simply how it was animated as well as the resolution itself. A potential high definition transfer could either smooth them out more as more color depth is available or it could make it worse. The other problem is that the panning sequences introduce a fair amount of line noise. This is still a fairly common NTSC issue as well as one related to how it was photographed. Beyond that however, this is a good looking show that holds together well.

Using artwork from the second volume of the Japanese release and retaining the original logo, the design here is decent but a bit too dark and murky to really kick off the series. The first Japanese cover likely would have worked better in providing something more eye-catching and enticing. The artwork here lets Keel take the focus while he's surrounded by background characters and the Ulysses submarine. The artwork looks good in general though and getting the Japanese artwork is always a plus. A reversible cover would have been ideal however. The back cover features a very simple layout as the artwork used is mostly just black space while along the bottom corner it has part of the burning city. The summary covers the basics of how the world is now while providing an idea of the plot. Episode numbers and titles are included as is a listing of the discs extras. The bottom portion is rounded out with the usual production information and the minimal technical notes. This release does at least note that it's an anamorphic widescreen series which is a nice change of pace. No insert is included with the release.

The menu design for the show is quite nice overall as it features a background piece of animation where the space station Freedom is off to one side looking down as the Earth rotates below. Overlaid on this is a submenu on the left which swaps out character artwork as the light flashes from the space station. On the right is the navigation strip which has the usual basics we get from Bandai releases and the logo is just below that. There is music attached to the menu but it's painfully low to the point where it's barely audible for the most part. Access times are nice and fast but the disc did not read our players' language presets and instead defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

A few extras from the Japanese release have made their way onto this one to good effect. The main one involves an interview piece with Minami Kuribayashi, the woman who wrote the theme sing and performed the vocals for it. When playing the extra on our Panasonic player, no subtitles were shown though they could be accessed on the fly. Also included in this release are a pair of music clips with the full theme songs for Blu Treasure and The Little Mermaid.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With an original story by Satoru Ozawa and Umanosuke Iida there was little chance that I wasn't going to be entertained by this. Ozawa certainly captured my attention years ago with the release of Blue Submarine No. 6 and later on with the release of the Submarine 707r OVA. With Tide-Line Blue he returns once again to an ocean based adventure that shows us a world that has lost against nature.

Taking place some fourteen years after a horrific accident caused by something called the Hammer of Eden, six billion people have died and the world is now left to little more than a series of islands. Some are bigger than others of course but little is left that's recognizable. Major cities have been washed away and the people that are left are eking out an existence that puts food on the table and keeps them alive. While the majority of people are simply trying to survive, politics continues on and a new version of the United Nations is trying to become a reality. The various island nations that now exist aren't quite the mono-cultures of the past due to the way refugees and survivors basically washed up anywhere and everywhere but there is a sense of pride to each nation. And like many nations, they want to be above others in power which will help them survive.

Initially starting off at the final meeting that will bring the new UN into reality, some of the island nations make a push for veto power over others because of the kind of influence they have, generally in the amount of food that they generate for humanity in total. This sets off a natural wave of anger and resentment but it doesn't have long to grow. A former military commander named Gould has arrived in his submarine the Ulysses. In a nod to the past he has with the Secretary-General of the UN, his envoy tells her that ten years have past and little has changed. To that effect he has decided to wage war in order to presumably tear down the existing power structure and put one in place that he believes will work.

While this puts the Secretary-General and her staff on the run and looking to firm up support from the member nations in general, the focus is more squarely on a few key individuals. While the large events play in the background, the show revolves more around a fourteen year old gambling upstart named Keel. His life is simple and he uses his wits to survive but also to try and entice a young pregnant woman named Isla to be friendly to him. The attack on the island forces her into labor which has him at wits end. Where the rescue comes in is when Gould's envoy arrives on the scene and performs the birth while giving them both a way to access his ship in order to survive.

The kicker is that the envoy is Teen, Keels apparent twin brother. As their past is revealed, we find that they grew up on the space station Freedom and are likely the only two people on the planet who have a real perspective on how the world looks now. Keel takes Isla and the baby on board the Ulysses where he's faced with the challenge of growing up and dealing with the reality of the situation all while trying to mange Isla. Teen on the other hand falls into the UN's grasp and is kept with the Secretary-General on her trip to the Pacific Fleet as well as to America where she's working a deal. Through both of these young men we get to see different views of the same world and explore the way life has changed since the Hammer of Eden incident.

Suffice to say, a series like this is right up my alley. While it doesn't have the same visual flair that I loved in Blue Submarine No. 6, Tide-Line Blue has a good style all of its own that is very appealing. The theme of the show is one that I enjoy a lot even to the point where I can find some enjoyment in Waterworld, god help my soul. Tide-Line Blue plays things a lot more seriously in general but it's also mixing in a good bit of comedy along the way. Most of it comes from Keel as he's fairly in articulate and rash but they also surprisingly bring some in with an ostrich. That's easily the weakest character of the show but something about it doesn't have me wanting to throttle it completely.

With only four episodes on the volume there is only so much explored of the overall premise. What we do get here is fascinating, such as seeing how America has become the new oil king as the middle eastern oil wells have all been sealed up and is now basically the coldest place around. Equally interesting is the new water current that wraps around the world called the Dhola Vira. It's a cheap gimmick to allow quick movement around the ocean but it's one that you have to wonder what would really happen if the Hammer of Eden incident really took place. Similar to the space elevators falling back to Earth, having an immense amount of water fall back would be staggering. That's what gets me in the end with a series like this in that looking at the larger implications it just becomes staggering to wrap your mind around.

In Summary:
Tide-Line Blue is the kind of concept show that just attracts me right to it. Though there are some weak points in the execution, it's one that has to deal with introducing a lot of important points early on. There are some really nice touches throughout, particularly in how each episode seems to end with someone the space station doing an "End Transmission" moment as they continue to broadcast down to Earth. Visually it won't stand out against some other similar series of this nature but it's a beautiful looking solid production in general. There is a lot of potential to a show like this and much of what happens in this first volume is a lot of fun and has shown where it can go. Fans of these kinds of shows will do well to check this out.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Vocal Singer Interview,Full Length Songs

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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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