Tokko Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga 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: Tokko

Tokko Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     September 19, 2007
Release Date: August 14, 2007


Tokko Vol. #3
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Just when hope for a better tomorrow seems within their reach, the squad uncovers the mastermind behind the exploding plague of kill-crazed phantoms. For Ranmaru, what had once been a quest for vengeance will now unleash a climactic conspiracy of demons, alchemists and brutal mass murder. But even if he can infiltrate the underworld for a desperate rescue, will one haunted cop make a heartbreaking sacrifice to stop the ultimate horror?

Contains episodes 10-13:
Never Mind
No Woman, No Cry
Not In Love
Remain Tender Together

The Review!
The tension and the bloodshed rises as the events surrounding Machida escalate.

Audio:
Tokko is heavily loaded on the audio front which is a surprise considering how high up the video bitrate gets. A total of five audio tracks are included here that cover a pretty wide range. Two of the tracks are stereo mixes in Japanese and English at 192 kbps that have a decent sound to them even if they are basically standard action soundstage designs. There are also a pair of 5.1 mixes done at 448 kbps for both English and Japanese. These have a fuller sound to them as well as a bit more sharpness. The increased levels account for part of it but there is just a touch more rich sound dynamic here. Also included, a real rarity these days, is a stereo mix in Spanish that's in 192 kbps. We listened to the disc primarily in Japanese 5.1 but spot checked all the tracks throughout and had no 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 show is a pretty slick looking one with lots of clean lines and solid colors but also a fair bit of detail and depth to it. The bitrate hits a lot of highs into the eights and plenty of steady sevens but it has a lot of dips into the two's as well. A lot of scenes are practically stills as characters go through internal monologues so they're able to keep it down low without any real perceptible loss at 480p. There's a touch of aliasing throughout in scenes that have panning but it's pretty minimal. Cross coloration is essentially a non-issue and colors in general maintain a very solid good looking feel to it. The main problem we had with the authoring on this disc is that each episode is its own chapter, so moving about to different scenes or even skipping the opening and closing sequences is essentially impossible without immense frustration.

Packaging:
Sakura closes out the series with this cover as it's a full length shot of her in an action pose from the finale episode. With lots of reds and blacks for the background combined with the red and black in her own character design, it all blends together well while still giving off an air of menace. The back cover clearly shows how violent the show will be with the background being a blood splattered living room. Rounding it is a series of shots from the show that look good by going into the bad guys and the violence as opposed to the sex. The summary covers the basics while below it is a list of the episode numbers and titles and basic disc features. Unlike the first volume there is a technical grid here and it's a very welcome change to what they had before. Everything is listed clearly with aspect ratios, language formats and the running time. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menus for this release are a bit amusing as they're front-loaded with pretty much all of Manga's current and recent shows. With a bit of lead in animation after the trailers, the menus are nicely done with a black background that has blood splattering animation to it while swapping out various characters from the show. The layout is straightforward and easy to use and access times are pretty fast. The disc defaulted to our player presets correctly as well.

Extras:
The making of feature picks up where the last one left off and offers quite a bit more for the thirty-five minutes it runs. It presents a good look, albeit with plenty of fluff, at what went into the shows production and adaptation. The creative staff talks a lot about what they wanted and what went into it and overall it's a good look at the series from that perspective.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final four episodes of Tokko bring the series to a quick conclusion and in the end leaves you feeling somewhat less than satisfied. While this particular arc finishes out well enough, the overall feeling is that there is far more material that could be covered. While most thirteen episode series in the last few years have felt about the right length, this is one of the rare ones that I thought could have been twenty-six or more in order to tell its tale.

The scope of the storyline is one that makes the compression down to thirteen episodes difficult. The saving grace of sorts is that it seems like Shindo has been brought into the Section 2 organization towards the end of things as it's been several years since the Machida incident. His arrival has brought about a number of changes and hastened things, something that becomes more apparent as the puppet master behind things, at the moment at least, has a reason for needing him specifically. The pace at which things draw towards the conclusion is awkward, particularly the introduction of a pair of other Machida survivors, as there isn't quite as much to connect with as the main cast has had.

The growing amount of evidence about what's going on has pointed the Section 2 group closer towards understanding. The various attacks and manifestations of the phantoms has shown that things are more organized than they believe and that someone is pulling all the strings at a smaller level. This gives them something to work on, but it doesn't take long before the mysterious man behind the scenes uses those he controls within the government and police to try and draw Shindo closer to him. The group starts to sense that things are closing in on them, sometimes in a very personal way, and they all have to start trusting each other more and getting closer.

Tokko hasn't had a huge cast to it but it has a decently sized one that allows for the last few episodes to touch upon most of them. Chief Kunikida in particular gets some nice scenes here as the realization of just how manipulated he's been comes into play. Ryouko as well gets to take some risks to her position in her dogged pursuit of the phantoms and those that are making things more difficult behind the scenes as appeasers. The characters that continue to get the most attention however are Shindo and Rokujo. Their ties to Machida are explored a bit more as we see how kind Shindo was to her without knowing it which then ties into the problems she's had with her brother. The expansion on Hiroki is welcome but it does feel somewhat forced as his role in these episodes comes out of nowhere.

Coming away from these four episodes, I found that it was overall an enjoyable series as it had a refreshing sense of violence to it combined with a potentially solid long running storyline. If more of the longer running series out there took the kind of serious/violent approach, I'd likely enjoy them more overall. Where Tokko falters is in that it is far too short for what they're trying to do and the compression has left them with some awkward moments. It didn't help either that the big final battle that was fought here is done in a way that it's off screen. The series overall did a lot of things right, even if some didn't care for the brother/sister relationship, and it had a really good sense of self in what it wanted to tell. It just didn't have the time to do it.

In Summary:
The end of Tokko comes across more as the end of the first chapter of a larger storyline. Though there have been hints about there being more, at this time there isn't anything and that leaves it all feeling incomplete. Where Tokko does succeed, especially for me, is in that it's willing to "take chances" with its characters by not having an implied guarantee that everyone will survive to the end. This uncertainly introduces a good bit more risk to the various action scenes which gives it a touch more edge. I've long been a fan of Fujisawa's works and am rather glad to see that he's done something that's outside of the Shonan Junai Gumi/GTO realm. Most of what he's done since then however has been short which has led to a situation like this. Tokko is definitely recommended to those into this particular genre as they'll be quite pleased overall and will probably lament the lack of another season for some years to come.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,Spanish 2.0 Language,Making Of

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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