Tokyo Underground Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:!
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tokyo Underground

Tokyo Underground Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 19, 2005
Release Date: July 05, 2005



What They Say
After becoming Ruri's bodyguard, Shiel, Master of Thunder, develops sympathy for Ruri- especially after she overhears Pairon's plot to resurrect the hideous dragons in exchange for Ruri's life! Shiel helps Ruri escape confinement and tries to help her.


The Review!
While some revelations are made about the Underground, this volume goes a long way towards pumping up the action.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is fairly action based at a lot of times so there are a fair amount of audio moments where directionality comes into play, such as the movements of the wind and blade fights. The dialogue doesn't get spread too far across the forward soundstage though but comes across well and is clean and clear throughout. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Tokyo Underground is one of those series of the past few years that really stands out as being a digitally painted show in that the characters tend to stand out more against the backgrounds and not blend into their settings quite as well, sometimes almost looking like they're really on top of things and not part of things. The transfer captures this feeling from the source material and overall it's a very good looking transfer. The series has a lot of bold vibrant colors and a couple of visual tricks that could play havoc with an encoding but it's well handled here. Gradient and blocking issues within the colors are virtually non-existent, aliasing and cross coloration isn't an issue and the black and white filtered scenes look good without any noticeable break-up. While the show itself may not look the best, the transfer does a great job of representing the source materials.

Packaging:
Shiel and Pairon get the third volume's cover and it's a decent looking illustration where she's using her powers so there's lots of lightning against the background. Pairon's not bad either though he's giving that half-cocked look with his head that's sort of amusing in its own way. The back cover is well laid out with a strip of action shots from the show along the left while the right side provides a good summary of the premise and goes into detail listing the episode numbers and titles as well as the discs extras. The basic features and production information are mixed into smaller type below though and gets a bit hard to read in some places but isn't too bad. The insert replicates the front cover artwork while the reverse side lists the episode numbers and titles on this volume and release dates for the remainder of the series.

Menu:
The menu layout is nicely done and kept in tune with how some of the animation plays out in the show. Using a black and white line filter that appears behind the characters at key moments during the show, it plays havoc with the animation running underneath it in full screen mode here where we get both bits of animation from the show and its opening sequence, all set to some really creepy music when tied to this kind of look. The selections also "warble" in and out along the bottom except for whatever is actually highlighted which is left easy to read in a bold and brighter white. This is a neat looking menu that's designed with an interesting twist to it. The layout is easy to figure out and navigation is problem free. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras drop considerably and all we've got left at this point is a series images in an art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tokyo Underground manages to feel a bit smoother with this volume and not quite "so much" in a way due to it dropping down to just four episodes instead of five. It also avoids changing locales too much and introducing a lot of things and instead keeps its focus on the couple of characters and pretty much just a couple of plot lines that are moving forward. A lot of it is kept action based however so even when we do get some revelation material, it's sort of down awkwardly.

This happens right in the first episode where some of the fights from the previous volume are finished out, such as Rumina's fight against Rat Tail. It ends in an amusing way with Rumina holding his hand as Rat Tail dangles over a bottomless pit of some sort and he just keeps yammering on to Rumina about the origins of the Underground in general. We do learn some interesting things such as where a lot of the kids came from and the way their situations were, and what the scientists discovered deep down underground with those mysterious dragons. The mention of a bigger evil behind the scenes and the very simplistic plan of those in the Underground, generally in the Company's higher levels, to harness those dragons in order to dominate and ravage the upper world.

The end result from the fight has left the main trio in a bit of a bind because Chelsea's become so incredibly weakened that she's unconscious for the most part and Rumina has to sling her over his shoulders so they can get moving again away from where they just had their battles. Their escape is hampered though when they come across a couple of Company girls who have been out and about searching for someone else but are such loyalists to Chelsea that they'll do anything to help her. That means the two lads get to hide out with Chelsea while she recovers in one of the bigger towns in the Underground, one that looks like a full fledge city. There's a lot of amusement during this stuff since the girls don't trust Rumina or Ginnosuke and it's the usual temperamental characters going off on about anything.

The other main storyline that runs through here involves Ruri but only tangentially really. Ruri continues to be held for the eventual plans that those in the Company have for her, but Shiel ends up finding out some of what's really going on. She's become rather attached to Ruri since she took over as the bodyguard so when she hears that Ruri is going to be sacrificed in whatever event is coming up according to Pairon and those he's working with, she decides she's not going to be involved in any of this and heads off to set her free and do exactly what Chelsea did. This sets in motion a series of rather fun little fight sequences that eventually leads her to fight Pairon which is nicely done. But even then it allows for things to progress more so that Ruri escapes into the same city that Rumina is in, which means that the bigger and more powerful secret group that's watching all of this for the real ruler of the Company is put into motion.

In Summary:
Tokyo Underground really just keeps going on as a mildly interesting action show that shoehorns in some plot along the way. The way they did it in the first episode here was really forced and almost comical to the point of making you forget what's actually being said. Beyond that, the show does move forward here and we do learn more of the Underground in general but I still feel like a really fun concept didn't get executed properly and it's missing something. It's enjoyable for what it is, light boys action fantasy, but it's not challenging the brain cells in the slightest.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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jnager 3/13/2012 5:02:26 PM

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