Tokyo Underground Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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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: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tokyo Underground

Tokyo Underground Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     January 03, 2006
Release Date: January 03, 2006


Tokyo Underground Vol. #6
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The Saga Concludes...

Rumina and the gang head into the "Killing Fields" facing unknown odds; with united ambition to win the tournament and rescue Ruri, the gang prepares for battle. All the while, Kashin and Pairon prepare to take Ruri to the location of the dragons. Can Rumina & Chelsea get there in time to stop them? The fate of the Underground belongs to the wind.

The Review!
The series comes to a very busy close as the split groups enter the big tournament and those who hold the real power make their moves.

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:
With the characters having been split up for awhile now, this cover gives us a group shot of the team that Rumina puts together to enter the tournament as they all go for a basic team pose with green electricity flowing around them. It's not a bad way to end out the covers for the series but I would have preferred something for the real core cast of characters instead. 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.

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 last round of extras is kept to a look at the nine volumes of Japanese DVD cover artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tokyo Underground comes to a rather quick conclusion with the final four episodes of the series as it brings the various groups back together to one location that have formed as characters have split off during previous storylines. With everything coming to a head in classic form, there's lots of action, some angst, a bit of background that doesn't seem to quite fit at times as well as tearful reunion moments.

At this point, there are basically three groups of characters operating here. The main one is the new team that Rumina and Rorec have put together in order to fight in the tournament but also to keep those who were recently enemies close at hand so they don't have to worry about any surprises. The second group is the one with Ginnosuke and his pseudo-mentor and another who are also participating in the tournament in order to get to Ruri. Ruri herself in a sense constitutes a group as she's kept in captivity by Pairon as Kashin now, with Kashin taking a very personal hand in dealing with Rumina and the threat he now represents to the company.

The shift to a tournament based storyline in the final volume is a bit surprising, especially since the group is of a decent size and there are a number of others vying for the winning position, but it's actually kept very slim overall and the battles are often ended quickly or just skipped over in favor of getting to a fight with some meaning. In truth though, most of the fights don’t have any real meaning other than to forge the bonds between the disparate members a bit more than they were before and to let the viewer see them in a more positive light. One fight that does take on some significance is when one of the opponents is a gray haired man named Rensho that fought against Chelsea as a member of the resistance. Through the flashbacks that come during the fight, we see how the two went up against each other and how one of their fights was the impetus for Chelsea taking Ruri to the surface.

Where it becomes problematic a bit is that Rensho looks at times so strikingly similar to Kashin in that when we see the flashbacks to Kashin's past as his evolution gets explored now that he's in the hot seat and under direct attack when the tournament collapses, it becomes easy at first to confuse the two people. Kashin's motivations do become clearer as it goes on but there are some strange leaps that are made as we now learn that Chelsea was actually one of the founding members of the Company. The age of the Company is never really brought into play but with the background that gets revealed about its origins along with Kashin, it really gives the feeling that the thing is so completely new within the last few years that you have to wonder how they managed to gain so much power so easily and did so much. This is a show that I'd really like to see a full timeline on because so much of what gets brought up here doesn't feel like it flows well or with what's come in the past episodes, sketchy as a lot of it already was.

With these being the final episodes and all of the villains now revealed and actually on hand, it's easy to see how this plays out as everyone wears their plans and their emotions on their sleeves. The cast has very little to hide from anyone, themselves included, so it's a very straightforward action ending that's decently done but doesn't really have anything truly big or unique to it that helps it stand out for any other couple of dozen boys oriented fighting shows. It's definitely competently done for the most part and the animation for these final episodes are a step above most of the series so far, but when you watch that opening sequence and see the animation style and character designs done so much better there, you find yourself wanting that show instead, whatever it is.

In Summary:
Tokyo Underground has a been a really spotty show from the start as it's awkwardly told its tale, almost like the writers for the show were reading the manga to do their storyboards but found it so mediocre that they skipped pages and forgot to fill it in on the anime side when production began. It had some neat moments along the way and a couple of really good fight sequences but everything seemed to be so constantly on the move and what little downtime the cast got wasn't all that interesting or just further complicated things that it was difficult to really get attached to the cast or to see the show as anything more than non-stop fighting. Like most shows it has its brief moments and flashes of creativity but they are few and far between, leaving the show to be just another in a long line of similar pieces.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese DVD Cover 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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