Vandread Second Stage Vol. #2 - 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: A-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Vandread

Vandread Second Stage Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 08, 2002
Release Date: November 19, 2002


Vandread Second Stage Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The shocking appearance of an Alien version of the Nirvana crushes the Nirvana’s attack on an alien mothership! As the battle continues, severe injuries to key personnel cause tempers to flare as the humans become more desperate. Then a valiant sacrifice inspires the crew’s resolve to challenge the aliens and leads to a new Vandread evolution! Meanwhile, the male-female tension continues to provide distractions and entertainment that helps the crew cope with their stressful situation.

The Review!
Things continue to get more serious for this gang of travelers in more ways than one as love starts to become a reality on board the ship. Of course, those pesky Harvesters are also starting to get creative.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show features a solid stereo mix with some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear and the music and ambient sound effects come across well. Spot checking the English track, we noted no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The transfer here is pretty much the same as the first season, featuring a non-anamorphic letterbox picture that looks great. The shows colors are even more vibrant and sharper than the first time around, providing a much more enticing visual treat. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and aliasing is extremely minimal. And much like the first series, the subtitles have been placed within the image and not in the letterbox area, giving HDTV owners the ability to properly zoom in.

Packaging:
The foil style covers continue here with one of the new variants for the Vandread configuration getting the main cover with the Nirvana off in the bacground. It’s not terribly eye-catching due to all the silver and similar covers on the front blending together. The back cover features a couple of bits of animation and a brief summary of these episodes. The discs episode titles and numbers are clearly listed (as there is no volume numbering) as well as the discs features.

Menu:
Very much in the style of the show, Nightjar provides another set of great looking and great sounding menus that are also functional and easy to navigate in the style of one of the ships control panels. Moving between the menus is a breeze and access times are nice and fast. The menus are also done in the widescreen mode to keep in line with the show itself, so zooming here results in no loss as well.

Extras:
The extras at this point are pretty standard as we get the textless openings for each of the episodes on the disc, as they do continue to change ever so slightly each time. We also get more character line art in a gallery with this volume, clocking in around twenty pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While this season of Vandread isn’t exactly dark, it’s getting more serious and there are some near-cinematic moments that made me wish for a full blown theatrical movie. And considering I wasn’t terribly keen with this series from the outset with its look, that’s a huge change in my mind.

As seems to be the main style of storytelling with this series, there’s two ongoing plots that end up intersecting in some way. One of them deals with the Harvesters or things outside the ship while the other is some kind of inter-personal relationship issue. Generally with Hibiki and Dita. That’s not bad, but after awhile it just seems forced. This is the main reason I can see them inserting Misty into the mix previously, as she now gives Dita a run for her cooking in trying to make Hibiki her guy. The amusing and positive part of this is that most of the women on the ship are actually interested in how Misty deals with Hibiki, since her culture had male/female relations and they can actually learn from her.

The relationship side of the show fares very well on this volume. The triangle-aspect of the Dita/Hibiki/Misty relationship isn’t as grating as I thought it might be, since there are enough people who will actually smack one or two of them and tell them to figure it out. With Jura being so interested in it, she does a great job of making this something that doesn’t just get drawn out forever. There’s also some good exploration of the Gascogne character, as we learn her past after Hibiki makes some comments about her being an armchair general of sorts and never really knowing the loss and struggle of being on the frontlines. The backstory is a bit weak, but I think it’s more of how it’s told than the actual story itself. But with that and the changes Barnette goes through here, I’m liking more and more members of the cast that haven’t gotten their fair shake yet.

There’s also quite a few good moments with the new baby. But having just had a newborn myself a day or two before seeing this, I may be biased!

The exterior side of the story, with the Harvesters, moves into a multi-episode conflict that runs parallel to the relationships. Much to Misty’s surprise, the Nirvana and her crew basically leaps into battle with the next Harvester ship that they come across, as the crew is now brimming with some confidence after having some victories against these massive armadas. Naturally, it wasn’t going to be a streak that was going to run forever, and this Harvester has some tricks up its sleeve. While the Nirvana’s pilots head out and tackle through the cubes and get closer to their main target, things start to change and they’re suddenly faced with a Harvester’s version of the Nirvana, which turns out to be more powerful than an inferior copy should be.

There was one really standout segment during all of this, during which all of the pilots were in the sickbay and dealing with a loss. The way this segment was animated was just surprising. With an almost poorly lit room and some very gorgeous looking character animation combined with a somber mood of dialogue, this was just so close to looking like a theatrical moment that it stood out strongly. I just got very wrapped up in how well it came out and wanted more and more of it.

With each passing volume, I get more and more fanboyish about this series and want to start collecting paraphernalia about it. Evil! But recommended, if you’re looking at both series as a whole.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings,Line Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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