Vandread Second Stage Vol. #3 - 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     January 24, 2003
Release Date: January 21, 2003


Vandread Second Stage Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Even though the Nirvana has nearly reached home, everyone must continue their vigilance against the alien menace. During a fierce battle in a gaseous storm, Hibiki becomes stranded on a barren planet populated by telepaths.

While Hibiki struggles to return to the Nirvana, he must face and learn about his true nature just as Duero discovers the secret of Hibiki's past. Finally, even when the Nirvana reaches Tarak space, an automated defense grid threatens to destroy them - what surprise can save the Nirvana now?

The Review!
The latest installment of Vandread brings some good single stories together but also at the end kicks off into the final arc of the series with some surprisingly good revelations.

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 set against a sunset, causing all the yellows and oranges to blend a bit too much. 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 close to twenty pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Second Stage of the series continues to provide a good mix of episodes, often something more serious mixed in with a couple of lighter episodes. While there is the whole larger darker storyline of humanoid harvesting going on, the main focus continues to be just on the characters and how they deal with things.

Though she’s gotten time to shine before, Meia gets another episode worth of main screen time. As it’s her birthday the next day, the crew is doing their best to work up a surprise party for her. In past years, Meia’s managed to avoid them in various ways by being busy, leaving everyone in a lurch. But this time around, there’s some men thrown into the mix and Hibiki does his best to help make sure that Meia gets occupied enough that she can’t get out of the surprise.

What this ends up tying into is a storyline about Pyoro being too involved with the new baby. Dita and Hibiki take advantage of this as well and manage to get Meia to watch her for several hours. Knowing that both the child and Meia could use some contact, the two really hit it off with each other, but of course both end up in extreme danger when the ship falls under attack, giving a nod to the bigger running plotline. While it’s forced in a number of areas and Meia’s character design seems to really suffer here at times, this was a good fun episode.

The next two episodes work in a similar fashion as the Nirvana has ended up in a huge magnetic space storm, but it’s also the final barrier that they must conquer before they can get close to Mejale space and head home. From a battle/action perspective, there’s some fun moments here in a dangerous place to battle, but all things end up going badly when Hibiki gets knocked out, only to find himself crash landed on some alien planet.

Things here prove to be confusing and enlightening at the same time. Hibiki finds himself being rescued by a group of mixed-gender people who all dress a lot like Rabat, someone that Hibiki’s not all that fond of. The people on this planet have been isolated here for a long time, having been exiled by the Earth. Their voices were stolen as well, as they proved to have telepathic powers and caused fear and more on Earth. They talk with Hibiki a bit, but in the end they send him on a mission of self-discovery.

The strange things start happening then, as we get more of that blue field of mental images that Hibiki walks into, as he tries to figure out who he is, and as the people of the planet try to realize how much Hibiki has changed since he first started on this journey. This all starts to tie into strange activities by the Nirvana ship itself, as some of the links between various places and people start to solidify. A lot of this is starting to remind me of Asimov’s Second Foundation, with a race of telepaths that will try and save everyone in the end.

The setup for the final battles coming up with the Harvesters of Earth looks like it won’t go easy, especially as the crew of the Nirvana isn’t exactly all that trusted once they reach Mejale space. There’s a lot of revelations throughout both of these episodes that start tipping the hat of the larger hidden plot, things that become more obvious in retrospect. While I think someone of it should have been a bit more obvious or essential to earlier episodes, I’m intrigued to see where they’re going with it and how much of it I’ve managed to guess.

This disc manages to mix just enough of the sweet and comical side with the action and revelations that it flowed nicely. And it’s definitely good to see the growth of certain characters outlined clearly and made much more obvious in the general design as well. Vandread still continues to be something of a guilty pleasure.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings,Production 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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