Vandread Second Stage Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     March 06, 2003
Release Date: March 18, 2003


Vandread Second Stage Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The Grand Finale. The crew of the Nirvana has returned to a cold welcome. First, the Mejale troops board the Nirvana and arrest the women for fabricating the story of the aliens as a cover for a coup d etat. Then, the Tarak troops seize the male prisoners to debrief them - also in prison. However, with the incoming alien harvest fleet, everyone must learn to put aside their differences and fight together or there will be no happy ending… While the Nirvana is the key, how can the crew reunite while they are in prison?

The Review!
After two half seasons, Vandread comes to an end with an all out space battle that I doubt could be animated any other way and retain the same level of excitement.

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 conclude here with the big action pose of the ultimate Vandread configuration leaping towards the viewer, trying to give it something of a real 3D feel. 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. Also included as a good bonus is the original cover artwork from the Japanese releases with both the character pieces and the mecha pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final installment of Vandread managed to actually get me to move this show out of a guilty pleasure category and to realize that it’s just a whole hell of a lot of fun. These last episodes almost had me on the edge of my seat in watching them play out, wondering just what was going to happen next and how they planned to resolve it all in just the three episodes they had left.

Amazingly, they pulled it off and did it quite well.

After the third volume, the Nirvana was firmly back in-system but with the problem of both sides closing in fast. They’re still in that situation here, and both sides are demanding they surrender themselves now. The Captain decides that’s for the best, as she believes that they’ll be able to convince those on Mejale of the necessity of action with the Harvest coming better in person than through a standoff. As the women prepare to go, the men get themselves ready for their plan, which mysteriously involves knocking Hibiki unconscious and dropping him inside the Paksis. But, as each side leaves, it all goes quietly and the Nirvana is set into a “space cage” until they decide what to do with it.

Now that we’re back to the individual worlds, something we haven’t done in ages, it’s very interesting to revisit and reacquaint with things we haven’t seen since very early on. There’s a lot of revelations here, particularly on Tarak as we get to meet Grand Pa and start learning about the First Generation and what’s involved with it and those who make the decisions on the planet. Similarly, we get the introduction to Grand Ma on Mejale and see the court proceedings on the pirates, who unfortunately end up losing and are sentenced to a purgatorial prison colony in an asteroid. At least they’re not being tortured like the men are.

This all leads up to the arrival of the harvester into the system, which brings about one of the busiest space battle sequences I’ve ever seen as well as one of the flashiest. The CG level that’s been attained by this episode works fantastically well for the story they’re telling. Between all the Vandread configurations that hit, the “vapor” trailers from the fighter craft and the entire space background, filled to the brim with stars, is just stunning. I was no fan of the CG when this series started, but I will admit that it’s turned a corner here and is instrumental to telling this tale.

I was also surprised at how well the characters have grown on me over the episodes. As things got more and more tense, or as the cast got more into the battle, I was laughing along side them or tensing up just as they were. The relationships between them all definitely grew nicely and it’s played out well here, especially during the epilogue sequence. Bart in particular manages to come off nicely in his relationship.

Vandread’s definitely left a lasting impression on me as there have been few series that I’ve really grown to enjoy as much as I have with this. Often it’s a love or hate from the start with the feelings rarely changing. The end here leaves plenty of room for more stories, but the main arc does come to a conclusion – and a satisfying one at that. Truly a rarity for anime.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings,Character Cover Gallery,Mecha Cover 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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