Venus Versus Virus Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Venus Versus Virus

Venus Versus Virus Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     February 11, 2008
Release Date: January 15, 2008


Venus Versus Virus Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
As the battle for human souls rages on, newer and more powerful Virus demons arise to confront mankind’s last line of defense, the Venus Vanguard. To make matters worse, one of the newest Virus seems completely immune to the Vanguard’s weaponry, and it’s taken a personal interest in destroying Sumire! Meanwhile, Lucia’s got troubles of her own: faced with a foe even more powerful than herself, her only chance may be summoning the power of her mystical left eye, whatever the cost! Unfortunately, new revelations about the source of her powers won’t make the Vanguard’s mission any easier… they might just tear it apart! Get ready to lock and load up on the only anti-demon therapy that may save your soul… because the Virus is spreading in the second volume of Venus Versus Virus!

The Review!
As Sumire’s role in the show starts to become more apparent, Lucia’s past is given greater clarity which sets things up for the last third of the series.

Audio:
The audio mix for this series is surprisingly light as both the original and English mixes are done in a standard 224 kbps stereo format. The show does have some good moments in terms of its audio when the various Virus' get active and attack, but for the most part it's a rather mild mix that's kept to dialogue and some incidental music along the way. The opening and closing sequences with its music tends to be the biggest draw as it utilizes the stereo channels well. Outside of that however it's a rather predictable and sometimes bland mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions with either mix during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With it being such a recent show I was surprised to see how it looked. There's only one real problem with it but it's a sizeable one in that the backgrounds are filled with mosquito noise. In some of the scenes it's almost overpowering, especially when there are lots of soft blue filled backgrounds. This isn't kept to just the backgrounds though but it is where it's most noticeable. The show appears to be shot somewhat soft in general which adds to this and gives the backgrounds a feeling of being in constant movement. Colors in general look good with no bleeding or oversaturation but their level of solidity is out the window. The opening and closing sequences tend to look a lot better, the closing in particular with its heavy white use.

Packaging:
This release is a touch different in that the keepcase used is done in a nice shale blue color which helps to accent the color design of the artwork itself. Similar to the first volume, the release looks good as the keepcase color helps to draw you into the background design and that of Lucia’s hair. She once again takes the lead while you have a maniacal shot of Laura with a gun and Sumire in berserker mode behind her. The back cover has some good framing to it as well while it uses a rather detailed purple background that lets the text and artwork stand out. The summary covers the basics and the discs episodes and features are clearly listed. The shots for the show are a bit small though, presumably to make space for the copious amounts of Japanese production credits and copyright info. The technical grid along the bottom is pretty good even with all the required logos since it still gets the discs features across clearly and cleanly.

Menu:
The menu design is rather simple and straightforward as it uses the character artwork from the cover off to one side and has a static purple filtered background that uses some of the framing from within the show itself. The navigation is kept to the left which individual episode access and it's all tied together with a bit of the opening vocal sequence. It's a decent looking menu but has that basic effort feel to it. Access times are nice and fast however and the disc, like just about every release from ADV Films, read our players' presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty standard in the inclusion of the clean version of the opening sequence and the two ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The middle arc of a series like this is one that can really make or break a show with what it does. Venus Versus Virus had started off weakly in its first installment and this one doesn’t manage to salvage it too much. The main strengths of the show seems to come from its visuals and the rarity of a lead with an eye-patch, but these are strengths that I suspect play better in a more detailed manga version than in a streamlined and smooth anime version.

The four episodes here start to bring more of the larger plot to bear since it is what will play out in the final volume. Some of it is teasing as we see Sonoka using both Luca and Guy to do her bidding and test Lucia and Sumire. But it’s watching Lucia and Sumire that we see the most going on as each of them have very specific storylines that overlap well enough. For Sumire, she’s still adapting to this new world that she’s in and having a difficult time of it. Part of that difficulty comes from dealing with the way she fits into the scheme of things with Lucia and her crew. Lucia isn’t exactly warm and friendly so her demeanor causes some problems along the way. Nothing is major but it’s little moments that can unbalance a young girl.

A young girl that can go berserk if her mental state is off and things work in the right/wrong way at the time. Sumire hasn’t really grappled with the issue much in comparison to fitting in with Lucia and the others. Part of it is likely just because she’s so unsure of everything and isn’t exactly outgoing with the questions. On the plus side for her, Nahashi has been working hard to figure out the right mixture to keep her in control when she lets loose with her powers, but it’s still undergoing a lot of experimentation. The idea of a controlled berserker is amusing in itself, an oxymoron to be sure, but when Sumire does go wild with some sense of control it’s actually a lot of fun to watch since she’s got some great changes in her expression.

Lucia for her part gets explored a fair bit more throughout these episodes. Her past has been haunting her for some time and it’s what is going to be the main focus going into the ending of the series. That comes more to the fore as the True World is talked about more since it seems to haunt her pretty well. What it is, and her role with it, is still a mystery but we do get some nice dream sequences involving her without the eyepatch. What does become far more interesting though is that Nahashi opens up a bit of a flashback sequence that lets us understand her origins a bit more. Introduced to her mother Luca, who had a romance with Lucif who was Nahashi’s friend, we see the way that she had grown up for a bit and what set her against Lucif when he finally returned into her life. Much of the story spends time on setting up her motivations to deal with the upcoming series finale, but with a short series like this it just feels a bit rushed in a way.

All four episodes feature some action to one extent or another but nothing really seems to resonate well. The look of the show alone has kept me from feeling too connected with it as it doesn’t seem like it has any real depth to it. Almost like we’re seeing it through Lucia’s one good eye in fact. Venus Versus Virus does get to expand its overall mythos which certainly helps it, but the lead characters are still very hard to sympathize with. Lucia doesn’t let you in at all, and when we do start to see some of why she is the way she is, it doesn’t really change how you perceive her in her current form. Sumire still has a chance to grow a bit, but overall it’s really hard to connect with any of these characters.

In Summary:
Venus Versus Virus’ basic flaws that we found in the first volume are still pretty much apparent here. They do get to flesh things out a bit more with some background for Lucia which gives us a better understanding of her mindset, but the connection issue wit the characters is still very much a big problem. Combine that with a show that just doesn’t seem to have a strong feel to it with its visual approach and even has a relatively mild soundtrack and it’s pretty easy to lose interest quickly. It’s still easy to look at this show as a combination of several different stereotypes that hasn’t found its own identity yet. With a lot more episodes and more from the manga, I’m sure it could turn into something interesting. But for now it’s just trying to find its own way using very familiar elements that haven’t blended well.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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