Wings of Rean Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 48 + 9
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Wings of Rean

Wings of Rean Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 18, 2007
Release Date: July 10, 2007

Wings of Rean Vol. #2
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.

What They Say
It turns out that, just like Aesap, the King of Hojo, Sakomizu, is also from the Upper Realm. And he was a kamikaze pilot in the waning days of World War II in the Pacific theater. Now that he's acquired weapons of the Upper Realm, Sakomizu at last sets in motion his dream of invading his former home. Meanwhile, Aesap and Lyukus get separated and Aesap rides Aura Battler Nanajin in search of her. In a scuffle between the Hojo Army and resistance force, Aesap and Lyukus reunite in dramatic fashion. "I wanted to see you, Lyukus!" "Aesap!" They finally feel the warmth of each other's embrace...but can they stop King Sakomizu?!

The Review!
The local politics of Hellicon come into play as numerous subplots that we're barely exposed to bubble up and cause trouble.

Bandai Visual has provided only a single audio track for this release and it's a stellar sounding 5.1 mix encoded at 448 kbps. Simply put, if you're not watching it in full 5.1 sound then you're missing a sizeable part of the shows presentation. The mix is not overly dynamic in terms of placement of dialogue though it certainly has its moments. Where it excels is in the bass area as the massive ships that surface throughout the two episodes and the sounds made by the numerous mecha really come alive. Rear channels have some great use at times with jets flying around and overall it's a very solid mix. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2006, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. When it comes to the video side of their releases, Bandai Visual USA simply excels at the presentation. For the vast majority of this release the bitrate is at a steady nine and pushing close to the limit that most players can handle when you add in the audio track (as ten mbps is where the spec tops out though there are instances of releases going over that). Colors are rich and properly saturated, backgrounds have a strong solid feel to them and issues such as aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent. It isn't without flaws though but they're limited to the capabilities of DVD. In the two instances where the Aura Road is shown, there is simply so much going on and at such a speed that there is some very mild pixilation going on with a touch of fuzziness. It's fairly brief and only barely noticeable but it's still present.

Even before opening up the release there was a sense of a bit more weight behind it than normal. The cover art for this volume uses the artwork from the second Japanese release with Lyukus in the foreground. It's a bit heavy on the oranges but it's a solid looking cover even if it doesn't work as well as the first volume did. The back cover is pretty traditional with some basic selling points along the top and two strips of screenshots for each episode title. The summary provides some useful background for going into the show while the remainder is made up of the basic technical and general features. The only area to really criticize here is that it's unclear whether the show is in 4:3 of 16:9 as the two graphics aren't associated with specific things.

Where the weight in this release comes from is in the booklet included, which uses a snippet of character artwork from the third Japanese volume. The booklet is a rich piece that has some terms and liner notes as well as conceptual artwork and storyboard pieces with notes. Where it really shines is in the extensive second interview with Tomino as it becomes apparent just how much he's mellowed in the last few years. The insert in general is done on some really slick paper stock that shines with all the color artwork and its overall design is just solid.

The weakest area of their releases continues to be the menus (give Nightjar a call guys, please!) and this one is no exception. Essentially a static piece that has a framed design to it, it contains the two episodes basic structure (feature, ending, preview) as well as quick access to the discs bonus features. The only real submenu to use is the setup area but that's set by default anyway. Though there are only three ways to access each episode from the top level, there are many more chapter stops within the program which is very much appreciated. Access times are obviously a non-issue and though the layout is meager it's functional and problem free.

Only one extra has made it onto this volume, a ten minute video piece that follows Tomino as he takes a helicopter ride around Tokyo in order to get some pictures for location scouting.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a confusing but beautiful to look at first volume, Wings of Rean starts to settle down a little bit more with these two episodes. That isn't saying too much though as the show brings in numerous political elements and plenty of intrigue to the mix which leaves nobody with enough time to really be properly dealt with. Though Tomino claims that the runtime of these episodes is enough to tell the individual stories, the result doesn't bare it out just yet.

Beyond a few scenes taking place between the military and the stranded ship on the Upper World, the majority of these two episodes is strictly in Byston Well. The various groups continue to intermingle at times which leads to plenty of confusion about who is on which side and doing what. Aesap has found himself in something of a position of trust by King Sakomizu and is entrusted with Nanajin and a spiffy pink warriors outfit. Lyukus has found herself stranded off with the resistance which earns her plenty of glares from those that are struggling to survive under Sakomizu's rule. The strangest mix though is that of the human terrorists and the JMSDF members who find themselves under not only Sakomizu's care but that of the Queen.

Everyone has their own agenda and that just fills the shows ability to tell a story beyond capacity. While Sakomizu is finishing up what he has to do to take down the resistance before he can go and wreck havoc upon the Upper Realm, everyone else is trying to push their own interests forward. Aesap is focused on just getting back to Lyukus while she in turn is trying to get to him while also trying to stop the war from happening. Rori and Kanamoto have fallen in well under Sakomizu and are fully behind his plan to invade. As Sakomizu is interested in bringing hellfire upon the American's for their deviltry back in World War II, it coincides with their plan to get them out of Japan and restore the country back to where it belongs.

The strange part of how everyone is dealing with the situation comes from the crew on board the US-1. The crew is obviously Japanese by their numerous JMSDF references yet they find themselves doing the bidding of Sakomizu and Codour who have their own obvious ambitions for the Upper Realm. Knowing what Rori and the others are doing all of their training for, it seems unusual that they'd be so accepting of what Codour has to offer since it threatens their homeland. Ending up in a situation where they're working with Rori and Kanamoto isn't a surprise if they were trying to survive in Hellicon. Their motivations just feel out of place in the larger context of things, even the way they're so respectful in regards to what's being provided for them in food and shelter.

Now four episodes into the six episode series, Wings of Rean continues to be a beautiful looking show but one that is too mired in its storytelling techniques to be effective. Tomino's series have always had this to one extent or another, notably with how difficult early episodes of Overman King Gainer were to discern, but they have an ability to go beyond that and to simply be something akin to a great cinematic experience. Wings of Rean does achieve this on some level as the artistry is lush and it has numerous big moments that are quite engaging. But it lacks the real connection to the characters and the situation to make it really stand out.

In Summary:
The Wings of Rean becomes a bit clearer thanks to the included booklet in this version as its origins in the novel which has been altered and adapted into this new storyline. Tomino's series have never been easy when it comes to plotting and pacing but this one is simply far harder to get into than any of his other works that I've seen. At the same time though I can't help but to be completely engaged while watching it and loving every minute as it splashes across my screen. In watching these episodes it reminded me heavily of my very early anime days when all most people had were raw episodes with almost no context. I'm drawn to what I see but it doesn't quite make sense and it's hard to tie it all together with what I do know. Wings of Rean is certainly an experience though and it's almost been worthwhile just for that hauntingly beautiful ending sequence.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Aerial Research Documentary "Over Tokyo 2006",32-page color booklet

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI with upscaling set to 1080p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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