Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Witch Hunter Robin

Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 25, 2004
Release Date: February 17, 2004


Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Robin?s ?normal? life is about to end. After another seemingly routine investigation of a Witch-related murder, a strange old woman appears and speaks to Robin. She claims to know the truth about Witches, about the Craft, and even about Robin herself. But Robin refuses to believe the tale she spins about gods and demons and the blood that carries power. Robin is soon bombarded by strange visions and attacks, but it soon becomes clear that Robin is being targeted by someone and that everyone around her is in danger!

Episodes
11. The Soul Cages
12. Precious Illusions
13. The Eyes of Truth
14. Loaded Guns

The Review!
Finishing up the first half of the series, the four episodes here begin to reveal more of the inner workings of the STN as well as adding some layers to just what the Witches are all about.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that provides some good directionality in a few key sequences. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no technical issues with either language track during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Robin has one of the most gorgeous full frame transfers I've seen lately. Watching this in the dark and taking in the visuals from simple things like the backgrounds outdoors and indoors brings out so much detail and attention to the small things. The coloring is done lushly when we get outside of the dark offices and buildings that the characters usually inhabit. The series is also almost completely free of cross coloration and had only a few moments of noticeable aliasing during some digital panning. This transfer was a real treat to watch.

Packaging:
Using the same cover as the Japanese release with a platinum edition logo thrown along the top, Robin gets the cover piece again in one of the best looking shots yet with her wrapped in almost nun-like white cloth. There is simply something very alluring about the imagery here that keeps you looking at it. The back cover provides a collage of images along the right from various episodes while the left goes into a few paragraphs worth of summary. Episode numbers and titles are listed here along with the discs extras and features. There's no volume numbering here at all, leaving the episode numbers to tell you what volume you're on. The insert has a nice look and feel of an old book to it and opens to the text piece that's played at each ending sequence as well as some character design shots. The back of the insert provides the full production credits as well as bilingual main voice actor credits. The cover is also reversible this one using the a shot of Michael and Sakaki opposite of each other in the corners.

Menu:
The menu layout is solid with a circular half of the screen being animation from the show playing but separated by a line of fire. The right side has the animated logo and selections for the disc, which is all wiped away when you make a selection and get the flames running across for a transitional animation. That animation manages to go by quickly and the load times are fast so it's not terribly bad or annoying if you go through the menus a couple of times.

Extras:
The extras are fairly similar to past volumes with some of the STNJ equipment being highlighted in that section while the liner notes in the Compendium provide some background information for the more detailed episodes here. The big extra here is a ten minute interview piece with those behind the music, giving Bana time to talk about the opening and ending songs and how she puts herself into her music.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the main setup episodes now fully covered and the basic feel of the show set, Witch Hunter Robin begins to move into some of the darker territory and shines a weak light on the bigger picture of the world filled with Witches. Half of the episodes here focus on one storyline in particular while the second half sets up what looks to be the next arc in the series.

The opening two-part episode is intriguing in what it reveals, though it's engaging for the action sequences alone. We're thrown into an awkward chase sequence where a young man is haggardly fleeing what looks like a couple of mafia types. The man isn't wounded, but he's having a hard time getting along. When he finally collapses at one point, an elderly woman in a wheelchair appears in the shadows and chants to him. At the same time, the mafia types show up and try to take him down, but he's suddenly full of power and able to kill them both quickly by using some form of electric shock. Before he knows what's going on, the woman is gone and he's once again haphazardly making his way down the alleys.

As the Hunt begins from the STNJ side, there's all sorts of small clues that are leading them along. The apparent powers used by the Witch are related to a past case, so investigations begin along there. The other aspect that makes this a difficult case is that it happened inside a section of the city where it's like a labyrinth of tight buildings and alleys, a place where some 150,000 people live. The place almost feels like it's outside the law and that what happens there stays there and that the police and others don't come. So as the team searches for clues, there get no help from the locals and only dark stares.

Something nags at Robin and she prods into strange areas while searching around. Michael's investigations and the link to a prior Witch with similar powers leads to Amon learning about the Methuselah Witches, a group of Witches whose ability is to live eternally. There are only whispered bits of information about them and little hard fact, but there is enough to indicate that they may indeed be more than a rumor. While their power in one sense may not seem like much, their ability to use information over the course of several hundred years provides them with something more powerful. As Robin finds her way into this unexplored world, she gets something of a crash course in just how Witches have been treated over time and where their origins really lay. The information is presented in a slick way to Robin, but she retains enough doubt in it that she doesn't fall to the Methuselah Witches side right away. These episodes play out the story of the young man fairly well and give the action junkies some fun, but it's the tale of the past that provides the most satisfying experience here as it continues to push the idea that there is more to the STN worldwide than what we see here in Japan.

The second half of the disc isn't laid out as a multi-part set of episodes, but the stories flow over from one to the other after an Inquisitor from the STN has come to Japan to determine whether someone that they've been watching is qualified to become a Hunter. The Inquisitor, the spitting image of the elderly religious man with the thinning white hair and glasses while all clad in black, dislikes what he senses in Japan with its oppressive feeling atmosphere. His mission is a simple one, one he's obviously done many times, and one that he sets out to do with as little interference as possible.

His work allows an interesting glimpse into how the STN works in the main office and elsewhere, as we continue to get the feeling that things are done differently in Japan. It also brings to light that this is the same Inquisitor who made the judgment on whether Robin was fit to become a Hunter or not. Those who don't qualify are them followed as prey, so that they can be properly taken care of. While the story is interesting as we follow the one subject under investigation, the Inquisitor's arrival has seemingly set off something new in the country where a group is now trying to remove Robin from the picture. This new direction is done very well with a lot of surprising minor twists and elements to it as it moves along, from the type of weapons used to their tactics. The shift from the standalone episodes to this more continuous storyline is a definite plus since it lets the mystery and the feel of the show build nicely instead of being resolved at the end. Well, as resolved as some of these cases can be.

In Summary:
Each episode in this series continues to entice us with its mood and style, which is often complemented by the great score. The series has the solid combination of both style and substance, and while the pacing may drive some people nuts, it's perfectly suited for a show like this. Instead of being hit over the head with everything, Robin draws the viewer in and sinks its hooks in nice and deep. These episodes build up the mythos behind the structures that keep the world running and that only adds to the eerie and creepy nature of the STN and those who work for it. Each episode made us clawing for more at the end, which makes the wait for the next volume very tough. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,STNJ Files,Liner Notes,Interview with Bana

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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