Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: Beez
- MSRP: £19.99
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Witch Hunter Robin
Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #5
By Bryan Morton
February 21, 2006
Release Date: January 16, 2006
Witch Hunter Robin Vol. #5
What They Say
In our society, there are creatures with paranormal power known as Witches. For years, a secret organisation known as "Solomon" has been hunting them down. This organisation, based in Italy and run by priests, has a branch in Japan - the STN-J. Robin, a 15-year-old girl, joins this organisation where her talents for manipulating fire prove to be very useful... But the STN-J has very precise plans for the captured Witches, and they do not hesitate to conceal information from Solomon...
17 - Dilemma
18 - In My Pocket
19 - Missing
20 - All I Really Oughta Know
21 - No Way OutThe Review!
You'd be forgiven for almost forgetting who Amon was as the focus of Witch Hunter Robin begins to shift with this latest volume. As Robin becomes aware of the full extent of her abilities, the former hunter becomes Solomon's latest target.Audio:
All four audio tracks are presented in 2.0 stereo. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, and it continues to be of the high standard set by previous volumes, with no obvious problems. The atmospheric soundtrack and good use of direction make this a joy to listen to. I spot-checked the English track at several points and found it to be equally good.Video:
Presented in its original full-frame 1.33:1 format, the video quality on this release is again excellent, with very good use made of backgrounds and detail to bring atmosphere to the story. Even during darker scenes it's very easy to pick out the details in the animation. Subtitles are clear and easy to read, although a slightly larger font would have been nice. This continues to be one of the best-looking series I've seen recently. Packaging:
Two characters appear on this volume's cover - the Inquisitor from episode 13, wielding a dagger and looking rather menacing, along with a woman who hasn't appeared in the show yet cradling her unborn child & looking sorrowful. The back has the usual episode summaries, screenshots & tech panel. The reverse of the cover has some info on the technology used by STN-J - the Orbo pendants & standard issue comms device - along with Robin's own, Orbo-less pendant & communicator.Menu:
The menus stick with the same style that's been used on previous volumes. The various disc options are arranged around a circular montage of clips from the show with the series logo flashing in & out in a similar way to the text used in the opening credits. An instrumental version of the opening theme plays in the background. Extras and trailers are available through the Data menu. Other than the background video clips, there are no menu animations or transitions, so it's all very quick and easy to use. As before, the menus are available in four languages.Extras:
This disc includes another set of video interviews, this time with Kaho Kouda (Karasuma) and Jun Fukuyama (Sakaki). There's also a set of character profiles, which unfortunately are in French even if you've chosen the English-language menus. The interviews are worthwhile extras, for fans of the subtitled version at least.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Nagira's turning out to be a handy person for Robin to be around – his range of contacts is so widespread that there's very little he can't find out, but it also means it's very difficult to keep a secret from him. He's learnt that the Methuselah Witch has left behind something known as the Splinter of Knowledge, an artefact that can enhance a Witch's power and that Solomon is keen to get hold of. Figuring that anything Solomon is interested in is worth tracking down for himself, he sets one of his contacts on the job of tracking down where it is, but soon finds that there are other Witches on the trail of the splinter as well.
Things can get a little confusing here, as the Splinter of Knowledge is also known as the Arcanum of the Craft, and it's not immediately clear when the terms are first used that they're one and the same. It's at this point that Robin ceases to be a hunter and very much becomes one of the hunted, first in dealing with other Witches who are trying to seize the Arcanum for themselves, and then when Solomon themselves begin to send their own hunters after her. While at the start of the disc Robin is still harbouring thoughts of continuing to work with her friends at STN-J, by the time the disc ends it's clear that's no longer going to be an option for her.
When one door closes, though, another opens. Nagira turns out to have more than a passing interest in Witches and STN-J, and has been helping to keep Witches whose powers have not fully developed away from STN-J's hunters. Now that she's on the other side of the hunt, Robin's more inclined to work with him. There's a potentially interesting conflict of interests that looks to be building around this, though – while Amon doesn't feature much in these episodes, it's made clear that he's now working for Solomon HQ, and takes steps at times to prevent Nagira from following up his lines of enquiry too closely. Strangely, he's also keeping a close eye on Robin and never seems overly upset when Solomon's hunters fail to make the kill. For every plot point that Witch Hunter Robin clears up, there something else thrown into the mix that initially doesn't seem to make any sense, and Amon's activities at the moment definitely fit into that category.
The rest of the STN-J team have almost become an irrelevance. They're still there and continuing their hunting, but it's all on the fringe of the story and has very little impact on events. Michael plays the largest role there, as he feeds Robin with what information he can dig up about Amon and the hunters that have been sent to find her, but even then it has the feel of a minor part. It's another example of how the focus of the show has shifted as it's progressed, with major characters being pushed into the background and new ones like Nagira coming to the fore.
One character who has been in the background for a while now is Zaizen, who's been almost unheard of since the raid on the STN-J offices. He returns to the game here, first taking care of some business with his daughter and then setting himself up in the Factory. His return heralds what looks to be another important storyline, as it's revealed that the Factory has been working on an enhanced form of Orbo that, if it work as expected, will do away with the need for STN-J to use Craft users as hunters. Add this to Zaizen's concern at Amon having apparently joined up with Solomon HQ, and it's hard not to think that Zaizen's planning some sort of breakaway from Solomon, but as yet there's no apparent reason why.
There are a few other fairly significant revelations made across the course of these episodes, but I wouldn't want to spoil too much. The way the story is continually changing focus and developing is definitely intriguing.In Summary:
Witch Hunter Robin is turning out to be one of those series where you can't assume at any point that you know what's going on, as there's always a twist or revelation coming that will shift things around and add something else to the story. Some people may find that frustrating, but to me it helps pull me into the series and forces me to pay more attention to what's going on. Pacing has also improved over the earlier volumes. Add it all together and you get a volume which was a joy to watch, and that leaves events nicely poised for the final volume.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,German 2.0 Language,Italian 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,German Subtitles,Italian Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Character profiles,Interviews with Kaho Kouda (Karasuma) & Jun Fukuyama (Sakaki)
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.