Wolf's Rain Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • 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: Wolf's Rain

Wolf's Rain Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004


Wolf's Rain Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The war between the Nobles has begun to escalate, a war that will ultimately affect the lives of wolf and human alike. The soldiers who have been on the trail of Cheza and the wolves turn their attention to battling the invading forces. Meanwhile, Hubb, on his own quest to find Cher, is arrested and interrogated. Escaping the soldiers is one thing, escaping Darcia is another matter entirely. Blue struggles to come to terms with what Cheza revealed to her in their first meeting. She?s lost a part of her life forever and she realizes she cannot go back to Quent, but will she be able to join Kiba and the others?

The Review!
With surprising speed, Wolf's Rain hits a lot of plot and substance with this volume while also mixing in beautiful imagery and some great action sequences

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a very solid stereo mix that has some subtle motions to it. As it's a late night show for us, we managed to have a very quiet set of surroundings while watching it and were able to really take in how well done the sound is. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout while the music fills up both channels beautifully. We spot checked the English track as it's done in 5.1 and found a nice enhancement over the stereo mix, though I still think the original blended mix works better.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, Wolf's Rain is presented in its original full frame format and just looks stunning. With so much attention paid to the little details as well as such elaborately defined color palettes for the various places the characters go, this transfer just really absorbs you into it as it goes along. The only area where we had the slightest bit of problem is during the opening scene with the white wolf on the white snow where the LCD factor of our set gave it a bit of an extra twinkle that isn't in the print itself. Other than that, this looks almost flawless. Colors are great, cross coloration is virtually absent and aliasing was barely noticeable. The only change in the transfer that's different from previous releases from Bandai is that the usual Japanese text in the opening and ending sequences are replaced with English text instead.

Packaging:
Juxtaposing the imagery of the various characters in stylized colors against the backdrop of the moon and a nearly day-glo reddish background, the artwork here is very attractive but I think the colors chosen don't allow it to really shine. It's got the great image of Cheza praying while surrounded by the wolves but the reddish purple just doesn't feel like it works that well. The back cover provides a collage of shots from the show that highlight various characters and some of the wolves in action while the bulk of the background is an off-white that makes it very easy to read the summary paragraphs. The discs features and extras are all clear and easy to read and since there's no volume information anywhere, we get episode numbers and titles just above the usual batch of production information and technical details. The extras are actually a bit off on this cover as it lists a creator interview as being available but none is on the disc. The insert replicates the front cover artwork with a bit less text and opens to a two panel spread that has various forms of Hige.

Menu:
In a real change of pace for Bandai, they've got a nicely animated menu that has the image of a closed book on a table that opens up as the camera pans around and over it. When it opens, it shifts to the more standard static screen of the book itself while the open pages plays bits of animation from the show. Selections are ringed around it and are quick and easy to access and navigate. As usual, there are a number of front-loaded credit screens but they're all still fully skippable or menu takes you directly to the main menu animation. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and proceeded without issue.

Extras:
Similar to the previous volume, there are textless ending sequences for each of the episodes here but nothing else beyond that.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Wolf's Rain, with this volume, is the kind of show where so much happens that you're almost at a loss as to where to begin to talk about it. Changes abound in many ways, the characters are forced to deal with problems that are new and familiar and the world in general is changing as well. Revelations of the past are made, some secrets given up and some people are changed forevermore.

The mark of a good show is one where the characters we meet at the start are different when the show finishes. Being able to see the growth throughout the series is somewhat rare however as we usually only see that occurring during the last few episodes. Here, we not only have the wolves that are growing and changing the more time they spend with Cheza but there are secondary characters such as Hubb and Cher that are bringing so much more to the show as they deal with their lives and obsessions and try to understand both it and each other.

The world altering events here are the most interesting in a way since they're cloaked in mystery. While Hubb continues to try and search for clues of Cher's whereabouts and what's been going on with her, he finds himself becoming a suspect and quickly arrested. Since his leaving the department for his own personal quest, things have changed greatly. No records exist of Cher anymore, people he knew claim he was never married and any references to the lab where Cher worked are completely gone now. His interrogation, where he smartly manages to get more answers than his interrogator, gets rather violent at times but in the end is saved by the fact that the city is being invaded and there are bigger issues. Lady Jaguara, a competing noble from another land, has decided to make her move and has eliminated Lord Orkham and is preparing to raze the city. Before long, it will be no more than the lands that the Darcia nobles once held, fallen into ruin and despair along with most of the world. A city without a noble is no longer a viable place of civilization, or at least what passes for it in this ugly world.

The wolves find themselves driven several times during these episodes. There is a beautiful sequence with them all running along across the terrain, feeling free and powerful. The time they spend with Cheza is making them feel more alive than ever before and the arrival of the full moon is only enhancing that even more. With her ability to guide them to Paradise through the full moon, the key moments are upon them and it plays out with simple but engaging beauty to it. The event is given an explanatory parallel of sorts as Darcia explains what his view of Paradise is to Cher while he keeps her prisoner in his sunken castle. Darcia is surprisingly revelatory about his past and Hamona and what it all means to him as well as the importance of Cheza.

So much goes on throughout this but I think one of my favorite parts of it is the introduction of Blue to the group. With her now having been awakened after dealing firsthand with Cheza, she's able to be more than she was before but at the same time laments losing what she had, losing Quent and the security and familiarity that came with it, but also lamenting what both she and Quent had when she was a pup and his family was alive. Hige's able to sympathize with her since he's spent time being something of a pet himself and can understand her feelings, but it creates a division with the others, particularly Tsume as he never wants to have that feeling of being owned or controlled. Blue's an interesting addition, both in character and visually, and she brings something new to the group that wasn't there before but is hard to put my finger on just yet.

The events in this volume go into the large scale while still providing plenty of small character moments. The time spent with the old couple in the trailer is sad and disheartening, particularly from Elmira's view of her husband. But the time spent with Hubb and Quent as they travel between the cities and their tales unwind is highly fascinating. Hubb's tale of his marriage to Cher brings about a lot of new views on the city they lived in and the kind of world it all is. In turn, Cher's later able to provide information about the changes in the world and the way it's falling into ruin. But all of it takes a back seat when Lady Jaguara, who continues to be unseen herself and only her dark armored soldiers visible, expands on her plans and decides to control much more than even Darcia figured she would. Her plans, which are still largely unknown, radically alter the pace of the story and potentially changes everything.

In Summary:
Wolf's Rain continues to be a beautiful piece of work to look at and highly engaging in its story. Though the world is dark and grimy, filled with grays and other depressing colors, it's richly done and very captivating. In particular, I continue to really enjoy the detailed designs used for when the leads are in their wolf form, something that happens more on this volume than in the past I think. The growth of the supporting cast and their growing importance to the overall storyline has helped change the view of the show in this volume as well as they're all bringing very important bits of information and usefulness to the table. Wolf's Rain only becomes more engaging as it continues on and I can't wait for the next volume of new material.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending Collection


Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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