Wolf's Rain Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 13, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004

Wolf's Rain Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
For the wolves, the journey to rescue Cheza continues. As they move forward, they each reflect upon what has brought them to where they are at this point - both on this particular journey and in their lives in general. Tsume remembers his past as a loner, and wonders how he got mixed up in such a mangy group. Toboe, the youngest, recalls things with a more innocent point of view and wonders what the future holds. Hige, meanwhile, still seems to be just along for the ride. Of the humans, it's Hubb who gets a chance to reflect on what has happened and what he's doing. Why is he searching for his ex-wife? Why does he care so much what happens to her? And what is all this weird stuff going on around them? Perhaps there is something to the prophecies in the Book of the Moon.

The Review!
Hitting the mid section of the series, this volume turns out to be a simple lose/lose proposition for just about everyone.

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.

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.

Juxtaposing the imagery of the various characters in stylized colors against the backdrop of the moon and a vibrant set of black colors in the background, the artwork here is very attractive and has a slick look to it. 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 insert replicates the front cover artwork with a bit less text and opens to a two panel spread that has various forms of Toboe.

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.

Similar to the previous volume, there are textless ending sequences for episodes seventeen and eighteen here but nothing else beyond that.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back during the original airing of the series, there came a surprising time to those following the schedule that the series went into a recap episode not once, not twice and not three times but four times in a row. Various ideas were floated from a blown budget and the need to recoup to the production simply being very far behind and needing the time to catch up. In the end, they decided to do a series of recap episodes that sort of focus on one of the wolves in particular but also brings in all the other characters so that they can tell a personalized tale for each of them while also having the bigger picture be told for those coming in late.

With the release of the series in Japan on DVD, the four episodes were split across volumes five and six. The result was that for roughly $60 US, you'd get two real episodes and two recap episodes on volume five while volume six had the next two recap episodes and then goes back to the story. The US release makes out better in that all four of the recap episodes are on just the fourth volume of the series, which means you're able to skip it entirely without missing a beat. Of course, if you picked up the box with the first volume you'll have an empty slot because of that, though you could conceivably wait for the inevitable price-down and pick it up dirt cheap then. My own preferred method would have been to release it as the last disc in the run but as a double-disc set that would have contained all the extras from the series instead of putting them on the individual releases. This'd give incentive to pick it up and have some actual value added content.

In Summary:
Getting this disc in the middle of the show just makes me grumpy having it since I want more of the real episodes now but instead just have four recaps and a couple of clean ending sequences. At the end of the series, it would have made for a good retrospective to see how things started and then provided the interviews that I could watch since they wouldn't spoil anything. At the least, Bandai is ensuring there isn't a two month wait until the next volume and only a two week wait which is probably the next best alternative. But for those picking up this release that didn't know about the recaps, this is going to really suck for them.

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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