Xenosaga Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Xenosaga

Xenosaga Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 16, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2007

Xenosaga Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
New Enemies. New Allies. New Powers. With the destruction of the Federation's flagship and its fleet, the survivors are now on the run, fleeing the unstoppable Gnosis. Now wary of the hidden machinations of a mysterious organization, Shion and her friends desperately search for both a safe haven and the truth behind what really happened to the Woglinde and the fleet. Together with new allies from the mercenary ship, Elsa, and the mega-battleship, Durandal of the Kukai Foundation, Shion's quest will force them to relive painful memories and reveal an amazing power of the anti-Gnosis android KOS-MOS! The anime adaptation of the internationally acclaimed RPG continues in the second stunning installment of Xenosaga The Animation!!

The Review!
Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the screen, we get epic space battles, creepy aliens, combinable giant robots and magical girls. Oh my.

The bilingual presentation for Xenosaga is quite good on both sides of the fence. The original Japanese mix is a solid stereo one encoded at 224 kbps that has some good placement across the forward soundstage. The English 5.1 mix is done up at the usual 448 kbps and it's not only louder but has a fair bit more bass to it as well. The placement isn't much different overall but it has more clarity to it and the battle scenes tend to have more impact. In listening to both language tracks throughout, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Filled with lots of bright colors and fast motion, Xenosaga tends to hold up fairly well but has some noticeable issues throughout. The main area that comes across as problematic is in the backgrounds as the animators went with a shade of blue and black that lends to a good deal of blocking with the bitrates that DVD uses. This release tends to sit in the sevens in theses areas but between the obvious gradient areas and the color choices used, it really stands out strongly. The remainder of the show tends to look good but there is also some very strong moments of line noise during the panning sequences which happen far too often and too slowly. The bulk of the show does look good with bright and bold colors that maintain a solid feel and most of the high motion sequences are problem free.

Though not as obvious as the first volume, the character artwork here still highlights KOS-MOS so that fans can pick up on it quickly. This time it's tied to her holding onto Shion while various elements from the show make up the dark and murky background. The back cover uses a lot of this black space to let the character artwork and shots from the show stand out all the more but it also allows the area to look clean and very easy to read. The usual array of production information and basic features can be found here while the technical grid covers all the basic key information in a concise format. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for Xenosaga is simple though at least relatively in theme with the show as it features that Zohar in the center against a background of stars. Surrounding it are four shots from the episodes which also double as the navigation selections for those episodes. Add in the languages and extras along the bottom and a dash of music to it and you have a decent looking static menu. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is simple enough to navigate without problems. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

The only extras included with this release are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To say that the first four episodes turned me away from the series wouldn't be an understatement. The next four episodes, which constitutes the middle arc of the series, essentially does more of the same as it introduces a bevy of bad technical jargon, epic moments with no weight to them and a number of extraneous silly moments that don't fit within the context of the events themselves.

Through the four episodes here, we don't get much in the way of action for the most part nor do we see much of the Gnosis themselves. It's hard to say if there's really an enemy here simply because everyone is so busy with infighting amongst themselves. The Gnosis threat is something that is revealed to have been ongoing for centuries but it all changed during a key event in the last fourteen years that caused it to become far worse than it ever was. Revelations about the Gnosis are relatively small and combined with their overall absence from these episodes leaves them as the big bad enemy that nobody seems to have time to deal with.

Where the focus is kept is on the newly arrived Foundation ship where Gaignun Jr. has set about adopting the salvage crew and those from the Vector Industries and the military. Jr. is an amusing character as he's really just a kid in looks yet has the command of an impressive ship and relations with the leader of the Kukai Foundation. The Foundation becomes a key piece of the puzzle during this as the ship docks at the colony style satellite that travels around the galaxy. All of the big research is done there and it's also filled with a lot of people who went through various re-lifing processes that changed them into "mutants and freaks" according to some. Though these characters are off screen for the most part, the reputation of the place is built up rather well.

Events are playing out on a large scale and that comes to haunt the Foundation when the Galaxy Federation ends up with some doctored footage of what happened at the start of the series when the Zohar was lost. Edited in a way to ensure that the Foundation comes out looking bad, that sets them and the Miltia government on the defensive as it looks like a war could break out any second. There are so many behind the scenes players manipulating things, and so many that aren't on the screen at all, that seeing how all of this ties together is an exercise in futility. The issue does get resolved over the course of this volume but even that introduces some unwelcome elements.

The only way to prove their innocence is to provide some AAA class security footage that can't be edited. Naturally, it's located within the database in KOS-MOS so that means they have to use some fancy equipment to perform a "super dive" on her and bring it out. Welcome to the world of virtual reality where Jr, Shion and a couple of others enter into and have to use their imagination in order to solidify their progress. Jr. takes on some amusing cowboy poses with a pair of pistols while MOMO runs directly into magical girl territory. Shion goes the obvious route of remembering her past which also is done by Jr. as a way to explain his situation in fifty words or less. It's so completely jumbled on top of an already difficult series that it becomes easier and easier to tune it all out as it goes along. Just enjoy the technobabble, big scenes and solid musical score.

In Summary:
The more of this series I see, the more I realize that it's really meant to be just a supplement to the game versions. Even there I have to wonder what the intent was as it seems most of the fans of the game detest the anime with a passion due to the numerous changes and omissions. From the point of view of someone who has never played the game, Xenosaga really fails across the board in providing anything coherent to work with. The first several episodes were bad enough but it just becomes even more incoherent as it goes along. I can understand the appeal to some but for me this just doesn't do anything and is almost the same as a hundred minutes of white noise.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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