Ys II: Castle in the Heavens - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ys

Ys II: Castle in the Heavens

By Chris Beveridge     July 01, 2003
Release Date: June 24, 2003

Ys II: Castle in the Heavens
© Media Blasters

What They Say
Adol has finally collected the six books of Ys and defeated Dark Fact. When the smoke of the battle clears, he finds himself far above Esteria, on the legendary floating continent of Ys. He befriends the young Lila, but most of the inhabitants want nothing to do with him. Then his old enemy Dares resurfaces and reveals his true power. All of Ys is thrown into terror, and even Adol himself falls to the evil power of the Black Pearl. Arcane magic and heroism explode in this final chapter of the books of Ys.

The Review!
After finishing out a successful seven episode run, why not adopt the 4th Ys game into anime form and try to stretch things out a bit more.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show is primarily a mono track that’s done up as a stereo mix, with practically all of the dialogue coming through the center channel. The dialogue is nice and clear and without distortion, while the music sounds a bit fuller through the stereo channels. We noted no dropouts or other issues on either track during regular playback.

The transfer for sequel series of Ys manages to come out much better than the original. The materials here mainly show their age in the form of nicks and scratches throughout as well as dust and dirt. Colors look decent, though flesh tones seem a bit more red than I would have expected. There’s no cross coloration and very little aliasing to be seen though, so that’s a major plus.

While the original series had a good cover concept in using the look of the books that were involved in the story, there’s nothing to really use as a good hook here so we have mostly some nice looking character artwork set between the Japanese logo at the top and the English subtitle at the bottom. The back cover provides a collage of character images and a brief summary of what the plot is about. The discs features and extras are clearly listed and easy to discern. The insert has the chapter listings for the four episodes on one side while the reverse is adverts for other shows.

Almost all the right notes are hit with the menus here. Going to its game origins, this looks just like an eight bit game with its designs and colors, from the borders to the actual selection text. This is such a great menu that it’s unfortunate that there is still something of a flaw in it, and that’s the amount of lag time in waiting for the menu to load the submenus. The other flaw is in the extras menu, when after you finish watching a selection, it bumps you up to the main menu. So if you want to look at all three extras, you have to go through that long load time transitional animation each time.

There are some nice minor extras included here. There’s a brief art gallery that has some really gorgeous full color artwork in it, parts of which were used on both sides of this volumes cover. The dub outtakes section provides a number of good moments in the six minutes worth provided but the really neat extra to me is the three minute Ys 4 game preview/trailer that shows various anime scenes from the game itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After finishing out the first Ys series and its seven episode run, I found it to be fairly enjoyable but having something of a limited appeal since this kind of fantasy anime has been done so many times over the years. With Ys II, where it adapts the fourth video game of the Ys series, there’s not much new here. In fact, with it picking up pretty close to where Ys left off, it’s not really a jumping on point at all.

Ys II recaps the end of the first series and then follows things as the two goddesses and Adol begin their ascent towards the floating island of Ys itself. Though separated, the two women end up together while Adol finds himself in a rather frightened little village. Once he’s tended to and aware of his surroundings, he realizes that things aren’t exactly as they should be. On Ys, it turns out that the monsters rule everything here with the humans living in fear. So in fear that they’ll offer up sacrifices to the monsters as often as they request them. And this is a trend that’s growing and starting to cause some amount of resentment, but no action due to the fear level.

Naturally, Adol’s general manner doesn’t work well with this. While he tries to figure out his next course of action, the young woman who was caring for him, Lilia, becomes the next selected sacrifice for the monsters. When she’s whisked away, Adol returns and makes his way to rescue her, even against the attempts at restraint by the villagers. His attempt and subsequent rescue of Lilia, which causes the death of the devil lord that ruled that particular area, sets the entire village against him now that they fear the end of the world.

In fact, the villager’s view of the world is mightily skewed. Beyond the mountain ranges that are within site, their belief is that there is nothing but darkness beyond. The monsters that rule them actually do care for them; such as when they ask for rain they receive it and the same for sunshine. So with their lord dead, they hope to gain salvation by offering up Adol to those in the Shrine of Solomon. Other than a scant few people, the majority simply is beholden to the monsters powers.

Adol intends to prove otherwise and sets off to go to the glacier range and show that there is an entire world beyond there. The scant few who believe him end up following along, which leads into the larger adventure of fighting the evil that now rules this land and has imprisoned the two goddesses. Through the four episodes, we get a pretty linear action story with very little in the way of surprises, but it’s a short series that hits the right marks. It may be predictable, but it’s decently done and has some good-looking animation to it.

The original Ys series just felt much too stretched out for our tastes but also had to deal with a lot of introductions and world setting bits to it. Ys II skips all of that and just goes right to the story and the action. There’s plenty of hack and slash throughout and just a few touches of a potential love story. The characters are pretty one-dimensional for the most part, so other than a little bit of an action romp, there’s not much replay value to this. Much like the original series, this is a show that the fans of the games will really like and it’s treated very well overall, but it’s not something the casual fan will find all that appealing.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery,Outtakes,Ys 4 Preview

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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