Yukikaze Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yukikaze

Yukikaze Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2006
Release Date: July 11, 2006


Yukikaze Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
An operation has been set into motion that will flush out the traitor within the FAF and ensure the safety of everyone. While Yukikaze lays down a holographic decoy, all FAF forces are ordered to evacuate back through "the Passageway." The only thing that stands between them and Earth is the entire JAM army. Lt. Rei Fukai and Yukakaze will have to sortie one last time to break open a path through the swarms of JAM but will they, themselves, be able to return to base?

The Review!
With the Intelligence division taking action that radically changes everything, humanity has decided how to deal with the JAM once and for all.

Audio:
Disc 1:

With a solid 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the Japanese audio track for Yukikaze is highly versatile and engaging, but typically only during the actual aerial combat moments. There's some well placed directionality in other segments but it's very minimal overall. The bulk of the real exciting mix moments come during the fights and it's excellent. This is the kind of show that really pays attention to the details like sound when it comes to producing it and there are so many great aural moments with the jets throughout it.

Disc 2:

The second disc takes the audio from the first disc and tosses all of it out the window except for the English 2.0 mix. In place of the Dolby mixes, we get the Japanese DTS 5.1 mix and a new English DTS 5.1 mix. The DTS mix for the show is hard to compare against the Dolby Digital one since they're not on the same disc and you can't flip back and forth, but from what I could hear I once more find myself enjoying the DTS mix over the Dolby. There just continues to feel like there's more depth and warmth to it. But as with most comparisons between the two encoding styles, it's all up to the listeners' ears. I'm a big DTS fan since my laserdisc days so I've got my own preconceptions there. I'm extremely glad Bandai was able to go out of their way to make this available here without compromising the video quality for those who have no interest in the DTS version.

Video:
The first disc is identical to the non-LE release. In watching the LE edition, I couldn't note any differences in quality. Originally starting its release in 2002 and this episode being completed in 2005, Yukikaze looks stunning. The bulk of the show takes place in dark hued green skies of the alien world or in deep dark interior buildings and rooms. There aren't a lot of bright moments here outside of a few areas on Earth that give us a wide variety of colors, but the dark moments are beautifully rendered. The green skies are vivid and eerie at the same time while the interior scenes maintain their black levels. With no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration, this was a real pleasure to watch.

Packaging:
Similar to the second volume, there isn't any LE release this time so we just get the dual disc edition in one package. The front cover is a very dark and almost lonely piece as it has Yukikaze reaching upwards by itself while the shimmering red lights in the sky provide the backdrop against the otherwise black view. It's not a pretty cover but there's some great detail to it and it sets the mood for this volume easily. The back cover has an interesting collage of images together along the top quarter through a heads up display while the rest of the cover is so heavily filled with text to be off-putting. The summary, with very small text, is pretty detailed, while the bottom portion contains the usual technical and production information. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
The menu goes for the obvious approach with placing you visually inside the cockpit of the Yukikaze as it races down the canyons from the first episode with some of the instrumental music playing along to it while also having the controls bounce to the motion. The menu is nicely laid out and simple to access with everything where it should be and with only brief transitional animations. The only downside to the menu is that even on the DTS disc it doesn't recognize my players' defaults and instead goes with the English 5.1 or English DTS mix and no subtitles.

Extras:
The non-DTS disc contains all the extras and they're certainly enjoyable enough. There's an interview with the two lead voice actors talking about how they feel about the show now that it's over after three years on it and there's also an interview with the shows director as they cover some of the similar ground. A real treat for me was to see the original promo clips for the show which are thankfully subtitled; I'd seen several of these raw before the show came out and they were fascinating enough without knowing what it was all about, but it's great to finally see how they were promoting it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After several years of being in the works and taking quite some time actually get finished in Japan, Yukikaze's final episode is now here and it brings the story of the battle on Fairy to a close with a rather strong and straightforward conclusion. So much of the show before now has been a mix of introspection, investigation and some fascinating amounts of aerial combat that for the finale we get a touch more of that but also an episode that's almost entirely made up of beautiful aerial combat.

The opening to the episode does go back to that slow feel which is good as it takes a few minutes to get back into the groove of this world with its eerie and muted colors. Since the discovery of the cloned humans and the kinds of programs that the JAM are running to try and understand humanity, the intelligence division has decided to do exactly what the enemy has done and worked to create an unknowing infiltrator into the JAM to try and discover what's really going on. The knowledge that some of the men and women among the FAF aren't really human is something to be dealt with later and a plan is set into motion for that, but not until the created traitor has made his move against humanity and worked with the JAM to attack the main base and city where they reside on this world.

The show moves into its final arc by dealing with the acts of the traitor which leads to a full scale retreat of humanity from Fairy. But as expected, the JAM aren't going to let them go easily since what it really wants is what the FAF is the most afraid of, Yukikaze. Or not specifically Yukikaze, but it and Fukai together. The two have become something far more than just man and machine during their duration of duty on Fairy, they've actually managed to evolve into something more and adapt from each other. Yukikaze tends to exhibit more of this than Fukai who is more resigned and calm but the combination of the two turns into a powerful weapon that the JAM are the most interested in.

With the intent of escaping through the Passageway and sealing it off forever, the bulk of this episode is truly just one long combat/chase sequence in the air as the fleet attempts to divert the JAM and get away. The combination of unmanned drones and live pilots across the escort guards proves to be an interesting mix as the JAM eventually catch up to them and begin to work them over, showcasing one of the inherent dangers of using radar and technology over the basic human eye. A lot of this episode is probably something that a lot of people won't care for as it's a huge amount of technology flying around lavishing destruction upon destruction. There's some great simple political style dialogue among the military folks at the beginning where the revelations are made and career officials find themselves having epiphanies about their role in all of it.

But so much of it is presented in this bit of aerial maneuvering that is simply beautiful to me. This kind of animation is something that I was heavily drawn to back when Robotech came out and then the Macross movie I'd seen in raw. The attention to detail, the movements, it's all something that I've been interested in during the twenty plus years of being into anime that something like Yukikaze is now rare but exhilarating to see when done. In this regard, Yukikaze pleases in spades and then some. During so much of this episode I was simply on the edge of my seat enthralled by what I was seeing. And in taking the story into account with the final bits of revelation provided here, it's something that really pushes to watch the entire thing in one or two sittings.

In Summary:
Yukikaze has been a hard sell from the start with it having only a couple of episodes per volume due to it being an OVA, a lengthy release period in Japan and being a very niche targeted show. This isn't something that's intended to take the world by storm but rather to take the original manga story and bring it to a new life. In that regard, Yukikaze has succeeded wildly as it's a stunning looking piece of work that takes the introspective nature of the original and its deep love of aerial fighter and brings them to a new level. Those who enjoy shows like this, while maybe not caring for the characters or story, will be drawn to the gorgeous visuals that blended beautifully as the series progressed. This final episode is just stunning in a lot of ways, from its visual to aural presentation and the wrap-up of the enticing storyline. This show is a love song to those who enjoy a particular kind of story and not a piece for mass consumption. If you loved it, you'll find it hard to describe why, but you know how you feel when you think about it and when you watch it. I loved it and am glad that Bandai gave it such great treatment overall.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese DTS 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English DTS 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actor Interview,Director Interview,Promo Clips

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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