Zegapain Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Zegapain

Zegapain Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     August 27, 2008
Release Date: August 05, 2008


Zegapain Vol. #6
© Bandai Entertainment

Zegapain draws to a close in a somewhat predictable manner but not without providing a great deal of excitement and fun.

What They Say
The Oceanus is now committed to the final operation, and untold dangers await them on the moon in the enemy's base. Seemingly outnumbered and outmatched, Kyo and the others encounter both the sinister Naga and the Gardsorm traitor who created Shima. The question now is how can they get off the moon with the Maihama server and the resurrection system? In the end, Kyo is going to have to make the most difficult choice of all. Can he become a physical human and be truly alive again if it means leaving everyone he cares about behind in the server?

The Review!
Audio:
The series sports a fairly solid stereo mix as both tracks that are included are done at 224 kbps. Zegapain is a show that really would benefit from a strong 5.1 mix as it features a good deal of mecha action. The stereo mix that we do get however is quite good as it has plenty of placement across the forward soundstage and smooth directionality. There isn't a lot of depth required here though but what we have in total is a clean and solid sounding release. Dialogue is problem free and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Featuring five episodes on this volume, the transfer in general is pretty solid but not without a few problems. The opening episode is where it's the most problematic as some of the initial scenes with heavy blacks have gradients that display a good deal of blocking during it. This eases off in later episodes, especially when you see similar gradients in the blue water but without the same level of noise and blocking. Colors in general are solid and smooth looking with very little noise to them. Aliasing and cross coloration are essentially minimal to non-existent here which leaves the bulk of the show looking good, especially in outdoor city scenes.

Packaging:
The last volume of the series does what most series of this nature do with such covers by providing a good cast shot of most of the main characters on the good guys side. With the hexagon background using the same kind of light purple colors that have been on the other covers, it’s got some good continuity to it and it works well to tie everything together. The back cover uses a similar color layout but with various hues of purple that come across rather gaudily with the yellow and deep purple of the Gardsorm ship there.  The cover is a fairly standard layout for Bandai as it provides a brief summary of the premise and a rundown of the discs extras, episodes and titles. The shots from the show are a good mix of character moments and mecha action. The bottom portion of the cover contains the usual minimal and unhelpful technical specs and production information.

Menu:
When it comes to mecha shows, Bandai typically has some good in-theme menus with them and Zegapain is no exception. Menu items are located along the top and bottom while a strip of clips plays through the middle with various action sequences and some key character moments. Interestingly, the menu runs for 48 seconds but they do the audio in 22 second segments so that it rises and falls once before repeating again. The layout is nicely done, though the white text on the purple is a bit awkward at first, but it's a solid piece that fits the show well. Access times are nice and fast but the disc did not properly read our players' language presets and default to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The final volume of the series plays out much like the earlier volumes as it includes the clean versions of the slightly extended closing sequences as well as the clean versions of the two special openings on this volume. Where the extras really wowed me was with the special full closing sequence included. It runs just over five minutes and it was all pieces utilized for the various endings throughout the series. When taken in full as an extended music video, it’s quite striking and almost powerful at times with the way it moves so seamlessly through the various characters and relationships. It’s mostly focused on the real world side of things and with the kind of transitions it uses it’s simply beautiful and haunting at times.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
 Zegapain draws to a close with the last four episodes of the twenty-six episodes series run. Looking at the series as a whole, these last four episodes are admittedly predictable in how things will turn out. But much like the majority of the series, it’s executed so skillfully and competently that you don’t mind because it’s simply fun and you enjoy the way everyone gets into it. Nobody is truly over the top and it works within the confines of the world that it’s created while still giving it room to breathe in a little bit of the fantastic.

With the revelations of where the Maihama server is located in the previous volume, Zegapain could spend a great deal of time running through the motions of getting the Oceanaus and its crew to that location. Thankfully, this is just the lead-in to the episodes as only a small portion of the first episode deals with the feints and strategies used to get them to the moon. The remaining Cerebrants continue the fight against the Arctic deutera and have a few key moments here and there, but by and large the focus is on that of the lunar adventures from here on out with very little to distract.

Everything is on the line with this battle and it’s escalated well very early on, particularly when it comes to Sin and Abyss. The two of them find their position to rather critical now that their resurrection bodies are no longer available to them and they’re essentially on their last lives. This gives them a whole lot more incentive when they begin their fight against the Zegapain’s that have made it through the portal to the moon, but even they’re a bit confused by all the imagery that they come across as some of their beliefs about what’s going on are lightly challenged. But Abyss is true to his character and his focus is almost solely on that of taking down Kyo, the one true challenge he’s had for so long.

The scale of the battle, with all of what’s left of the virtual humanity at stake, is one that will lead to a very epic feeling. There are some wonderful moments along the way where the realization of what’s possible comes to light in order to “fix” things for the future, but it’s the smaller areas that are much more fascinating. The encounter with Naga provides a lot of solid material about the thinking that went into what created the situation and that goes back to what has made the series engaging at times. A lot of what he says flies in the face of “conventional wisdom” about the future evolution of mankind, but there are also a number of intriguing kernels of truth in there about it that merit more exploration. Some of that was tackled earlier in the show when the curtain was pulled aside with the reality of the situation, but it isn’t used to bludgeon the viewer over the head at the end here. It has a good lengthy scene to deal with it, but it doesn’t dominate the flow of the storyline.

One of the more intriguing pieces about the series has been the hinted at elements about Kyo and Shizuno’s relationship during his past life. We’ve seen parts of it come up through the various flashbacks, but it’s with these episodes that we really understand what had gone on between them. What made it all the more enjoyable was that even Kyo didn’t understand it in the past when it happened, but he finally gets it now at the key moment where everyone has to make sacrifices. The relationship between the two has been a lot of fun to watch, especially as it tweaked the romantic triangle aspect a bit, but what these revelations do is give you a good reason to go back and watch the series again to see how you view it differently. Shizuno has always been a slightly cold character and when you finally get the real reasons why, it does change how you view her and it puts her in a more favorable light.

In Summary:
Zegapain was something of a real surprise. I was uncertain of the show during its first few episodes but as it progressed and started to play at some really interesting concepts – both in the science aspect and the social aspect – it became a lot more engaging. It’s somewhat of a garish show at times with the designs of the mecha but when you’re working with something based around holographic and quantum technology, you sort of let it slide that they’re going to be flashy with it as opposed to traditional mecha shows. Zegapain has a lot to offer, both from a first viewing but also with a couple of good repeat viewings as there is a lot here that is surprisingly layered. It’s not massively deep, but it does offer up things to talk about and to think about in a way that a lot of other mecha shows don’t. It’s a solid action piece with fun characters that doesn’t have a reliance on fanservice to sell it. It’s a true little hidden gem in the Bandai Entertainment catalog that is worth spending some quality time with.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Full Chorus Ending

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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