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Info:

  • Audio Rating: C+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 700
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Zone of Enders

Zone of the Enders Complete Collection

By Mike Dungan     February 14, 2006
Release Date: January 03, 2006


Zone of the Enders Complete Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
Based on a hit video game. The planets are on the brink of war, but the only thing hard-woring, hard-drinking, all-American cargo hauler James Links wants is to reconcile with his estranged family, but when he discovers a fearsome weapon aboard his carrier ship Ender, the entire links clan is plunged into mystery, murder, and mayhem!

The Review!
The girliest giant robot in anime meets the toughest dad in anime. But first, some backstory.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the show in my native language of English. The "Idolo" OVA is recorded in 2.0, and sounds good if not overwhelming. There is some good directionality, and the dialogue is well mixed. The 5.1 used for the English dub of the "Dolores i" TV series makes good use of the soundstage, especially useful for the many battle sequences. The dub from ADV's now defunct Monster Island studio, late of Austin Texas, is better for the TV series than the OVA. Most performances from the OVA are rather flat, with only Bonnie Hester's Dolores standing out. This is fortunate, since she's the voice of Dolores in the TV series. Travis Dean is the other stand out of the TV series dub. His fatherly concern and ridiculously optimistic gung-ho attitude are a perfect contrast to Hester's girlish and charming giant robot. Unfortunately, some of the secondary characters and quite a few of the background characters sound uninspired. However, the main cast sounds good and rarely disappointed me. Sadly, there were many translation errors in the original release of ZoE. For this release, ADV went to the trouble of cleaning up as many of the mistakes as possible in the subtitles, including correcting the titles of the episodes, which are all based on movie titles. Some are Japanese, some American, some French, some German, et cetera. So for example, "Showdown at Noon" is now properly translated as "High Noon." Unfortunately, the show could not be redubbed, so all the mistakes in the original translation are still present in the ADR script, such as referring to the "orbital frames" as "orbital flames" in the OVA, and in the Dolores TV series, putting the population of the Earth at 120 million rather than 12 billion.

Video:
The “Idolo” OVA, released in 2001, is bright and clean, with no noticeable aliasing or pixilation. The colors are sharp, if dark. The TV series, also released in 2001, still looks fresh. The show has some very bright, solid colors, from the scenes on Earth, to the dark colors of space, to the subdued reds of Mars. I didn’t notice any cross coloration and only noticed a minor bit of aliasing once.

Packaging:
The box uses plenty of red against black for a dark, somber mood. One cover features the characters from the OVA; Radium, Dolores and Viola, with one of the orbital frames in monochromatic red in the background. The spine and top have the title only. The covers use the art from the singles release, but with more white in the background. The discs are all purplish-red without any extra artwork, and each one is numbered for which disc it is in the set. Because of that, the first disc of the TV series is actually labeled “disc 2”, which could be a bit confusing if you have more than one disc out at a time. The back of the OVA volume has a brief synopsis of the show and a few screen images. The backs of the TV series volumes only list the episode numbers and titles, as well as more small images from the show.

Menus:
The menus are very simple, just a list of the episode numbers and titles on the left in a sidebar, with artwork appropriate to each volume taking up the majority of the screen. The background music is a little annoying since it’s the loud opening theme, but there is no transition animation, and load times are quick.

Extras:
As with nearly all of ADV’s thinpak sets, the only extras are previews, available on the first disc only.

Content:
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) Zone of the Enders is based on a video game, but if, like me, you’ve never played it, you won’t miss anything. The first volume contains the “Idolo” OVA, a 50 minute story that’s a prequel to the game. In 2167, the relationship between the people of Mars and Earth has declined to the point that all out war is about to erupt. Martians are tired of the tyrannical rule and racism of the people of Earth against them. Radium Lavans is a pilot of a giant robot that’s been developed by the Martians in secret which, when mass produced, will be powerful enough to drive the “Earthers” out. His fellow pilot is Viola, a darkly beautiful woman with a no-nonsense attitude. Radium is engaged to Dolores, a research assistant who helped develop the robot. The designer of the robot is Dr. Rachel Links. She left her husband, a man from Earth, and their two children, to return to Mars to design the robot. While testing the robot, Lavans undergoes some worrying psychological changes. He begins to lose himself to his hatred of the Earthers, and the robot rejects Viola. When the Earth army learns of the existence of the robot, they launch an assault against the facility, including kidnapping both Dr. Links and Dolores. Lavans takes off in the robot to rescue them for an action-packed ending full of pathos.

For the TV series, the show picks up the story 5 years later. James Links is a former army officer now working as a trucker in space. His wife was declared dead in the battle that took place at the end of the OVA, and he’s hit the bottle just a little too hard. His adult children have rejected him. Leon is a young man moving up in the corporate world, while Noel is a construction site supervisor where she’s well respected. When James accepts a questionable shipping job, he ends up with far more trouble than he ever wanted. His ship is boarded by inspectors, but one of the inspectors kills the other two, and James is framed for the murder. The cargo he’s transporting is a giant robot, who says her name is Dolores and she’s an orbital frame, the same type of robot that Rachel Links was developing when she died 5 years ago. Not only that, but the robot is able to sing a lullaby that his late wife used to sing to their children. Dolores has the personality of a charming young woman, and her mannerisms are hilarious, such as the way her antennae on her head reveal her emotions. Some digging in Dolores reveals a message from his wife telling him not to let anyone else take her. James is now stuck on a trip to Earth with the mysterious people who killed the inspectors as well as the army on his tail, and a doomsday robot with the personality of a teenaged girl to contend with.

Once on Earth, James learns both his son and daughter are falsely implicated in the murders, and now all three of them are on the run. Some of the best comedy in the show comes from the relationship between father, son, daughter, and robot. James originally took the job to go to Earth so he could try to patch things up between him and his children. To help him, he’s brought along a book about parenting which he continually consults. Forced to go back into space, the four of them fight and bicker, but James does his best to be a good father. With so many people after them, Leon’s computer skills and Noel’s construction skills are put to the test over and over in ways they never imagined.

Once back on Mars, they begin to search for Rachel. They are convinced that she’s still alive, since it appears she sent the robot to James specifically. They are confronted by Rebecca, a young woman piloting a giant robot who has been sent to reclaim Dolores by the Martian faction fighting for independence. She’s defeated, but James and Dolores treat her kindly, not at all like the prisoner she considers herself to be. Because she’s been indoctrinated since birth to hate all Earthers, she’s emotionally incapable of accepting that their offers of friendship are genuine. Once returned to her people, she immediately begins plotting to get her revenge against them and regain the respect of her father, an important but shadowy player in Martian independence.

An all-out war erupts on Mars just as James, Leon, Noel and Dolores are reunited with Rachel. Dolores was supposed to be a central part of the plot to overthrown the Earth domination of Mars, but a second robot, perhaps even more powerful than Dolores, is used instead. The new robot is piloted by Napth, the man Rebecca considers her father. The war has moved to Earth’s orbital station, situated at the top of an enormous structure that extends from Earth’s surface to the space station. Napth has a sinister ulterior motive. He intends to destroy the system that keeps the station balanced. When the orbital station falls, it and the pole it sits on are so massive, and will hit with such force, that it will annihilate all life on Earth. Not only that, but because Mars is not yet self-sufficient, if Earth dies, so will life on Mars. James Links must reconcile with his family, clear his name, stop the war, and pilot Dolores into battle with Napth, or humanity will become extinct.

Conclusion:
The OVA episode is dark and heartbreaking, but the TV series is fun and much more upbeat. It’s refreshing to see a giant robot show where the pilot isn’t some angsty teenager, but an actual middle-aged adult. James’s constant referencing of the book on parenting is a gag that works, since it appears the book actually has some good advice in it. Dolores is a hoot, a robot so powerful everyone wants it for themselves, but she’s just a girl who loves her “Uncle” and her “brother” and “sister.” This show’s two themes of racism and the bonds of family are well written and well stated. About the only downside of this release is the lack of any extras. The singles release of Zone of the Enders had some of the most extensive Japanese-related extras seen in the US. Sadly, they’re all removed for this set. Only the actual episodes remain. Fortunately, the show is great fun with a well-executed ending, so the lack of extras doesn’t sting quite so bad.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language (OVA),English 5.1 Language (TV Series),English Subtitles


Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player

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