Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Zone of Enders
Zone of Enders Dolores i Vol. #2: Operation Escape!
By Chris Beveridge
January 01, 2003
Release Date: January 14, 2003
Zone of Enders Dolores i Vol. #2: Operation Escape!
What They Say
© ADV Films
Space cargo ship pilot James Links and his family are on the run, unjustly accused of interplanetary terrorism. Mars offers hope for clearing the family name, but can the Links' get safely out of Earth's orbit with governments, agencies and spies throwing everything they've got at the Ender?
The Links family dodges Earth's World Defense Surveillance on one side and mysterious Martian agents on the other, only to find themselves caught in the middle-among the smugglers, thugs, and gangsters who navigate the space between them all. Fortunately, they have an ally in Orbital Frame Dolores. She's got even more secrets and power to reveal in the second volume of Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i!The Review!
The second installment of Zone of the Enders brings the action up a few more notches but also starts to really work on the characters in getting them to be more accessible.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a nicely dynamic mix that’s fairly active in the forward soundstage with good directionality in both the special effects and the dialogue. Dialogue throughout was crisp and clear, and the we noted no dropouts or distortions.Video:
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this show is nice and fresh. The show is one to feature a range of colors, with plenty of darks in space to a lot of bright colors throughout the Earth tour. Throughout, colors are strong and vibrant and backgrounds are very solid. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent while aliasing only shows up in some very tightly animated areas during a panning sequence. This is a solid transfer all around and can easily be identified as a fresh new show.Packaging:
The criminal element gets the main portion of the cover here with their usual smirks and particular look in the eye while Dolores in her camouflage mode sneaks in behind them. The artwork has a grayish tinge to it and a slate keepcase to match, giving it a very solid feeling. The back cover provides a number of animation shots from the show and a very brief summary of the show itself. The discs features and technical aspects are all nicely and clearly listed in a block while the production information is along the bottom. The insert provides a new piece of artwork on one side while the reverse has the listing of extras and audio selections against the image of one of the characters. A set of four cards is included, with various characters on the front. The backs of them look like they’ll form a part of a larger picture.Menu:
The menus here are decent, if unexceptional. Static artwork of one of the cast members and other pieces are on each of the submenus, but there’s no animation playing along anywhere. The opening music does play in the main menu though, which has access to each episode and then to the various setup and extra submenus. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is solid, if bland.Extras:
There’s some rather good extras included in this round, particularly for fans of the Japanese staff. There’s two separate video interview pieces, the first being with Tetsuya Watanabe, the series director and then with Shin Yoshida who handles the composition of the series. Both pieces provide a quick look into the production, but are of course what you’d expect from a short Japanese promotional piece. The Dolores Diary segment is an odd piece that has reworked animation with Dolores talking about what’s been going on from her perspective. A really great extra is the Deimos Station pages, which talks about the history of the rock and it’s relationship to Phobos and Mars in general.
The second half of the extras brings us more of the usual though, but still very welcome pieces such as the clean opening and ending segments as well as new selections of production sketches and conceptual artwork.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Things open in a bad way for the Links family here, as everyone is thrown apart from the resulting last encounter on the previous volume. Leon is shackled and being interrogated underground by one of the Yans, Noel is on the run from the police in the sewers and James, well, the kids think he’s dead, but he’s been rescued by an old flame and a mafia man and is holed up in their apartment. His frame-up has gone off rather well, he has to admit.
Dolores is also pretty much in a really bad way, as she and millions of her pieces are floating in one of the chambers and she’s practically flatlined. But some vague memories of James causes her systems to restart and a series of automatic repairs kicks in. Once done, Dolores heads off throughout the colony to gather everyone up, using its internal cameras to find everyone, and to plan their next move.
Of course, everyone is after them at this point as they all end up causing problems during their escape, but the bulk of the forces after them come in the form of the military, with the Chief Inspector continuing his mad chase of “John Carter”. The Chief Inspector, whose title wasn’t even known in the first volume never mind his name, is now formally named Baan Dorlfoum, which makes things a lot easier than just identifying him as that fairly psychotic military guy. He and his troops end up going right against the Links’ and Dolores at one point, and he manages to get even more over the top but kept within reality as he tries to take them down.
There are places where even he won’t go, and one of them is Zarusaga, a somewhat far flung colony that’s entirely under the control of a powerful mafia man named Ron Pao. The Links’, Dolores and the escaping mafia man and his dame end up fleeing there accidentally and then try to really take advantage of it when the police forces back off from following them. James lucks out in having a friend from his youth there and manages to get onto the station. But as with everything else that seems to happen to him, it just places him in more danger, this time directly from Ron Pao, who sets him up to take a fall so he can continue to be in control of the colony.
A lot of these episodes have everyone simply on the run or in firefights, both personal and in combat ships. The action level is rather high upon reflection, but not to a point where it feels like that’s all there is. And the action has at several points served to really further the plot and the characterizations, especially in how we see the Links kids really fall into place and handle what’s being thrown at them, considering neither were really spaceworthy prior to being swept up in all of this. That helps cement James’ feelings that he’s getting the hang of being a father and dealing with the relationships between him and his kids.
The relationship with Dolores, for all of them really, also gets more intense here as she encounters some very tough situations from her near complete demise to her continuing ability to transform into various battle formats beyond her control. It’s those moments when she loses control that she’s reaching out the most for James, which really pushes the curiosity button as to what Rachel did to Dolores when she programmed her and set her into space.
The shows character designs with their slightly cartoony edge to them, particularly the mafia men, is growing slowly on me, but it still isn’t something I want to see in a lot of shows. It’s working well with this property, and with the fact that the youngest characters are still in their twenties and we’re not dealing with children. There’s also some really good connections to the OVA release here that brings that show into line with this one and adds a new level of familiarity that wasn’t there to begin with. This release follows very well on the heels of the first volume, so if you liked what that had to offer, you’ll like this as well.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with Tetsuya Watanabe (Director) and Shin Yoshida (Series Composition),Dolores' Diary Part 1; Deimos Station,Textless opening,Textless closing,Production sketches & conceptual artwork,Collectible Cards
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.