Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 24.95
- Running time: 55
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Zone of Enders
Zone of Enders : Idolo
By Chris Beveridge
August 15, 2002
Release Date: September 24, 2002
Zone of Enders : Idolo
What They SayThe Review!
© ADV Films
The OVA release that serves as a prequel to the original video game, Idolo actually manages to play very well considering its roots and with my general dislike of game to anime conversions. Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This stereo track is pretty solid, with a fair amount of forward soundstage directionality to show off. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we noticed no distortions or dropouts. We also gave the English 5.1 remix a sample in some of the more aggressive sequences and overall liked it a lot, as it didn’t overdo it with throwing music and effects to the rear speakers too loudly.Video:
Originally released in early 2001, the materials for the transfer here are top notch and very clean. Colors are solid with not noticeable bleeding or over saturation, cross coloration or aliasing. There’s a lack of heavy vibrancy to a lot of the colors, but for those that use it, they stand out well here. There’s little to complain with this transfer.Packaging:
Using a reworked version of the Japanese cover, Radium takes the center stage here with the supporting cast of women being shuffled to the background and the Orbital Frame being brought forward. With the heavy purple coloration to the cover, a very similarly colored keepcase was used to give it a more connected feel. The back cover provides a few screenshots of the show and a decent summary of what to expect. The technical aspect grid is getting more fleshed out with this release as things like aspect ratio and region coding are moved into it. All that needs to be added there now is the running time so it’s easier to find. The insert provides a different image of the Frame while the reverse side essentially repeats the technical information from the back cover.Menu:
The main menu provides a good action oriented piece with the viewing being from the inside of one of the LEV suits while playing animation from the opening battle sequences while music and sound effects play along. Menu selections are a bit smaller than usual but the layout is pretty standard with some good access times and easy navigation.Extras:
There’s some nice extras included in this release. There’s a set of four interviews ranging from the director to the character and mecha designers, each running about two minutes in length and fully subtitled. The only issue we had was with the directors interview, when he gets part of the way in, the subtitles lock up on both our Skyworth and Toshiba decks. When the interview ends, the remaining subtitles fly by. This doesn’t happen on the other interviews thankfully. There’s a two screen timeline provided that gives some backstory to how the colonization of Mars went and there’s also a ten minute video gallery of black and white production sketches that have translated text explaining what the various pieces are.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The year is 2167 and we’re on Mars. The show opens hard and fast, showing several teams of LEV suits trying to take a hill where mounted armaments are raining down a vast array of shells at them. Skycraft zip by and take their shots as well, keeping just about all of the LEV’s at bay. Things aren’t looking good for the LEV teams until on person, Second Lieutenant Radium Lavans decides to begin the advance on the hill and uses a creative approach to taking out their main cannon.
Of course, this is all just a training exercise, and one that the UNSF was watching, as the Martian LEV team finds out once back inside the base. The general dislike of Earthers is strong here, especially with the way they use their naturally greater strength against the Martian born humans. A simple punch in the face takes one of the pilots out of commission for nearly three months. The United Colonies of Mars are definitely a group of people who don’t like being under the thumb and control of Earth.
One of their solutions to throw off this particular yoke involves Radium and his LEV teammate Viola to be reassigned to a somewhat remote Mars base that’s actually a cover for something greater than it seems. While the posting initially seems to be a punishment, Radium and Viola come to learn that it’s where the latest weapon development is taking place. And the culmination of that development is the Orbital Frame, a suit that’s larger than the LEV and has far greater capabilities. A lot of these abilities are due to the inclusion of Metatron, a substance that’s been mined further out in the solar system that has almost given the suit a life of its own.
The OVA then delves into the training Radium undertakes, and the way he and his suit bonds together and how one affects the other. It’s a rather well done storyline that plays through a critical time of testing with the Frame, and with the subterfuge involving the UNSF in uncovering it. A good portion is devoted to how the Frame and Radium interact with each other, as the Frame unleashes a long pent up hatred of Earth in him. The balance plays out against his relationships with his teammate Viola as well as his girlfriend Dolores, who is involved in the Frame project.
While I generally dislike game to anime conversions, this one manages to work out well in that it’s a solid self contained story that serves only minimally as a prequel to the first ZOE videogame. You can watch this and get an entire story, without feeling gipped in that you didn’t spend the time playing the game afterwards (and honestly, I’m no fan of the original game). The show is definitely Sunrise fare however, and at times you could almost feel shades of Gasaraki seeping in.
The feel of Mars is done quite well, giving the entire show a different atmosphere due to the actual Martian sky being done in shades of pink. This coloring affected everything under it, which manages to provide a rather claustrophobic feel at times. Without the blue sky I’m used to, things felt much more contained here. The character designs also worked well, and I was especially pleased to see they avoided going with a group of teens to be involved and rather go with people in their 20’s.
My level of anticipation for anything ZOE was very low to begin with, but having now taken this in and seen the TV series trailer on this disc, I’m much more intrigued to see how the series will play out. For those wondering if they’re going to try the series, I definitely recommend checking out this standalone story first.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with Director; Character Designers and the Mecha Designer,Production sketches, Zone of Enders Timeline
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.