Transformers: Armada-Volume 2 (2002)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Hidehito Ueda|
Tabitha St. Germain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Transformer toys advert.|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In this review we continue on our wonderful journey through the first season of Transformers: Armada, a popular animated TV series first shown on the Cartoon Network from 2002-2003. This review covers Volume 2 in the DVD series, which includes episodes 4 through 6 of the TV show. If you have come along for the entire ride you might want to check out my review of Volume 1 before reading this review. Of course, if you have already done that or are only here to find out about Volume 2, then please jump in to the next paragraph.
This second DVD gets fully into the regular action of the show, after the pilot episodes which were on the first disc. Production values seem to have declined slightly in these episodes - it seems a little more money was spent on the pilot to pull in the viewers. With that in mind, the standard of animation is still very high for an ongoing children's show, and the vibrant picture and action-packed story line are sure to pull younger viewers in. Before watching this DVD I decided I needed to watch more Japanese animation to get in the mood, so I rented Spirited Away and watched it a couple of times for training. I think that the preparation got me in the right mood for...
Comrades, the first episode on the disc (and the 4th in the series), which runs for 21:03. This episode establishes the ongoing relationship between the three heroes (Rad, Carlos and Alexis) as they work with the good robots (The Autobots) to try and find the small robots (the Mini-Cons) and save them from enslavement by the evil robots (The Decepticons). But you already knew that from reading my first review, right? (Just checking). In the next episode, Soldier (series episode 5, runs for 21:36) one of the newer Autobots learns a lot about teamwork from the rest of the group. There is lots of robot combat action in this episode (that's a good thing, right?) and as Rad states at the end, they learnt "how to work together as a team after that".
In the final episode, Jungle (actually set in a forest - runs 21:36) the Autobots have to decide whether to save a forest from a raging fire or save a Mini-Con who is about to be captured by the Decepticons. This episode has a fairly blunt environmental message, but at least it had my kids debating issues about logging and wildlife, not bad for a 'lightweight' robot action cartoon. After this last episode I look forward to the next disc in the series. Why don't you join me then for more heart pounding, extras free action?
As with the first disc in the series, the picture on this disc looks fresh, with vibrant colours and no signs of damage.
The aspect ratio of the show is 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced, which is the way it was shown on TV.
The picture is once again extremely sharp, with excellent animated shadow detail and no low level noise.
Colours are vibrant throughout, with some very colourful effects shots (see 17:40 in Episode 1 for one example). We have some new Mini-Cons introduced in this episode, and they are all very colourful. The backgrounds are not as bright as they were in the first 3 episodes, but are still pleasing.
There are no MPEG artefacts to be seen. Aliasing is more common in Volume 2 than it was in Volume 1 (see 1:32 in Episode 2 and 15:09 in Episode 3 for examples). This is a little disappointing but the younger members of the family are unlikely to notice. There is no physical damage to be seen in the transfer.
There are no subtitles and there is no layer change. Each episode comes with the music and accompanying video leading into and out of the mid-episode advertising break.
The audio transfer on the disc is not as good as the video, but is still quite acceptable.
There is only one audio track on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 224 Kb/s.
Dialogue is very clear at all times, and the voice actors seem to be settling into their roles nicely - they seem more relaxed as the episodes unfold. Audio sync for sound-effects is good, though it is difficult to comment on audio sync for the speech which is English dubbed over Japanese animation.
The music by Hayato Matsuo is quite varied in some of these episodes, particularly in Episode 5. Once again the bouncy main theme adds to the action nicely.
The stereo soundtrack has little surround presence or activity. Switching to Pro-Logic mode does little to improve it, though battle effects are suitably exciting and spread nicely across the front of the sound stage. The subwoofer adds a bit of bass to explosions and music.
|Surround Channel Use|
None. I'm still hoping for some production information on one of the discs in this series, but then I still believe in Santa Claus.
Static menu, two options: Play All episodes, Select an Episode.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The version of choice with Volume 2 is a little complicated. This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1 as yet, making the Region 4 the version of choice over the Region 1. The Region 2 version includes a 'Bonus episode' which is actually Episode 7, which appears on Volume 3 in Region 4. If you are only after a few episodes, and can obtain Volume 2 cheaply from Region 2, then you get 4 episodes rather than the 3 on offer here. If you are collecting the series, then you might want to stick with the local version, as subsequent volumes don't appear to be available in Region 2 as yet. It's a tough call.
With this second volume, Transformers: Armada begins to settle into its stride. The episodes are full of action and colour and will please a younger audience. While the animation is not as sumptuous as it was in the pilot episode, it is still very good. Apart from some minor aliasing the picture is good, and the sound is as good or better than on most TV shows. Hopefully we will see a few extras on later discs, other than the advert for Transformer toys which starts each disc. A good rental, this one might also be worth purchasing for fans if found at a budget price (the recommended retail price seems a little expensive for a DVD which runs just over 60 minutes).
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K350, using Component output|
|Display||SONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Kenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|