Argento Soma-Volume 2: Getting Even (2000)

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Released 20-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Credits-Clean ending (1:31)
Gallery-Production sketches (25)
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (4)
DVD Credits
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 121:47 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kazuyoshi Katayama
Studio
Distributor
Sunrise, Inc.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Soichiro Hoshi
Hoko Kuwajima
Frin Cha
Yuji Takada
Yuri Sa
Jji Nakata
Takehito Koyasu
Kikuko Inoue
Yui Horie
Taku Takemura
Steve Staley
Sandy Fox
Crispin Freeman
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Katsuhisa Hattori


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
English Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

This is the second volume of a new anime series. If you haven't already read my review of the opening volume, I recommend you read Argento Soma 1: Another Reality. It will give you more background information, as well as explaining the characters there are plenty of characters to worry about.

The episodes on this disc are:

6 War and Escape Harriet discovers what has happened to the home she knew
7 Escape and Memory Frank gets "a good luck charm", and Funeral faces another, even more dangerous, progressive alien (it resembles a T-1000 from Terminator 2)
8 Memory and Loneliness Ryu and Dan are in the brig, and we learn more of Dan's background (this is something of a recap episode)
9 Loneliness and Sorrow Harriet goes missing, and both Ryu and Commander Ines can empathise with her to some extent
10 Sorrow and Malice The most heavily shielded alien type yet, a G4, appears, and even Frank cannot help them against it

The episode titles continue the pattern the end of one title is the start of the next.

Another thing that continues is flashbacks, quite a few of them, for both Ryu and Harriet. Episodes 6 and 8 are even told half in flashback.

The animation style is plain, but perfectly functional. I'm becoming accustomed to it, and it looks spare and economical now.

These five episodes don't give us a lot of progress in the longer story arc, but they do go a bit deeper into the characters. There is a distinct push to get us to recognise that Ryu identifies Harriet with Maki, but that's not really a surprise. More interesting is Ryu's ambivalent feelings towards Frank (aka EX-1). I find it amusing that Frank gets a "neck-bolt" how appropriate for someone named after Frankenstein's monster!

We get to see an interesting variety of alien attackers, and Ryu is responsible for coming up with some novel techniques for dealing with some of them.

This volume has me convinced I want to see more of this series. Not because it is a visual delight (it is not), but because it features an interesting plot and characters who seem believable.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That is the original aspect ratio.

The image is mostly sharp and clear, but there are some scenes that are somewhat soft the softness looks like it is deliberate, but it's not too attractive. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.

Colour is well-rendered, from a palette that falls a tiny bit short of fully-saturated. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are no film artefacts.

Aliasing and dot crawl on the black lines bordering characters and objects is not excessive, but is certainly visible on any panning shot. There is no moir, but there is one tiny dose of false colouration on fine lines from 107:10 to 107:12. There are no MPEG artefacts.

There are the two subtitle tracks we see so often on Madman anime discs. The first subtitles only signs. The second provides full subtitles for the dialogue, plus the signs. The dialogue subtitles seem to be accurate, well-timed to the dialogue, and easy to read, in the traditional yellow. Interestingly, there are a few passages that are displayed in English (such as the newspaper Ryu gets, or some computer displays) which have Japanese subtitles burned into the image.

The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change falls at 73:04, in between episodes 7 and 8. It is effectively invisible in that location.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224kbps. I listened to both soundtracks in full. Apart from the voice acting, the two soundtracks sound equivalent.

The English dialogue is easily understood, and is well-matched to the animated mouth movements. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough. It's fun to hear some English (pronounced less than perfectly) in the Japanese soundtrack, such as when the Japanese voice actor for Guinevere says "shooto".

The score during episodes is nothing special, but it's adequate. The opening and closing themes, on the other hand, are excellent. Katsuhisa Hattori provides all the music.

The straight stereo signal does not provide sound for the surrounds or subwoofer. That's not a problem with this series the mains do a fine job with the stereo sound they receive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This series isn't getting as much in the way of extras as some other recent offerings from Madman.

Menu

The menu is animated with sound it is designed to look like a glitching display. This is quite different from the reported style of the Region 1 menus.

Credit-free Ending (1:31)

The opening without credits. Interesting enough the first time I hope we get something different on the next disc...

Gallery Production sketches

25 pages of line-drawing sketches, mostly of the main characters.

Madman Propaganda

Trailers for four other Madman offerings, which can be selected individually:

Reversible Cover Slick

The inside of the cover slick is as an alternative cover. It features different artwork, and fewer words, but is essentially the same style (it's still in English, rather than Japanese). Both versions are attractive. This time the outside features Dan, with Ryu in the background, while the inside features Ryu, with Dan in the background. I'm tempted to switch my copy to the inside version.

DVD Credits

A credits panel showing the people at Madman responsible for this DVD.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 disc was released in the first half of 2003. It contains the same five episodes. The artwork of the cover of the R1 is much more colourful, but I think I prefer the understated R4 cover the primary image (of Dan) is the same, however.

The extras are somewhat different: the R1 has Tech Files, while our R4 gets a gallery of production sketches. I'd always prefer to have all the extras, but I'd call this a draw, because apparently the Tech Files are just a gallery of drawings.

By reports, the R1 transfer is at least as good as this R4, possibly a little better, but I think you could be happy with either.

Summary

The second volume of an entertaining anime series, presented well on DVD.

The video quality is good.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are far from munificent, but they'll do.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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