Argento Soma-Volume 3: No Tears (2000)

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Released 5-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Production Sketches (25)
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (4)
DVD Credits
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 97:23 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kazuyoshi Katayama
Studio
Distributor
Sunrise, Inc.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Soichiro Hoshi
Steve Staley
Houko Kuwashima
Sandy Fox
Jôji Nakata
Beau Billingslea
Takehito Koyasu
Crispin Freeman
Yui Horie
Lara Jill Miller
Kikuko Inoue
Paula Mattioli Walker
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 third volume of Argento Soma. I recommend you read Argento Soma 1: Another Reality and Argento Soma 2: Getting Even before reading this review. It will give you more background information, as well as explaining the characters.

    The episodes on this disc are:

11 Malice and Betrayal Frank is running loose, and Ryu sets up a chance to take him on alone
12 Betrayal and Despair A huge new alien is on course to attack Funeral's home base, and it looks like time to use their last-resort weapon
13 Despair and Hope Do they evacuate Funeral home base? Or fight? They do have a even more last-resort weapon...
14 Hope and Chaos The military top-brass versus the politicians in the post-mortem of the attack on Funeral home base

    We're down to four episodes on this disc, even though the cover still says 125 minutes, which would indicate 5 episodes — I guess we got spoiled having five on each of the first two discs. That's OK, because at least we get all three episodes of the three-episode mini-arc of the giant alien attack.

    The previous disc was all about dealing with "the alien of the week", as a useful way of exploring some of the characters in greater depth. The first episode on this disc is a bit different, in that Frank is running loose, and there is no alien involved. Ryu has the opportunity to attack Frank, and this is a chance to look into the boiling emotions inside him. Is revenge his only motivation?

    The other three episodes form a three-episode arc, looking at the attack of a new alien, but an unusual one. This one is ten times the size of previous aliens, and recovers from attack much faster, making it a very tough target. It in on course for Pilgrimage Point (like all of the aliens), but that course leads it straight through Funeral HQ. After their attacks fail, they face a big question: should they evacuate Funeral HQ? This story is good, but the last episode is the most interesting, because it looks at the aftermath: the recriminations and scapegoat-seeking between the politicians and the generals — it's very believable, and rather pointed. Commander Ines' flashback partway through, where she's remembering the courage of the people involved, is an eloquent, though wordless, statement. This is more than a simple shounen mecha anime — it shows distinct elements of seinen anime — perhaps it is trying to be both, or a bridge between the two?

    I was a little perturbed by the occasional manifestation of sexist prejudice, but I suspect that may be more of a comment on older Japanese males (or even older males in general). The comments about females defending the home are questionable.

    I'm not sure about the on-screen displays (one in Dan's SARG, and one on the Fefnir) that say "Rock On". Is it a misspelling of "Lock On"?

    I wish I knew why Sue Harris always has those dark markings on her cheeks (although the width of the marks varies) — they make her look like a gridiron player. I mention it this time because Sue features on the front cover, although the front cover version makes her look distinctly more busty than she does in the show. The dark marks, and the white lipstick, look unusual with her white hair, but she's hardly alone in looking unusual: Captain Hartland's hairstyle is odd (dark on top, bright red around the sides), and Ryo Soma is quite distinctive.

    There's a moment in the second episode where Dan blows a hole through the alien's head, but the reverse angle shot looks to be mis-drawn, because the hole is missing. A bit of a slip on the part of the animators, I guess.

    In all, an involving anime series, and one that's worth your time.

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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 occasional scenes that are softer. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is nicely rendered, and quite bright, but I still get a sense that it's a little less than fully-saturated. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts of any significance.

    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 moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are the two subtitle tracks, as usual. 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. There's a passage in the fourth episode that has the English dialogue saying "Yes", and the subtitles saying "No", but it is just a difference in idiom — both versions end up meaning the same thing.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. That means no layer change, which is not a bad thing. There seems to be ample space for the content, and the extras are fairly negligible.

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. They sound very similar, even to the quality of the voice acting.

    The English dialogue is easily understood, and is well-matched to the animated mouth movements. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough.

    The score is decent, but not memorable, although there are occasional nice touches, such as the use of organ at the start of the second episode. Katsuhisa Hattori provides all the music, including the opening and closing themes.

    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. This disc has even fewer extras.

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.

Gallery — Production sketches

    25 pages of line-drawing sketches, mostly of people and things we see in these episodes..

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for four other Madman offerings, which can be selected individually — something of a mecha theme here:

Reversible Cover Slick

    The inside of the cover slick is as an alternative cover. It features different artwork, and fewer words (but including a Shakespeare quote, like the last one), but is essentially the same style (it's still in English, rather than Japanese). Both versions are attractive. This time the outside features Sue, with Commander Ines in the background, while the inside features Commander Ines, with Sue in the background.

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 June 2003. It contains the same four episodes. The artwork of the R1 cover is quite different (featuring Ryu and Captain Hartland) and is much more colourful, but I definitely prefer the understated R4 cover. We get the Hartland image on the back cover.

    The extras are different: the R1 has Tech Files, and a Character Gallery, while our R4 gets a gallery of production sketches. None of these sounds compelling.

    By reports, the R1 transfer is about as good as this R4. Once again I think you could be happy with either.

Summary

    The third volume of an anime series that shows a bit more depth,  presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are even more sparse this time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, January 30, 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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