Argento Soma-Volume 4 (2000)

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Released 14-Jan-2004

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 (3)
DVD Credits
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 97:28 (Case: 100)
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

    Argento Soma reaches volume 4, and passes the half-way mark. I recommend you read Argento Soma 1: Another Reality, Argento Soma 2: Getting Even, and even Argento Soma 3: No Tears, before reading this review. They cover the episodes prior to this disc.

    The episodes on this disc are:

15 Chaos and Confusion Ryu escorts Frank to a new facility because he is comatose; he gets a shock when attacked on the way, and a further shock on arrival
16 Confusion and Answers Ryu gets a chance to explore Maki's files at the "new" facility, and gets another shock looking through the hidden files
17 Answers and The Past One of Takuto's old friends shows up at Funeral after a failed mission. Ryu keeps his distance, but ends up learning more about him
18 The Past and Crimes Guinevere's SARG plays up after a close encounter with an alien; the team learn more about the SARGs, and their origins

    There are still four episodes on this disc (but at least the cover says 100 minutes this time).

    This disc gets darker (yes, it's possible). Ryu is trying to come to terms with his feelings towards Frank when he learns more about Frank's history, and Maki's involvement. Although there are aliens appearing in these episodes, the darkness is more related to discoveries made by the flight team concerning Frank and the SARGs.

    It was a surprise to see Rick Steiner (who we saw in the first episode) show up in episode 17, but nothing said that Takuto's other friends had vanished, and it was almost inevitable that one or more of them would show up at some point, considering that they were trying to be pilots. Ryu learns the truth about a painful episode in his past (an episode we've seen in flashbacks, but without explanation). It is interesting to see that Rick notices the resemblance between Harriet and Maki, too, so that isn't completely in Ryu's head. The Japanese soundtrack uses the same voice actor for Maki and Harriet (although they do sound different), but the English does not.

    The big revelations in these episodes keep the story moving along, even if they make things more confusing. It's easy to understand Ryu's misgivings about the procedure the scientists propose to revive Frank, and even easier to understand the dejá vu he feels about the whole experience. It's no surprise when things go wrong.

    I'm often amused, or disappointed, when a show displays program source code (I write software in another life). So often, the source code they display is utterly inappropriate, or inadequate, to the task they ascribe to it. They've been clever this time — the source code scrolls past rapidly (making it clear that there is plenty of it), and in a blur. We can see the general structure of the code, and it looks credibly structured (and properly indented!), but we cannot see details. Very clever!

    I only just noticed that the pilots of the SARGs don't wear helmets. Instead they have that odd curved headgear that combines headphones and microphone. They wear this odd contraption even when flying regular aircraft, which is probably contra-regs.

    Two thirds of the way through this series, and things are quite engrossing. The next two volumes should be very interesting indeed.

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 generally sharp and clear, but there are occasional scenes that are softer — I think some of this is an attempt to simulate dust in the air, but I don't like it. The only apparent film grain is simulated, again as an effect. There's no apparent low-level noise .

    Colour is rich and well-rendered, but some scenes are close to monochromatic - there is a scene done entirely in red in episode 16, for example - and others (flashbacks) are pure black-and-white. In episode 17 there are some scenes that seem to show some very light chroma noise, but this could well be a deliberate effect simulating low light levels.

    There are no film artefacts of any significance.

    Aliasing and dot crawl on the black lines bordering characters and objects continues to be visible, and the most obvious artefact afflicting this series. There is no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts. Background shimmer is minimal.

    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.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. That means no layer change, and there seems to be ample room for the content.

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 a definite enhancement to the action, for all that it sounds a touch clichéd at times. A nice effort from Katsuhisa Hattori.

    The straight stereo signal does not provide sound for the surrounds or subwoofer. The mains get plenty to chew on, though. If you have Prologic decoding switched on, the dialogue will collapse into the centre channel, as will more than a little of the score.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is animated with sound — like all the others, it is designed to look like a glitching display.

Gallery — Production sketches

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

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for three 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 (once more it offers a Shakespeare quote), but is essentially the same style (it's still in English, rather than Japanese). Both versions are attractive. This time the outside features Maki, complete with glasses, but with angel wings. The inside features Takuto. The Region 1 cover combines these two images, with a much more colourful 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 mid-2003. It contains the same four episodes. The artwork of the R1 cover is different — see above.

    The extras are different: the R1 has Tech Files, and a Character Gallery, while our R4 gets a gallery of production sketches. I can't say that either would decide me on one version or the other.

    By reports, the R1 transfer is about as good as this R4. You could be happy with either version, but you'd want to get the entire series from one source or the other, because the covers are such different designs.

Summary

    An anime series with plenty of twists reaches volume 4, the two thirds mark.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are sparse.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, February 02, 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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