Transformers: Armada-Volume 8 (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|
Welcome back for another dose of animated robot fighting action as the Transformers once again battle on our screens for ultimate mastery of the universe. If you think that this war has been going on for a little too long now, you are not the only one; as one of the evil faction (the Decepticons) laments in Episode 23 "This war is only 10 million years old" and "there is no clear winner in sight". If the toys continue to sell there is no reason it won't go on for another ten million years. Once again we find the good Transformers (the Autobots) fighting to save the future earth, their own planet of Cybertron, and the tiny robot Mini-Cons from the evil clutches of the Decepticons.
Volume 8 in this series of DVDs includes episodes 22 to 24 of the series, which was first shown on cable TV in 2002. The three episodes on offer here are a curious mix, as the writers again strive for some variety in the story, but seem a little unsure as to how best to achieve this. As a result the overall plot meanders along (well it did for me - the kids still enjoyed it).
In Episode 22 (Vow, runs 21:36) the spirited kids who are helping the Autobots try to convince them that they should try and rescue some more of the Mini-Cons from the evil clutches of the Decepticons. At the same time the leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, is trying to use the tiny robots as bait for a trap to finish off the Autobots once and for all.
You probably guessed that Megatron's trap failed, didn't you? In any case, the robots are back again for Episode 23 (Rebellion, runs 21:35), which is another example of the variety on offer on this disc; the whole focus of the episode is on the Decepticons, with not an Autobot in sight until the closing seconds. In this one Sideways is up to no good (hardly surprising as he betrayed the Autobots back in Episode 16), but just what is he trying to achieve?
In the final episode on the disc (Chase, runs 21:37) we are treated to a sort of sub-Tron escapade as the kids and some of the Mini-Cons are sucked into cyberspace where they meet a new evil presence who might be even more threatening than Megatron. I'm afraid we will have to wait a while to find out what this new force actually is, as this is the last disc in the series available for review as of May 2004. This is almost a shame, as I am almost interested in finding out what happens next. The series so far has been mildly interesting for me, great fun for the kids, and is crying out to be issued in a boxed set at a discounted price.
The series so far has been presented with excellent video, with nice bright colours and very little damage, and this disc continues that trend.
The picture is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. This is the correct aspect ratio.
The quality of picture is very similar to that in Volume 7. It is sharp, with good shadow detail in some of the lower light scenes (there are a number of scenes set in low light in Episode 23, set mostly in and around the Decepticon base on the moon) and they all show nice detail with no low level noise to worry about.
Colours are vibrant, with nice backgrounds, bright robot colours, and flashy robot combat effects. The colours in cyberspace in Episode 24 are particularly interesting (see 6:40 and later scenes).
Damage is minimal with only minor aliasing in some scenes if you look closely enough.
We have no subtitles (a closing hiss for that). There is no layer change.
The robot combat and transformation scenes (as at 1:34 in Episode 22) are again the highlights of a good sound mix, which does about as much as any stereo mix could be expected to. This is not demonstration quality but it does the job it sets out to do.
The only audio track on offer is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, encoded at 224 Kb/s (and I have typed that so often I did not even have to look it up).
Dialogue quality is good and easy to understand at all times, as is audio sync in action scenes. The English dubbing over the Japanese original is handled well. I have also been impressed over the first 8 volumes with the characterisation of each voice - the kids all have voices which match their on-screen image, and even the robots have a distinctive vocal presence.
The music by Hayato Matsuo nicely underscores the action and the volume is well matched to the dialogue and audio effects. The stereo soundtrack uses the width of the sound field well both for the music and for the battle scenes, with some minor bass support for particularly noisy explosions..
|Surround Channel Use|
As you may have guessed, there are no extras (and I will avoid using mild expletives to describe my frustration with this, as they failed to make it past the editor last time I uttered some - heh heh).
Static menu; Play All or Select an Episode. How exciting!
Move along now, there are no more extras to describe (yes, I know, but please don't remind me about that fuzzy ad for Transformer toys which opens the disc).
Well, what are you waiting for? Check out the Region comparison ...
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
After a lengthy search (OK, it was a little cursory, but are you really going to buy these discs anywhere?), I have been unable to find these episodes on offer outside Japan, so Region 4 is your best bet for now.
At the end of our 8 disc saga I would like to say something deep and meaningful about the experience, but I must admit to being a little numb about this whole series just now. It is one of those shows that you don't mind watching, but after you have done, you sort of wonder if you could have spent your time more profitably. Having said that, if you have kids available, round them up, rent some of these DVDs, sit down with and watch them with your tiny audience, and enjoy some harmless animated entertainment. The video and audio quality are good, the Extras are (expletive deleted) missing, and what else were you going to do with the time anyway?
|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.|