Angelic Layer-Volume 4: Faith, Hope & Love (2001)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version-Clean opening (2:02) and closing (1:46)
Gallery-Production Art montage (1:31)
Audio Commentary-Tiffany Grant and Tiffany Terrell
Trailer-ADV Previews (3)
DVD Credits-US
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:50 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nishikiori Hiroshi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Atsuko Enomoto
Jessica Boone
Masaya Onosaka
Andy McAvin
Yuri Shiratori
Sasha Paysinger
Jun Fukuyama
Kevin Corn
Satsuki Yukino
Monica Rial
Houko Kuwashima
Tiffany Grant
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Kohei Tanaka


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English 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 Yes, next episode teaser

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the fourth volume of Angelic Layer, coming after Divine Inspiration, On the Wing and a Player, and Idol Worship. If you've missed reading any of those reviews, then I recommend reading them before this one.

    The episodes on this disc are:

13 Pure White Blanche
Kaede's Smile
Misaki is up against Kaede, and we learn the background of this poor little rich girl
14 I Won't Give Up!
And an Angel was born
Interleaved with the second half of the battle between Blanche and Hikaru, we learn the origin of Angelic Layer
15 Shirahime vs Suzuka
Secret of the Ice Machine
The second semi-final pits Sai against Hatoko. We learn why Sai fights; Misaki learns what Sai means by Hikaru's weakness
16 The Final Game!
Hikaru's Last Attack
The final of the Kanto Games

    The semi-finals are quite different from the qualifying rounds. In place of the flat and featureless layer, the fights are taking place on a random terrain. The terrain for the first battle is a windswept series of rocky pillars, while the second is set on what looks a lot like Mars, and the final takes place on a sunny beach. This Terrain Layer adds variety, and means that each Deus must try to take advantage of the terrain.

    We learn a lot more about Misaki's mother during these episodes, what is wrong with her, and how she was involved in the invention of Angelic Layer. It's quite interesting, and explains why she's reluctant to see Misaki — Misaki hasn't seen her since kindergarten.

    Sai happens to be voiced (in English) by Tiffany Grant, who constructs the scripts for the English dub. We hear from her, and Tiffany Terrell (who voices Kaede), in the commentary on this volume.

    The fights are getting rougher, but Misaki is learning, and learning fast. She learns from each opponent she faces, which is one of her endearing features, together with her attitude towards a defeated opponent.

    The second semi-final is impressive, Angelic Layer taken to a level where the first move is also the last. Very cool.

    The closing theme song changes with episode 14 — the new one is gentle and sounds a little longing. The accompanying visuals feature almost all the major Angels, each with Deus.

    This may be written as a series for children and young teens, but there's enough here that adults can definitely enjoy it. The simpler storylines are a relief after over-tortuous anime designed for adults. This is a pleasure to watch, and I await the next disc eagerly.

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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's the original aspect ratio, thank you.

    The image is crisp and sharp on the foreground characters in close-ups and medium shots, but softer when they are distant; backgrounds are often a little softer, but that's partly because of the way they are drawn. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is excellent, bright and cheerful, with a broad palette that's well-rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts, but there's plenty of hot whites, especially on the Layer.

    There are no film artefacts.

    As seems to be standard for this series, pan shots show mild to moderate aliasing, but pans are not all that common in this style of animation, so it's not too troubling. There is no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are the customary two sets of subtitles, both in English. One set subtitles signs and songs, while the other is full subtitles. I watched the full subtitles all the way through, and they seem accurate and well-timed to the Japanese dialogue, as well as being easy to read — they are not all that different from the English dub. There are next to no errors in these subtitles — I think I saw a "than" which should have been a "then", but that's pretty trivial (I just don't want them to think that I missed it!).

    The disc is single-sided (nice picture label), dual layer, but not RSDL formatted. The layer change is placed between the second and third episodes, so it doesn't create visible artefacts, and the pause between episodes makes it harder to spot.

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. The Japanese soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded, at 224 kbps. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps. I watched all the episodes in both languages. There's a third audio track, for the audio commentary, on the third episode.

    The English dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear, but I can't assess comprehensibility. Both dubs seem fairly well matched to the mouth flaps.

    Kohei Tanaka writes a good score, including excellent music for the battle scenes.

    Surrounds get used intermittently on the 5.1 soundtrack (mostly in the Angelic Layer arena, giving us a feeling of the largeness of the arena). The subwoofer likewise. The Japanese soundtrack is plain stereo, and uses neither the surrounds nor the sub.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menus are animated with music. They are easy to navigate, and nicely themed to the show.

Clean Opening (2:03)

    The opening sequence, but without the credits over the top. Exactly as on the first, second, and third disc.

Clean Closing (1:46)

    The closing sequence, without the credits. This one is different from the first three discs — this features the new ending that first appears in episode 14..

Production Art (1:31)

    A montage of character art, drawn mostly from the episodes on this disc, but there are images from episodes 19 and 21. I wish they'd restrict themselves to images from this disc, to avoid spoilers.

Audio Commentary

    This is a commentary for episode 15 on this disc from the English-language voice actors for Sai (Tiffany Grant) and Kaede (Tiffany Terrell). They describe it as Tiff-erific (oh, dear!) — they are entertaining to listen to. This commentary is made more interesting by the fact that Tiffany Grant is also responsible for the English dub script. One of the amusing items she mentions is the need to try to script the many kinds of murmured sounds Misaki makes.

    It's entertaining how much the voice actors identify with their characters. I'm not sure if the Valley Girl accent is natural or affected, but it's funny.

Trailers: ADV Previews (4:09)

    Three trailers, presented one after another, rather than individually selectable in normal Madman fashion. Note that they are separate titles, though, so I can get individual runtimes.

DVD Credits

    These are the US credits, rather than Madman ones.

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 version was released early in 2004. It has the same four episodes as the Region 4 disc. Once again, the front cover uses the same character shots, but a much darker background on the R1 than on the R4 (the R1 cover shot, complete with dark background, is used for the jacket picture on the R4 disc — some players show the jacket picture when the disc is stopped). As far as I can tell, the discs have the same extras.

    The R1 disc is reported to have an excellent transfer, with minimal aliasing and no cross-colouration. The R4 is a very good disc, even if it does have some minor aliasing on pans (there aren't that many pans in the show). I intend to continue buying the R4 discs.

Summary

    Volume four of an anime series that has definitely become a favourite of mine. It is presented very well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent, except for the aliasing on pans.

    The audio quality is good. The English and Japanese soundtracks are both good, in different ways.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, August 11, 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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