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Columns



Trinity Blood, Burst Angel OVA, and Prince of Tennis

AnimeTalk

a semi-weekly column by Todd Douglass, Don Houston, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai

"It's not the size of the cosplay sword. It's how you use it!"

This week we are admittedly a tad on the short but sweet side for the Anime Talk Column. Maybe it's all of the time spent holiday shopping or perhaps we're just having too much fun watching stuff. Then again we could just possibly still be in a turkey coma. We did manage to get a few reviews done so we should take a look at them, right?

For this column we had the opportunity to sit down with the entirety of Trinity Blood, Mars Daybreak, and the "lost" episodes of Dragon Ball GT. The Prince of Tennis' second and third volumes have also been released and the Burst Angel OVA has come out as well. While the OVA may be a little bit of a limp noodle, the series was a lot of fun and worth digging into with Rightstuf's 12 Days of Christmas sale. Join in on the discussion in the forums which is lead by WTK and you might just find a set you've been looking for!


The Latest Anime Reviews:
(Click on the links to read the full review.)

The first season of The Prince of Tennis comes to a close with the second set of episodes, and Set Three begins the second year of the show. The series is incredibly popular Japan, with manga volumes, CDs, stage plays, and even a weekly radio show, but it's hard to understand why. Filled with wretched animation, flat characters, and amazingly bad tennis, this show has little to no appeal. What's more, the little charm that the first half of the first season had has pretty much been eliminated in these sets. This show has gone from "not bad if you're really bored" to "painful to watch." Avoid it.

Burst Angel is a 24 episode TV show that FUNimation released on six DVDs back in 2005 and 2006. Now, nearly two years after the show's run was completed, they've released a disc with a single OVA episode: Burst Angel: Infinity OVA. While another Burst Angels episode is something to be happy about, this one didn't leave me cheering. It wasn't bad, by any means, but this prequel episode didn't add anything to the story, and felt like a filler episodes from the series. It was fun to watch, but this 25 minute episode in not really worth the money that FUNimation is asking. The copious extras are mainly recaps of the series, but the short Ugetsu Hakua Special which played like the opening to a sequel series was really cool. Definitely worth watching, but make this a rental.

As has been the trend for the last few years, after an anime series has been released in single volumes the entire run is collected and solicited at a discount price. Bandai has now gotten around to collecting Mars Daybreak in a nice compact collector's set. The show is based on a video game, which bodes ill, but it isn't as bad as it could have been. While this story of a young man who finds a mecha unit (sound familiar?) starts out with some interesting ideas and a story filled with possibilities (like the fact that the story takes place underwater), it wasn't able to develop the strong points adequately and consequently is only average.

The fifth volume of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle has been released and once again the CLAMP series makes some impressions. If you're unfamiliar with the show but have seen other CLAMP projects like Chobits and Card Captor Sakura then know that you're going to feel right at home. Tsubasa is a combinational effort of CLAMP to bring all of their popular franchise together. In this volume Syaoran and company remain in the demon hunting world we left them off in. The plot thickens and it was nice to see the show stay put for a while. This installment thankfully reaffirmed my feelings that this was a good show because after the last couple of volumes I was starting to have doubts.

Dragon Ball GT may not be the pinnacle of excellence from the franchise but it's certainly something that shouldn't be completely ignored. Essentially it's a conclusion to Dragon Ball Z and features Goku being turned into a kid only to have to save the Earth one more time. Most fans ignored GT due to the ridiculousness of it all and it's hard to deny that at this point in the Dragon Ball series, the popularity was waning. FUNimation has just released a box set of the first 15 episodes from the show which they dubbed "lost" though that's not really true. These episodes simply weren't released when GT came to America for whatever reason. Unfortunately they aren't very good to boot and there's no real reason to rush out and check them out.

A while ago I had the opportunity to check out Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and I must admit that it didn't sit well with me. I felt the script was far too fan-oriented and as such the film was highly exclusive. Try as I might I just couldn't get into it and unfortunately a second viewing of the Collector's Edition didn't improve my opinion. This 2-disc collection certainly is a nice little anime package with some fine bonus material but it's really only something fans will appreciate. If you LOVE Robotech and are familiar with all of the ins and outs you will get a lot more mileage out of this release than someone who is only an avid fan.


WTK's Anime Bargains
Presented by Wen-Tsai King


Amazon.com:

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    Anime Spotlight:
    by Todd Douglass

    Trinity Blood Complete Series

    The Series:

    Let's face the facts; it's not often that the horror genre is done differently. Typically anime of the monster variety features giant behemoths eating mankind and a spooky atmosphere that either works or doesn't depending how well it's handled. Every once in a while a show comes out that breaks conceptions and attempts to twist things around. Take Trinity Blood for example. On the surface it's a show about vampires but the manner with which it's presented alleviates to qualities typically void of anime.

    Produced by GONZO (one of the finest production houses in the industry) Trinity Blood is the brainchild of the late Sunao Yoshida. The novel series was taken over by Yoshida's friend, Kentaro Yasui, with the manga and anime being released right behind it. With a total of 24 episodes, Trinity Blood aired during 2005 and was met with critical praise both on Japanese shores and American. It has quickly become one of the most prominent titles in FUNimation's catalog and as such we're looking at the complete collection today.

    Everything in Trinity Blood started hundreds of years prior to the current storyline. In Earth's history, humanity had reached the stars and actually made it to Mars for a little exploration. There they discovered two types of nanomachines which they injected themselves with. The end result was the creation of a new race known as the Methuselah who were basically augmented humans who turned into vampires of sorts. Beings known as Crusniks also originated from the other nanomachine and they turned out to essentially be the vampire's vampire, if that makes any sense.

    Now, once these infected returned to Earth all hell broke loose. The ensuing conflict resulted in Armageddon the future looked to be a very dark place. Queue up the present day with a world divided between humans and Methuselah and you have the setting for a tumultuous series. Things get even more interesting when the politics of both sides come into play and the Vatican is shown as the last bastion for humanity.

    So you'd think that with vampires and humans the outcome would be relatively straightforward, right? Well, early on in the show we're introduced to a group known as the Rosen Kreux who have a secret agenda and an ideal for the perfect society. The Rosen Kreux is willing to do whatever it takes to see that their vision sees fruition and its leadership doesn't care if they step on human or Methuselah toes in the process. There is a group that exists known as AX which features Father Abel Nightroad as one of their agents.

    In many ways Abel is the lead character in Trinity Blood. Born nearly a thousand years prior, Abel is one of the legendary Crusniks and fights for the Vatican. In many ways the AX is similar to the holy force that fought demons in Chrono Crusade what with the mix of humans and monsters. Abel is a very interesting character though he's just some icing on the cake as the rest of cast pulls in just about as much intrigue. On both sides of the fence warriors and nobles alike step forward and play an integral role in the outcome of Trinity Blood. Sometimes it can be hard to follow whose who thanks to the vast amount of faces and names but if you just root for the good guys you'll catch on quickly enough.

    For the most part each episode chronicles Abel and AX's plight against Rosen Kreux and early on the show is fairly episodic. I wouldn't say that it becomes trapped within a formula because each story has something to show for it but it's not until later that a real overarching plotline surfaces. In between there is a ton of action and political intrigue as well as religious struggles. Considering the Church is held in such high regard it's not surprising that talk about God would come into play as much as it does but thankfully the series deviates from being too preachy.

    While the story in Trinity Blood is certainly compelling and the action does carry the bulk of the episodes, I found the background and development to be the most engaging aspect about the show. The set up for this series is unbelievably rich and robust with a lot of little details in between that really round out many of the conflicts. Abel's relationship to some of the other Crusniks and his personality quirks are integral to Trinity Blood but it's the fact that every other character is well-rounded that helps the most. You can have one great character for sure though a show will be better for it if every personality is great; luckily that's the case here.

    As I watched these 24 episodes I kept wondering what one character's history was or who their allegiance was to. While none of them really wore their heart on their sleeves the manner with which the show introduces them to us was marvelous. Throughout the series the show never skipped a beat though one or two episodes in between featured episodic content that wasn't quite up to par. This a high profile and fantastic series released by FUNimation and I do not want to spoil anything else for you.

    In the end if you're looking for a great show with a unique twist on vampires Trinity Blood is the way to go. The adventures of Abel and the conflict between the Vatican and Methuselah Empire are epic the entire way through. You'll be left guessing how things are going to turn out right up until the end and once the credits do begin to roll you'll find yourself desiring a second viewing. If you missed it the first time around then picking this collection up would be a very wise buy because shows of this caliber are few and far between.

    The DVD:

    Video:

    Originally airing in 2005 Trinity Blood maintains its fresh appearance and offers a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The picture quality is very good and on par with many of FUNimation's recent releases. The video is solid throughout with some mild use of grain and unfortunately a few spots where compression was noticeable. Some shadows seemed a little too stark for their own good but contrast was very impressive overall. This is a great looking show with a wide pallet of colors and some very fluid animation. Trinity Blood is easily one of Gonzo's best looking series even though it was produced two years ago.

    Audio:

    Trinity Blood is presented with the new standard for major anime releases. The original Japanese comes with a 2.0 stereo track while the English receives 2.0 and 5.1 treatment. Both dubs are very good and in all honesty I enjoyed them both the same which is kind of a rare thing for me. The stereo tracks lack the immersion that the 5.1 supplies but they are decent enough for what they are. Despite the fact that the surround selection offered a somewhat limited presence on the soundstage there were moments when it truly shined. Overall the quality in all three selections is acceptable though I preferred the 5.1 English track the most.

    Extras:

    The complete collection of Trinity Blood includes all six volumes that were original released by FUNimation about a year ago. This set compiles them into a beautiful fold out box that resembles the bible somewhat and though it was kind of difficult to extract the pieces there were two separate components. The first inclusion here is a sleeve with the six art books that were available with the original release. These include artwork, information about the world and characters, and interviews with some of the original Japanese staff. The other section is the actual show with three individual cases that contain the 6 DVDs.

    Unfortunately the content on the discs themselves actual disappoint in the grand scheme of things. Across this set the only extra features you'll find include textless animation, a section with some historical facts about the show, and dated FUNimation trailers. It's a shame that this series didn't get some meaty content considering how epic it turned out to be.

    Final Thoughts:

    You know, Trinity Blood is just like I described in the previous sentence - epic. This is a show that will grab you and no release its grip until the final disc has stopped spinning in your player. The background is fantastic, the characters are interesting, and the various plots throughout the show are well thought out. If you missed it the first time around consider this a second opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Trinity Blood is a shining piece from GONZO's library and stands out in FUNimation's catalog as a gem. Highly Recommended


     
     


    What do you think about the column?  Like what you see?  Don't like it?  Have a comment or suggestion?  Drop us an e-mail and let us know!
     
     

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