"Stop this ruse, right now!"
Bring me the head of the guy who thought Star Ocean EX would make for a good anime series. He must be stopped before he strikes again.
Star Ocean EX is an abomination, an anime based on a manga based on a video game based on every unoriginal show ever made, a rotten fruit salad mix of road trip adventure and horrid slapstick comedy. Trying to write a coherent summary of what this show is about is like chewing glass. Star Ocean EX started off as a boy (Claude) lost from his father's space ship, sent to a new and uninteresting world. That was episode one. Now, through 14 episodes of this show, it's about stupid, brightly dressed characters fumbling about, finding trouble, with no sense of direction, and about introducing these bright, fumbling characters every other episode, without developing the idiots we met in the first place. Story wasn't a priority for the creators of Star Ocean EX; torturing anime fans was.
The entire opening episode of this third volume follows Ashton (an unconfident boy with two poorly drawn dragons coming out of his back) and a new character, Precis (an awful, annoying little whiner), as they track down the floating ribbon of a very sick girl. The second episode has our gang traveling the countryside, looking for an herb that will heal the sick girl. Do you really think this "adventure" will have a surprise ending? Claude, our lead character, leads the band of flashy kids he's picked up along the way – Ashton, Rena and Celine – as they battle monsters, plant ladies and giant bunnies. Maybe the lack of interesting people, places, and story would be tolerable if the action was good. But this stuff is yawn-inducing. I've seen better fights between my cats.
Claude is marooned on this planet, which is being threatened by a relic of immense power. No one else in this world seems all that concerned that an apocalypse is approaching (our characters are joking and laughing all the way) but that's what we're told. And with the world in danger, what are Claude and Co. doing? They're running down ribbons. I wish I was having fun.
The third episode is half series recap, half "comedy," as Claude is fought over by Precis and Rena. Precis takes Claude out for a ride in one of her inventions, which predictably goes out of control. Jokes are thrown at us ever minute, and not a single one is funny or inventive, not even "that was sooooo stupid" funny. The final episode on volume three – as Claude and Co. enter a new town on their journey to nowhere – sees Claude and Co. try to right a wrong, as they enter a sword-fighting tournament to recover weapons that have been stolen from the townspeople. It's yet another example of what's wrong with this entire series: There's no central story to Star Ocean EX, just a series of side trips with dreadful comedy. Claude was first searching for a way back to his father, then he took it on himself to save this world from a danger only he and a few people are aware of. Now it's about stupid, thin characters with no heart, finding trouble – of their own making, usually – at every turn.
This is braindead anime, not worthy of your time, or the time of the people who were forced to put together cool DVD menus and a decent English dub. There's one good thing about this show, and that's the opening animation. Everything that follows those 90 seconds is crap. Boring, stinky crap.
The 4:3 fullscreen presentation looks pretty good, with nothing to complain about with the black levels or colors, which pop off the screen nicely. No digital problems I could find, other than a little grain here and there.
Simple Japanese and English 2.0 options, both sounding decent enough. Good use of the soundstage during action and crowd moments, and I was surprised at the depth given to dialogue during some stretches. There were a couple moments of fuzzy noise during the opening episode, but other than that it sounds good.
Some text only character profiles, three Geneon previews and DVD credits are all that's found in the bonus menu. Bleh. There's also a slick, stylish pencil board included with the DVD. You know, I've been watching anime for a while now, and I still have no idea what I'm supposed to do with a pencil board. Look at it? Rest pencils on it? Is it a trading card type of item? First person to email me with the answer can have this DVD (seriously).
Skip It, Skip It, Skip It. You should have your head examined if you're over the age of 12 and you enjoy Star Ocean EX. For the love of all the great anime out there, avoid Star Ocean EX. If you want humor, watch Cromartie High School. If you want action, watch Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex. If you want a good mix, watch Fullmetal Alchemist.
If you want to lose faith in the anime genre, watch Star Ocean EX.