Consisting of 24 episodes and originally airing in 2005, Solty Rei has been a very interesting ride. The series is slower than most other science fiction releases and focuses more on character development than anything else. We see each of the characters come full circle within the confines of the story and it's that journey which proves to be the main attraction. Unfortunately along the road to this final volume there have been many bumps and potholes. The quality varied greatly from one volume to the next and it wasn't until the show began gearing up for its end that things got interesting.
Instead of taking you straight to the end I may as well bring you up to speed about what has happened to this point.
When the show began we met a disheveled gentlemen named Roy Revant. He was a lone wolf Hunter who spent his nights and days tracking down the dregs of society and bemoaning the loss of his daughter and wife. The catch is that it was twelve years ago when they passed away (due to an incident known as Blast Fall) and ever since he has drunken himself into a stupor every night. It would seem that he would remain alone forever. That was, at least, until Solty literally fell out of the sky and into his life.
With her green hair, bizarre personality, and entirely artificial body, Solty worked her way into Roy's life in uncomfortable fashion. Roy spent most of the earlier volumes coping with the fact that Solty was attempt to be like a daughter to him and watching them grow closer with each other was something of a treat. Solty's unwavering loyalty and appreciation of Roy contradicted his annoyance of her and made them polar opposites; but in a good kind of way. If you look at Leon: The Professional you'll see many similarities in the main relationship there.
Things in the plot were mucked about when Roy's real daughter, Rose, appeared out of nowhere. At first she had no memory of her life prior to Blast Fall but as she spent time with Roy and Solty she began to grow closer to them. She became a part of the family and when the revelation came that she was actually Roy's daughter it wasn't very surprising I suppose. It did change the flow of the show and introduced a side of Roy that we had yet to see. But, as with all good things, it doesn't last long.
Rose is "killed" and brought back to life as an RUC agent (think super-powered police) who works directly for Ashley, the guy in charge of everything. Several things happened in between but let's just say that leading up to this final installment the future wasn't looking to bright. We learn that humanity migrated to this barren planet two hundred years ago, everything in the city was controlled by a computer, and that Ashley is a maniac bent on destroying everything.
When this volume picks up there are really only two episodes left to wrap up the show. Episodes 23 and 24 are on this disc though two bonus episodes are present as kind of an afterthought from the midpoint of the series. The bonus storyline features a throw away plot about love, happiness, and some silly holiday. It's all kind of pointless after watching the actual ending of the series but I suppose if you watch them during the course of the show they would be timelier. The bonus episodes weren't necessarily bad but they were decidedly fluffy and frivolous.
As far as the actual finale of the series I will not divulge any details because I personally hate having endings spoiled. Let's just say that Ashley's character is developed further and the reason behind his madness is revealed. I almost came to feel sorry for the guy; well, as sorry as you can feel for a guy whose out to kill everyone. He is a character worth pitying because over the years as he lost more and more of his humanity he strove to cling to it harder and harder.
There are essentially two endings for Solty Rei if you look at the two episodes side by side. One features a well developed story and villain while the other introduces a new threat that feels wholly tacked on. It provides a lot of unnecessary deposition into details revolving around character relationships that we already knew and is almost pointless in a way.
Like the two episodes here Solty Rei has featured a dramatic difference in quality over the course of its run. Half of the series has been great; bordering visionary, the other half would qualify as mediocre at best. Overall I'm left with a positive impression of the series but I'm not blown away by what I have seen. If you do not mind taking a rollercoaster of a ride and love science fiction you'll find much of Solty Rei endearing and worth the trip.
With the recent production date Solty Rei receives an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The show's production looks stunning when you get right down to it. Vibrant colors and crisp animation absolutely pops from every frame. Unfortunately there are some problems with the transfer available for this volume. This installment just doesn't look "quite" as good as the prior ones thanks to an abundance of compression artifacts and grain. Both accounts appear strongly here and though they don't completely ruin the experience it's hard to ignore them.
Three audio tracks make their way to this release of Solty Rei. The original Japanese track is presented with a 2.0 stereo output that is about as limited as you'd expect though there is some slight directionality with sound effects and music. English gets a similarly styled stereo presentation but it also receives a 5.1 track that is much more dynamic. Sound effects, voices, and music is spread across all channels and has a very good presence when you get right down to it. The sense of immersion could have been better but it was still decent enough.
Once again, this time around the only bonus features you're going to find are some trailers and textless animation.
My time with Solty Rei has been frustrating. On the surface there are so many things to like about the series but the execution of the episodes and subplots has been less than satisfactory. Poor pacing, weak character development, and some generic moments have kept the series finely rooted in average territory. The ending wraps things up appropriately, I guess you could say, yet somehow I wanted more. There were questions left unanswered and many things left to be presumed which is, again, frustrating. In the end I'm going to recommend Solty Rei but it's not a very high recommendation. This is a good show that has a lot of great ideas but in the end there are too many lapses in quality to create a fluid experience.
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