While the introductory volume of The Third was great, with the
second disc the series starts to slide a bit; a victim of the dreaded sophomore
slump. Two of the main characters are written out of the show (for
now) without any fanfare, and the show seems to be having trouble finding
the story it wants to tell. Even so, the individual episodes are
still fun and the series has a lot of promise. Many series are able
to pick themselves up after a weak second volume, and here's hoping The
Third can do it too.
A horrible war engulfed the Earth. It devastated the ecology and
killed 80% of the population. Now the planet is watched over by The
Third, human-like aliens who get their names from the third eye on their
forehead. They carefully regulate how much technology humans are
allowed to use and use mechanized robots, the Inspection Force, to enforce
Honoka is a 17-year-old girl who's trying to keep body and soul together
in this desolate future. She's a sword dancer, a highly trained fighter
who can do amazing things with a blade, and hires herself out to anyone
who has the cash. She'll do anything from delivering goods to cleaning
out a nest of giant spiders. She lives in the giant tank that she
owns which is controlled by an artificial intelligence named Bogie.
One night while traveling across the desert wastelands, Honoka encounters
a mysterious young man who is being attacked by giant ants. She quickly
dispatches the monsters and takes the hapless gentleman, named Iks, to
the nearest city. Once there however, the Inspection Force shows
up and demands that Iks go with them. He doesn't want to, and with
the help from some bar patrons, who have no love for the Third's enforcers,
manages to escape. Iks then pays Honoka to let him accompany her.
She's not too hot on the idea, but she needs the money and he certainly
has a lot. Now Iks and Honoka, equipped with a newly purchased battle
suit, try to keep one step ahead of the Inspection Force. But who
is Iks really, and what are his plans?
After the shocking end to last volume, Honoka has her hands full.
She wants to avenge Zankan, but she's also now responsible for his daughter,
Millie. She feels terribly guilty that she wasn't able to prevent
her friend's death too, and eventually reveals her past to Iks.
The Blue Breaker, one of the Third's greatest weapons, broke off the
attack last time because he had orders not to harm Honoka. With those
orders revoked, it targets the young sword dancer, and she's more than
happy to battle the robot. She's so emotional however that she can't
use her powers, and Blue Breaker's cloaking shield make him nearly impossible
to defend against.
In the episode after that conflict, the show takes a rather odd turn.
Iks disappears, the only explanation is that he had "some business to attend
to" and would catch up with Honoka later, though no meeting place or time
was established. Honoka also drops Millie off at her aunts and so
she and Bogie are alone once more. The pair finds themselves in the
desert protecting a giant ant that is molting and temporarily vulnerable.
Then they go on to the next job but run across a herd stampeding of Sand
Dragons. They barely escape with their lives and the tank is very
badly damaged. Meanwhile The Third have noticed a threat to the whole
planet. What the exact nature of the danger or who is responsible
hasn't been established though.
The first volume of this series was great, and I really enjoyed the
first two episodes on this disc, but when the story line took a strange
turn the show started to go downhill. It was pretty jarring having
Iks and Millie just gone, and the former's absence didn't make any sense.
Honoka wasn't the least bit curious about where he was going? Why
did all of this happen between episodes? The stand alone episode
about the desert ant did fill in some of Honoka's background, but aside
from that it seemed like filler, which is too bad.
The show is still fun and has some great potential, so I'm still looking
forward to the next volume. There is one aspect of the show that
has quickly become bothersome however: the omniscient narrator.
For some reason the creators decided that they had to tell the drooling
ignorant audience exactly why everything was happening. This is great
if your IQ is in the low 50's, but otherwise it's stupid and unnecessary.
This disc offers the viewer the option of the original Japanese track
in stereo or an English dub in both stereo and 5.1. I alternated
between the 5.1 and stereo Japanese track and enjoyed them both.
The English cast does a good job bringing their characters to life and
they didn't resort to phony accents or overacting. The female characters
don't talk in irritating squeaky high-pitched voices either. The
real advantage of the English dub is the 5.1 track. Though the rears
and subwoofer mainly come alive during the action scenes, it's worth listening
to the dub for that. I especially enjoyed Bogart firing his cannon.
The video looked very good on this disc. The widescreen anamorphic
image was crisp with sharp lines and fine detail. The colors are
solid and bright and the palate is fairly wide. On the digital side
things also look very good. There is only the most minor aliasing
present in a couple of parts. Cross colorization, blocking, and posterization
aren't present. This is a very good looking disc.
After the nice selection of bonus material on the first volume, this
disc is a bit of a let down. The only extras are another gallery
of character art, this time spotlighting Joganki, with a commentary track
by the Japanese actress who plays Honoka and text biographies of two more
While the first half of this disc was just as good as the first volume,
the second half had its problems. It seems like the creators wanted
to tell a different story and partway into the series and just threw out
the parts that they didn't need. Still, the show has a lot of potential
and so far the ride has been fun. Recommended.