Not long ago we reviewed the first half of Chrome Shelled Regios. The show, released in the States by FUNimation, didn't really impress with its first volume. The concept was dry, the way the show was brought together didn't gel, and ultimately it just didn't leave a good taste in the mouth. Does the second installment save the experience? Or is it more of the same?
Chrome Shelled Regios takes place in a future where humanity has to live in giant bubbles. Well, they aren't giant bubbles so much as mobile domed cities. The air outside is inhospitable to the human condition and there are also giant bugs to contend with. Luckily man has also developed a magical ability known as Kei that allows them to combat the bugs. This magic, in conjunction with technology, keeps these mobile cities safe for the most part, though there are definitely plenty of things out there looking to snack on people.
The series follows the exploits of a platoon of military academy students, but for the most part it primarily focuses on Layfon, Nina, and Felli. Layfon is a badass with a checkered past. He's a super-powered Kei user trying to stay one step ahead of the place he used to live and the people he used to run with. Nina is kind of the opposite. Though she has a past and her own demons she is really taken in by Layfon's powers and kind nature and works with him as the leader of the platoon. Felli is, well...she's the tsundere, and though emotionless on the surface she's quite powerful.
Anyways, in the first half of the show a great deal of time was spent on the introduction of the characters and the relationships they had with each other. Throughout the episodes the Contaminoids (giant bug things) posed a major threat to the city of Zuellni. Layfon basically rose to prominence as one of the most powerful guys in town and he really helped set Platoon 17 apart from the rest. Parts of his past, however, were soon to catch up with him. That's where this volume picks up.
This time around there's more of a threat to the people of Zuellni than just the Contaminoids and other bugs that go bump in the night. This time around evil spirits of a sort come into play and there are threats from Layfon's past that appear as well. Things take a turn for the even more bizarre as other magics are used that warp the perception of established Kei. Add all of this with new characters and a direction for the series that sees a shift in focus on some of the cast and you have a second half that feels like a different show. The only problem is that the same problems persist.
The pacing is erratic and never really levels out. There are fast pieces and painfully slow ones with large gaps in between. Making matters worse is the way the storylines are introduced. They just don't gel as well as the creators hoped they would and more often than not watching the show feels confusing. Character motivations are sometimes not clear and the plotlines of the show itself just don't work at times. There's also the big finale, which kind of pays off, but not really.
Ultimately Chrome Shelled Regios just falls kind of flat. It's not a show that wows you, or really leaves you with a strong impression. It's just kind of there, and that's really a shame. The characters are fun enough, the designs are decent, and the action can be solid. The way everything is brought together and the concept as a whole are just painfully underwhelming. My advice would be to skip this one, or simply rent it if you're interested.
Chrome Shelled Regios is presented on DVD with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks good with sharp lines and vibrant colors, but there's some grain and softness at times as well. The series maintains solid design and fluid enough animation, however, so it's easy on the eyes for the most part. There are times where the animation gets a little choppy and there's some blocking in the darker areas, so the transfer isn't exactly perfect. Some aliasing is also present at times.
As far as the audio is concerned the English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 are both a smidge underwhelming. The dubs are okay, though the Japanese Engrish sections are downright awful. The music for the show isn't entirely memorable, but it does sound like it was ripped straight from a J-RPG. Technically speaking the English track doesn't really knock it out of the park either and the dub is merely "okay".
Clean animations and trailers are what you're going to find here!
Chrome Shelled Regios has some good points during its run, but these are unfortunately bookended by very mediocre parts. The series just didn't do it for me and the whole giant bug thing was just very old hat. If you're looking for a new series there are much better options out there, though this one could be served as a rental if you've hit a dry spell. I wouldn't really put it at the top of the list by any means.
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