Movie: As much as I like anime, I'm not always impressed with a series after watching the first dvd. Sometimes, it takes awhile for me to appreciate a series. One series I'm slowly warming to is S-CRY-ed.The series deals with a group of young people who gain superpowers due to a naturally occurring earthquake that happened 22 years ago on an island off the coast of Japan. About 1% of everyone born there can use their power to either summon a weapon or enhance themselves in some way. As with all things, some of these people abuse their power and the rest of the world imposes order upon them in the fashion of an organization known as HOLD with a special division of enhanced humans known as HOLY. Here's what the first box said about the whole thing: "22 years ago, a cataclysmic earthquake destroyed the capital of Japan and threw the country into chaos. The damaged region was abandoned and labeled the "Muraji Special Economic District," more commonly known as the Lost Ground. After the earthquake, the Lost Ground became home to a rising number of Alter Users, those with the psychic ability to change matter and create Alters with unique powers. To control this lawless land, the special police force HOLD was created. Within it is an anti-Alter unit, HOLY, which was formed to combat the renegade Native Alters in the Lost Ground." In S-CRY-ed 2: The Alter Hunt, the emphasis was on Holy's new mandate to capture all of the native alter users. Here's a breakdown of the scenes that may contain some spoilers:
Episode 6: Zetsuei:
Kazuma and associates decide to ambush a group of HOLY's alter users. HOLY, on the other hand, is ordered to capture all the alter users by any means necessary. Kazuma fights the most power member of HOLY, Ryuho. Ryuho's alter is the unstoppable Zetsuei who proves to be too much for Kazuma to handle. Asuka, in an attempt to gain the good graces of HOLY, in order to be taken back into the group, intervenes but only manages to blow both of them up.
Episode 7: Asuka Tachibana:
Asuka and Kazuma, trapped in a subterranean cavern but thought to be dead, have to work together or perish. Neither of them possess the kind of alter power that would help them escape their trap and there are a number of hostile creatures to fight besides each other. In the end, they fight each other after gaining a measure of respect for one another.
Episode 8: Mad Sprict:
Kazuma, in an effort to free the captured alters, pretends to join HOLY. Will they fall for such an obvious ploy?
Episode 9: Shell Bullet:
Kazuma, knowing that the only way to defeat HOLY, and Ryuho in particular is to increase his power levels, decides to enter a forest full of dangers. By doing so, he'll either be killed or become much stronger but it's a gamble he's willing to take. Even if he gains the new powers, what will the cost be?
Episode 10: Super Pinch:
A small town is overrun by HOLY's forces that seem to be waging a campaign to win the hearts of the locals. A foppish alter pushes Kazuma to the limit and the two of them fight. This alter has a mech-robot power that is a send up to all those robot shows in anime and is undefeated.
The series showed some growth of the characters as well as the situations, which was interesting. Aside from the very straightforward fights between Kazuma and the "foe of the moment", the show is starting to show some potential with the subplots displaying more intrigue. The first dvd left me a bit cold but I think it's improved enough to rate it a tentative Recommended with dvd number two. It may never be more than a guilty pleasure but I'm wondering how much better the show will get.
Picture: The picture was presented in full frame 1.33:1 ratio. It was decent looking with minimal grain and video noise although my original concerns about limited anime style remain.
Sound: The audio was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo with both Japanese and English tracks. The Japanese track was better but not by as much as the last dvd. The vocals were pretty solid and the effects well done with a decent music score.
Extras: The extras included textless openings to all the episodes, a promo clip, a promo for episode 1, character videos for Kazuma and HOLY, "sound comic #9", another volume of the Lost Ground Express, a design gallery, and some trailers as well as a paper insert and trading card. The sound comic was interesting and the Lost Gallery Express was informative.
Final Thoughts: While the main focus of the show was still somewhat limited, the depth of the subplot began to interest me more and more. I think the one-dimensional characters started to show some growth as well, which made the show more interesting as well. Luckily, Bandai was good enough to include 5 episodes, which made for a good value compared to far too many other releases on the market. Check it out but watch the first volume before you see this one since they build upon one another.