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 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 5% 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 3: The Other Side, the emphasis was on Holy's continued attack on the people and a show down between the two main characters, Kazuma and Ryuho.
Episode 11: Alters:
This episode recounts a lot of background information, making it a great place to start if you haven't seen the previous two volumes on DVD. Mimori, a gal working at HOLY due to her powerfully connected father, is placed in a holding cell when she figures out what's going on. She reviews her notes on the characters, their motivations, and the origins of the entire issue of alters. In the second half of the episode, Kazuma's charge, Kanami, has dreams about what's going to happen, and a number of other subplots are brought out into the open.
Episode 12: Kunihiko Kimishima:
After Kazuma's home is destroyed at the end of the last episode, he becomes frantic to find out the fate of Kanami. He sends Kimishima to find out while he battles the latest HOLY agent, a man who controls a group of phantoms that are able to take a beating but not sustain lasting damage. HOLD agents who are rounding up the populace capture Kimishima and events take a turn for the worse, but we learn more about Kazuma's friend before the episode is over.
Episode 13: Lost Ground:
Embittered over the events of the last episode, Kazuma seeks out his enemy, Ryuho. Ryuho is the most powerful agent of HOLY and stands undefeated. The two fight a battle to the death, Kazuma with his enhanced power and Ryuho with his doppelganger, and unleash so much power that they cause another earthquake (like the one that started the island in the first place).
Episode 14: Kyoji Mujo:
Eight months have passed since the last episode with both fighters having vanished in the explosion. Asuka, having left HOLY when he lost to Kanami in the first volume, wanders the Lost Ground, taking small jobs to survive. An evil alter user and his gang terrorize a group of villagers, including Kanami. A power struggle within HOLD leaves the Commander with far less resources when a mainlander, Kyoji, takes over the organization. In the village, a stranger appears to challenge the status quo and free the people. Can he defeat the powerful boss?
I kind of like the way the series took a tangent and renewed itself at about the point when many other series are hitting their sophomore slump. Depending on where the series goes from here, it may actually get really good. I'm suggesting this one as a solid Recommended. As the series continues, it gets better with each volume and I like the fact that the characters grow with this progression, unlike far too many other series. Like in Volume 2, the possibilities of this show are boundless, now that the overall story has opened up a bit. I'll admit I had my doubts at first, especially since the anime drawing style was so limited and the main character relied on what amounts to a powerful punch but this one stood out as a solid stand-alone release.
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 Music Score collection (#1), a promo clip, a promo for episode 1, character videos for Kimishima and Ryuho, "sound comic #30", another volume of the Lost Ground Express, a design gallery, and some trailers as well as a paper insert. The sound comic was interesting and the Lost Gallery Express was informative.
Final Thoughts: The original director and writers have upped the ante here by burying much of what went on before. That takes a measure of guts since fans of the series to date could well respond negatively unless the next volume provides a good story with the characters. It may well be that they alienated their target audience by starting off so slowly in terms of the various elements too but my fingers are crossed that it keeps getting better with each volume. This volume is a good place to start if you haven't checked out the first two DVD's since the first episode alone gave all the background you'd need to know what's going on and who's who.