One girl. One tank. No problem. That's the tag for the first volume of The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye and that's a pretty good description of the show. It's a series that has a fair amount of action but one that doesn't take itself too seriously. Surprisingly entertaining, the show centers around Honoka, girl-for-hire in a post apocalyptic world. She's an excellent swordsman and can handle herself in a fight, but in case she can't she has a sentient tank as backup.
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 the rules.
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 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.
This is a fun and enjoyable show. Everything just comes together really well, and the show has the right mixture of humor, action, mystery, and character development. Just who Iks is and why the Third are interested in him is curious, but the more engaging mystery is just who Honoka is and how she got her unique abilities.
The characters are appealing too. The interaction between Honoka and the over protective Bogie is often funny and Iks wide-eyed wonder at just about everything is cute. I also enjoy who protective the AI Bogie is over the tank that he inhabits. He'll only let one mechanic, Zankan, do any major work, and makes sure that Zankan inspects any minor work that is done too. For a huge giant tank, he sure is a bit of a wimp.
The animation is one of this series strong points. Most of the show uses traditional animation, but some aspects are CGI. The computer generated images mesh well with the rest of the show and the interface is nearly seamless. The creators spent a lot of time adding detail to the images and filling the backgrounds too. The desert scenes may look sparse, but the sand-filled wind that blows across the dunes gives the show an expensive feel.
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.
TRSI included some nice extras on this disc. There's a gallery of character art along with text biographies of the main characters. Viewers have the option to view the biographies with a commentary track by the actress who plays Honoka on the Japanese track. This was cute and also funny when she was talking about the tank's shape. She had to censor herself before she said what she thought it looked like.
In addition there are interviews with the Japanese actors who play Honoka and Iks, each of which lasts over 20 minutes, two music videos, and a trailer. That would normally be enough, but they also included a 12 page booklet with the disc, a reversible cover, and the best anime DVD survey's I've ever seen. I'm really impressed that TRSI is taking the time to find out why otaku purchase the anime DVDs that they do. The questions include things like what audio track do you listen to, if you prefer single volumes or series sets, and what factors do you weigh before buying a disc. Instead of guessing if pack in bonus items helps to sell DVDs, they're taking the time to find out. Bravo.
This is one of those shows that are hard not to like. It has a sentient giant tank, a girl who can kick ass, a post apocalyptic setting, and mysterious seemingly all-powerful aliens. Oh yeah, and there's a mecha suit that the heroine wears too. The program has a good sense of humor, plenty of action, and just enough mystery to make viewers pine for the next volume. Make sure you check this one out. Highly Recommended.