One show that keeps viewers guessing is The Third. Just when you think you know what's going on and what story is being told, characters leave, the focus shifts, and it morphs into something you weren't expecting. That's definitely true of this third volume where Honoka gets a new partner, her old one returns unexpectedly, and then the whole group ends up being trapped inside an ancient weapon where the rules are slightly different. This doesn't make it a bad show, just one that's a little scattered and erratic.
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 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?
While Honoka takes a good paying job to track down the cause of the Sand Dragons attacking the city (as seen in the last volume) The Third are getting worried. The Gravestone has reappeared. This is a weapon of unbelievable power that was created in the last war. A glowing orb of light that contains the weapon has appeared, and even The Third aren't sure if they can stop it from engulfing the entire world. Their only hope is to revive another weapon from the war, something they are loath to do.
Meanwhile Honoka finds herself with a new partner, Paife. This ex-school teacher has been paid by Honoka's client to look after her and make sure she doesn't double cross them. Seemingly sweet and scatterbrained, Paife turns out to be someone who can kill with ease and has no qualms about it.
Just when Honoka is getting used to her new partner, Iks returns. Tight-lipped about where he's been, the enigmatic young man tries to talk Nadia out of completing her current assignment. He knows that something terrible lies ahead, but won't say what. Not to be dissuaded, Honoka and her companions keep following the Sand Dragon's trail.
The path eventually leads not to a dragon nest, but to the Gravestone. While watching it from quite a distance away, the energy globe engulfs the whole party and brings them to another reality where all three people end up facing the terrible weapon: a small boy.
This show is still fun and enjoyable, but even after three volumes it's hard to pin-point where the plot is going or what the core story is. This disc started off as a straight adventure/mission story, and then there were more than a few questions about Honoka's relation to The Third. Finally it turned into a psychic/changing reality story at the end. I just wish the creators would make up their minds.
I still don't understand what role The Third play in the series. They are obviously important since they take up so much screen time, but if their role was completely deleted from the episodes on this disc, the story wouldn't have changed at all. Are they just filler?
Though the series is a bit disjointed and awkward in parts, there's a lot to enjoy. Honoka is a likeable character, and her sentient tank has a lot of personality too. I just wish they'd spend more time with Honoka and company telling their story instead of going off on seemingly unnecessary tangents.
As I mentioned in my earlier reviews, 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.
The only extras this time around are text biographies of a couple of characters and a series of trailers.
This show is still a lot of fun, but the erratic nature of the story is starting to grow a bit old. By the end of the third volume, a viewer should be able to tell where the series is going, but that's not possible with this one. Even so, Honoka and the rest of the characters are interesting and likeable and they make this a show worth watching. Recommended.