The fourth volume of The Third departs from the metaphysical hokum of that wrapped up the previous volume and gets back to basics, telling the story of Honoka and her adventures across the desert-like planet where she lives. The four episodes that make up this disc tell one story from beginning to end, and while there was some deus ex machina aspects it was a fun ride and worth checking out.
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?
This volume consists of four episodes that tell one whole story. It's kind of nice to get a whole tale in one sitting and this was a fun adventure. Honoka ends up back in the city for a while and there she finds out that her young friend Millie is having some problems. Outwardly she seems fine, but her close friends can tell that something's troubling the girl. Honoka agrees to take a vacation and she, Millie, and Ilks climb into Bogie and head off into the desert for a while. They decide to search for the Desert Fairy, a mysterious being that's a local legend. While in town Honoka also runs into Leon an odd character that is also looking for the Fairy.
Out in the desert, Honoka tries to have a heart-to-heart with Millie, but she ends up upsetting the girl who runs off into the night. The desert is a dangerous place however and Millie gets caught in a monster's trap. Even Honoka can't save the girl and is sure that she's going to die until a large white wolf, Kamui, comes to her rescue.
About this time Leon shows up too, and it turns out that he's not just looking for the Fairy; he's hunting her for some nefarious purposes. Kamui is also looking for the Fairy and ends up in Leon's sights too. There's no way that Honoka can let a creep like Leon kill an animal that saved Millie's life, but even the Sword Dancer is outclassed. Leon is a relic from the old war, and not someone who goes down easy.
This is a nice story that flows well and doesn't drag. Honoka gets into some good fights and even Bogie jumps into the action in one part. Leon's in nicely despicable character too, the type you love to hate. It's this type of story that got me interested in the series in the first place. Though it pretty much ignores the bigger story of the Third and the Inspection Force it was still a lot of fun.
Well, mostly fun. There were a couple of aspects that bothered me a bit. It's disappointing that someone writing a SF/Action anime series doesn't know much about lasers or biology. In one part a character gets hit with a micro laser, causing a pin-sized hole to go right through their body and that causes them nearly bleed to death because many "blood capillaries" have been severed. *Sigh* A laser would instantly cauterize the wound and stop the bleeding, and even if it didn't the blood would seal the small hole naturally. Okay, it's not a huge deal, but it is bothersome that some people know so little science.
There's also more than one deus ex machina last-minute saves that made the story less than perfect. Kamui coming out of no where and saving Millie from the jaws of a monster was just one example. The end of the whole story was a bit unexpected too and though it didn't ruin the disc for me, I was disappointed that they couldn't have come up with something better.
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 volume was better than the previous pair, telling one whole story
that focused on Honoka and action. Though there were a couple of
aspects that were a bit hokey, it was still a fun and enjoyable story.