The last story arc begins in The Third Volume 5, and it's a pretty exciting adventure for Honoka, Bogie, and her associates. This time the sword dancer isn't up against a monster or common criminal, but a rouge member of The Third who has hijacked a weapon that could destroy the world. With an intriguing plot, some fun characters, and wildly entertaining battles, this show is ending on a high note.
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?
Though there are no wars on Earth, thanks to The Third, that doesn't mean that the weapons of war have all been dismantled. There are still powerful weapons platforms orbiting in space and when one of them, The Wormhole Driver, is hijacked by a rouge member of The Third, Rona Fauna, the Earth is in dire straights. Part of a mountain range is vaporized to demonstrate that power of the weapon, and if its energy is all concentrated at the Earth's core, it could destroy the planet.
This isn't the type of situation that The Third are good at handling, and with another of their membership being held hostage by Fauna, Honoka's friend Joganki, they are very hesitant to storm her stronghold. Instead they take some extreme action: they hire Honoka.
At first she's hesitant. After all, she's not a mercenary, and this isn't the type of thing she usually handles, but she also realizes that with her abilities she's the best one to handle the situation and agrees. Her friend Paife insists on going along, and when Iks shows up unexpectedly and announces that he's going too the group is complete.
Working for The Third may pay well, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. It is only after the group departs on a plane that will take them to Fauna's lair that Fila announces that Honoka will have backup: the robotic one-man-army Blue Breaker. This creation killed one of Honoka's best friends and even if she did want him along, can she trust him?
They certainly raised the stakes in this last story arc, which is a good way to wrap up a series. Not only is it a world-threatening disaster, but the writers managed to make it personal by having Joganki involved, which was a good move.
All of the characters are also putting forth their best, something that really hasn't happened much in the series so far. Yeah there've been some good fights, but you get the feeling that Honoka has been holding back and Bogie, her sentient tank, definitely has been. A product of the last war, Bogie hasn't really gotten into a full fledged battle in the series yet. That is remedied in the last episode on this disc when an Anti-tank Attack Chopper, an AI-driven helicopter designed to eliminate tanks like Bogie, shows up to stop him. With some serious fire-power and incredible mobility, the chopper is a serious threat to the tank and their battle is one of the best that I've seen in a long time. Well worth checking the disc out just for that.
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 a couple of character biographies, clean versions of the opening and closing (two versions), and a series of trailers.
In this second to last volume in the series the creators opened up all
the stops and created a great story arc to wrap up the show. With
some great battles, an intriguing plot, and an unexpected surprise or two
this series has been progressing very well. I can't wait to see how
it all wraps up. Recommended.