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Orphen 2: Revenge Collection
Considering that Orphen II: Revenge Collection is actually a second season to the Orphen franchise that immediately sets this apart for fans of the original. If you haven't seen what transpired the first time around then you're going to be lost for most of the season and not feel the connection with the characters. Even so the second season is pretty entertaining if not somehow a shadow of the first.
In case you are unfamiliar with Orphen you should know that it's a pretty popular item in Japan. The tale is based off of a series of fantasy novels, manga and even a videogame. The simple fact that the show got a second season should tell you that its slightly more popular than your average anime. The story behind the show has a lot of personality and charm but its not to be taken as seriously as something like Lodoss War.
The first season of Orphen focused on a few specific characters as they searched for the dragon called Bloody August. Orphen was of course the ring leader of it all and a powerful sorcerer. Majic tagged along as his apprentice and Cleo was a troublesome blonde that seemed to cause more problems than she helped solve. There was also a pair of comic relief characters named Dortin and Volcan that popped up frequently for a gag or two. The original season seemed to be hit or miss and while the overall story arc was interesting there were some filler episodes that didn't provide much of anything and only served to stretch the plot out.
Returning in the second season is essentially the same cast of characters with a couple of new faces you'll see during the course of the show. The funny thing is that for the first half of the season the characters just seem to wander around, crack some jokes and fight a random monster here and there. It almost feels like "the continuing adventures of Orphen and friends" instead of trying to create another epic experience. I've never really been a fan of monster of the week episodes since they tend to break up the pacing for a show. It showcases a lack of creativity and that the writers basically ran out of ideas and looked for ways to stretch out the amount of episodes. That being said there is quite a bit of continuity between each episode and even though there seems to be nothing going on for the first half of the show there is a pattern to the madness.
Things pick up with a semi interesting story around the halfway mark but getting there is half the battle. This season could have easily been put together for a 13 episode run and have been a very tight and worthy sequel. Instead its stretched out to 23 episodes, is awkwardly paced and pretty dull at times. Needless to say this is all material that diehard fans of the original will love but newcomers will want to avoid.
While I gripe about the first half of the season it isn't completely without merit I suppose. There are quite a few laughs to be had and a decent amount of action even though the show reuses animation frames like they are going out of style. I'm left with the impression that the budget for the second season was far less than the original's. The artistic quality is noticeably lacking at parts and as I mentioned the story just isn't as well thought out.
One flaw with the transfer of the original season was that the English dubbing track was wildly different from the Japanese language. In fact you would get a seemingly completely different set of dialogue depending on what language you watched the show with. That problem hasn't completely cleared up with the second season unfortunately and there are some glaring differences in the translations between subtitle and dubbing. This is just another example of the somewhat lower quality of the Orphen anime compared to other series.
Overall Orphen is still pretty enjoyable and entertaining, though the first season is arguably better than the second in almost every regard. In the end Revenge will only really be enjoyed by those of you that have seen and enjoyed the first installment. All of the main characters make it back (aside from any mention of Azalea though) and this show continues to follow their lives together. It's a lighthearted fantasy setting with an emphasis on fun and cute characters.
Orphen II: Revenge is presented with it's original 1.33:1 full frame transfer that it aired with in Japan back in 1999.The art style seems to be slightly different from the first season but the image is still of decent quality. There is quite a bit of grain, some moments of pixilation and noticeable aliasing at parts though. Even so for a show produced six years ago the quality is still pretty good though it uses my pet peeve of repeat animations a little too much.
Those of you that have been spoiled rotten with 5.1 English dubbing transfers and decent directional sound are going to be sadly disappointed with this one. The only offerings are 2.0 English and Japanese language tracks with optional English subtitles. Everything here is stereo with a slight amount of directionality but definitely nothing to write home about. The audio is still pretty clean though and free of distortion so there really aren't many flaws with the presentation just an underwhelming channel mix.
With the ADV thinpak you have to give up quality for quantity because there are no special features found on any of these discs. I guess the condensing of 23 episodes onto four discs diminishes the storage capacity but with a somewhat lackluster presentation I still think there would have been room for something extra.
While there is a lot to like about Orphen Revenge, it's mostly just meant for folks who watched the first season. The lives of the main characters continue and there are some very entertaining adventures here although the main story doesn't really pick up until about the halfway point. If fun fantasy anime is your thing you'll definitely want to sit down with the first season and see what Orphen is all about then before you attempt this one.
The thinpaks are a nice way to get an entire series onto a few discs and save on some shelf space, but the cheaper cost has to be weighed with the pure barebones aspect of it all. Even so an entire 23 episode show for roughly $30 is still a bargain. In the end though I'm going to suggest that you rent this one unless you're a diehard fan of the original.