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Red vs. Blue: Season 11 UK DVD Review

10 min read

Red Vs Blue 11….so….why at this point?

What They Say:
For more than a decade, the hapless, helpless and occasionally hopeless anti-heroes of the Halo universe known as the Reds and Blues have fumbled their way from one adventure to another. They’ve survived aliens, Freelancers, evil artificial intelligence programs, and secret government conspiracies. But now that they have been shipwrecked in a mysterious canyon, they will have to work together to survive their greatest foe of all… Themselves. Yes, once again the misfits from Blood Gulch find themselves stuck in the most worthless piece of real estate in the galaxy, or so they think. When dark forces begin to align against them, they begin to realize there’s a lot more at stake than just being rescued. And this time just to survive, they might have to do what they do worst… Fight.

The Review:
Audio:
Set up in 5.1 English only (made by American company Rooster Teeth); the audio is pretty good overall in terms of the vocals, though noticeable during the extras in particular the audio was very mixed in terms of quality – some being very loud and/or scratchy with the radio segments for example making it actually painful to listen to at times. In terms of the actual series I had no problems with the audio, it was fine on the default settings and with it being a series with no actual lip synching there is no synchronization or distortion problems, considering how well done it is for a web series. However, the difference is noticeable when watching some of the extras and shorts done.

Video:
Set on a 16:9 on a full screen format (NTSC standard compared to PAL), the set up is pretty strong, especially with the Halo style animation – similar to RWBY in terms that there is no real comparison to any anime series I’ve done obviously with no subtitle track, so in terms of how it syncs with the audio I saw no problem. There were no transition problems or slowdown, or animation issues when pausing – like RWBY, this is a series I got into cold (which means one major problem with the series release discussed in the review) and the animation is a bit different even in comparison to RWBY as set more in an army setting, a lot of still animation and no faces shown behind armour, it, whilst impressive, doesn’t seem to stand out as much as RWBY did.

Menu:
The menus are quite interactive in terms of the animation – the opening menu for example has one of the Halo style soldiers in Blue (though looked more white to me at first glance) occasionally cocking his gun whilst vehicles and soldiers move by in the background on a cave area to the right. There are other things like this (the extras menu for example revolved around posts and messages on their ‘Basebook’ which was amusing) which definitely makes it stand out. The selections are Play Movie, Scene Selections (which like RWBY are more chapter selections for each episode separately compared to watching it in one lump sum in the movie selection), special features, and more from Rooster Teeth. All are easily selectable and easily revertible to the main menu and with the unique style is very eye-catching.

Extras:
Like the RWBY release, the extras seem to be where the release shines as there is a ton on the disc. First of all we have a commentary involving Miles Luna, Kyle Taylor, Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum (directors, writers of Red vs. Blue Volume 11) – they actually do a decent job explaining it though you most likely need to be familiar with the previous seasons as well – they talk about the motions nowadays compared to the original series and Halo – using the animations and work on Halo games – what they didn’t use, picking suits, armor variations, maps to use, etc – how the previous 10 year story has ended with this and this volume is turning it into a brave new world – episodes watched back in the day that some of the staff now working on it, characters not in this season, how they work with Machimina, making all the graphics, there is a lot to take in here, which is good for R vs. B fans and there is enough there for newcomers to actually take on board as well.

We then get a few ‘PSAs’ which are basically comedy shorts involving the characters. The first one is called Voting Fever which is actually a line wanting to play Halo 4, so when Sarge appears they pretend it is a voting line – turns into a song about voting…and the punch line is Sarge is there to get the game as he actually got a copy pre-ordered…

The #1 Movie in the Galaxy PSA is Sarge wanting to make a Red vs. Blue movie – mak-ing a blockbuster, showing a trailer with lots of clichés and borrowed lines, and the Game Changer PSA is basically asking a new game in Halo 4 called Ricochet…and then BOOM….

We get some funny outtakes, and two deleted scenes, an extra radio scene (some of the cast being Radio DJs) and Caboose finding Freckles and found ‘toys’…

We have a short behind the scenes section involving Miles Lunda (writer + director), Burnie Burns (creator + Church), Gus Sorola (Simmons), Joel Heyman (Caboose) Matt Hullum (Sarge) and Kathleen Zuelch (producer) which mostly revolves around idea of the setting and for the future, coming up with the ideas, etc. We also have quite the comic Season 11 trailer.

Whilst that is it on the Special Features, we also get a section with other stuff from Rooster Teeth, which does include for me, the moderately helpful RvsB Season 1-10 showcase which is 18 minutes long and here is where I try and get what I can from the story up until watching the Season 11 release. It is fun seeing the evolution of the animation with the characters, as well as all the different locations/characters that appear throughout the series, but there is barely 2 minutes to each part and it sadly doesn’t tell enough for newcomers to go through this section and get you prepared for Season 11.

All of the rest are releases that Rooster Teeth has done DVDs for (Season 1-10 available in the US but not the UK), so we have the Best of Red vs. Blue (more joking about all the pairings between Tucker and Donut), the Best of RT Shorts (more of a comic inside documentary), Best of RT Animated Adventures (some animated drawings combined with live action), Best of Fails Of The Weak (RT background with video games and their mistakes), The Slow Mo Guys (Two guys doing stuff in slow motion), A Simple Walk Into Mordor (2 guys actually walking to Mordor loca-tion in New Zealand (120 miles walk, climb, fences) – getting exhausted in 6 Days and does look legit interesting) and finally the recently reviewed RWBY (which is just Ruby Roses’ trailer).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This review is going to be quite different from any other review I’ve done. The idea of the release of Red vs. Blue getting a release on DVD like RWBY is a cause for celebration for Rooster Teeth fans. It has already been doing this in the US and all the seasons have been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. It is one of the longest running web-series of all time, with a solid fan base both of RT and Halo, the animation has evolved as the years have gone on and is currently up to its 13th season.

So….why start at Season 11?

This is a real mind-boggler, especially for someone like me who hasn’t seen ANY of Red vs. Blue. With research, I know there is a box set of Series 1-10 available in the US, and as mentioned, there is an extra which condenses the first 10 seasons in less than 20 minutes hopefully to resolve that problem…which in the end it didn’t. It doesn’t give a newcomer viewer enough information about the current cast, what their pasts are, and the story coming into it.

From what I’ve learned, Season 11 is the start of a new arc so in some respects, there is a method to the madness of the first UK DVD release being Season 11. It is set in a new world after the ship crashed in an unknown location (one of the trailers actually shows this) after dealing with something from the previous arcs called Project Freelancer. Again, because not familiar with this, asked a few of my friends about it who were just as surprised about the fact Season 11 is the first release and am going into it cold. From what I gathered, it was a project to create super soldiers fighting a rogue section of the main group but let to unrest, torture and unnecessary killing – however I realise I would need to watch the previous seasons to establish the story.

So does starting at Season 11 actually make any sense?

Taking it as a standalone release, there is actually enough to make a coherent story with who is involved – even if this is your first time experiencing Red vs. Blue. We have the hardened solider Washington who tries to tell a bit of back-story with Project Freelancers and the Reds & Blues now shipwrecked, and the comic foils between the two, from the egotistical leader of the Reds Sarge, to the dumb Caboose on the blues. Washington trying to be a leader in a sea of idiots is amusing, and the series actually does make me chuckle quite a bit with a number of the antics – for example, Caboose befriending a ‘pet’ which is in fact a giant killing robot who he dubs Freckles which leads to a hilarious few episodes with Caboose inadvertently becoming the leader as Freckles intimidates the rest of the crew, the creation of ‘Basebook’ and Sarges’ delusions of grandeur about his base.

Other comic moments include Sarge trying to build a robot to counter Caboose’, the reintroduction of a previous character (apparently) but made into a robot called Lopez 2.0 who only speaks Spanish, a lot of arguing whether it is about chores or training, Freckles learning ‘tricks’, one of the Red group Simmons trying to join Blue because of Sarges’ stupidity…and then all of a sudden it takes a tone for the serious with Washington admitting his own inadequacies, and the presence of some mysterious soldiers on the area so when the group finally fix some communication and get some other soldiers (who comically forget to bring the needs to get them OFF the island), when the pilot is killed by a soldier named Locus, the comedy slowly ends and the plot begins to hit.

There is still plenty of comedy (Lopez returns and the two Lopez’ insulting the other crew in Spanish as they don’t understand) but when Locus attacks and another soldier comes in to help out named Felix, he reveals where the crew have crashed and how they’ve been forgotten about after the wars, we learn of the planet (named Chorus’) history, which leads to Felix trying to recruit the Reds and Blues to fight against his rebel federation which Locus is a part of. We get some more character history which does help when trying to figure out the characters and not seen the show before, and then we get some action which is quite nice to see, and the conclusion sets up another volume with Locus setting up to be the main antagonist when the Reds & Blues survive to help the New Republic to take out the Chorus Group.

This is a tough one for me to rate – as not only have I not watched any of the previous 10 seasons but I’ve also never played Halo either. Yes, I’ve never played any of the Halo games so that makes it doubly difficult for me to understand this release. However, to the volumes’ credit, it actually does do its best to make some sense by giving bits of the past explained as well as getting to the plot of this arc setting up ready for future volumes.

The show is also surprisingly funny – I say surprisingly more for the fact I didn’t know what to expect especially after coming off RWBY as well. RWBY had a major advantage in the fact its release is right at the beginning whilst RvB not so. However, the interactions between the sane (Washington) and the insane (Caboose), and pretty much anything Sarge says or does made me laugh – the show itself entertained me a lot even whilst I was still trying to establish what was going on.

I am giving it two grades – one for newcomers, and one for Rooster Teeth fans. It is hard to recommend as a standalone release because there is clearly a ton of back-story that sets up this volume at a new arc, and whilst it does its best to establish both in the show and the extras, it clearly isn’t enough – the plot is explained setting up the future volumes so the story has a complete narrative prepared, and hopefully it will do well so future volumes are released.

But I might have to venture into watching the first 10 seasons before I review the next volume….

Summary:
Red vs. Blue is a legendary series that has been one of the longest running over 10 years – which means this release is great if you are a fan of the series. However, if you are looking at the cover of the DVD volume and see basically a Halo series without knowing what Red vs. Blue is, you are going to be so confused. The volume does try to explain bits of the back-story throughout, establishes the characters and their characteristics, sets up the plot for the next volume/arc and is genuinely entertaining with its comedy, but there is too much missing that any newcomers will be confused for a lot of it. Recommended absolutely for fans of the series, but first timers I’d advise to have a marathon session before you purchase…

Content Grade: C+ (newcomers) B+ (RvB fans)
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 29th, 2015
MSRP: £9.99
Running Time: 180 minutes

Review Equipment:
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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