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Aquarion Logos Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Aquarion Logos Part 1 CoverThe art of the voice.

What They Say:
Long ago, the human voice defined the true nature of everything. That is, until text came along and opened up the Logos World, a futuristic battlefield where monsters loom. These monsters, known as M.J.B.K., are spawned from texts injected with the magical syringe of Master Sougon, the mysterious gatekeeper of all written words. When these texts are injected, their concept on Earth is erased, and an M.J.B.K. is born in the Logos World. Lucky for humanity, there are a group of young-gun heroes known as the Verbalism Club who counter the text monsters with their Aquarion vectors and the art of voice. It’s up to self-proclaimed savior Akira Kaibuki and the rest of the Verbalism Club to protect the world from being erased as long as their silly antics don’t get in the way.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the new English language adaptation is given a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The series is one that works a good bit of action into it and plenty of big moments with the characters and dialogue so that it has a solid effect, even with the stereo mix. The original Japanese track utilizes the forward soundstage well with plenty of placement with action effects and dialogue while having a natural feeling to it and a good bit of impact where needed. This is given a bit more oomph with the 5.1 mix for the English track, which you can thankfully sample on the fly, and see how the battles have more bass to it and generally hits a lot more powerfully. Dialogue makes out with a bit of a louder feeling in general and this definitely translates well to the music which has a richer and more engaging feeling. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this thirteen-episode collection of the TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second, it largely looks great as it works with the Satelight animation to have a distinct look with the blending of CG and backgrounds and character animation. The series works a varied mix of locales across the set where we get alien worlds, school settings, space settings and more and it all looks distinct and vibrant with a good amount of pop where appropriate with the color palette. It’s a rich series because of the technology used within and the large amount of CG work blends very well here, in traditional Satelight style, so you know what you’re getting and it definitely benefits from the high definition transfer. Colors are rich, clean and solid and there’s nothing visible for line noise or cross coloration, making for a very fun looking experience.

The packaging for this release is done with a slightly oversized Blu-ray case that comes with an O-card for it that replicates the artwork. The main piece is one that works the familiar key visual of the main cast lined up along the bottom with the Vectors along the top, which has the log offset to the right in a smaller than usual way. It’s a bit dark overall with the space background and the shadows but you get a good look at the characters and their designs The back cover is done with a dark star filled background that also adds to this elegance as we get a clean summary to read as well as a breakdown of the discs extras. There’s a few shots from the show along the right and the work well since they’re mostly bright, colorful and character images. The technical grid along the bottom gets everything right in a clean and easy to read way. While there are no inserts with this release, we do get artwork on the reverse side that the Japanese cover artwork from the first volume of Maia doing a bit of waitressing work, which is just an odd image to use – both in Japan and here..

The menu design eschews the clips from past seasons and goes with a static image here that works the front cover artwork, just zoomed in a touch. It’s naturally a bit brighter and has more pop to the color, especially in the background that keeps it from feeling as dark as the cover and o-card does. The navigation strip along the bottom has a decent slightly opaque look to it with the logo inset in it at a good size while the actual selections are lined down next to it. It’s the standard selections that are quick and easy to navigate, but when you get to areas like the extras or looking at the episode list by title, it can get a bit small and busy. Navigation is easy though and easily familiar to other releases and we didn’t have any issues getting around.

The extras for this release have some familiar pieces with the clean opening and closing but it’s surprising about the lack of audio commentaries, something that we often get one or two of for most releases. What Funimation brings in instead is a “special episode” that serves as a look at the property as a whole.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Three years after the Aquarion EVOL series landed, itself a sequel to the original Aquarion series, Aquarion Logos arrived in the summer of 2015. The show was set for a two-cour run at twenty-six episodes with Hidekazu Sato directing it with a story by Jun Kumagai, though original creator Shoji Kawamori gets his nods as getting the whole franchise going. And with Satelight behind it there’s certainly continuity in terms of design and approach that we’ve seen before. I have some mostly fond memories of the original series and its weird creativity but I was less enamored with EVOL overall. With Logos, well, it’s a question of wondering why they’re bothering with it at all, how they justified it as a two cour series, and how they just flubbed it so badly.

Frankly, this is one of those series where you watch the first episode and about halfway through it you lose interest and wonder what it is they’re actually trying to do. Other than a few trappings I have no idea if there’s supposed to be a connection to past ones (there isn’t, which makes it frustrating that they call it Aquarion) and you initially try to figure out if it’s supposed to take place within the same world or framework of what came before. But even without that the whole thing just feels nonsensical. The core idea is interesting in that it works around voice and words, hence the main cast of kids belonging to the Verbalism Club, where there are so many layered meanings in Japanese writing and speech that it is pretty fascinating to break down and look at. The early explorations have some neat moments in how stripping away certain words and concepts changes things radically but it’s not really trying to dig into that.

The premise of the show involves the “Logos World” that exists where the kids from the club end up taking their special skills to fight with their Vector craft against the MJBK, which is some nonsense that means Menace of Japanese with Biological Kinetic energy. The kids utilize their Verbalism skills to take the Vectors and work through combinations (hello, Gattai formula!) in order to deal with an increasing array of threats. When certain words through the MJBK are utilized it causes worldwide problems. Initially we get things twisting and tying, such as belts and the like, that causes the general populace to freak out. A later episode in this first half of the series has the world going silent as noise is taken away, which is certainly frightening. We’ve seen science fiction stories like that before but the proliferation of texting and other devices means it has a very different feeling than it did twenty or thirty years ago in how people can still communicate and not totally freak out.

Similar to previous seasons, DEAVA (Division of EArth Verbalism Ability) exists here and they’re the ones that the kids are drawn into to fight against the MJBK. Of course, it’s got a cover as a cute cafe restaurant in the heart of the city and that means time with some of the kids doing waitressing and the like, or shooing customers out so they can go into the Logos World to fight the MJBK. The problem is that almost right from the start these kids turn you off of them. The ostensible lead is Akira Kaibuki, a savior-minded young man that’s just annoying as hell both in his approach and belief of himself as being the necessary person to deal with all of this, but also his appearance. Yeah, the idea is that in working with the other characters that he’ll soften and learn teamwork, but even as little as we do get it it just comes across horribly. When you react so negatively to the main male character from the outset, on top of a chaotic and unproductive first episode that just throws more and more crap at you, it’s like the show is forcing you to disengage from it.

From there we get the usual array of characters, such as Maia who has been trained since a child to be involved in all of this. She’s somewhat outgoing with a complicated past but it’s hard to care since everything feels so superficial. The other leading lady is Kokone, who being the shy girl with a tragic backstory is trying to be the peacemaker between everyone but is too timid to really do anything. Throw in the comedy relief in Tsutomu and the skilled and cool Hayato that sees his own position diminishing as time goes on and the basic arcs are all easily seen, worked through, and realized from the first few minutes you meet each of them. It’s so utterly by the numbers that it’s frustrating. Even more so because it does throw the other layers out there with the organizations and “big picture” elements that just obscures everything else when it comes into play that it’s simply a hot mess.

In Summary:
The action scenes are pretty. I’ll give it that. But I’ve long enjoyed the chaos that is a Satelight production in this arena, and particularly the first two series of Aquarion, because it has its own special magic. But because of the problems with the story (What story? One really needed to be introduced better!) and the utterly boring characters, situations, and a lack of context about where this stands by using the Aquarion name, Aquarion Logos is problematic from the start. The moment Akira walked on the screen I found myself feeling repelled by the show. Funimation’s release is solid enough throughout with what it does and for fans of it – I know you’re out there – it’s definitely good for them to be able to have a copy to own and hold since streaming isn’t forever.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Special Episode: Genesis of Aquarion Love, Textless Opening Song “Yamaidare darlin”, Textless Closing Song “Je-Je t’aime communication”

Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 22nd, 2017
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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