What They Say:
Following the great battle in the Logos World, the barrier between worlds starts to thin, and Sougon’s disappearance leads to a new president taking control of Nesta. Worse yet, the M.J.B.K. are still showing up! The Verbalism Club must defend humanity once again, but things won’t be that easy when a ghost becomes hell-bent on finishing the ancient war between those who speak and those who write. While Akira tries to hold up his self-proclaimed title as The Savior, Maia faces the truth of her past and the purpose of her own existence. When Earth is in peril, will the power of words be enough to save it?
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 Vector in the city with some interesting architecture around it that’s contrasted with the setting sun skyline that gives it a certain creepiness. It’s a bit of an odd piece overall but it’s creative in some interesting ways if not for the difficult blending of the machine against the rest of the visual design. 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 materials side with Subete and Akira on opposite sides looking serious.
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 openings and closings but it’s surprising about the lack of audio commentaries, something that we often get one or two of for most releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Aquarion Logos was one that I felt by the end of it was little more than a hot mess. Sometimes those shows can be interesting to watch for what they do, such as attempts at course corrections or just embracing what’s going wrong and digging into it even more. With this series, the hot mess aspect continues on with the back half but occupies some of its time with backstory and a grand scale to things that simply doesn’t fit. There’s an attempt at building something rich and interesting here but it falls flat because it’s hard to care about any of it as the characters are so one-dimensional that the stakes feel utterly empty. It makes it a frustrating show to watch because there are some very appealing concepts to work with that are executed in odd ways.
Honestly, this is that kind of set where it’s hard to describe what’s going on because there’s a good chunk of infodumps along the way. An early episode focuses on the origins of Subete as we see how his “parents” in Sougon and Mai worked to create what they wanted in order to achieve the power of the ancients to change the world. There are some neat moments in seeing how it plays out from this point of view that paints both adults as sympathetic even as they lead completely separate lives as Sougon and his side head off to work on more discoveries about ancient texts and the words of civilizations. Seeing how Subete was changing back home and how Sougon had entrusted Nesta to May has its moments and you can see how it all impacts Subete. But Subete has been such a non-character for the first half – nobody really has lives here beyond the fight and drama in-between the fighting – so his past doesn’t feel like anything more than an infodump.
A later episode toward the end takes us back 12,000 years so we can understand the war that went on between the tribes of Words and Truth that resulted in the creation of Logos and how Truth lost out. That let the tribe of Words sprawl throughout the lands and create civilizations as it did, even though it had to contend with how twisted words can be into lies and deception. This is done as a kind of stage play by the DEAVA characters as they attempt to get their story out because, as predictable as can be, as events unfold as this half of the season gets underway they’re painted as traitors and must be hunted down. Again, not a bad thing even if familiar, but we’ve had so little connection with these characters to make watching them engaging in how they deal with it that it falls flat. Even more so is because Maia ends up being hauled off elsewhere and Kokone sees this as her opportunity to try and get closer to Akira. Why? The heart wants what the heart wants but all I can see in Akira is someone that should have no access to anything.
There are a lot of other little areas that get tackled along the way with the cast that we get here but it’s so superficial that it makes very little impact at all. Even marathoning this show left me unsympathetic to anyone because there’s so little to them that can give them weight from episode to episode. The emotional beats fall short because of this and it becomes something where you’re just watching out of inertia. And part of the problem is that after a second season that in itself was something that already felt unnecessary, this third season feels that all the more as we further our disconnect from the original and all attempts at making even mild connections to the original work feel, well, pathetic, frankly. And that’s the problem with this season is that it feels like twenty-six unnecessary things that in the end dilutes the original work that I do have some affection for.
I felt that the end of the first half of this series was a hot mess and the back half essentially carries on with that, unsure of how to execute the grand scale of what it wants to with an engaging and human weight to it. The characters are props without anything to make them interesting and the relationships are fairly thin at best outside of what little we get in the couple of infodump episodes that attempts to give us an even grander scale of events. I do like the concepts behind it and there are some appealing areas of animation when it comes to the action but this is the kind of show that really felt like it was made out of inertia with no real clear concept on how to achieve the goals they had, if there were really any to begin with.
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: D
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.