What They Say:
What They Say
The world of tomorrow is an arid wasteland; a forsaken place where nomadic communities take shelter within mobile, domed cities. Massive, mutant Contaminoid monsters swarm the planet’s desolate surface, and the lack of resources fuels constant conflict between cities.
In this bleak future, mysterious young Layfon struggles to escape his violent past. Unfortunately, his former life might be impossible to hide after he’s forced to enroll at the military academy – his special powers are clearly stronger than those of his comrades. As he joins his fellow student soldiers in the desperate battle against the Contaminoid scourge, Layfon must fight to keep the origins of his enhanced abilities a secret, because the truth could tear his team apart.
The audio presentation for this release is the standard for FUNimation as we get the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 192kbps the English in 5.1 at 448kbps. The stereo mix is pretty good overall with a fair amount of directionality across the forward soundstage when it comes to both the action and the quieter dialogue scenes. There’s very little in the way of dialogue overlap so there are no issues with that in terms of placement but what we do get here of it works well in letting everyone feel like they’re coming from that part of the stage. The English mixes generally enhance the action sequences and the music aspects of the opening and closing by giving it both a louder and fuller feeling that works well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episodes in this set are spread across two discs evenly with six on each disc. The show has a pretty clean look to it with a lot of vibrant and solid colors when it comes to uniforms and the backgrounds within the city that showcase some blue skies. Outside of there it’s all dusty and earth-toned which works well as it doesn’t have the same kind of clean look. There’s little in the way of dark or night time sequences here overall with the majority of it during the day so background skies come across well with the light blues that have only some noise to it and little break-up. Colors are good throughout, vibrant when needed while avoiding problems like cross coloration and aliasing.
The menu design for this series is very, very simple as it has a somewhat regal feeling to it with the blue and gold strips along either side while the center has the white concrete feeling to it that takes up about eighty percent of the screen. It’s in this that we get the very large logo that dominates it while below we get the basic navigation that’s clean and quick to use. Below that it lists the disc that you’re on and which part but also has a little nod that it’s part of the Zuellni University Military Arts section which is kind of cute, but leaves you feeling like they could have done a lot more. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast while the disc has a bit of upbeat instrumental music to it that builds a bit of energy. The discs did not read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.
The extras for this release are pretty good as they cover the minor differences rather well. We get the standard clean opening sequence but we also get the four separate clean closings which have pieces done by different characters within the show. In addition to the four versions of “Yasashii Uso”, the clean version of Ai No Zuellni is included as well.
Chrome Shelled Regios has an expansive history with a lengthy run of light novels and several manga incarnations with side stories and the like by Shusuke Amagi. The anime incarnation runs for twenty-four episodes and is based on the lengthier manga series that introduces us to an interesting world but one that really takes awhile to start to unfold. It’s a largely mixed and mildly confusing series as it deals with two very different worlds. The production is done by Zecxs, who themselves have a mixed record of shows, but largely gets the visual design right here even if the structure of the story leaves something to be desired.
The series takes place in a future time when the world has been overrun by creatures known as Contaminoids. They’re insect-like creatures of all types that have essentially turned the world to ruins with little in the way of green to be found. Humanity does still survive though as they’ve created domed cities called Regios which can move across the land in order to avoid infested areas, or areas that suddenly start drawing the creatures. There’s even an instance where a city has settled in for a duration but has to move out fast because they were apparently on top of a Contaminoid nest and part of the supports collapsed into it. The leads to the main action segment of the first half as we see all those inside doing their best to protect the city while trying to get it moving again.
The main focus of the show is on the Academy City known as Zuellni. It’s into this city comes a new transfer student named Layfon Alseif that is doing his best to leave behind a life in the city of Glendan. Layfon’s looking for a quiet life but instead finds himself forcefully transferred into the Military Arts program by the student body president who sees great things from him. Within the school, the military arts group deals with using special abilities in order to compete against other cities for rights and privileges and the one at Zuellni that Layfon finds himself a part of is essentially one of the lower ranked and least liked ones as they’re made up of the unwanted parts of other groups. The one who is really glad to have him there though is Nina, the young woman in charge of the 17th Platoon that now owns Layfon.
The group is small and not exactly cohesive so they all pick up a variety of skills so they can handle anything they come into contact with, but they’re lacking real drive and something that can pull them together. Nina hopes that it’s Layfon but it’s hard to see what they see in him as he comes across as a nice guy with some very mild abilities at best. But all of it is a sham on Layfon’s part as we learn over the course of the set that he was an up and coming star at Glendan where he was someone who wielded the Heaven’s Blade but lost his status when they learned that he was engaging in underground tournament fighting in order to secure his survival. His life there was a brutal one which is why he tries to get away from it in Zuellni since he just wants to exist quietly and forget it all. But with Nina there and the way events play out, it’s anything but.
A good chunk of the show deals with the school social issues within the city as it generally does operate like a normal academy with different wings in which students deal with their primary focus. There’s a number of girls in addition to the others that are in the 17th Platoon, which also conveniently has the student body president’s sister as a member who has to control her emotions because of her psychokinesis power which heightens her sensory input overall. The group bonding moments are decent at best since there’s a chaotic feel to explaining what’s going on with the cities, the Contaminoids and the entire aspect of the military arts angle. There are a couple of girls that are interested in Layfon to different degrees as well which adds the usual adolescent hormonal angst to the mix as well.
And that kind of chaotic aspect is what marks a lot of this show throughout the first half. There’s a lot going on here but some of the basic explanations of the setting take awhile to come through which leaves you trying to piece it together for longer than you should have to when it comes to these kinds of simple things. There’s a fair amount of characters introduced throughout as well, especially with the other groups that the 17th fights, which distracts from letting the core characters become familiar. The show also goes for the big event early with it dealing with the usual episode twelve material at episode ten instead, giving the big moments where we see Layfon reverting more to his true self as he deals with a group from his old city that’s arrived. Adding all of Layfon’s past on top of the poorly laid out present storyline doesn’t help the pacing in the slightest either.
The production by Zexcs does have a good look about it when it comes to the setting and the characters. It uses a similar style to other shows over theirs like Sister Princess and Fortune Arterial where it has a clean and colorful look with some solid designs when it comes to the uniforms for the cast. The actual characters themselves are all about as you’d expect as they don’t really make themselves distinct, but they fit within the context of the show itself. Layfon has the most change about him as it goes on as they have to show him in his everyday mode but also when he gets serious and really uses his skills, making it distinct enough without going too far in darkening him up. The action in the show makes up for the character and story issues though as it’s generally pretty well choreographed and they use some creative abilities with the weapons they have to give it something somewhat distinctive.
Chrome Shelled Regios is the kind of show that has you wondering what was lost in translation from its original work to anime form. There’s a good amount of material out there in novel and manga form to build a rich and intriguing future world but the execution of it all here leaves a lot to be desired. Being thrown into the world is one thing, but there’s a lot here that needs to be covered structurally in order to make it feel like a functioning world that’s missed or deferred on too long. With the somewhat frantic nature of it at times early on with the way Layfon is pulled to and fro, the viewer feels much the same way and that’s not a welcome thing. There’s definitely aspects of it that are enjoyable, but the first half of the series takes quite awhile to really find its stride.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 8th, 2011
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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.