What They Say:
After escaping the Kummen Jungle Wars, Chirico finds himself trapped on a space battleship bound for the war-ravaged planet Sunsa…with his arch-enemy Ypsilon hot on his heels! As Chirico hurtles toward his showdown with Ypsilon, none are aware
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only encoded in stereo at 192kbps. The show is a pretty basic stereo mix that has hardly anything truly noticeable in a directionality way since it’s rather old. The mix is very full feeling in how it comes across though there are some areas where it can be faked a bit if you’ve got a large setup and your ears pick up both speakers in different ways. It is a good sounding mix overall though and it avoids problems such as dropouts or distortions. A few high notes here and there touch a little scratchiness but it’s so minimal across the entire run it’s barely a blip.
Originally airing back in 1983, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ration. While CPM has cleaned up this release and it is certainly better than the NuTech release from a few years ago due to it being a clean print with no burned in subtitles, it’s not quite as clean and solid as the Japanese full remaster that was done a few years back. That said, this is still probably the best the show has looked in its various US releases and overall is something that people who watch any amount of older shows will find looks great. The main area that’s noticeable throughout the print is either the grain or the nicks and dirty on the print. The grain for me was less of an issue since I like how it gives it a more film like feel and with the bold colors such as Chirico’s red uniform, it adds a certain softness to it that helps. The nicks and dirt on the print, which is very much cleaned up overall, is still there though and can certainly be a problem for some. Like the grain, I have to admit that it almost adds a certain charm and it’s something that I do expect to see on something in the anime world that’s from the early 80’s. A cleaner print would definitely be better but I can’t begrudge this one for how it looks much.
I’ve got mixed feelings about the packaging for this release but since this isn’t the final packaging for it I’m not sure how much of an issue I want to make out of it. It is final in the sense that this is it and I’ve got what was released to retail, but at the end of the run there will be the box that it all goes in and the issues with the digipak become a non-issue. Essentially, the standalone digipak is good overall but without any kind of closure on it or way to latch it shut, it feels incomplete and prone to problems, such as the coupon falling out of it constantly or discs sliding out. The front artwork for this set has a new shot of the Scopedog that Chirico uses for a lot of this arc and it’s once again set in front of a flame filled background along with the technology. This is one of the weaker looking versions of the Scopedogs but then again these suits aren’t exactly made to be slick looking. Each set is marked by both a stage number and what particular area it takes place in. The back cover has a strip of shots from the show down along the left while the space to the right provides a few choice quotes and information about the creators as well as a decent summary paragraph for it. The discs features are clearly listed though the technical information is a bit hard to find in the fine print below. The digipak opens to provide to plastic trays where the discs reside and other than the coupon that’s it.
The menu layout is nicely done with the top and right side having line artwork of the Scopedogs where the top has the logo and the right side has the standard navigation section that we see on most CPM releases. The rest of the menu is given over to a series of animated clips under a grid overlay that looks nicely done as almost a minute’s worth of vocal music plays along to it. It’s certainly far better than what we got with the NuTech releases and it’s all nicely in theme here between font and layout. Access times are nice and fast and with there being only one language available here, player presets are pretty much moot.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The last thirteen episodes of the series make up this fourth and final arc in the VOTOMS series as Chirico heads to the planet Quent in order to find out what his real history is all about. After getting hints that he’ll find all the answers he needs there during his time on and around Sunsa, he and Fyana make their way off there after escaping from the various forces that were staging in Sunsa. We saw some of how that journey went in the last volume and get a brief flashback to it here as well but it’s the time on Quent where the show spends most of its time now.
Just like the previous locales in the series, Quent is an interesting place and not like a lot of others. The original civilization on the planet was once so highly advanced compared to everyone else that they feared their own power and it went to hell in a handbasket pretty quick as they let it consume them. They withdraw from the galaxy in a prominent way and shifted their own civilization so that it fragmented into a couple thousand tribes instead of what they were. The warriors of Quent are still in demand though and through the single modern city that offworlders use there, they hire themselves out as mercenaries. When Chirico ends up on Quent in search of a Quentian, he’s surprised to find that they’re actually rather hard to come across. During the entire fourth arc in fact, we only see two true Quentians that I can recall.
The Quent arc has Chirico acting alone for a lot of it as he tries to figure out what it is about this planet and potentially someone on it that’s behind the way his life has been led up until now. Everyone else in the series is making their way for Quent though and upon arrival find that there are a lot of forces coming here to see what’s going to happen. The three rival forces that happen to have Chirico’s friends in tow as well are still keyed into the Perfect Soldier storyline and the acquisition of Fyana is still high on the list. But as they get closer to Chirico, they find that on the planet Quent that there is an amazing ancient technology that has been guiding Chirico’s life for some time and has chosen him to be the successor/inheritor to the wealth of power that the planet has control over. Suffice to say, Chirico suddenly becomes the hottest property in the galaxy, especially after the planet displays its power in eliminating several of the Ballarant and Giglamesh fleets.
Little different than previous arcs, a lot of this show is focused around the various action scenes and lots of AT action. Similar to Sunsa, we get an interesting mix of locales with it in that Quent is a fairly rough and barren planet but it has a mix of new buildings that are already rundown as well as the really old but significantly advanced structures that are hidden within the old towers that the Quentians abandoned. Unlike some of the past arcs though, Fyana and the others don’t get quite as much screentime or action material for them and it’s kept much closer to Chirico. There’s plenty to do with Ypsilon and others throughout it but the focus on Chirico becomes even stronger as it goes forward.
Something about this arc just didn’t register in the same way the previous ones did. The focus on Chirico certainly isn’t a bad thing and it didn’t detract from the show since this was basically something of an origin story for him, but the concept behind the Quent intelligence and how that played out just felt like it was lacking somehow. When taken in context with the number of fleets that were being thrown at the planet and the importance of the entire Perfect Soldier concept that has carried the series so far, having it become not only secondary as this arc progressed but completely marginalized just felt like we went through so much stuff and saw suffering by Perfect Soldiers all for nothing. And the reasoning behind why the Quent intelligence had chosen Chirico was never truly clear; was it just that he was the first Overman born outside of Quent or was it really something more that he had that made him suitable? Whereas in previous arcs the number of episodes helped to explore the theme and the characters in order to tell the story, I think they had too many episodes here to tell it and it resulted in things being drawn out just too much and too repetitious in some ways with the battles.
This show has a definite ending to it and it’s quite good as it goes through the last couple of episodes run through as Chirico’s plans come together. There are some things I’m not exactly thrilled about with this last arc though as it seems to push aside important themes of the series in favor of just what they want to cover now but overall I’m glad to have finally seen the entire series and what kind of influences its had over the years. CPM’s release of this show is leaps and bounds over what we got back years ago through NuTech Entertainment and hopefully has been seen by a lot of new fans who will appreciate some good classic mecha anime.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: June 13th, 2006
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.