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Armored Fleet Dairugger Collection 2 Anime DVD Review

9 min read

The front line bases of both sides end up being staked out in the middle arc of the series that would be better if not for those darn combining vehicles.

What They Say

In every war, heroes will die.
Caught up in a civil war they do not understand, Aki and the team are under attack from all sides. Teles is removed from command and put on trial for treason by the Galveston Empire. Now Commander Ise and the crew of the Explorer are forced to deal with the full power of the Galveston, led by the relentless Lafitte. Stretched to their limits, members of the Dairugger Guard keep getting injured, and the Dairugger itself is so badly damaged they can no longer form the super robot. But this is all a feint for the Galveston Empire’s ultimate goal: a direct attack on planet Earth!
Revisit the Voltron series as you’ve never experienced it before, and see what really happened in this newly restored and uncut version.
Contains episodes 19-36.

The Review:
With the age of this show and likely some issues with its previous adaptation, this release contains only a single language track on it. The original Japanese language mix is presented in mono to two channels encoded at 192kbps. The show doesn’t have much of anything to it due to its age as we get a full sounding mix that feels more center channel than anything else. There’s no real discernible directionality for this show but it’s reflective of the original production. The show has a good balance between the action effects and the dialogue as neither overwhelms the other. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the show avoids any issues with the highs and is problem free overall.

Originally airing in 1982, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This set contains eighteen episodes spread across three volumes with six episodes per disc. For a lot of the show, the bitrate is pretty high which is needed to deal with the source materials since there’s a fair bit of expected grain here. By and large, the show looks good when you consider that it is nearly thirty years old and the source materials themselves may not be the best of the best depending on where they were gotten. The grain is the big issue here as it does liven up a number of things across the set but the colors, in general, look good and there aren’t any obvious instances of blatant cross coloration or blocking. There’s a fair bit of line noise in the show which isn’t a surprise during panning sequences but it’s not often that it becomes very distracting.

With a show of this age, there’s likely little to be had for materials they can use to work with the covers so I don’t have much in terms of expectations. Thankfully, they aren’t just using Dairugger art for each of them as this one features a very bloodied pair of crew members with a blaze around them from an attack that looks really raw and rough, almost like a late 80’s indie US comic book. The logo is decently done along the top while the bottom includes which collection it is. The back cover fairs well as it uses a fleet action shot along the top and a planetary shot along the bottom to push more of the space angle for the series. Two strips of shots from the show bring in some clearer animation from the show which is good and there’s a really solid plug for promoting this show as something Voltron fans haven’t seen before. The summary deals with the large scale ideas easily enough and where the show will go while the rest is given over to some minor production credits and a solid technical grid. No shows related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus are pretty simple and identical across all three volumes as it uses the image of the crew members from the front cover set against the fire and ruins around them. With a bit of simple music to it and minimal navigation selections on the top level menu, it’s a clean design but one that’s really just designed for you to go right into the show. Language selection is just for subtitle selection and with no extras on the disc the only thing you might see is a spot for trailers. Submenus do load quickly when you see them but I continue to wish Media Blasters would provide top level episode access with their releases.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I had very little expectations going into Dairuggers the first time as Voltron has never been a show I liked. The first set proved to be more fun than I expected and I found myself liking a lot more of it than I ever did the Voltron series from what I saw broadcast years ago. But what I still find, even more so with this set, is that if it didn’t have these absolutely goofy and stupid combining vehicles and the giant Dairugger itself, it’d be a really solid (for its time) space opera series. There’s a good mix of politics, intrigue, action and more throughout this that it would have easily held its own in being something really fun to watch. I’m not against giant robots, but generally, I do find the combining angle fairly uninteresting having burned out on all of it with Transformers a couple of decades ago. Especially when they use such awful looking vehicles.
The eighteen episodes on this set are quite a lot of fun as it plays on the galaxy-wide scale that it has been angling at since the start. The overall concept is still very much the same as the noble and nice Earth alliance fleet simply wants to do a walkabout in the galaxy and map the whole thing in the pursuit of science and knowledge. The Galveston fleet is of two minds about what they want to do. The supreme commander and most of his command level staff all act little children who want the alliance stamped out because they may, just perhaps, will stop them from doing their search for a planet to inhabit as their world is dying in a pretty fierce way. One of the front line commanders though, who is more interested in exploration than military acts, wants to pursue a path of peace with the alliance as there’s a good chance both can co-exist and the alliance may even be able to help them find a planet.
It’s not hard to guess which side of the Galveston forces wins out when it comes to advancing the storyline here. The Galveston forces see their only path as eliminating all competition for resources first and then finding the right planet second. So much so that they’ll actually destroy potentially good planets in order to thwart the alliance fleet from creating their own supply bases along the way, which really goes over the top. It’s sort of surprising in how many planets fall to ruin or are outright exploded in the course of the first thirty-six episodes of the series. As much as the Galveston commander, Teles, tries to shape things to find a peaceful way to explore the galaxy, he’s continually thwarted by either insubordinate commanders under him or the higher ranking officers thinking he’s delusional for trying to find peace.
The alliance side doesn’t have all that much going for it throughout this set. They’re regularly on the defensive for much of it as they just want to explore. They do change their tact eventually where they’re instructed to find the front line base of the enemy to take down so they can try and explore in relative peace after so many worlds have been destroyed. They come across a few interesting place, including a world where all that’s left are women after Galveston took all the men for safe keeping. It appears that this world isn’t suitable for simply taking over by the Galveston so they just want to keep a potential enemy suppressed. As the alliance makes its progress toward Galveston though, it does get pretty good as they’re aggressive but not arrogant to the extreme over what they’re doing. They do still want to find a peaceful solution but it’s just not in the cards, at least not yet.
A good chunk of this set focuses on the Galveston side which was really quite interesting.  The back and forth about the best approach with Teles leading the working together angle is a lot of fun since it showcases some of them as not being simply bad. A lot of the Galveston folks come across that way, though they’re really more just warmongers than anything else and not evil or anything. And they’re looking out for their world in their own way, which is admirable enough, but they can’t handle dissent and they take it too far by regularly disobeying orders which is just frustrating to watch. It either points to Teles being a less than capable leader since he lets so much of it happen (as does his successor) or he subconsciously wants them to be victorious since he’s not sure peace really is the way.
What is really interesting with this set is that we get some solid background with what’s happening on Galveston at this time. So much of the focus has been on the military exploration side of it that we haven’t seen the reality behind their need to find a new planet. When Teles is sent back there and demoted, the same time that his father as Secretary is removed from office as well, we get to see the riots and the anger from the populace as they’re forced to live underground (in really nice looking cities) while the military is out and about across the stars looking for a new home. The politics of all comes into play, limited as it is for a show of this age, and we get to see how the factions are working the Supreme Commander in order to force a more aggressive war against Earth. Then again, wouldn’t it be better to conquer the planet and take it over? Everyone on Earth looks so happy and unconcerned about the galaxy outside of the Garrison folks…
In Summary:
I’m definitely finding myself alternating between liking the show and really disliking it. The dislike angle is obvious at this point as I don’t care for the vehicle designs and the whole combining robot aspect, particularly since it invariably leads to the money shot each episode where they combine. On the flip side, I do enjoy the general space opera elements and the kind of wacky air about it with goofy technical terms and the bizarre view of distances and travel time. Putting that aside, what we do get is a fairly straightforward space opera where two sides are against each other, for different reasons and one side is just playing defense for the most part, where there is more to be gained if they work together. But distrust looms large and there’s lots of time to fill with action. I did not grow up with Voltron, so it’s not coloring my view here in the slightest really, but I like a good chunk of this show. But I feel like an old man yelling at the TV to get those damn combining vehicles off my lawn.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: May 25th, 2010
MSRP: $34.99
Running Time: 450 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

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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