DVD 1: Blades of Fate
The story of Nazca deals with Kyogi Miura, a 17 year old high school and kendo student, who discovers that he, and his friend and teacher, Tate are actually the reincarnated souls of Inca warriors. Tate, once known as the Inca warrior Yawaru, is on a quest to control an earthly energy force that could spell the doom of humankind. It's up to Kyogi, known as the Inca warrior Bilka in his previous life, to find Tate and learn of his master plan. Along the way, more reincarnated souls are awakened as the plot thickens and battle draws near.
This series is different, and I mean that in the best way possible. Sometimes, we all get tired of certain stories and concepts that seem reused and regurgitated over and over under different names and box art, but luckily, Nazca provides a refreshing blast of uniqueness, with a story deeply rooted in the past of ancient Incan civilization, and multifaceted characters who are deeper than what they first appear.
One major thing I noticed in Nazca is the character development throughout the 3 episodes on this disc. The main characters themselves at first seem rather deep, but as it is learned that they have other pasts, Incan pasts, their personalities and depth increase almost double fold. This is especially evident when portions of the past are revealed through flashbacks, showing Bilka's childhood long lost, and a battle long ago fought as the viewer is forced to feel for these characters.
This is certainly not your normal anime fare. Sure, it has powers based on energy sources, and the prospect of worldwide destruction, but the way the Incan culture is used as a springboard for the series concept makes Nazca a very entertaining title to watch. Although, the DVD does not come completely devoid of faults...
The animation of Nazca, while beautiful in its own right, has some problems from the DVD. There are some rough places and pixelation in certain areas, and the animation is far from sharp. When close up to the screen, I noticed the edges and colors tended to be a bit blurry, and what appears to be film scratches and blotches seem to appear from time to time, most likely due to what the video was originally copied from. Don't get me wrong, the animation itself, the actual fluidity of movement, is fine, it just seems the source material used to make this DVD had some small problems of its own which show up in the DVD conversion.
Computer generated animation is used in the opening sequence and the second episode of this disc to portray an Inca shrine. In the second episode, when two characters enter the shrine, they look totally out of place in the computer generated scenes. The cel animation just doesn't mesh well, and the characters' "2D-ness" shows up in contrast to the detailed 3D temple. It looks as if they have just been "painted" on, on top of the scenes without any depth or shadowing. Also, these scenes contain super quick and erratic camera movements, probably in an attempt to inspire awe and melodrama, but it did little more than nauseate me after a short while. The 3D eye candy does little to move an American such as myself, who is used to such computer animated shows as War Planets and Beast Machines. Hopefully, this type of thing won't show up much in the rest of the Nazca series, as the same scenes could be done just as well, if not better, in traditional cel animation.
The character designs of Nazca are one of the title's several up-points. The ancient Incan costumes worn by Bilka, Yawaru, and the other reincarnated souls are bright, flashy, and give off an ancient Incan feel with their designs and decorative feathers.
The music of this title also gives off the same sort of Incan feel as the costumes, especially with the opening and ending themes. The dubbing on Nazca is also amazingly good. For a dub, that is. I even found myself enjoying the English voice of Kyogi/Bilka's enemy Shinri Shiogami more than the Japanese (oh, did I just commit anime purist blasphemy?). I was more than surprised when I first heard the voice, at how perfectly it fit the character it came from. Even though Shiogami doesn't have the most lines in this title, he does stand out above all the other characters and their respective voiceactors (who aren't all that bad either, mind you).
Overall, the sound of Nazca is encoded beautifully on the DVD and comes out sounding deep, and directional. When a character moves across screen, you can actually hear his/her voice and feet trail over the audio channels, going from one speaker to the next seamlessly, even in stereo.
The packaging of Nazca shows off both Kyogi and Tate as Bilka and Yawaru respectively. The art really sets the tone of the series, with its vivid colors and energy. The back of the box shows some scenes from the DVD, as well as holds a short summary of the three episode disc. The only questionable part about the packaging is the dark green coloring of the text on the back, which tends to blend a bit into the package's background picture, although it is not at all unreadable.
Nazca is plagued by having a LOT of chapters. There are eleven chapters per episode, and Pioneer did their best to make them as navigable as possible. The scene access menu shows small shots from the beginning of each chapter, and at the bottom of the screen, episode numbers are listed so the viewer can easily switch between episodes. It's a tolerable interface, especially with a DVD containing 33 chapter breaks total.
As an extra feature, an image gallery is included on the disc. The gallery includes 11 pictures with 7 character images, and 4 beautifully painted pictures.
Nazca: Blades of Fate is worthy of any anime fan's collection. Even though it does have some glitches in the animation area, the title shines above it with its unique story, design, and awe-inspiring sound. Even the dub has the ability to surprise even the most discriminating anime fan. The title sure doesn't lack in the replay department either, because we all need something to watch before the second volume, Blood Rivals, hits in March.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A+
Animation : C
Music : A+
+ Wonderful music, great directional sound. Refreshing, unique story, and full of promise
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