This week, a unique erotic historical fiction film that has completely slipped through the cracks.
Reviewby Allen Divers, Aug 3rd 2002
DVD 4 - Pressure
Hibiki and the rest of the men aboard the Nirvana quickly learn that it's not easy living with women! Paiway, the youngest female of the crew, decides that the men are getting more attention than she is, and when she thinks Hibiki has made Dita cry again, she convinces the rest of the women that the men are bad news! With no other choice left to him, Hibiki makes a run for it in his Vanguard. Once out in space, Hibiki finds a fleet of humans and is shocked to learn that men and women are working together to fight the alien harvest. With the help of Rabat, Hibiki returns to the Nirvana only to be thrown in the brig. The women have decided they don't need the men to defeat the aliens and will fight on their own. Hibiki has a few things to say about that and intends to show that only when men and women fight together, can they defeat the enemy!
Vandread: Pressure contains the last 3 episodes of the first season of Vandread, providing a nice conclusion for the first half of the story while setting the foundation for the second half. Pioneer maintains the high quality of this series with a release on par with the previous 3 volumes. While not exactly original in its plot, Vandread remains a strong series with an exciting mix of visuals, a nice story and a well-rounded cast of characters.
Sticking with its standard release format, this DVD includes the final 3 episodes rounding out first half of the series. There are no real surprises with extras, as Pioneer presents all 3 textless openings for the episodes (each marked with teaser scenes from the episode) as well as a textless version of the ending. There are 2 galleries, one with character cover art and the other featuring the various mecha of the series. Something new for Pioneer is the inclusion of a set of Pioneer previews. The sequence of previews is preset, so viewers are subject to Pioneer's whims there. While the presentation of Vandread is in widescreen format, it's not anamorphic so the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are part of the picture.
The animators of Vandread hit their stride with these 3 episodes, as animation and artwork remain vibrant and consistent. Earlier episodes of the series felt a bit "off" as quality of animation seemed to go jump good to bad then back to good. The transition and mix of CGI and standard animation also shows improvement as everything begins fitting together more seamlessly. Gonzo seems to be pushing for the title "King of CGI", as CGI remains a constant amongst all of their works.
The first half of the series ends on a high note with strong performances from the majority of the main cast. The Japanese and English voice actors are comfortable with their roles and bringing their characters to life. The English script stays fairly close to the Japanese script with changes made for more natural sounding English as well as timing for lip sync. Both soundtracks share a similar stereo mix as well as incidental music and sound effects. The music by Yasunori Iwasaki helps make Vandread into an exciting series. Quiet when necessary, while very evident when needed, the music helps to carry the viewer through the story and action sequences.
In the final 3 episodes of the first season, the men of the Nirvana find themselves basically where they started at the beginning of the series: prisoners of the women. After a series of misunderstandings and hurt feelings, Hibiki, Bart and Duero find themselves back in the brig. Hibiki makes his escape only to run into another human fleet. These humans have decided to defend their way of life against the aliens behind the harvest. Surprising to him is the fleet is filled with men and women working and even living together in peace. While his encounter with this fleet is short lived, Hibiki gains insight into his own situation aboard the Nirvana. After a battle, and with some help from Rabat, Hibiki finds himself back in the brig of the Nirvana.
Many revelations are to be found amongst the last 3 episodes which forces character development for most of the main cast. The truth behind the Harvest as well as the true origin of the aliens forces the entire cast to evaluate their place in the story. The character subjected to the most amount of change is Hibiki. While still a bit naïve at the end of episode 13, Hibiki shows growth as he begins to understand why he must fight the aliens. While not providing a complete conclusion to the major storyline, the last episode concludes the subplot of the relationship between the men and women of the Nirvana. The last episode also sets the tone for the second half of the series, which tackles the main plotline of the aliens and the Harvest.
Vandread: Pressure stands as both a conclusion and a beginning as Vandread Season 1 comes to a close. These last 3 episodes tie up many of the existing subplots, which will allow the story to focus on the main plot. Vandread as a series continues to impress with its strong animation and artwork, strong performances of its cast and a compelling storyline that all work together to keep the audience wanting more.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ Strong conclusion for subplot while setting up for the second half
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