Reviewby Theron Martin,
The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye
DVD 2 - Tending Wounds
In the aftermath of Blue Breaker's first attack, Honoka must deal with the dead Zankan and living Millie while explaining to Iks about her background and the blue astral eye which sets her apart from both The Third and normal humans. The Third are still intensely interested in Iks, however, so Blue Breaker returns for a second round – this time without any restrictions on combating Honoka. After passing Millie into the safety and well-being of her aunt's care, Honoka finds herself so fascinated by an army ant's transformation into a Queen that she resolves to defend the nascent Queen from other army ants until she has completed her transformation. Later, Bogey and Honoka's rough encounter with a stampede of sand dragons heralds an impending catastrophe, one whose scope, nature, and source deeply concern even The Third. Unaware of the existence of the upcoming threat, Honoka gets hired to investigate the cause of the sand dragon stampede, but while in Emporium she also encounters Paife, a woman who passes as the nurse at Millie's school but soon proves every bit as capable as Honoka herself.
Volume two reinforces a lingering impression left by volume one: that the poetry espoused by Honoka and poetic summaries of each episode included in the liner notes are more than just an affectation. Poetry works its way into the very fabric of the series, creating content that, at times, has a very poetic feel. Even when focusing on its action and plot development, these four episodes still give off a certain kind of vibe: that perhaps this series is more than a bit of a departure from your run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic adventure story.
A lot of that vibe simply comes down to above-average execution. The second battle with Blue Breaker packs punch and edge as we watch Honoka (at first) uncharacteristically lose her cool and get beat down for it, a reminder of how rage and emotion can cloud a person's judgment in a battle dependent more on skill than raw power. A later scene where Bogey must race across the path of a herd of sand dragons to get Honoka to safety proves as thrilling as any action sequence in recent memory, due in no small part to some excellent use of CG animation. Even the army ant business in episode 7, which seems like it should be just a standard “protect the vulnerable one” piece somehow works at least a little better than normal. In each case the scenes show that originality is less important than doing the job well.
Volume two also provides critical insight into the character and origins of Honoka. Volume one left off with the revelation that Honoka has an astral eye like The Third do, but hers is blue instead of the normal red. In episode five we learn the truth of the matter, which also partly explains her extraordinary abilities. In episode six a different truth gets revealed: who Iks really is and why The Third are after him, though exactly why he's here remains unrevealed. By episode eight most existing mysteries have been dealt with and key characters established well enough that the long-term direction of the series can start to take shape. The introduction of two crucial new plot elements mark that change of direction: the impending disaster involving the space-time distortion, and the introduction of apathetic gun-toting vixen Paife, who seems to have special powers of her own and, according to the Next Episode preview at the end of episode eight, is destined to play a major role as the series progresses. She also, of course, provides an increased sex appeal factor and convenient excuse for fan service; all such elements in this volume concern her, since Honoka never appears in her PSP skin suit. (The cover art is very misleading on that.)
By offering some stellar use of CG visuals, effects, and animation, the artistry through these four episodes earns a top-tier rating and falls just shy of being among the year's best efforts. The sand dragons in episode 8 particularly impress, as do the shots of desert vistas and a sharp scene involving a bald eagle, but nearly everything looks great. The visual effect of the third eye is disconcertingly weird, especially on Honoka, but it was probably meant to be that way and the character designs otherwise offer no problems, either. The animation mostly skips short cuts in the fight scenes, resulting in some remarkably fluid action pieces, and episode eight offers some tantalizing fan service.
The soundtrack continues to be a mixed bag, as every time it seems to settle down and establish its style it throws something completely incongruous in to shake things up. It hits full stride in its more poetic and reflective moments, but its throwback choices for the action scenes leave a bit to be desired by comparison. The wistful opener and more pop-rock closer remain.
How likable you find the dub comes down to how much you like Anna Marrow in the title role. Hers is the performance that offers the most variance from the original (which isn't saying much), but she does establish her own tone for Honoka that fits the attitudes of the character. Other roles fall nicely in step with the original performances in both casting and delivery, while the dub script remains quite tight. The only significant flaw is a conspicuously missing line of dialog in episode 8, which seems to be an increasingly common problem in dubs of late.
On-disc Extras this time around include only a handful of character bios, each with accompanying concept art and commentary by seiyuu Megumi Toyoguchi, as per the first volume. The stiff liner booklet offers poetic and non-poetic summaries of each episode, more character profiles, and other screen shots and character art. The packaging also includes a reversible cover with less misleading artwork. Each episode retains the original Japanese closing credits, with separate English credits following each episode.
The annoyingly unnecessary animation remains, but otherwise this volume delivers four quality episodes of sci fi adventure entertainment. Whether emotional, poetic, or action-oriented, it handles all its aspects well and offers the promise of bigger things to come in the plot department. If you weren't too sure about the series after the first volume, this one should sell you on its merits.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : B+
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : B+
+ Excellent use of CG, interesting new character.
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