Reviewby Allen Divers, Mar 18th 2003
Vandread Second Stage
DVD 4: Final Assault
Men and women, long separated by the planets Tarak and Mejale finally managed to find a bit of common ground thanks to a shared adventure on the Nirvana. After finally reaching their home system, the crew encounters betrayal from their own ranks and a cold reception from the home worlds they left behind. Ignoring the warnings of the eminent Harvest, the governments of Tarak and Mejale separate the crew of the Nirvana, and imprison them. Now it's up to the men and women of the Nirvana to escape their prisons and once again join forces to stop the Harvest!
Vandread: The Second Stage – Final Assault brings the series to a strong ending pulling no punches as the action builds up to a final satisfying conclusion. Starting from a rather derivative plot line, Vandread managed to take quite a few overused genres and mix them into a unique story that took viewers on a wild trip. The mix of romantic comedy, sci-fi adventure, big robots and a healthy helping of drama creates an action-packed series that throttles through its exciting conclusion. Final Assault, featuring the last three episodes of the Second Stage brings the series full circle and leaves no doubts as to the conclusion of this story.
Staying true to form, Pioneer maintains the same level of quality for the last DVD in the series. While not anamorphic, the DVD is presented in widescreen format, retaining the original aspect of the series. The extras feature the standard array of textless openings, with each different opening for each episode intact as well as two cover galleries featuring characters and mecha. There is also the textless ending rounding out the extras.
The animation for Vandread remains solid through these last three episodes. Featuring some of the most elaborate action sequences of the series, each episode remains high in quality with strong, consistent animation. The action sequences, the space battles in particular, are top-notch - especially considering the fluid mix of CGI and traditional animation. The battles are of an epic-scale, with a constant flow of enemy and ally ships alike filling the screen with movement and color. Impressive for television animation, the CGI rivals that of many big blockbuster movies, definitely going that extra mile to make Vandread one of the finest examples of CGI usage.
Fitting well with the animation and action, the soundtrack remains consistent with the previous releases. Both casts have settled into their roles, with strong performances in both the Japanese and English soundtracks. A large number of new side characters presents the only real negative; as many of their voices sound re-used. The music and sound effects both do a good job of pushing the drama and help build emotion for all of the climatic moments featured in the three episodes.
Starting with some rather clichéd genres, Vandread has managed to build a unique story over the last twenty-six episodes. Marking the series is a set of revelations and some risk-taking that build solid drama into the story. The first major push comes at the end of the first series, when the identity of the strange aliens is finally revealed. The Second Stage begins with yet another major revelation into the identity of the aliens, and leads into a period of strong growth for many of the major characters. The series even pushes the envelope by killing one of the major supporting cast members, pushing the character development even farther. With such a frantic pace building from the last volume, it's actually a major surprise that volume four not only keeps up with that set pace, but manages to tie up all the loose ends created over the entire series.
While the outcome of the final battle was never in doubt, how the characters reach that point shows an impressive amount of character development. There are actually quite a few things that viewers can find themselves relating to as the characters sermonize about got to where they are at the end of the series. It does get a bit wordy, but the action from the battle scenes more than make up for some of the preaching. In the end, it's the growth of all the major players that make Vandread a solid drama and well worth the build-up to the final battle.
Final Assault continues on the frantic pace set forth by the previous volume. Leaving no stone unturned, the final answers to all the questions are disclosed, and in dramatic fashion, Vandread reaches its conclusion. The final episodes of this series are filled with exciting battle sequences, a strong moral and much of the same charm and wit that makes Vandread a fine mix of so many different genres. While there is room for future adventures, this chapter in the lives of the crew of the Nirvana comes to a satisfying conclusion that should make even the hard-hearted amongst the viewers happy for the journey.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Pacing stays feverish running to a satisfying conclusion
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