Bandai // 2000 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // November 19th, 2003
The second disc in the Argento Soma series, Argento Soma: Getting Even (Volume 2) offers chills, thrills, and big robots pounding the crud out of one another. The disc is a marginal and minor improvement from the first Argento Soma DVD in audio and picture quality, but more importantly, it offers a progressive step in the right direction for the series as a whole. But, Argento Soma still has a long way to go.
Ryu is a man haunted by his past life. Having infiltrated the super-secret anti-alien government organization FUNERAL, in an attempt to destroy the monster he helped create; vengeance, he finds, is more complicated than he ever thought possible.
He finds a nemesis in Dan, another pilot with FUNERAL who feels threatened by his skills, and their confrontations wind them both up in the brig. His memories of his past life begin to resurface, and start to interfere with his objectives and duties.
As the alien robots landing on Earth become more and more aggressive, more and more progressive in their complexities, FUNERAL finds themselves utilizing the EX-1 (AKA "Frank") more and more to combat the aliens. However, as the FUNERAL team becomes more attached to Hattie, they soon begin to feel uncomfortable putting her in harm's way, as a weapon of war.
Suddenly, Ryu has his chance, his opportunity to destroy "Frank," destroy the monster that killed his girlfriend in his past life. Finger on the trigger, ready to kill, Ryu suddenly he finds the task more difficult than he could ever have envisioned...
Things are coming along in Argento Soma, and considering this is only the second volume of six, that is good news. There is some recycled content and animation on this disc, but nothing too terrible. All in all, this is a step in the right direction for the show, expanding the characters and the subtleties of the mysterious storyline. But, lots more needs to be done.
Argento Soma was a huge success in Japan, and while I remain convinced that there are good things ahead for this show, so far, it remains a reasonable but slightly mediocre anime series. It is a solid choice for people who love giant robot attacks and Neon Genesis Evangelion and the like, but so far, nothing worth getting too excited over.
Every episode, a new identical robot to fight; every episode, the same characters bicker; every episode, Hattie tries to run away -- Argento Soma, while improving, is running the dangerous risk of becoming stagnant.
One major problem is, Argento Soma has no storyline; at least, not yet. After ten episodes, there is no sense of purpose, no sense of collective dread, few major mysteries unresolved. The aliens come, FUNERAL blows them up; more show up, they get blown up, and repeat. Why? The alien's motives have been unexplained so far. It is hard to get involved unless you know what is going on.
However, while the show may not be expanding the details of the aliens, at least we are seeing some character background and development, which is a welcome thing indeed, because man, these characters are stiff with a capital "iff."
Ryu is becoming interesting as a tortured character driven by vengeance, true, but so far, he is an angry cardboard cutout of a man. There is no depth to his, or any of the characters in Argento Soma. His motivations are more interesting than his character as a whole. Though, slowly, he is starting to evolve as a character at war with himself, at war with his personalities, and I admit; I am interested to see how that develops.
From a technical standpoint, this disc feels like a slight improvement over the previous volume. The visual quality to have gotten a touch better, as the ugly graininess of the previous DVD seems to be in remission on Argento Soma: Getting Even (Volume 2). Every once in a while, you can catch a speck of dirt and dust and other imperfections, but compared to the last disc, the picture looks very nice.
This time, the English dubbed track sounds superior; the dialogue is more pronounced and the sound better balanced overall. The Japanese dialogue track feels muddled in the midranges. The subtitles do not always match up with the English dialogue, but this is excusable.
Once again, Bandai skimps terribly on the extra content, offering redundant textless openings and tech files. It is virtually identical to the content on the last disc, which is inexcusable.
Giving the EX-1 a faceplate and neck bolt? Come on. For the one person who couldn't make the Frankenstein connection, they are now officially clued in. The other million or so of us are insulted. Terrible.
More of the same from Argento Soma on this second DVD offering. While the action is better this time around, and the intrigue starts to develop quite nicely, the increase in character development has yet to hide the nasty one-dimensional natures of the characters.
Still, Argento Soma: Getting Even (Volume 2) is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Worth a rent for those casually interested.
Getting better. We'll have to see where this ends up on future releases, but as it stands now, Argento Soma remains a solid choice for getting your "giant robot" anime fix.
The court awaits the arrival of Argento Soma: No Tears (Volume 3) with interest, because things seem to be getting good.
Review content copyright © 2003 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Textless Opening
* Argento Soma Tech Files
* Reversible Cover
* Official Site