Judge Mac McEntire is glad this anime series has no random weirdness, except for the gigantic rampaging robot gumball.
"What I lack in experience, I make up for in confidence!"
Picking up where the previous volumes left off, headband-wearing space explorer Claude C. Kenni is stranded on the planet Expel, a world of magic spells, giant monsters and sword-swinging heroes. The locals believe Claude has arrived to fulfill a prophecy, and that he's the one who will rid them of the Prophecy Globe, a powerful object plaguing the land with evil. Claude agrees to do this, but only because he hopes the Globe's powers can provide him with a way home. Claude's allies on his quest are Rena, an elf-like girl, Celine, a powerful sorceress with a fear of bugs, and Asthon, a bumbling klutz with a two-headed dragon permanently fused to his back.
In these four episodes, our heroes complete their voyage across the ocean and find themselves on a new continent, where they instantly run into Precis, the newest member of their party. She's an endlessly perky young inventor who can build all sorts of wild contraptions at the drop of a hat. The search for the Sorcery Globe takes a back seat so Claude and company can join Precis on a search for a rare flower, enter a sword fighting contest, and save the city from a giant rampaging robotic gumball. That's right—I said "gigantic rampaging robot gumball."
The comedic aspects of the series dominate this volume, with barely a monster in sight. The one action scene here is fairly well set up, with the enemy possessing Rena and Celine, forcing them to fight against the others. The rest of the time, though, we're in sitcom territory, with a possibly uncomfortable love triangle between Claude, Precis, and Ashton. (How old is Precis supposed to be?) Then, in a moment of Jar Jar Binks-ish craziness, Precis and Claude take a ride on the aforementioned giant robot gumball.
As you've probably guessed, the new girl on the block dominates these episodes. How much you enjoy Precis and her screwball antics depends on your personal tolerance for cuteness. Although the series gets a little too silly for its own good here, this volume concludes with a turn back to the fantasy heroics that have been its highlight to date. The sword fighting contest plot begins strongly, with a mystery of a stolen sword, the seeds of which were planted back in the first episode.
Like before, the animators cut several corners while telling the story, namely by freezing all the action on screen at key moments, or by repeating shots twice or more. During the fight scene, the image of Rena throwing Claude through the air is so obviously repeated that it makes the creators look lazy. Also, footage from the first episode is recycled at length at the start of one episode as a recap. It's not fully a "clip show," but it's the same budget-saving mentality.
The DVD's picture quality is clean, with no evident flaws. The audio is even better—although there are a lack of monster battles, Precis's adorable and/or annoying screeches will easily fill your living room. The only extras are four more pointless character bios, and trailers for three other Geneon releases.
Battle lines were drawn years ago in fans' "sub vs. dub" conflict, and I have no intention of trying to sway anyone to one side or the other. But viewers should know that the English dub and the subtitles show remarkable differences. The basics of the plot are preserved, but there are endless little details that divide the two. Take, for example, this exchange between Celine and the local doctor:
Now thematically, they might be saying the same thing. But in detail, it's two totally different conversations. Geneon should be applauded, then, for including both versions on the disc, and letting each viewer decide for him/herself how to watch.
Volume 3 is a somewhat uneventful chapter in the ongoing Star Ocean saga, but the lighter tone isn't as annoying as it could be, and there's enough of the series' strengths on display to keep viewers coming back for more. If you're a lover of fantasy adventure fluff, give it a rental.
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