Episode 2: Reunion in the Andes (Encuentro)
Copyright: © 1998 Genco-Radix/Kadokawa Shoten/TV Tokyo, © 2000 Pioneer LDC
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR/13 UP, Café rated for Mature Audiences
Format: DVD / VHS, Original Japanese Dialog / Subtitled / English Dub
17-year old Miura Kyoji is haunted by the events of the past day. His most respect instructor and mentor, Masunari Tate seriously injures a fellow competitor during a kendo match, and as per Japanese custom, must not only withdraw from the competition, but also resign his position as kendo instructor. To make matters worse, the school has decided to abolish the kendo club, and demolish the school dojo. And as if to rub salt in an open wound, Shiogami Shinri -- a less-than-honourable kendo-ka -- has taken to train in Tate's personal dojo. But that's not all -- Tate has disappeared, and no one seems to know where he is.
Tate's fiancée, Kiritaki Yuka might have a clue -- Tate left behind a sketchbook, containing pictures of Inca peoples and related scenery. Yuka is now determined to hunt for her boyfriend in Peru -- and Kyoji is determined to accompany her. But Peru is a large country, and neither has any idea where to start -- except for the mysterious sketchbook that Tate had left behind...
A series of unlikely coincidences continues to plague this series. After all, Peru is a big country (as pointed out in this episode), and the the likelyhood of finding a single person wandering one of the many ruins in the area is remote, indeed. Geographical references abound, including the great former city Machu Pichu near Cuzco, a city abandoned before the Spanish arrived. This great ruin stands high above sea level, making any sort of physical activity difficult for many people. Still, Kyoji and Yuka do manage to find Tate, and the future fate of student and instructor are revealed.
Animation continues to be one of the more interesting points in the series -- extensive use of computer-generated imagery was incorporated into the recreation of the Temple of the Sun, though the 3D surface rendering was somewhat remenicent of a well-realised texture map from any number of Doom-style cavern games. Don't expect anything in the order of Re-Boot, this is stuff you might even be able to do on your own home computer. This is one case where CG may have been faster, and perhaps even more dramatic, but the results were less than stellar. Sometimes, good old-fashioned cel animation is something to be considered.
Still, the episode does move along fairly briskly, despite the weak scripting. Some of the characterisations are necessarily simplified at this stage -- we're only into the second episode, after all.
Pioneer's rating of "13-Up" has me a little concerned, to the point where we've overriden their '13-up' rating. The English dub contains more than enough cursing to give rate this as "mature"; perhaps the English scripting could have been better considered.
I want to like this series -- there are some interesting possibilities for character development and interaction. But I just can't get past the ridiculous situations created by the scriptwriters. Plot elements are tossed into seemingly arbitrary points during the story, making this not so much hard to follow, but hard to swallow. Hopefully, things will improve once we get past this exposition phase.
- AN, 2000.02.13
café rating (english dub):
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