Oban Star Racers Vol 1 the Always Cyc - (Region 1 Import DVD)
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Jason, Bellville. 18 February 2010
Oban Star-Racers, a French/Japanese colaboration, is set in a distant future and tells the tale of Molly, who through circumstances both within and outside her control becomes a part of a racing team competing in an intergalactic tournament. That’s as much as I can say for fear of ruining any plot details, but suffice it to say there’s much more to the tournament.
The story runs very strongly through all the episodes with a sense of purpose and strong continuity like I have not seen in Western animation for too long. It is a true change from other modern shows that offer a more vignette approach to storytelling and as a result have an overall vision that stretches no further than the end of the current episode. Here with Oban there’s always a big picture, an ultimate goal, an ultimate resolution worth striving for. It recalls a time when TV animation simply tried harder. There are multiple plotlines running concurrently without any clutter; it’s as if the writers have embraced the fact that even those who watch animation would appreciate more depth in the storytelling process.
Technically speaking, the show is also a masterwork, boasting as it does some of the most fluid animation I’ve seen that was meant for television viewing. And that’s not even mentioning the way the CG has been integrated with the 2D animation. The numerous racing scenes benefit immensely from this in that the CG and 3D camera movements afford to them high levels of dynamics, and also a degree of unpredictability that emphasises the tense racing action as competitors frequently jostle for position.
Which leads me to the sound. Simply put: wow. Dolby Digital is a rare enough creature in the world of feature animated releases, never mind TV animation. Just the fact that Oban has been released in 5.1 Dolby Digital would have been grounds for celebration (It would mean that someone is actually taking the release seriously.). But here’s the shocking part: the 5.1 mix is a decent one. Very ambient for the quieter scenes, very dynamic for the racing scenes. A perfect foil, in fact, for the aforementioned vivid graphics of the races. I’d imagine that sitting through a race scene would be the same as sitting right in the middle of a fireworks display with its overwhelming sense of beauty. Minus the third degree burns.
Creator Savin Yeatman-Eiffel did have some lofty ambitions in wanting to create this title. He succeeded. The net result is a title that I am only too glad to add to my dvd collection, and one that I would not hesitate to list among the all-time greats.
Region 1 - United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. territories.