Spiral: What Are The Blade Children (Disc One)
The first of many surprises with the Spiral series come as early as the title menu. The typical “play all”, “chapter select”, “extras”, and other general options are completely absent. Instead, you are confronted with the options “progression”, “ratios”, “skew”, and “exponents.” This is a good indicator that you are in for an interesting time. The series itself is no less surprising, no less original, and, most definitely, no less weird. I had to think about it for a minute before I even chose, but I wanted to see the episodes, so with a wary click I selected progression. It was apparently the right choice, as I was met with the first episode, Spiral of Destiny.
This is the story of a young man, forced by his own undeniable talents to follow in the footsteps of his older brother. Kiyotaka, his sibling, left to pursue the mystery of the Blade Children. Now, little Ayumu is forced ever further into the shadow of his brother, as he takes up the search himself, trying to solve the mystery, if only to be reunited with his brother.
The first disc of the series, ‘What are the Blade Children’ is dedicated mostly to character development, a task which it is more than suited for. There is such a variety of characters in the story, ranging from brooding teens to jaded detectives, that it is a feat in itself just to keep each character on his or her own particular track. They did this masterfully, however, as each character was distinctly its own throughout. The character interaction was another fascinating aspect of this story. With the introduction of the antagonists, the major players were able to feed off of each other to progress themselves, and each other. Even Kiyotaka, who was not present, was well developed. Although much is left to the imagination, his overall character is made plain simply through the interactions of related characters.
The art aspect of the DVD is slightly less appealing than the character development. The animation is fairly standard quality. I am admittedly becoming harder to please as I watch more and more variety. The typical gimmicks were present. When the characters get angry, the drawings become primitive and exaggerated. I could live without this, but have come to expect it. In all, the animation and art of the series, though not lacking, didn’t contribute too much to the experience.
I really enjoyed the sounds of the DVD. The voices matched very well with the characters. Whether it was the voice, or the acting, the feel of each character was embodied in the dialogue, which is pretty rare. The music was an incredible addition to the series. Rather than the all-too-often overpowering ‘background music’ that tends to overwhelm the dialogue, the sounds of Spiral all enhance the mood, and when there is dialogue, it accents the meaning of the conversation. All around the sounds greatly contribute to the mood of the show.
Well starting from the title screen, with the peculiar names for the options, it really does set the stage for a ‘think about it’ kind of show. You actually have to think about what the options mean. They’re all very logical once you force yourself to consider them, and I think that’s a beautiful way to introduce the show. The Extras were standard fare, Images, Textless Songs, typical stuff. Nothing was lacking, but there was nothing extraordinary. The sound work was done exceptionally well which grants a lot to the show, but the art and animation was fairly typical.
Not a lot of action through the series, but I still really had a good time watching it. This is strange. I like action. They must have done something right here. Although sometimes the dialogue got a little bit cheesy, cliché, and so on, it did provide a little bit of comedy in an otherwise fairly brooding and angsty series. I wouldn’t say it’s dark, but it’s not exactly cheerful. However you want to classify it though, it is undoubtedly entertaining.
The story was fascinating, the characters were well defined and original, even the title menu was unique. There was a bit of cliché angst though, which sort of detracted from the otherwise serious nature of the story, although providing some comedy for those who find that sort of thing amusing. Finally, the mystery of the Blade Children: it’s enthralling. I want to know more. I am already looking for the next disc.
Episodes: spiral of destiny, manor of death, cursed children, the happiness of those who believe, misty gallows
Extras: 5.1 English Surround Sound, English and Japanese Languages, History of Magic Squares, Character Profiles, Textless Songs, Image Gallery