The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye: Encounter
The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye, originally written as a series of novels by Ryo Hoshino, was produced by Xebec (also known for producing Busou Renkin and Fafner). Taking place after a devastating war that annihilated most of the human population, it paints a picture of a desert world where the remnants of the human race are ruled by a race known as “The Third”, who have absolute control over the technology necessary to survive the harsh environment. Honoka, our main character, is a jack-of-all-trades and a master swordswoman known as the “Sword Dancer”. The show follows her as she takes on miscellaneous jobs and eventually meets a strange young man, Iks, whom The Third seems to have a very deep interest in…
The Third has a lot of things going for it. The animation is crisp, the character designs are appealing, and the music is absolutely beautiful. While watching the four episodes included in this volume, the opening was enjoyable enough to sit through each time.
Honoka as a main character is appealing enough; strong and energetic, we’re quickly plunged into her world and quickly informed of little we really know of her beyond her cheerful exterior. Each episode introduces more of her contacts, such as the mechanic Zankan and his daughter Millie, and dropping hints at some kind of somber past. Her chemistry with the rest of the cast is also fairly enjoyable to watch; her partner, the AI unit Bogie, never misses an opportunity to engage her in banter, and the show does a good job of illustrating her warm affection for the rest of her friends.
The art direction in the show really is impressive and incredibly atmospheric. The desert is vividly painted for us, haunting and strangely nostalgic–meanwhile, there is a tangible warmth and life to the towns, bustling with activity as Honoka goes about her business. Not enough can be said about the quality of the background music, lending everything towards an epic feel, particularly when Honoka throws herself into battle. Said battle scenes are also well framed and animated, full of energy.
With all of those technical and artistic strengths, however, the major weakness in the show lies in the script and dialogue. The characters in themselves are passably endearing; it’s just unfortunate that we get to know them through familiar cliché devices that are wielded with about as much grace as a sledgehammer. The exposition is consistently awkward, with the characters spelling out concepts to each other for the obvious benefit of the audience. Additionally, the narration that occasionally jumps in is more grating than anything as it feels the need to spell out exactly what Honoka is feeling, removing the need for the show to actually put effort towards actually demonstrating it.
Nonetheless, The Third maintains a good pace–there aren’t any stretches that jump out as either dragging or rushing, though in retrospect some events did seem strangely repetitive (the second episode mainly revolves around Honoka reuniting with Zankan to pick up an important piece of equipment, only to be informed that it’s not yet ready and she’ll have to return in episode four to collect it once again.) In terms of pure story, it’s apparent that the course has been plotted and there are many things left for us to learn about the histories of these characters and what ties them together. The last episode of the volume really kicks things off, raising the stakes and making the meaning of the title clear at last, and it will be interesting to see the direction taken from there.
The English version is a decent enough performance; voices range from excellent to passable. It’s entirely possible to enjoy the episodes in either language, though my preference slid towards the Japanese track, mostly by virtue of Honoka’s voice.
The DVD comes packed with extras, which include a decent-sized character art gallery, a nice set of character bios that include commentary by Megumi Togoyochi, two half-hour long interviews with the voices of Honoka and Iks, a couple of music videos, and the usual round of trailers. No complaints with the audio or visual quality; the show is unquestionably beautiful to look at and listen to.
The best word I can come up with to sum up the DVD would be “solid”. It’s certainly entertaining, with smooth action sequences, strong visuals, likable enough characters, and what looks to be a potentially interesting plotline–but still waiting for the final click to push it forward into real excellence. For now, it’s a passable beginning, and I look forward to seeing how it pans out–from both a storyline perspective and a quality perspective.
Overall Score: 8.0