with volume 2 of Speed Grapher, this review
assumes that you've seen the previous episodes, but I'll
try to keep major spoilers to a minimum for newcomers. If
you are new to the series then I'd seriously recommend you
read up on Volume
1 and Volume
2 before proceeding here, as what follows won't
make a lot of sense without that background.
OK. Intriguing and involving though the episodes in volume
2 were, the signs were that the episode structure was in
danger of falling into a formula. The first thing volume
3 does right is dispell any such suspicions, the first of
a few surprises delivered by the latest four episodes.
hasn't changed initially is that Saiga and Kagura are still
being pursued by Tsujido, her Euphoria-enhanced sense of
smell and her two hapless goons. But she's not the only
one now – Suitengu has decided to stop sitting on the sidelines
and get personally involved, while rogue cop Ginza has her
own reasons for wanting to get her hands on the pair. Events
take an interesting turn when Kagura expresses a desire
to find out about her father, providing Saiga with a clue
that opens a story strand to her mother's past. The icy
nastiness that defines the unholy couple of Suitengu and
Shinsen actually melts a little when the former makes his
feelings for the latter known and even proposes marriage.
It doesn't last, of course, but series regulars might still
be caught out by the dramatic turn events take.
are a busy four episodes in character as well as narrative
terms, from Shinsen's back story and the old woman she keeps
captive in her tower, to the revelation of the nature of
Suitengu's Euphoria. Worry not, it's a goodie. Particularly
pleasing for this viewer is the expansion of Ginza's role,
her lust for Saiga having developed into something more
controlling. "I understand him more than anyone!"
she yells at a lawyer she has attempted to trade with as she
furiously rains bullets around him, "He's my very
life!" And in one of the series' more perversely fruity
sequences, she's not going to let a simple thing like
her unwilling lover's unconsciousness stop her from sexually
ravaging him. Whether Saiga would get off on this if he were
awake is another matter – as Tsujido handily informs us,
"Euphorians can't achieve orgasm through regular sex."
Just how they do will presumably be answered in future episodes.
all good stuff with enough incident and story twists to
keep future events uncertain, although Kagura is starting
to bounce between freedom and captivity in a manner reminiscent
of Jack Bauer's daughter in the first series of 24.
It ends on just the right note, a dramatic conclusion to
one story moving us to the starting gate of another. If
you've been following the series then you'll have no complaints
with volume 3.
9-12 are included here, which official listings and the
English language version have as Into the Bath,
Suitengu Cometh, Mother Critical and Left
Hand Lullaby. The subtitles on the Japanese version
have them as At the Bath, Suitengu Comes,
Mother I'll Return at Once, and the rather poetic
Rest, Embraced by the Left Hand.
no change in the specs from the previous volumes, with a
decent anamorphic 16:9 NTSC to PAL transfer that has good
contrast and detail and a slight judder in fast camera moves.
As before the haziness of some shots is a stylistic choice.
It plays well enough when you're watching, and that's all
again the English language 5.1 has a lot more wallop than
the Japanese stereo 2.0 track. The voice work on the American
dub is pretty good and the language is toughened up – Ginza
gets to say "fuck" – but I'm too much of a purist
and still prefer the Japanese original.
Cast Auditions (7:44)
Christopher Bevins, voice director and line producer for
the US version, introduces another brief but interesting
set of audition recordings, with Pam Dougherty reading for
Shinsen, Julie Mayfield for the same and for the old women
Gotokuji, and John Burgmeier for Dr. Odowara. There's an
amusing moment when Bevins remembers he's dealing with an
adult anime: "I can say batshit can't I. This is Speed
also a rolling Art Gallery (1:06)
of stills from the series set to music, which is no big
shakes, the usual Textless Opening
(1:33) and Textless Closing (1:32),
and Trailers for Ergo
Proxy (1:40) and Elemental Gelade
fine third volume for a consistently involving and inventive
anime series that throws a welcome spanner in any suspicions
that the show was settling into a formula. A lively quartet
of episodes that deliver on the first volume's promise and
certainly have me eager for volume 4.