L/R - Licensed by Royalty Mission File 02: Targets Review
The wonderful interplay between the leads continues from the off in this volume as the two further compound the metaphorical implication they are two sides of the same coin. Rowe, crashed out on a park fountain suffering the woes of his night on the town lives up to his rough image and by mistakenly drinking a fish makes friends with a young girl who is intrigued by the oafish figure spoiling the picturesque locale. Jack on the other hand is always the gentlemen and immediately gains Leila's trust when she and Rowe turn up on the Cloud 7 office doorstep. Exuding the only sentiment an elder should to the young and impressionable when they are distraught following the trauma a fish they are caring for has suffered, he offers a confident and helping hand in guaranteeing its safety.
Leila conveniently turns out to be the daughter of a professional hit man the duo are enlisted to monitor, ensuring he does not successfully complete his next assignment. Bringing the moral implications of using their new found friend against her own father to aid their task adds to the already well defined characterisation of Jack and Rowe. Despite an idealistic finish that seems woefully inaccurate when placed next to modern day spy serials, L/R shines through and reminds us this is not primarily about realism, and that some fantasy is perfectly valid in the world we all inhabit.
Featuring some simple action sequences employing the standard animation cheat of showing the aftermath rather than the battle you never actually feel cheated here because it ties in to the characters smoother than smooth persona. Bolstered along by some great music that is incorporated beautifully into the animation the sixties pop sounds hit the rhythm set by the onscreen action and convince you the production was done in reverse with music chosen first.
The last two episodes on this volume see the introduction of DTI, an important conglomerate to the Ishtar state which Jack and Rowe have been tasked with protecting following a threat from the terrorist group known only as "Angel". A figure from Jack's past heightens the tension and strains the relationship between him and Rowe, if only for a second but enough that when combined with the hard truths that follow left me quite shaken at the direction in which the series has taken. Not only has a clear overall story arc begun to develop (something I had doubts would happen at all in this half-length series) but the possible outcome of certain characters and their true motives now have a distinct possibility of causing quite an upset.
Episode 05: Tear Drop
Charged with the capture of a professional hit man so accurate with the sniper rifle it is said a bullet to your forehead results in tears, L/R find themselves conflicted as they indirectly befriend the snipers daughter and not only use her to locate their target but face the possibility of splitting the doting father from his loving daughter for a lifetime.
Episode 06: Lost Recognition
Introducing the DTI conglomerate of the Ishtar state Jack and Rowe are unimpressed by their assignment to protect the corporation from a terrorist known as "Angel". The mission has no direct threat to the Royal family they serve but in terms of cash flow and political ramifications the royal guards have been deemed worthy of this task. The introduction of a face from Jack's past ups the stakes and leads to further questions regarding the identity of "Angel".
Episode 07: Ivory
With the political agenda of the Ishtar state touched upon in the previous episode we are further reminded of the 15 Year Princess search and one of the former candidates, the endearing Noelle and her attempts to restore the clock tower on her home town of Ivory island. Following leads on "Angel" Jack and Rowe head to Ivory and take the opportunity to visit in on their friend, but wherever they go danger follows and Noelle's life is threatened following the revelation she may very well be the rightful heir to the throne of Ishtar.
Volume two of a planned four this effort from Geneon Entertainment features some fairly lacklustre cover art but makes up for it with a folded insert which opens up to an A5 poster showcasing far more attractive concept imagery.
Presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen L/R continues to look good on DVD gaining immediate brownie points for the widescreen presentation, pristine condition of the source utilised and near perfect reproduction of the coloured hues and soft focus light sources featured throughout. Where it trips up slightly is compression, as the textured look of the proceedings eschews the more common solid colour approach (which also has its compression drawbacks) and results in the occasional sign of instability in the backgrounds with some mosquito noise present.
Both the original Japanese language track and English dub track are presented here in crisp Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo offerings that do exactly what you expect of them. My language of choice is the original Japanese track that combined with the high quality optional English subtitles gives the best overall experience for my money, but having sampled the English dub I am pleased to say it continues to offer a valid alternative thanks to the use of appropriate British voice-actors (or at least those who can put on a convincing British accent).
A 13 screen art gallery with concept imagery, English and Japanese trailers for the series (which strangely are both in English, just with different voice-over artists) and a Geneon Previews reel running at 14 minutes in length.
Having warmed to the shows unique style early on in Volume One I would have been content with more of the same here, and save for sacrificing a little of the comedy in this volume my expectations have been exceeded thanks to three episodes that deliver in almost every area with particular attention going to the most important, character and story development.