Rune Solider - Volume 6: Louie Punch Review
Trouble looms once more and for the final time as we welcome Louie, Merrill, Melissa and Genie. Their adventures continue, friendship is put to the test and jobs must be done. All of this is a typical day in the life, but their greatest adventure to date is just around the corner. The kingdom of Ohfun is about to come under threat from invading partisans. Martial Law is declared upon the kingdom and everyone is back for the final challenge that will determine whether or not the land of Ramliearth can be saved from the evil Lord Dardanel.
It’s time to get serious folks, or in Rune Soldier‘s case about 50%. Yes the land is in turmoil, yes there are conspiracies abound and a sense of dread, but where there is danger there’s Louie. For the final volume in the series things become epic.
Our first episode sees Merrill put out of work, due to a viral infection. Because she holds down so many jobs it is up to her friends to try and help her out. Melissa takes it upon herself to help with several tasks, each of which is as foreign to her as the next. Although this is very much a comical episode it is more about self discovery and friendship. Melissa has always been in a more fortunate position than most; she’s always had others to rely on and as a result she is unfamiliar with what she considers to be menial tasks. As she progresses she learns more about herself and finds that she can in fact enjoy being a working woman, and a lot of this is thanks to Louie. It’s during the closing moments that Melissa realises that Louie is her hero. It took her a while to accept the fact but it finally dawns on her.
Then begins the three-part conclusion. The series has only experienced a two-parter in the past, with a few fleeting moments that suggested bigger things were to come later on. Curiously the events that set up what we see here were opened up in volume four, and this left volume five to deliver a tonne of superb gags. Obviously there was a little padding out and this series could have quite easily been wrapped up in five volumes. Realistically it could have been done over the course of thirteen episodes, but clearly the writers wanted to have their fun. Rune Soldier could easily divide opinions then. It has a history, this is touched upon in the final volume and it has many characters who are glossed over and provide a kind of clichéd touch. I speak mainly for the villains of the series. Our heroes have developed over time but it’s the very things that they fight against that have been given lesser exposure. There have been some twists and turns but nothing substantial enough to have us concern ourselves over. The threats that have posed themselves have never been terrifying; there’s always been a sense that our heroes will prevail. All this time Rune Soldier has simply satisfied and provided plenty of hilarity. Now is the time for it to go out on a high note, or close enough to one.
Now that Ohfun is under attack every character that has been introduced in the past resurfaces. When the series started we saw enough of the Magician’s Guild; with the likes of Master Foltess, to whom Louie is apprentice under, but we never really learned much about him. He made a couple more appearances until now, as did several other players. Now that we come to the end his purpose is all too clear, without him being shoved into the limelight. Melissa’s juniors make an appearance, but nothing that will strain the storyline; their purpose is barely touched upon. Conrad once again returns to mix emotions, proving to Melissa that he isn’t all that bad, and Celecia turns up for just a brief moment to aid Louie. Each character proves to be of some importance in the great fight and it feels like the writers are giving them good enough send offs, even if some appearances are more brief than others. We also get to learn about King Rijarl and the history of Ohfun, but perhaps the most interesting figures this time around are Lily and Renard, who have aided Isabel on her adventures. To save spoiling anything though I won’t go into any details here.
So does the series reach a satisfactory conclusion? For the most part it does. When all is said and done and evil is vanquished the series manages to tie itself up nicely enough. One of the main points of focus has been Melissa’s ongoing concerns over Louie. All of that is taken care of early on and as the final episodes roll on she becomes more aware of how much he means to her. It doesn’t go any further than this; there’s no real romantic finish, in fact it’s more suggestive than ever. In addition we have Ila who we’ve always suspected as being in love with Louie but she never actually says anything. Things finish with her feelings being clear enough but as usual unspoken. In many ways Rune Soldier could do with a sequel, and perhaps that was intended as there are several things that need picking up. The series can only have itself to blame in the end; it had plenty of chances to delve deeper into its characters, but preferred to take a wackier approach. It’s hard not to imagine that the writers had some big master plan and were taking things steady, but as we know anime sequels are rare things these days. If they happen it’s great but all too often they don’t. It was crucial then that Rune Solider should try to make amends but it was too late. Maybe later on we’ll see something surface, an OAV would be perfect to wrap up the story but as things go it still aint too bad. The series has been fun from start to finish. The intent to entertain has been successful and yes I only hope for more but it looks like I’ll have to settle for just this. As I said from the beginning though, it’s one of the best breather series in a long time. Forget any convolutions etc, just take a break and watch the odd episode here and there. You’ll get your money’s worth, scold me if you don’t.
Episode 21 - Melissa the Working Girl
Merrill’s little run of bad luck continues, when she’s struck down by a fever. Being the little trooper that she is, work is the most important thing and she struggles to get up and make her way to work. Melissa volunteers to help out Merrill with her “job”, but she gets more than she bargained for when it isn’t just one but practically a dozen. Being inexperienced, Melissa fails at just about everyone one, getting fired left, right and centre until she comes to the last job. Will she fail this time or will she learn that with a little help from her friends she can do wonders?
Episode 22 - The Rebel Army Appears
King Rijarl gathers an army, along with Chariman Carwes and High Priestess Jenny, leaving the capital of Ohfun as an invading army from the western border approaches. Meanwhile back at the Magicians Guild, Louie has been helping Master Foltess to translate some paperwork. Unbeknownst to him at the time these translations lead to a sinister plan and soon Louie learns of a plot that involves a couple of unlikely figures.
Episode 23 - The Rule-Breaking Woman
Louie manages to escape from his captors, immediately heading off to the woods during a frantic chase. Back at the city, Merrill, Melissa and Genie frustratingly sit put after Lord Dardanel declares martial law. With no word from Louie they grow suspicious and take it upon themselves to flee the city and find him - but now they have every guard in the city on high alert.
Episode 24 - Louie Punch!
After discovering that Louie is at the castle of Ohfun Merrill, Melissa and Genie make their way there and break through its defence. Soon help is at hand when Isabel and Jakinson turn up to fight the good fight. As Louie’s friends fight for their country, Louie tries to get himself out of a tight spot when he uncovers Dardanel’s ultimate plan, gearing himself up to give him a good punch in the face. Now the race is on; can Louie and his good friends band together and restore peace and justice to the kingdom of Ohfun?
For the final time ADV brings us another nice presentation. Rune Soldier once again comes in a clear amaray case with a reversible sleeve. The front cover features some nice artwork, unfortunately with the title obscuring Ila’s face, while the reverse features another cute, super-deformed image. Included is a small booklet with character designs and episode guides.
Things don’t change for the last volume. The transfer is presented in fine 4:3 and has very little going against it. Detail is good, colour levels are spot on, with nice contrast and brightness levels. Banding is no issue and the disc is free from any authoring defects such as compression and grain. It ends looking as nice as when it began.
For audio we get Japanese and English 2.0 tracks. You won’t find a lot to separate either, bar the actual dubs. Dialogue is perfectly clear and sound effects are used to quite a degree during this volume. As the final episodes roll on the music takes precedence, and this is handled extremely well amidst all the sword clanging and Louie punching.
The optional English subtitles do their job once more, providing a clear and understandable read, with no noticeable errors.
You know the drill by now. Here are the opening and ending sequences that accompany every episode. Needless padding? Yup.
Here you’ll find trailers for Aquarian Age, Chrono Crusade, Sakura Diaries, Get Backers and Gad Guard
So we say goodbye to Louie, Merrill, Melissa and Genie. It’s been fun tagging along with them and enjoying their many adventures; the series has delivered more than enough laughs and excitement to make up for anything it briefly explored. Things end on a satisfying note but it would completely understandable for the viewer to want more, so who knows. Maybe J.C. Staff will revisit the series one day and if not, well never mind. Rune Solider isn’t one of the most talked about series of late but perhaps fans of comedy and adventure should take the plunge to discover what it’s all about, and why not with another strong release from ADV?