King of Bandit Jing: Volume Three Review
Another day, another town and another treasure for our favourite bandit to pursue. This time Jing is on the hunt for a series of planetary stones and takes on a mini adventure along the way by transporting a pair of Por Vora across the treacherous terrain to a mining territory. These irresistible little creatures are sadly being used for their explosive properties, literally being substituted for dynamite by a cruel businessman. Their volatile nature make the transport a hazardous journey, while a sexy female bandit who was beaten to the punch by Jing is determined to make his mission all the more difficult. Izarra turns out to be on a trail of tears through this godforsaken land, seeking out the man who betrayed her father, taking his life before her very eyes at such a tender age. The duelling bandits’ adventures both lead to the same man, a little convenient maybe but it gives Jing the opportunity to teach the young lady there are many different kinds of tears out there, and not all have to come through sorrow.
Okay so my description of this volume’s opening episode may be a little grandiose, but once again King of Bandit Jing begins with a cracking episode that impresses in all departments. The series continues with the common theme of an honourable bandit who achieves his goals through non-violent means and a positive outlook on life. Jing is this character, and though lacking in background story and personal goals he continues to be developed as a gentlemen thief who plays on his renowned title and deceptively young appearance to achieve his missions while helping those around him, and is one of such consistency that you'd be hard pushed not to enjoy his adventures.
The final two episodes on this disc up the comedy and visual styling several notches, with the first set in the musical town of Coco Oco where Jing's aimless wandering bemuses Kir who flies off to find the nearest beach filled with bikini clad babes. Instead he discovers a clumsy spectacled girl who doesn't particularly catch his fancy, but her warm hearted nature soon endears him to the hidden beauty she carries within, while the comical nature of her bumbling movement and Kir's ongoing tiff with Jing bring much laughter to the audience. Most impressive however are the subtle touches seen throughout the episodes audio and visual design, with the musical town quite literally coming alive with the sound of instruments (a xylophone railway track for example) and the artistry on display separating this episode from others with its overwhelming use of colours and lush detailed backgrounds. Bringing the episode to a close is a slightly predictable sequence of events as Kir helps to play matchmaker to his new found friend, but the resonance the surrounding events bring to the relationship Jing and Kir shares is not to be forgotten and turns an enjoyable episode full of comic relief into one that serves as part of the overall character arcs we have been following.
Those cute little Por Vora return in the final episode which shares much in common with the previous, full of comic touches that will tickle anyone's funny bone and a visual style that while more sombre in colour tone is packed with intriguing designs. Going from the two featured in this volume's first episode to a locale positively overflowing with the furry critters, Jing and Kir find themselves lost in a strange mist before they are led to a hidden tower by the friendly Por Vora population. Inside they find Elixir, a beautiful maiden charged with the protection of the Por Vora's secret which doesn't rest well with Jing, not only because her appearance reminds him of the treasure we saw in the very first Jing adventure (back on Volume 1) but because he knows danger always follows him wherever he goes. Though successful in the comedy department this final episode slips up in trying to create some tension by having Jing disarm a bomb. I mean honestly, with another volume and three episodes left there is no chance he's going to choose the wrong wire! Though not half as annoying as you might think, it does smack of tired writing in an attempt to turn a comedy heavy episode into one with a tense, action packed ending. They should have stuck to comedy with the Por Vora who developed an unhealthy crush on Jing and can be seen rubbing itself against him for most of the episodes run time!
Picture and Sound
Continuing where the previous volumes left off the transfer here maintains the original full screen aspect ratio and looks superb throughout with crisp, bold colours and slick detail levels highlighting every carefully detailed object in the busy town of Coco Oco. With only three episodes to cope with the single-layer disc allows for a high bit rate and with well controlled compression the transfer comes through with fantastic results, only suffering from very minor quibbles such as colour gradients in the opening shot of the first episode not being as well graded as they could be.
The original Japanese language track presented in DD2.0 Stereo continues to be my audio format of choice, offering a crisp presentation with a perfect balance between the pleasant themes of the original score and superior voice acting from the Japanese cast. The English dub track is once again present in DD5.1 Surround and impresses with added ambience and often impressive use of the rear speakers to enhance the action set pieces. High quality optional English subtitle tracks are present to accompany each language option, offering a literal translation of all dialogue or just signs and songs.
A step up from the second volume but still disappointing we get clean versions of the opening and close animations, a minute long animated section with original artwork and previews for other ADV Films releases.
Having previously established a formula that works King of Bandit Jing continues down the previously trodden path but does so in style, with three thoroughly entertaining episodes to add to its already impressive roster. The final volume cannot come soon enough and though it has no obvious story arc to complete, we can surely expect they've saved the best to last with adventures that will not disappoint.