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"Solty Rei" Another Victim of the Gonzo Curse

by on January 1, 2008

Solty Rei has quickly become one of my favorite Gonzo series. Now, we’ve finally reached the series’ conclusion, but can the series escape the horrid endings other Gonzo series seem to have?

You think you could take a bullet to your hand? Well, do ya?Previously, Ashley had decided to finally try take over the central computer of the city, Eunomia, so that he could finally escape the planet and reunite with his beloved. In doing so, he killed his former subordinates Silvia and Celica, Integra became seriously injured, Rose began to distance herself from Solty and Roy, and Accela snapped, activating a gigantic robot so she could take her revenge. Thanks to Joseph, Solty had fully regained her memories and has access to all of her powers, allowing her to combat both Accela and Rose at the same time. It is the android girl’s words, however, which calm both Rose and Accela down, allowing the three girls to come to an understanding. Meanwhile, Roy and the Anderson brothers infiltrate the RUC building to shut down Eunomia as the super computer is making everyone with Resemble parts attack those that don’t. Larry was injured, but Roy and Andy successfully entered the main control room and deactivated Eunomia. Unfortunately, this also played into Ashley’s hand, as he finally had access to fulfill his master plan!

Said master plan comes into fruition in “Farewell Message,” as Ashley takes over Eunomia while Roy, joined by Solty and Rose, attempt to stop him. For a major, final battle, the fight is actually very quaint. After the grand explosive battle that was Solty vs. Rose vs. Accela, this episode seems like almost a breather, which isn’t really a compliment since this is one of those “final battle” episodes. Even the fight itself isn’t all that good, as it becomes riddled in all those “final battle” clichés, such as Roy being forced to shoot either Solty or Rose when the two girls get a major powerup thanks to their rage. Heck, we even get the old “the bad guy isn’t really all that bad” plot point, one of the most annoying ideas in the history of entertainment. The flaws become even more glaring as Solty becomes trapped extremely easily and has trouble escaping yet is able to block the giant laser cannon from Accela’s mecha. It all just feels like the writers said “Oh crap, we forgot to write an ending after Accela stops going nuts!” and pulled some plot points out of a hat to write the episode. I will give the episode points for the trick ending, though. It makes you think the series is over, then introduces a new baddie.

I'm a Super Saiyan!Said baddie is defeated in “The Future.” Irene, the spaceship that brought everyone to the planet, has decided that the city has gone out of control and is going to ram into the planet, killing everyone. Solty must venture into outer space and put a stop to Irene before the city is destroyed. This episode rocks solely because of Roy, who is torn between saving the city and facing the possibility that Solty might die. This all comes to a head around the middle of the episode in a very well-done scene where Roy forbids Solty from going into space. The final fight is a grand battle, unlike in last episode, but because it only takes about six minutes or so, it feels very, very rushed. Gonzo has had a bad habit these past few years of making 24-episode series instead of 26-episode series and the result has been a bevy of rushed and incomplete endings. Unfortunately, Solty Rei is hit by this same curse, as they crap four episodes’ worth of material into two, leaving the viewer wanting more. I’ll also complain about the “X years later” epilogue, which only focuses on Roy, Rose, Kasha, and Miranda. Larry, Andy, Yuto, Integra, Accela, Joseph, etc., are all missing, which is disappointing. While this episode is better than “Farewell Message,” it still falls short of the past couple volumes.

But wait, we have more! This disc also includes a two-part special titled “Opportunities Missed” and “Love Shared.” Taking place before everything went to hell mid-series (we even get the text teaser style used in the beginning of the series), we find the gang preparing for the yearly “Appreciation Day” celebration (basically a politically correct Christmas), as Solty tries to find out what happiness really means. Meanwhile, Roy takes on a very uncomfortable job, Rose helps out a friend by making her mother feel safe, and Kasha is visited by a lawyer telling her that her uncle and aunt want to adopt her. The young girl initially refuses, as she’s happy with Miranda, but when Celica, the adopted daughter of Kasha’s relatives, tries to convince her, Kasha begins to ponder her options. Oh yea, Roy and Andy also pretend to be the boyfriends of a mother and her daughter.

Do I want to live the life of a bounty hunter or live in the lap of luxury? Such choices.With this being a special episode, things aren’t quite as tight as in the main series, especially in the comedy part. Many of the characters (especially Larry) act a bit goofier than they normally do, which isn’t a bad thing in this case, and the dinner scene in the middle of the episode is the funniest bit the show has ever had. That being said, the drama, specifically Kasha’s turmoil, easily makes the episode. We find out the true relationship between Miranda and Kasha (which is hinted in “The Future”) and finally get to see Silvia and Kasha interact again. While the plight of the young girl is worth watching, the episode does feel a bit strange, what with Celica and Silvia being alive and all. There are also some bits strewn throughout which reference events that didn’t happen in the series, making me think the writers planned to do more sitcom-style episodes before diving into the drama. While overall the episode is excellent, especially if you like all the warm family moments from previous episodes, it does suffer a bit if it’s watched after the finale. If it were possible, I think I’d rather have the episode take place during that epilogue at the end of “The Future.” Although then we wouldn’t have the entirely forgettable “Solty searching for happiness” plot.

The visuals tend to vary depending on the episode. With the two final battle episodes, the animation is very fluid and the coloring is up to the series’ usual excellence. Even the CG—and specifically Irene—works extremely well. Unfortunately, the special episode doesn’t really benefit from this. Sure, the coloring is still great and pops right out at you, but all throughout the episode practically everyone is off-model, especially Solty and Rose, who seem much rounder and younger than in the series. I guess if you aren’t bothered by the details it won’t really affect anything, but if you’re a seasoned anime veteran, you’ll find this flaw glaring throughout the entire episode. I do have to compliment the Episode 24 epilogue. Usually, when series do the “X years later” bit, they have a tendency to put the characters’ heads on older bodies and maybe change their hair a bit. Thankfully, the design staff decided to actually age the characters, specifically Roy, Rose, and Kasha. We do get a glimpse of an older Yuto, but 95% of his body is covered up by a space suit, so we don’t get to see what he truly looks like. In general, if you’ve liked the visuals for the series so far, you won’t really be disappointed.

Best scene in the disc.Now, I’ve said before that FUNimation has a tendency to make a dub more enjoyable than the Japanese version, even using Solty Rei as an example a few times, and that’s the case once again on this volume. The most glaring difference is when Roy forbids Solty from going up into space. In the Japanese version, Roy raises his voice slightly, which doesn’t really fit with the visuals, while Solty sounds kind of monotone. In the English dub, Roy shouts as hard as he can while Solty actually sounds like she’s crying (the happy kind of crying, not the sad kind) and it just makes the scene click. This also comes into effect during other moments, such as Miranda and Kasha’s discussions in the special episodes or when Solty confronts Irene, but that scene in the middle of Episode 24 was the most glaring. As for the music, it continues to be wonderful, and the special vocal songs used to end the final few episodes are good listens, though I’m still not a fan of the regular ending theme, and “Clover” still sounds too peppy for how dark the ending tends to get. Still, it all works in the end.

For some reason, FUNimation counts the two special episodes as extras, meaning we get gypped again on that front. All we get are the usual textless opening, textless closing, trailers, and FUNimation’s catalog. Six volumes and the only decent extra is one commentary? Come on FUNi, this series deserves better than that! At least you could’ve given us a commentary on Episode 24 or the special episodes!

I'm hot and I'm on TV. What else do I need?Overall, if you’ve been following Solty Rei since the beginning, you might be let down a bit by the rushed ending. However, the series’ heart still shines through and the meaning of the word “family” warms up an otherwise dull ending.

Episodes on Solty Rei Volume 6:
Episode #23: “Farewell Message”
Episode #24: “The Future
Bonus Episode #1: “Opportunities Missed”
Bonus Episode #2: “Love Shared”

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