"The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye" Vol. 2 "Tending Wounds" Fixes Flaws
When we last left The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye, series heroine Honoka had engaged and defeated the murderous enforcer robot Blue Breaker, who had just attacked and killed the kindly mechanic Zankan. During the battle, Honoka revealed her third, astral eye, connecting her somehow to the alien overlords called the Third that rule Honoka’s planet. The revelation suddenly raises Honoka’s profile with the Third, especially with the mysterious member Joganki, as does her association with the mysterious Iks. In addition to all these challenges, Honoka also takes on the responsibility of caring for young Millie, Zankan’s daughter.
The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of sub-plots, and the quantity and complexity of the ones in this series mean that volume 2, “Tending Wounds,” will probably be just about incomprehensible to those who have skipped the first volume. The four episodes on this disc blaze along in the same vein, freely tossing in new plot threads while snipping off others. While volume 2 shares many of the same weaknesses as volume 1, it also manages to build nicely on what has happened so far and is more effective in hooking the audience into wanting to know What Comes Next.
The first volume in the series was frustrating in part because it felt like a byzantine combination of anime sci-fi clichés that weren’t really adding up to anything more substantial. With volume 2, the larger story begins to become clearer (or at least more interesting), as backstory for many of the characters is revealed and seemingly innocent events set larger schemes in motion. We are treated to the story of how Honoka came to travel with Bogie, the artificial intelligence that drives her giant sand tank, and this tale manages to create more depth for both characters. The other mysteries in the series are kept at a low simmer, slowly brewing into something more substantial.
Still, the series doesn’t seem to have as much narrative cohesion as one might like. While the major narrative seems to pick up considerably from volume 1, several plot threads that were introduced earlier seem to have been unceremoniously dumped in volume two and replaced by different ones. Iks and Millie both disappear from the plot about halfway through this volume, and a mysterious female bounty hunter named Paife soon appears to take their place. While the surfeit of subplots might be interpreted as evidence of larger schemes at work, the way they’re executed has the effect of making the series seem like it’s flailing and can’t quite make up its mind on where it wants to go. This impression may disappear once the whole story is done, but it’s too hard to say one way or the other just yet.
The show also continues its somewhat annoying habit of explaining things to the viewer through extended exposition sequences, sometimes via voice over and sometimes via character dialogue. Odds are that this is done to ensure that younger audience members can keep up, but it doesn’t gel with the occasions when the show doesn’t fill in the blanks as explicitly. It becomes even more frustrating when these more subtle moments prove to be far better than the explicit ones. The cryptic Third member Joganki steps forward ever so slightly in this volume, dropping tantalizing hints about his relationship with Honoka, and his brief conversation with Iks manages to communicate volumes purely through suggestion and innuendo. These brief exchanges make Joganki one of the most interesting characters in the whole series, and one wishes that the show had more consistent faith in its audience to keep up with less explicit help.
The animation is slightly better than in the first volume, although this might be due to the better balance between the action sequences and the quieter ones. A race between Honoka’s sand tank and a horde of sand dragons is a stunner of a set piece, and probably the highlight of the volume. The show makes full use of the widescreen format, and the DVD’s anamorphic presentation is terrific. The voice acting is also quite solid as well in both the English and Japanese versions.
The DVD doesn’t come with many extras. In addition to trailers, the disc itself contains character biographies and a subtitled commentary track on Joganki. Other than that, the DVD booklet contains some extra art, brief character profiles, and a reversible DVD cover.
Volume 1 of The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye managed to generate only a vague interest in knowing what comes next. The good news is that volume 2 does a much better job at hooking the viewer, even if many of the flaws in the earlier volume are still in evidence. However, the success of this volume manages to at least partially vindicates the earlier one. Despite whatever problems it may have, volume 2 leaves us anxious for more.