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MÄR Volume 3

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MÄR is somewhat of an oddity in the anime world, continuing to produce new episodes even after the highly successfully manga series has now ended. With a good production value, and an interesting plotline, the series is approaching a point where there’s no longer any manga to source its plotline from. Therefore it’s time to start spotting continuity errors, however, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

For those who are just picking up the series, it’s important to understand the back-story otherwise it’s very easy to get lost in this anime. As with all Shonen Jump animes, there’s a long storyline with multiple characters who’s main aim is to fight evil. Fortunately, there’s much more to MÄR than the typical format of battle, train, battle stronger enemy, gain new skill and train some more. Although throughout the first few episodes of previous volumes this is prevalent, Volume 3 starts to pick up more of a complicated storyline. The basic premise to the show is that our hero Ginta Toramizu is an under performing high schooler who dreams of a fantasy world when he’s sleeping. This world turns out to exist and he is summoned to MÄR Heaven to help defend the world from the evil Chess Piece Army; who want to start the War Games again. Along with his comrades, Jack, Princess Snow, Alan, Alviss, Dorothy, Babbo and various others Ginta has to fight these enemies and defend the new world he’s fallen into, whilst avenging his father’s death.

Picking up where Volume 2 ended, the first episode has a brief synopsis of what’s happened in the past 26 episodes. Koyuki delivers this monologue to Ginta’s mother in the human world. It details how many previous battles our heroes have faced and how everyone is completely behind Ginta and the team in the MÄR Heaven. Jack has just defeated a member of the Chess Piece Army and it’s now Princess Snow’s turn to battle on the Volcano Stage.

Naturally, Princess Snow battles her very hardest on the Volcano Stage; however, she become very weary as it’s not her natural stage to battle in. She unfortunately looses the battle and this means that the rest of the team have to pick up the slack, with battles against various enemies it falls to Alviss to battle the strongest enemy on the field, the Knight Class Rolan. Of course they win, but much more is learnt along the way.

More importantly though, Alviss discovers that there’s another person with the Zombie Tattoo, and other people are willing to accept it. Phantom also plays a lot more importance in this volume, along with a lot more from Dorothy. The team go back into the Training Door, although fortunately very little is seen of their training and more information to push the storyline along is divulged to the audience.

The team also travel to Caldia, the homeland of Dorothy. This land has a strict anti-forigner policy; however, this is wavered for Dorothy and it soon becomes apparent that Dorothy is actually a princess in this land and that her sister is Diana, which is actually Princess Snow’s stepmother. This woman is also the Queen of the Chess Piece Army, and more and more information is given to the viewer about Princess Snow and Dorothy’s back-story. When visiting this land Ginta soon realises that the War Games are actually war, and not a fun game and all of the rest of the cast are given new ÄRMs.

As with the previous two volumes, the animation is clear and is well drawn. Some of the characters do appear a little generic, with Ginta being one of the more generic looking characters; however, their personalities are all fairly distinct and although there is some clear fanservice in the show on the whole everything is very well done. As is expected with the certificate, there’s no blood or gore, just a lot of fighting and movement.

The Guardian ÄRMs as before are all done in CGI, and more of them are seen in this volume, with the introduction of one of Ginta’s new Guardian ÄRMs which is one of the main contributing factors to the fanservice, but also the butt of many jokes later that brings the mood of the show up.

The Japanese voice actors are brilliant and portray the emotions of the characters very well; the English team also have done a great job. With some very generic lines, the cast are all comfortable with their characters and although they do stray a bit from the subtitles, at no time is the meaning changed. Although there is a few swear words in the subtitles, none of these translate to the dub.

The DVD menu system is well designed and works well, and it doesn’t show half of the show before allowing one to select the options of what language and episode to select. The extras are lacking, with there only being trailers on one disc for a few other shows, there are no other extras at all.

Final Score

6

A developing storyline but copious battle scenes make the entire show more of a chore than a joy.