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The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye Complete Collection PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Thursday, 31 March 2011 00:00
The Third: The Girl With the Blue EyeOne of Nozomi's lower-profile releases, by way of Kadokawa USA, The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye follows young woman Honoka on her adventures through a post-apocalyptic world where The Third, a branch of humanity with unusual abilities, keep control. But their control appears to be under threat...

A global war in times past has left the planet a barren wasteland, although the survivors have done their best to rebuild. The detection of a strange object entering the atmosphere from outer space - with some characteristics that hint it may not be natural - causes some concern, but those in control, the Third, put the issue on the back-burner, for now. Out in the desert, meanwhile, a young girl named Honoka earns a living by destroying vermin and taking on other jobs, with the help of her sentient tank Bogie. A routine trip out to the dunes reveals something unusual - a human (or humanoid) alone in the desert, at night, and under attack. Doing what comes naturally, Honoka goes to help - but what she finds isn't quite what she was expecting...

The man she picks up is Iks, who is soon revealed to be not of this world. What his true mission is remains a mystery throughout the series, but it's clear that he's observing, learning about humanity and its strengths and weaknesses, and doing his best to keep out of trouble until the time when he needs to get involved in humanity's destiny becomes clear. Iks latches on to Honoka, who he hires as his "guide" to the world, and becomes involved in her adventures from there.

The Third, as mentioned, are the rulers of the world. Their red third eye (or "astral eye", to give it its proper name) give them certain abilities, including the ability to control the high-technology that the Third have maintained and that they strictly deny to the normal populace. Honoka falls somewhere in-between: she has an astral eye, something that she keeps permanently covered so as to hide her true nature; it also grants her abilities, but not the ones needed for her to be one of the Third herself. Her destiny lies elsewhere. Along with her you'll find Bogie, the AI who controls her tank and keeps a protective eye on her; Joganki, one of the most high-ranking members of the Third, who also has a very personal interest in Honoka (although whether this is a romantic interest, an interest in her abilities, or a combination of the two is never quite made clear; Millie, a young girl who Honoka feels a deep sense of responsibility for; and Paife, who on paper is a school nurse but who is as good at sorting out trouble as Honoka is. She just uses guns instead of a sword.

As for Honoka, astral eye aside she appears to be as normal as any girl her age - just working a rather unusual trade, as bodyguard / troubleshooter / general dogsbody for hire. Her control of a sword is uncanny, her compassion for others almost limitless - but in her day-to-day life, she comes across as normal as you or I would. The world she finds herself in is typical post-apocalyptic fare, with pockets of humanity living in towns and cities spread across a desert wasteland. Hydroponic farms provided by the Third provide food and water, while out in the desert strange and deadly creatures roam - hospitable it isn't. The last series I saw with a similar setting was Desert Punk, but The Third thankfully is a lot more sane that that.

The series is split into a number of self-contained arc, each one taking Honoka on a mission or journey and showing us a particular side of her personality - the care she shows for Millie after her father is killed, her reluctance to kill, her determination to complete any jobs she agrees to take on. They also tend to provide an excuse somewhere along the line for her to prove her action credentials, either through use of her sword (her nickname is Sword Dancer, after all) or her personal mech armour (or PSP as the series calls it, but those initials are too linked with a certain handheld device for me to really want to use them). Her battles are proper set-piece affairs, impressively done and at times on a massive scale. But in pushing the boat out with the battle scenes, the show seems to have left itself with minimal budget for elsewhere, and there are at least two episodes here that are what 4chan might call QUALITY - they're packed with clearly off-model characters and other signs of cost-cutting that really jar when you see them. Colour me unimpressed.

While the production quality leaves a lot to be desired, though, the story itself is pretty damned good. The focus on Honoka's good nature is there for a reason, which is made apparent during the show's final arc and ties together Honoka's adventures, the Third's interest in her, and Iks' reason for coming to the planet in a situation where Honoka and her compassion for others proves to be key. But just as enjoyable is the journey to get there, the various adventures that are had along the way - her arguments with Bogie, fending off Paife's attentions, trying to figure out what Iks is after. While there's an action strand underpinning everything, for the most part the series is very understated and relaxed in the way it goes about things, being driven mostly by the characters - and the way it's done makes it both entertaining and a little inspiring. It's all about the better side of human nature, after all.

Ultimately, story and characters are more important (to me, anyway) than production values, and The Third wins on that count. It's not outright impressive in any way, but it wraps you in humanity's better nature, personified by Honoka, and takes you to a laid-back place while you just let it flow over you. Very enjoyable to watch, and well worth picking up.

Rating - ****