Basilisk Vol. #5 (Viridian Collection) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Basilisk

Basilisk Vol. #5 (Viridian Collection)

By Chris Beveridge     January 22, 2008
Release Date: January 22, 2008


Basilisk Vol. #5 (Viridian Collection)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
As this bitter war draws to a close, those that seek to see it through dwindle in number. The cost of hatred weighs heavily on the remnants of both tribes.

Confrontation in the night reveals Gennosuke's true intentions, as the hand of reconciliation is extended to the enemy. But death litters the road traveled by ninja feet. Impatience goads political intrigue to seek a more active role in this annihilation of two tribes, and the unseen finally comes to light as those that remain learn of the wager which unleashed this war upon them. But too much has been lost for either side to turn back. No mercy will be spared to the enemy.

The Review!
The race to Sunpu becomes even deadlier – and more confusing – as the Iga and Kouga wage their war.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is pretty solid with a fair amount of directionality across the forward soundstage both in action effects and dialogue as there is a lot of movement by the characters all over the screen. The mix deals with the content well and between that and the opening and closing songs it's pretty strong. The English mix is done both in stereo and a 5.1 mix which manages to provide a touch more clarity and oomph to things overall. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Being of such a recent vintage and filled with a lot of lush colors and plenty of dark sequences, I had good hopes for this release but found a lot of key scenes to be pretty disappointing. Several of the episodes feature a black and white sequence that highlights some of the past involved with the show and ends with a mixture of blood red in it and these scenes are blocky and filled with movement when there should be none. This also happens during a number of dark blue sky sequences and some of the foggier scenes have less than a smooth feeling to them because of the blocking. In general, the colors look good and some of the vibrant pieces are gorgeous and some of the blacks hold up well and the scenes with elements such as the water are gorgeous, but some parts of the blocking seem to mingle into a lot of it. Characters tend to look good though and maintain a mostly solid feel but there's a touch of mosquito noise to a lot of it. Bringing the resolution down to 480p reduced the blocking throughout the show but not by a lot, leaving it very noticeable and distracting.

Packaging:
We went with the regular release for this volume which is in a standard keepcase. The cover art for it is once more just great looking. With the main background image being of Hyoma while Oboro is in the foreground, this cover is darker than some of the previous ones but no less detailed or attractive. There's some great detail here and it shines through even as murky as some of the cover gets. The back cover is more traditional with a strip of shots down a scroll design on the left while to the right is a brief summary of what to expect along with episode numbers and titles and the discs extras. The squished technical grid covers the basics of the features and is above the small print production info. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release is very slick as it incorporates a lot of good looking traditional artwork into it in a banded fashion, almost like faux letterboxing, with lots of grays and blacks in the flowers and designs. The menu for this volume has a solid shot of Oboro from the front cover while the selections are lined along the left of him while a brief bit of instrumental music plays along to it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very easy to navigate and in-theme. The disc didn't read our players' language presets though which seems to be a norm for FUNimation discs, in that they can't handle some very basic DVD authoring tricks, and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The extras continue to be pretty good here, as the Behind the Scenes of Basilisk section features a pair of the "First Press" extras from Japan that deal with the cast talking about the show in their over the top exuberant voices. Unfortunately, just like the previous releases, bad authoring comes in to play again and you can't skip through it or even skip to the end of it. You either have to menu out or fast forward. Also included once again to my delight is the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With only a few episodes left after this, my opinion on Basilisk hasn't made a complete turn but I'm definitely enjoying the show a lot more. The opening volumes just didn't click well, between the large similar casts on each side of the fence and how it was more outlandish than I had hoped for. With the previous volume and now this one, the casts are smaller and the each of the remaining members are given more time to really shine.

The series has had to deal with shifting the storyline from the two main perspective points and at times it hasn't worked too well. When you end up dealing with characters you don't like or care much for it can become a tedious show to watch. As it's worn them down to the remaining few, these characters have been given more exposition and character development which makes them more engaging. The early focus in the series on Gennosuke and Oboro has also passed for the most part so we're able to just move forward with everyone else and their tangents to the core pair of characters.

In some ways it's hard to really decide which side you like more since each of them have intriguing characters. Watching as Gennosuke, Hyoma and Saemon along with Kagero make their journey to Sunpu they're all easily interesting and well done characters. Hyoma and Saemon are the weaker of the two though Saemon has proven to be one of the deadlier yet more confusing characters because of how he adopts the image of others. The Kouga side is just as interesting in general with Oboro and Akeginu as well as Koshiro. The one that continues to put me off the most though is Tenzu because of both his looks and the way he's been so hard to kill. Each of the characters goes beyond reality with their abilities, some to a large extent, but Tenzu's apparent immortality seems to go the farthest for me.

Where the previous volume was more of a chase sequence as the Iga tried to catch up to where the Kouga are in their journey to Sunpu, this volume brings them all far closer together. The journey is once more on foot and each side is crossing paths with the other more. What proved to be the most interesting is that the battles now seem to be extended a bit more and interspersed with character backgrounds. When several members end up separated from each other, the bulk of the battle is focused around Koshiro and Hyoma. Hyoma, much a man of mystery for this, has grown to be the true confidant of Gennosuke. A good deal of flashback is given to when the two first met, Gennosuke as a young boy growing into his pre-teens, and it explains much of their relationship. Hyoma is much more of a mentor than one would have believed so far and it makes his pitched battle against Koshiro all the more engaging.

Where the show proves to be the most confusing, and keeps you guessing, is in what Saemon is doing. Sometimes it's obvious as he takes on a new form since it wouldn't fit into the scene otherwise, but others you can't be sure exactly who is who. Even when it's revealed it can be confusing since he continues to wear that form. With so much of this taking place at night and outside, there is a lot of blending of characters and obscured fight scenes. As it all plays out though and each scene reaches a conclusion, I found myself much more riveted to what was going on. Owing likely to my male nature, but I also found the scenes with the women in the show to be much more engaging. After Oboro's near rape in the last volume and the way that they're all able to handle things so well in the fights, characters like Akeginu and Kagero are some of the more engaging ones. When you add in their relationships to some of the men and the other women it adds a nice level of complexity to it all.

In Summary:
Basilisk has turned into quite the love/hate show. There have been shows before where the early volumes are ones that turn me away almost completely and then turn into something that I enjoy quite a bit. When it's something that's broadcast for free, it's easier to give it more time to grow on you. When you have to pay for it though it's more of a problem. The show has definitely been redeeming itself in my eyes as it's progressed but it still remains one that I can't make a blanket recommendation for. In some ways I'm long past my phase where I was all about the ultra-violent ninja shows but I can definitely still appreciate and enjoy them if they have more meat to it. It's taken time, but Basilisk is finally showing that kind of material.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes,Original Japanese Features,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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