Battle Arena Toshinden: Uncut Version - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Battle Arena Toshinden

Battle Arena Toshinden: Uncut Version

By Chris Beveridge     July 06, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003


Battle Arena Toshinden: Uncut Version
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Once a year, the greatest warriors in the world compete at the famous Toshin Tournament. Master swordsman Eiji Shindo has returned to test his skill with the blade once more.

The Review!
The very first anime DVD ever released gets a re-release after six years from its original outing.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is decent but doesn’t have a lot of real depth or directionality to it. The fighting sequences and most of the action in general feels pretty much all center channel bound with only the music really utilizing the stereo channels. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and had no problems with distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released back in 1996, the transfer here has been given a once-over with the DVNR process that was talked about extensively during several high profile re-issues in 2002 such as Project A-Ko. There’s a brief section in the extras that shows some of the differences and it is definitely significant. The transfer here looks much better than the original with sharper and more vibrant colors, more clearly defined lines without aliasing and almost no cross coloration.

Packaging:
Using some nicely detailed and very colorful artwork, the front cover here highlights Eiji and two leading ladies below the large logo artwork. Though I know what’s inside, I can’t help but say that I like the look of the character designs here and only wish that they were as detailed in the show itself. The back cover provides a nice fanservice shot and a brief summary of the shows premise and plot. The discs features and basic technical information is all clearly listed as well. The reverse cover has some nice character artwork on one side while the other lists the chapters for the two episodes and the English voice actors (with a claim that no info on the Japanese actors is available).

Menu:
The main menu is a very animated piece that has the fanservice shot of Sofia to the left while animation from the show plays in several areas. The menu is nicely laid out and quick to access with fast load times. Submenus work nicely and with no transitional animations, they all get you where you want to be nice and fast.

Extras:
The first time around there were no extras to be had, but a few have been scrounged up for this release. The video art gallery is mostly made up of stills from the show that runs about two minutes in length. A new trailer is done up here as well to showcase its remastered shininess. There’s a retrospective piece as well that talks about how Toshinden was their first DVD and they also manage to sneakily add that it was the “first dual language” anime DVD ever, whereas before they used to say it was the first anime DVD ever (something that Ninja Mono manages to make claim of in Japan). The retrospective runs only 90 seconds but it’s interesting to see how they’re trying to remarket it. There’s also a 60 second long “Fight Scenes” sequence that shows off various action sequences from the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the time that DVD came out in 1997, I remember seeing Toshinden come out and being impressed that at least one anime company, even as a test item, managed to get something out so far, much faster than some of the Hollywood companies which would take many more months or years to really even acknowledge DVD.

Battle Arena Toshinden, while not my first anime DVD purchase, was a very early one. I had been a big fan of the original game, enough so that it got me to purchase the first Playstation based just on that one game. The anime unfortunately just didn’t make the grade in terms of providing something, well, worthwhile compared to the game itself. But that’s pretty much something that happens with a lot of game to anime conversions.

Watching this show again, six years later, only reinforces that belief outside of a few rare exceptions. The comments from the first review pretty much stand in terms of content.

“Toshinden, while not a bad OVA, isn't a great OVA either. But, this generally happens with media conversions such as a video game to anime/TV/movie or anything else like that. It doesn't suffer as horribly as some others, but the you can tell by the animation in a lot of places that it was a quick job to get something out on the market while the Playstation game was hot.

The story focuses loosely on a group called the Organization, and from there we learn of various characters who are after them, to bring down their evil schemes. And... well, that's sort of it. They go through a few fight scenes, somewhat resolve the plot over the two episodes, and let it hang there in hopes of a follow-up, which we all know by now just isn't going to happen.”

There’s just not a lot to it, mostly because they try to bring all the characters into play and end up crowding out the possibility of actually telling a decent story. The lead characters end up being shallow because of this and not enough time is spent on actually getting to like the characters. But, since it’s really just an action show, they (rightly?) figure that people just want to see their favorite characters fighting it out in action form, and that’s what you get here. All the story trappings are simple and not altogether interesting.

Toshinden has earned itself a place in history though, for better or worse. It’s one of the least surprising titles to get a rerelease considering its origins and how much has changed since then. But it’s still not a title that I’d really recommend unless you’re still living in the mid 90’s.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Battle Arena Toshinden Retrospective Video,Fight Montage Video,Battle Arena Toshinden Trailer

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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