Tokyo Babylon (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 20, 1999
Release Date: Tuesday, April 20, 1999
What They Say
The wizardry of Japanese animation. Thrilling action sequences filled with danger, suspense and death. Subaru Sumeragi must defeat evil forces intent on building the ultimate creature of destruction. Vol. 1 & 2 on one disc.
Volume 1: Is it possible for one person to be so lucky? Shinji Nagumo seems to lead a charmed life amidst the inherent dangers of building a skyscraper. Unfortunately, everyone around Nagumo has been rather unlucky - fatally so.
It's up to Subaru Sumeragi, the most powerful medium in Japan, to piece together the clues before there's another death. Are the accidents due to just bad luck and random chance, or is it something more sinister at work?
Subaru will have to work fast, because the lucky Mr. Nagumo has made many enemies. And one of them is ready to sacrifice everything to create a creature that will end Nagumo's lucky streak - permanently!
Volume 2: Terror is stalking the subways. Women were once safe, but now each morning's train carries another brutally butchered body. Without a motive, the police are helpless against this psychotic killer.
With nowhere else to turn, Mirei Hidaka, a psychic "post cognitive" is called in. Using her sense of touch, Mirei can feel the currents of the past and has the ability to witness murders hours or days after they've been committed. But just as the threads are slowly starting to come together, Mirei's own life is in jeopardy!
It's now up to Subaru Sumeragi, to save the day. But this case won't be solved until the separate strands of destiny have been re-woven into a new pattern - one that binds Subaru, Mirei, and a psychotic murderer.
The audio on the disc is standard fare for an OVA. The front soundstage had good directionality when needed, and sounded very clean and clear with a couple of notable exceptions. The first episode was flawless. The second episode though, has several quirks in it. I don't want to call them audio dropouts, but a snap/pop sound where a portion of the audio track is simply lost, is apparent on the Japanese soundtrack. These are not present on the English audio track. For a sample of one, listen to the early sequence in episode two, where the girl hung over the railway track falls down into the water. As she falls, there is a snap/pop where the audio is lost. This occurred a few more times throughout the episode. Your mileage may vary on how much it bothers you. I found it mildly annoying, but not terribly distracting if you aren't listening for it.
With the exception of three scenes, I have to say this disc looked absolutely flawless and compares extremely well against the competition. I saw no hint of pixellation or artifacting. No visible dirt or nicks in the print either. The possible problem scenes? During both volumes, there are scenes where a character is standing against an entirely white background. The white around the character holds a bluish white shimmer to them. It's been a number of years since I saw them on VHS, so I'm not entirely positive that this was evident there. There are some sequences where there is no shimmer at all, but the couple that have them are distracting for the couple of seconds it's visible. I'm believing that they are part of the master, and nothing could change it, which is why the grading was not lowered for it, because the rest of this disc is just gorgeous.
Tokyo Babylon is presented in the same kind of keepcase used in DVD Ltd's earlier Anime 18 releases. The front cover artwork is very eye catching, and if placed facing out, I'm sure most people would stop and look to see just what it is. The back provides ample information, though some disinformation as well. The "Please see reverse side of this liner for complete credits" is there, as they were on the Anime 18 titles, but nothing is on the backside of the insert. Grumble grumble. Other than that, a solid looking package.
The menu is pretty functional, nothing terribly exciting, but the important thing is that it works. Selection of the episode you want to watch is quick, as is the language and subtitle options.
I believe that Tokyo Babylon is the first release of any CLAMP work on DVD. For those that don't know, CLAMP is a group of women artists/writers that formed their own group (and studio I believe) to put out the works that they wanted, collaborate together, and produce some very interesting shows. One of the better known ones on this side of the ocean is the X/1999 manga and upcoming movie.
One of their trademarks is that their male characters tend to look very effeminate. While not a bad thing, it can make you watch a show for awhile and wonder whether a particular is actually a man or a woman. Tokyo Babylon has this for quite some time, with the lead character of Subaru. You just have to wonder!
Tokyo Babylon presents several very well animated scenes and sequences, and just a few chilling moments. When one of the characters explains to a young Subaru why cherry blossom trees are pink, you just have to think how morbid it is. Several characters die gruesome deaths, while one is repeated over and over to the same person. I found the show to be very enjoyable and well done. I believe that the two episodes were all that were produced, so it's a safe bet to pick it up and not have to worry about dozens of more episodes following.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
Running time: 105
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tokyo Babylon