Blue Submarine No. 6 Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: -
Release Date: Sunday, October 25, 1998
What They Say
Oceanic adventures of a submarine taking place in the near future. Fully digital animation was used for the first time for a made for video
I apologize ahead of time if I seem a little over enthusiastic about this particular disc. Well now that we've dispensed with that, on with the review!
Every once in a while there comes around a title that is truly incredible; something that, once you see it, can only illicit responses like "Oh wow?", "Holy !!!" or simple awestruck silence. Well, this is one of those titles.
I admit I didn't know what to expect from one of the first completely digital anime productions. Well what exactly does that mean, "completely digital"? Does that just suggest it was simply edited on a digital system or something?
Actually no -- the animation itself was produced completely on computers. You may wonder if that classes it with other all-CG films like "Toy Story" or "Small Soldiers". The answer is no once again. True, there are plenty of scenes that are generated almost entirely in 3-D using Lightwave, but that isn't what this is about. Even the cel anime--the 2-D character elements--were produced with digital animation systems, namely Animo, an industry standard software suite rapidly gaining popularity in Japanese studios. To round things out, the 2-D and 3-D elements were composited with Jaleo, a Silicon Graphics workstation based compositing system, which is normally used to composite live action video. (Many thanks to Mr. Scott Frazier for the additional info).
What does all that mean for Blue Submarine #6? Absolutely stunning, drop dead gorgeous animation and special effects, that's what. It's like nothing you've ever seen--water that ripples with the wind and currents, great billowing plumes of sea spray, explosions and shrapnel that appear to leap right off the screen. Action that just pulls you in and refuses to let go.
In fact, it looks so good I can't IMAGINE seeing this on anything BUT a digital format like DVD. It would lose too much detail, and much of the visual splendor would be completely sacrificed. There's no pixellation, no distortion, and I looked really hard; it has to be the pure digital transfer. The "wow" factor is intense, it's so crisp it crackles. A+ no problem.
And how about the audio? Rest assured, Bandai didn't leave us with a pretty picture and no aural impact. Full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, baby! In your face audio, with no compromises. You might want to grab an extra pair of socks and hang onto something solid while you're watching this one. You're even greeted by the ominous thunder of the Dolby Digital train careening down the track as the disc begins. This disc has some of the best audio you'll likely encounter on an anime title. A strong "A". The only downside is that the music soundtrack is rather jazzy, like Cowboy Bebop (this one's performed by The Thrill rather than the Seatbelts), and I'm just not into jazz. I'd prefer it had either an orchestral score or a solid rock soundtrack.
And what is the show about? In a nutshell, it's science fiction, one of my favorite genres, so I'm probably more than a bit biased. At any rate, much of the planet has succumbed to flooding (yeah, Tokyo's under water again), and the Blue Fleet is the military force protecting against the attacks of a group of mysterious half-human, half-animal beings created by a Dr. Zorner (in apparent tribute to the Island of Dr. Moreau) And bizarre they are! The action follows our heroine, Mayumi Kino, aged 18, a crewmember on Blue Submarine #6. Volume one has plenty of action, a cool face to face encounter with Mutio (a female foe), and much more. Unfortunately, volume one is only thirty minutes long, so a lot of questions have yet to be answered.
What do you get with this disc? This disc comes with all the extras. It has a really nice Amaray keepcase with an attractive cover illustration, a fourteen page booklet with character design sketches of the entire cast (character designs are rather unique and rendered by Range Murata and Takuhito Kusanagi), a foldout poster of Mutio (in the nude), and Blue Submarine #6 Data Sheets (which is a large two sided foldout with production notes and other info),
What you don't get is a menu of any kind. You can still navigate the disc via the remote control; you have 9 index points. I have yet to see a Bandai title that has a menu -- they seem to want to mimic laserdisc in this respect. Another point that may deter early adopters is the high price tag (5000 yen for 30 minutes).
The next volume isn't due out until Feb. 25, 1999 -- because of the high quality animation it takes a while to produce. It's inevitable that this show will make it to US shores; it has too much going for it to be ignored. Who will ultimately bring it over, on what format and when is anybody's guess.
Japanese Language Dolby Digital 5.1,Character Design Booklet
Mutio Poster,Blue Submarine #6 Data Sheet
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: F
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Bandai Visual
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Blue Submarine No. 6