Spriggan (of 1) (Mania.com)

Review Date: -

What They Say

The Review!
"AKIRA." "Otomo." Two words that most anime fans have heard of, or are familiar with. Many of us became anime fans because of Otomo's masterpiece cyberpunk film. Or at the very least, our eyes were opened to a bold, visceral, and daring new direction that 'Anime' could be taken to. For the anime industry, one can only guess at the amount of influence "Akira" has had, directly or indirectly, on subsequent anime films, OAV's and other projects. Yet after this pioneering work, Katsuhiro Otomo remained relatively quiet, until recently releasing a wonderful trilogy of short films known collectively as "Memories." While not as widely popular or well known as "Akira," "Memories" marked the return of Otomo to the anime film industry. With his new studio, Studio 4°C, Otomo and company have begun a new creative assault with a trilogy of films: Last year's provocative, acidic satire into fandom and stardom, "Perfect Blue," next year's "Steam Boy," and the centerpiece of this review, the just-released "Spriggan" film on DVD. While last year's Perfect Blue was a wonderful film full of all the trademark "Otomo Madness" that we expect (even though it was not directed by Otomo himself, but rather his protégé, Satoshi Kon,) it distinctly lacked the full-on action and explosions of Akira. With Spriggan, what you get is quite the opposite: A big, awesome 'Action Movie,' with more emphasis on action and less on deep, soul-searching questions. Yet, this should not be seen as a fault, but rather a different direction that is being taken. What Spriggan becomes, is an over-the-top, amazing film, full of arguably the most gorgeous animation ever created from Japan, which manifests itself in the battles and action sequences that serve as the focal point in what can only be called "Action Incarnate."
It should be noted that the basis for this Spriggan anime film, is one of the chapters from the original "Spriggan" manga series. Also, "spriggan" is another word for "fairy," or " sprite." The basic premise of the film is centered around Arkam - a giant archaeological foundation that uncovers ancient artifacts and seals them off from mankind if they are found to be too dangerous - and the discovery of the biblical Noah's Ark. Arkam also has its own private army, and within them, an elite group of fighters called "Spriggan." It is deemed that Noah's Ark possesses enormous power, and from here, the film's antagonists are introduced in the form of the United States Pentagon, and a psychic super-child, MacDougal, who want it for themselves.

Visually, the Spriggan is nothing short of absolutely stunning! The fight scenes are so wonderfully choreographed and storyboarded out, and the animation is so fluid, that the results are jaw-dropping. Imagine the best fight scenes from "Battle Angel" (Gunnm), "Dragon Ball Z," "Ninja Scroll," "Mononoke Hime," and any other anime you can think of, except taken to a whole new level of retina-searing madness and you have Spriggan! Yes, it's -that- good!

The video transfer is wonderful, easily on par or exceeding Sony's "Rurouni Kenshin: Tsui Oku Hen" OAV DVD - absolutely crystal-clear, with no artifacting. The colors are solid and beautiful, and Bandai even went the extra step and included a 16x9 Widescreen Anamorphic transfer for everyone that has a widescreen TV. The layer switching is also seamless, so there is no 'pause' as the film plays continuously from beginning to end smoothly.

The audio is also wonderful, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound booming cleanly, with the right balance between voice and music. The bass is also excellent, with deep, rumbling lows. The voice actors are, of course, wonderfully played out and Yu's voice (the main hero) is fitting.

All-in-all, "Spriggan" DVD represents yet another stunning film from Studio 4°C, containing a solid, entertaining story of megalomania, enwrapped by an aural and visual tour de force of masterful action film direction. With so many stellar DVD's released (or soon-to-be) such as, "Slayers DVD Box Set," "Slayers Next DVD Box Set," "Saber Marionette J DVD Box Set," "Blue Seed DVD Box Set," "Memories," "Outlaw Star DVD Box Set," "Cowboy Bebop," "Rurouni Kenshin TV series DVD," "Rurouni Kenshin OAV DVD," "Macross: Do You Remember Love," and many more, there is none that shines as brightly as Spriggan DVD in terms of pure, gorgeous action. While not the director, it is fitting that Katsuhiro Otomo is involved with this project (as "Overall Supervisor"), as just as his seminal work influenced us early on, it is with DVD's such as "Spriggan" that reminds us why we fell in love with anime in the first place.

Japanese Language 5.1,Director's Interview Insert,3 Different TV Commercial Advertisements (one in English),Color liner note insert

Review Equipment

Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Bandai Visual
MSRP: ¥7800
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Spriggan