Space Firebird 2772 (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2006
What They Say
In the future, humans are produced in labs and raised by robots. Godo is one such human, destined to be a pilot. When he is discovered dating one of the Elders' daughter he is sent to a prison camp, eventually escaping in search of the "firebird", said to have the power to restore life to his almost dead home world: Earth.
Through the cycle of death and rebirth, Godo steps forward one lifetime at a time in search of his destiny.
Based on Osamu Tezuka's epic but unfinished manga, Space Firebird 2772 is an interesting if somewhat flawed film.
I watched the film in its original Japanese and after spot checking the English dub I never went back. The dub is rather old and just horrible to the ear. While it does stick to the script a bit some character voices are just painful to listen to, Crack and Van being the ones that come to mind instantly. The soundtracks available are your basic 2.0 stereo and I did not notice anything wrong during playback, maybe a little hiss here and there but it did not distract me from watching the film. I did notice however that the subtitles sometimes did not translate everything that was said; whole sentences were I guess just missed. It's only a small gripe but I did notice it several times.
I was really impressed with the video for this release. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback things look great. There is interlacing throughout but it is not that noticeable, things do look a little dark in spots but otherwise everything is really clear and just helps make the animation look almost new.
The cover for this release is rather bright and colourful. The front has Godou in black protecting Olga with his gun raised in the foreground and the Phoenix in all its reds and oranges swooping down in the background. The obligatory blurb "from the creator of Astroboy" appears above it all. The back cover is basically all the colours of the Phoenix such as oranges and yellows and a little bit of purple as well and provides a nice summary of the show with the a few shots from the film. The standard Madman technical grid can be found at the very bottom. The cover is almost reversible as the inside shows the original Japanese theatrical poster on one side with an ad for all the Tezuka anime Madman have released on the other.
The main menu is a static image of the Phoenix from the cover with the ending theme playing in the background. All the colours mentioned above are also here and it all goes together rather well, the colours make everything look rather warm. Menu selection was easy and without issue.
The only extra's on the disc really aren't extra's just a Japanese theatrical trailer and some trailers for other Osamu Tezuka anime from Madman. I wasn't really expecting much from an old film but maybe a little history on "Hi no Tori" and the fact that it was Tezuka's life's work would have been interesting.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Space Firebird 2772 is based on the manga "Hi no Tori" by legendary manga creator Osamu Tezuka. The manga is basically his life's work and follows the story of humans questing for immortality by finding the legendary Phoenix. The stories jumped between different time periods only being linked by a few characters and the Phoenix. The film version is different in that it doesn't really cover any chapter of the manga per se, it has similarities with the Future chapter but it's really its own story.
The story is about Godoh, a young man that has been raised to be a pilot from birth. Humans it seems are created in test tubes and are assigned occupations at birth, they are then raised by computers and robots, it's an interesting idea and the opening 10 minutes convey this rather well, all without dialogue. Godoh learns how to fire a laser with a videogame and is eventually given a robot to look after him named Olga. Olga is basically a human size transformer and she has several different modes such as a flying mode and a Jet Ski mode. Almost from the outset you can tell that she cares for Godoh even though she is only a robot. Soon Godoh receives a call from Rock (his superior) in a rather humorous scene which seems to suggest Godoh has never met another human being before.
Godoh is assigned to become a pilot and if he does well will be given a special mission. After proving himself this mission is revealed to be the hunt for the firebird, a creature that has destroyed countless ships and research teams. Godoh must not only find the firebird but bring it back alive, all by himself as his ship known as a space shark is designed for him to pilot alone. This annoys Godoh as he wants to bring Olga with him but he is not allowed. Rock tells him he has one year till his journey begins.
Over the next year Godoh meets a young girl Lena that is the daughter of an elder (the ruling body on earth it seems) and they start a relationship much to Olga annoyance, eventually they are found out and because it is not allowed he is sent to a prison camp in Iceland run by non other then famous Tezuka creation Black Jack. Tezuka liked to use the same characters in lots of his stories and Black Jack is one of them, another is Van who lives on the planet Tear, and in other Tezuka productions is Astroboy's teacher and in another is a detective in Metropolis.
Godoh meets an old man and scientist called Dr Salta who plans to escape from the camp and also wants to find the firebird. Dr Salta wants to use its blood to find a way to save the planet. Along for the ride is Olga, Pincho; Lena's pet who has a habit of cleaning everything with a feather duster, Crack; a creature that has the body of a dice and Pooks a sort of fat blob that looks like bag-pipes who has actually seen a real firebird and can direct the rest of the characters to where they can find one.
Character designs for the film contradict itself with a whole mix of different character types. There are realistic humans on one side of the scale to an alien that basically has the body of a dice. Sometimes this can be a little jarring with such cutesy characters amidst death and destruction. The animation in the film even 26 years later holds up really well with very little in the way of "messy" animation that some anime suffer from during this period. There are some standout sequences involving Godoh and his training as well as some of the chase sequences. Visually the film is still impressive all these years later.
The soundtrack to the film is by Yasuo Higuchi and goes well with almost all the visuals, while I'm not a fan of the extended musical numbers throughout I can appreciated the fact that you don't hear many soundtracks like this anymore. It's a very old style orchestral type of music that reminds me of older Disney movies and the like.
Sadly the film is rather flawed, some scenes really work while others feel out of place and as a film it feels rather disjointed. The first 10 minutes is basically a sci-fi version of Fantasia and this repeats itself a few times throughout with musical interludes and set pieces that just seem to disconnect from the plot altogether. Some viewers may enjoy this but I can't say I'm a fan. Another problem I had was the pacing, basically Godoh grows up becomes a pilot, falls in love and is then thrown into a prison camp within the first 20 minutes. Other times things can move rather slowly which is unfortunate as the film is also rather long and I did find myself looking at the timer once or twice during these musical scenes.. Characters also shift personalities Godoh doesn't wants to kill animals at one stage but later has no qualms about doing so. Lena doesn't fare any better but you'll have to see for yourself. It's basically all over the place at times
Madman's release of Space Firebird 2772 is as far as I am aware the only uncut version available in English on DVD. With a great transfer and some interesting set pieces this is something that a lot of Tezuka fans should at least see. I can't say I enjoyed every minute but there were more enjoyable moments then not. Fans of this film should pick this up as soon as they can, it's the best version we will probably see for some time.
Japanese 2.0 Language ,English 2.0 Language ,English Subtitles ,Space Firebird 2772 Teaser,Theatrical Trailers
LG 32LX2D 32" HD LCD TV, Sony DVP-NS50P Progressive scan region free DVD player, Monster component cable, Yamaha TSS-15 Home Theatre Sound System
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 4 - Australia / South America
Released By: Madman Entertainment
Running time: 122
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Space Firebird 2772