Darkside Blues - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 83
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Darkside Blues

Darkside Blues

By Chris Beveridge     October 26, 1999
Release Date: October 26, 1999

Darkside Blues
© Central Park Media

What They Say
In the gothic landscape of the future, the Persona Century Corporation owns 99% of the world. They thought they wielded absolute power. They were wrong.

There are isolated regions of the world which are beyond the Corporation’s claw-like reach. One of these urban pockets of rebellion is a dangerous and lawless free-zone: Kabuki Town - also known as the Darkside of Tokyo. Free of the Persona’s storm troopers, Kabuki Town has become an anarchistic haven for misfits, violent criminals, and idealistic rebels.

Now, the time of reckoning has come. A mysterious figure has appeared - a dark mystic with the power to break the Persona’s grasp on the world. But the Corporation is aware of the threat he poses, and they have an army of super-human assassins and the resources of an entire world to throw against him. Can one mystic and a small band of rebels stand against a global dictatorship?

The Review!
We've got a few things to say, but we'll get into the technical side first for those interested.

The audio on both tracks are stereo tracks that sound more like a mono track, but not in a bad way. Most of the movie is dialogue driven which is coming through the center channel, giving your left and right speakers little workout except for during the brief but intense action sequences. Dialogue itself is clear and undistorted.

10/27 update: After some notice, it became apparent that the "English Surround" on the languages menu is actually a 5.1 track. It doesn't seem terribly active, but I'm surprised it was not mentioned more prominenantly.

The video on the disc is very well done. With the large amount of darks and shadows, I couldn't see any serious pixellation beyond a little line shimmering during some of the usual difficult to encode scenes. And even those were extremely mild and I'd hazard that most people won't notice it. Sections of the show look soft, but that's again due to the content itself rather than the encoding. A very well authored disc in this respect.

Central Park Media continues with its clear keepcase packaging which seems to be suiting them and many fans quite well. The front cover is definitely nicely done gothic style which will appeal to a lot of people and the back provides plenty of information and several quotes. The inside cover provides all the chapter stops, brief background and major cast voice actor listings for both English and Japanese.

Central Park Media again tries to experiment with their menus this time. Previous menus have had a static background with selections and a portion of the screen with a video playing inside it. This release has the menu selections overlaid onto a piece of the anime (a musical section) that helps to invoke the mood that the show will contain. It's not flashy, but it's pretty good. Somewhat similar to Warner Bros. release of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

CPM has instituted a few new changes with this disc, at least to my knowledge. One of them is the fact that this disc is listed as a region 1 disc. Those whose players or PC decoders show its designation may be able to find out whether this is actually true or just a bit of cover information that made it on their. The other change is one that I had heard about awhile ago, but is the first instance of seeing it in action. The "Suggested age" piece that Pioneer has been promoting with other companies such as Viz and Media Blasters. CPM is also now a part of this group and I'm pretty happy to see it finally showing on the DVD releases.

But that's it for the disc itself. The rest of the review will be about the content itself. Let's talk discuss a few of the quotes on the back.

"...a fascinatingly moody puzzle." - Science Fiction Weekly

A puzzle indeed. One missing perhaps 50% if not more of the pieces.

"Darkside Blues is a nail-biting, seat-hanging battle..." - Overstreet Fan

Did we have the same disc?

"It's difficult to describe the brilliance of Darkside Blues..." - Animerica

Oh, they can't figure it out either?

Oh, ok. Don't take the above comments totally wrong. There is indeed a puzzle, there are some nifty battles and yes, I did bite my nails a few times. But to be honest, after 83 minutes of the show and then watching the credits role, both my wife and myself looked at each other and wondered what happened. Not just in the story itself, but whether the creators forgot to clue everyone else in on the story.

A lot of the show seems to be something like a shorthand story between friends discussing a concept and how they'll want to lay things out. Part of the liner notes explain that this story formed the basis of a popular manga series in Japan that eventually became this anime movie.

That explains a lot.

We're thrust into the middle of a very large and changed world with no timeline to when we may be seeing things. Characters are introduced with little motivations and then more are added. Some are given promising danger and villainy and then are quickly and almost quietly dispatched. I believe it was almost halfway through the movie before any sort of loud sequence occurred. Not that I mind a dialogue driven movie by any means, but the dialogue has to actually explain things to some extent.

I can extrapolate my own meaning of this Renewal that many of the characters talk about, but what is its meaning to the picture in general? There are so many unanswered questions and so many unasked questions in this show that it's very difficult to really know what the creators wanted to express in it.

Maybe reading the manga helps. Of course, that's a crutch that the creators can take but one that they're often better not to do. This is a very shiny disc with some nice features and an overall great package. If you're looking for a show that has the eeriness of Demon City Shinjuku and want to have something you can try to find the meaning to, this disc is for you. If you're looking for an hour and a half of pretty pictures, you're in luck as well. I just don't think this one was for me all that much.

English Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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