the Garden of sinners: Chapter 1 - Thanatos -

Blu-ray Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: NA
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: NA
  • Age Rating: No Rating
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: Aniplex USA
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
  • Series: the Garden of sinners

the Garden of sinners: Chapter 1 - Thanatos

the Garden of sinners: Chapter 1 - Thanatos Blu-ray Anime Review

By Chris Beveridge     December 27, 2010
Release Date: February 08, 2011

the Garden of sinners: Chapter 1 - Thanatos
© Aniplex

A series of unrelated suicides has Shiki investigating it, only to discover it has a strong tie to her friend who has been practically comatose for some time now.

What They Say
After spending two years in a coma caused by a traffic accident, Shiki Ryougi awakens with amnesia. Inexplicably, she finds, in turn, that she has also obtained 'Mystic Eyes of Death Perception' in which she can see the invisible lines of mortality that hold every living and non-living thing together. Working for a small independent agency, Shiki attempts to unravel the baffling mystery behind a series of abnormal, horrifying incidents, but are they a foreshadowing that leads to something even more tragic and ominous? Things are not what they appear to be on the surface, but what dark revelations lie underneath? This is a modern occult-action thriller where Shiki must tackle supernatural incidents with her special abilities while searching for a reason to live.

The Review!

the Garden of sinners is a stereo-only production and the Blu-ray release for is presented using the uncompressed PCM format. I've long been a fan of PCM stereo presentations and this one, encoded with a bitrate of 2.3mbps, comes across very strongly with its layout and design. The simple things such as the footfalls on the floor or the larger sweeping music moments really shine here and show just how easily immersed into a show you can get with just a stereo design. The opening music piece alone really shines beautifully as it has such a haunting sound to it and there's just an incredible warmth and depth to it that it's almost surprising since few anime shows really seem to get this when they create this kind of production.
Note: Due to operator error, the PCM 5.1 track, encoded at 6.9mbps, was not used when listening to this release. The disc defaults to 2.0 and you have to select the 5.1 for it to play, something we did not check to do since it's not a bilingual release.
Originally released in 2007, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is encoded with AVC in 1080p. The feature uses a really good looking real world palette to it with some very strong moments of vibrancy that it can be very striking when you come across them. The bit rate counter seems to spend most of its time in the upper thirties, even when there's almost no motion on the screen, and that gives it a very beautiful look. There's a certain softness to some of it in its design, to add to the atmosphere of certain moments, but it avoids looking fuzzy or introducing any unwanted artifacts into it. The design of the feature is wonderfully captured by the encoding here.
The main menu here is pretty nicely done with a style to it that's certainly striking. The bulk of the screen has clips playing throughout it, but it's in phases and of different sizes as it cuts across from all directions at different times. It's done in black and white as well, with only some color entering into it further in which makes it all the more eye-catching. The left side has the menu navigation which is also done in simple black and white along with the logo that includes the chapter name. Subtitle selection is quick and easy though the disc does not read player presets and defaults, naturally, to no subtitles at all.
The only extra included here is an absolutely adorable pre-show reminder done in stop animation about how bad it is to use cell phones in theaters. It gets the point across so much more so than the big Hollywood ones we usually see in theaters.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the works by the people who eventually became Type-Moon, the Garden of Sinners is a multi-part murder mystery where each feature is essentially a new chapter in it. The original works were part of a doujinshi that gained a lot more attention after Type-Moon was created and the original works even showed up on a Tsukihime specials disc that was released earlier in the decade. With the growing popularity of it, and of Type-Moon itself, creating something serious, dark and fascinating certainly sounded up their alley for a series of features that are spread across the seven volumes that tell the tale.
Titled as “Thanatos” and also as the “overlooking view” chapter, the opening feature sets us into this world with exactly that kind of mindset, to step back and look at the larger picture and to, as one of the characters says, see how even a mundane and pedestrian landscape can look amazing from the distance. The feature introduces us to Shiki, a young woman who has a prosthetic arm and is also someone with some spiritual ability, and Touko, a puppeteer who handles fixing Shiki's hand but also provides something of the dialogue portion of their relationship as she's always talking. And the talk this time around is about the number of school girls that are committing suicide in similar yet different ways across the area, throwing themselves to death with no notes and seemingly no rhyme or reason for it that the police can discern.
This opening chapter deals with two stories of sorts as it gets us acquainted with the main characters of the story. The subplot story involves Shiki's friend Mikiya who we see at the start spends time with her at her very bare place by bringing strawberry ice cream to her and just hanging out. When we see him next, he's not exactly in his mind as he sits on the couch at Touko's office and just watches TV, though that's there more seemingly to try and draw him out of it than for him to actually watch it. The problem of his condition isn't made clear, but it eventually comes together more as we see the main storyline itself play out. The relationship between Mikiya and Shiki is one of the points that has potential for being interesting and instrumental to the show as it progresses, but here it's a curiosity more than anything else.
The main storyline that takes place through here though involves the Fujou buildings that Shiki ends up running to when she has the feeling that someone is about to die. She makes it there too late, resulting in a chilling scene of someone falling to their death behind her, but it's the discovery she needs as there are quite a few souls that are inhabiting these old and abandoned buildings. Shiki's attempts at dealing with them is the main action point of the chapter and it's beautifully done as she falls through on it the first time but then comes back with an improved puppet arm for herself and a sense of determination that carries her through a very attractive sequence. The story of what's going on with these spirits, and the one that seems to have more about her, is dealt with in the aftermath and it's the kind of leisurely yet creepy piece that helps to define what kind of series this is going to be like.
Like other Type-Moon shows, there's a definite sense of style about it here. The visuals for it are very important as it's used to built up the atmosphere. The backgrounds are really beautiful, especially when it focuses on the Fujou buildings and how they're so worn down and falling apart. You can feel the age and lack of neglect in the designs so well that it's almost hypnotic. Combining that with the sunset colors applied to it and it's even more beautiful. Most of what we get here is very slow, very deliberate in creating the atmosphere it wants to have, but when it moves into action mode, it shines even more. The rooftop battle is very engaging to watch and the use of colors and camera direction really makes it an exciting sequence that helps to show a direction that the show can go in at any point.
In Summary:
I had no idea what to expect from this series going into it, but the opening chapter of the Garden of sinners has me feeling like it's going to be a Type-Moon series that I can get into. What it wants to do here in this “overlook” chapter is to introduce us to the primary characters, showcase their relationships to some extent as well as what it is that defines them, from how Shiki uses her spiritual abilities to the very analytical aspect that Touko has as she deals with her puppetry in an unexpected way. The use of the suicides, the spiritual and the personal all works well here and it definitely creates a distinct and intriguing atmosphere that you want to immerse yourself into more. The start of the series has definitely got me interested since it's avoiding typical high school fare and is treating it all very seriously while still keeping it human. The Garden of sinners has a whole lot of potential to it that you can see easily from here. 

Japanese 2.0 PCM Language,  Japanese 5.1 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Subtitles, Pre-Show Message

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer. 

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