Human Crossing Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Human Crossing

Human Crossing Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     March 31, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005

Human Crossing Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Ordinary people muddle through life and intersect with one another in random ways. Like people walking along road crossings in different directions with no apparent destination in sight. Human Crossing is a realistic portrayal of everyday people in modern Japan with all its beauty and ugliness. In this volume, Human Crossing examines the lives of an actor who gets lost with his own success in "The Cicadas of Winter", an idealistic professor who wants to forget his past in "The Beautiful Afterimage", and a workaholic journalist who rediscovers what's most important in life in "Sidelined". Human Crossing is a collection of short vignettes about hope, a reminder of the small victories one can achieve amid the vicissitudes of life.

The Review!
Continuing with the individual tales, more of the "human story" is covered here with a look at very different lives.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Being a series that's based on the lives of Japanese people, it only makes sense to listen to it in its original language to me. The series is a pretty standard stereo mix that's not terribly overactive since it's heavily dialogue driven and there aren't really all that many scenes that you could term action scenes. The opening and closing segments have probably one of the fullest sounding areas of the show and comes across well. During regular playback, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The material in the show is done with a real world style but without going for the somewhat traditional dull and pale look that a lot of shows in this vein tend to go for. Instead it's well animated with some good vibrant colors throughout and a certain lushness in a lot of scenes. The color palette is pretty lively with a rich choice in a lot of the background and character design colors. The transfer is pretty much free from most problems such as aliasing and cross coloration and it was also good in that there weren't any noticeable color gradation issues. There's a slight bit of macroblocking going on in a few scenes with solid colors but when the player was reset to 480p they disappeared.

The Japanese artwork wasn't used with this release though the logo is kept in an opaque form under the English "translation" of it. Designed in the same manner as the first volume of the series, the top half provides shots from a couple of episodes and the bottom half rounds them out while the logo is through the center both in Japanese and English. It's not the best way to do things but it gets the idea across, especially with the tagline to it. The back cover provides a good summary of the premise of the show and lists each of the four episodes and their title while putting shots from the front cover to each of them. The bottom section contains the mixture of production and technical information. The technical information for a number of new Geneon releases is getting harder and harder to discern as the text for it is getting much to small and placed out of the way in making it easy to find, such as the running time on this volume. The insert is a bland piece that has little real artwork to it and lists the chapter stops for each of the four episodes while the reverse side lists the tentative release months for future volumes.

This is probably one of the most understated Nighjar menus I've seen them do yet as it doesn't even have any sound. Using a mixture of images from the show's live action opening and ending sequences and doing it in a creative collage style, there's a neat indistinct nature to much of how this looks with some areas brighter than others while some are overly dark. Going through the center at an angle is the series name with the Japanese logo and below it the English translation and the navigation list. It's a very simple menu and easy to navigate with fast access times. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which is another plus.

The extras are the same as the first volume. There's a clean version of the opening sequence but there are also translated versions of the opening and ending sequences. The ending translation is done once and covers all the credits for the four volumes which are mostly differences in voice actors where leads are only credited and the script writers as well as some of the directors. Since the show retains the original Japanese opening and endings the information had to be included somewhere (though I had hoped for it to follow each set of credits with a full list for that episode) this is better than nothing but not by too much.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Human Crossing's first volume served up plenty of material that I found to be quite enjoyable. While I understand the position many take in that these are the kinds of things that are just as easily found on your average drama or other venues that do short standalone stories, these are the kinds of tales that I've enjoyed in manga and anime form over the years that I figured would never really be picked up here all that much. It's something different and I like the kind of feel that these things have than yet another sci-fi fantasy love epic with schoolgirls.

This volume brings three separate tales and all of them were interesting, though the first one is a bit confusing at first since the length of time between the opening minute or two and what we follow afterwards isn't clearly listed. The tale starts with two young men talking about wanting to be big in the entertainment industry and watching as a current star pulls away from across the construction site they're working at. One of them, Maicho, is studying an acting book and the other wants to help him along the way. So it's little surprise that we flashforward a bit and he's working as Maicho's manager and Maicho is a popular star but one who has lost his way over the years.

As popular as he is, he's forgotten a lot about his personal life and barely even sees his wife these days, which is a problem since she's pregnant. His manager works hard to try and keep him on the right side of things and to see his family but it's something that Maicho rails against and wants to just do whatever he wants to do as a reward for the hard work he puts into acting. A life like this can't go on forever without something happening and when an issue arises with his unborn son, it calls everything into mind for him and we start to see who he really is through flashbacks and painful realizations. Maicho's not the most likeable character from the start and he doesn't really end as one either, but it was interesting to see how he was dealing with the situation more by what he didn't do, such as seeing his wife and thinking of how this could affect his career.

Another story that I really liked had to deal with a hotshot reporter who was stationed at the papers main office but finds himself being reassigned to a regional paper as something of a punishment for his attitude and other problems he's caused. He's come up with a number of scoops during his time there, but at the age of thirty-one he's considered something of a youngling that needs more time to mature before he can be properly used. Most of his stories were never used and he finds himself always going up against his boss trying to do what he wants instead of what he's assigned.

When he's out there in the field, he's completely uninterested in everything about it. When spending time at the press club where it's filled with slightly older men who help each other out with stories, he ignores them and just doesn't get involved. He doesn't like the area, the people or anything about being out there and makes it plainly obvious. It's unfortunate since his wife is very happy to be there, happy to see him more and to be with such nice neighbors and have what's turned out to be a better life by being there. This only serves to infuriate him more. Watching as he struggles against this and then lets his ego get in the way when a big story does break, it turns into something of a lesson on how real reporters should be, which I can't help but find comical based on the way the newspaper/journalism field is here in this country these days.

In Summary:
Human Crossing's tales are ones that I enjoy quite a bit, partially because they are such a break from the norm but also because I enjoy seeing the small quirks and unique things that come from Japanese society that are integrated here. This doesn't mean I look at this as prime examples of how life is there. What I get out of these stories is some interesting slice of life tales that are enjoyable to watch and generally done with some neat little twist or idea that makes it stand out a bit. The animation for it continues to be just like the first volume which is solid but doesn't really stand out, which it shouldn't. Those who liked the first volume, this one does a good job in expanding the stories and getting around a bit more and is just as enjoyable.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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