Human Crossing Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Human Crossing

Human Crossing Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 23, 2005
Release Date: August 30, 2005


Human Crossing Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
"Families, husbands and wives, lovers and people.
Dramas that emerge from life's human crossroads...
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 eccentric old gentleman who helps a boy from bullies in ""Whispers"", an instructor in a reform school who saves a troubled youth in ""The Instructor's Rain"" and a bar hostess who is accused of stubbing her common law husband in ""The Watershed"". 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!
Bringing the series to a close with three more individual tales, Human Crossing touches on more areas of life in Japan that almost never get talked about in anime.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 three episodes while the reverse side lists what other volumes to look out for.

Menu:
This is probably one of the most understated Nightjar 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.

Extras:
The only extras here for this last volume is the translated versions of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Different facets of everyday life are covered again in this final volume of the series. Human Crossing's style and attempts at fairly basic stories that can be told in just about twenty minutes isn't the easiest to do but with what they do provide I've found them to be enjoyable and interesting enough that they spark some research into what things are really like. Series like this aren't going to be mainstream bonanzas but they're very enjoyable and entertaining nonetheless.

Like most of the other episodes, there's a layer of unpleasantness that's dealt with in each of the episodes and some of them are definitely pie in the sky views of how things should be and not how they'd really work out. The opening episode is a perfect example where we have junior high school boy whose mother works as a hostess in a bar. This information, when others in his class find out, leads to him being bullied and beat up. They've gone to a few different places for a bit now due to his mother having to do this work in order to pay off his father's debt from when he left with another woman and the same thing has happened repeatedly.

Kiyoshi finds himself along the water after one of the beatings only to find an old man there that chastises him for taking the beatings. The two end up becoming friends of sorts over the next couple of weeks and the older man teaches Kiyoshi some things about life from his perspective. The interesting thing is that his views aren't what a lot of people would consider right but would see them as justified views in having. The changes in society and how they affect people is one part, in that it helps out a huge number of them but damages things for a smaller set of people but is still seen as just a good thing overall. The talks between the two men go into what's really going on with Kiyoshi and his feelings about what his mother does which is interesting but it leads to an improbable ending that you can't imagine really working in any real world situation.

Similar to an episode on the last volume, we get another bad girls episode but done a bit differently as it follows an instructor at a girls reformatory who has to deal with the worst kind of person that's brought there – the repeat offender. Something like ten percent of the girls who leave the reformatory come back for something else and they end up being the worst to deal with for any number of reasons. The instructor in this episode has one of those at the start of the show and it spawns the memory of another one he went through some years prior, a young woman named Akemi who had run away from home, ended up in a gang of some sort and was selling her body on the streets for drugs and alcohol as well as food. He took her on as he did anyone else but he felt more for her in wanting to see her succeed and get on with a normal life that he went above and beyond the call of duty when things went bad for her.

While the reformatory material is fairly standard stuff, it's the interactions of the people that is what this series is all about. When Akemi manages to break out of the reformatory, the instructor goes off to find her even though he probably shouldn't. This cements the bond between them so that when she does finally leave after serving her time, she sends him letters every month for well over a year before they stop for some reason. The way this works is such a nice break in tradition as he has no romantic feelings towards her but just the feelings of someone concerned about someone else, something that's usually just not given much screen time in any series. His efforts to find her in the red light district where the letters originate from has him feeling she fell back into old patterns, but instead we see something far different and the emotions that flow from it just feel all the more honest.

In Summary:
Similar in a way to the Boys Be series, Human Crossing is something that appeals to me with its short form story and the idea of getting as much across as possible in that limited amount of time and space. Based on the manga series, they cover a number of simple and interesting tales that provide a much wider view of the slice of life kind of tales that are out there than most other series do and that alone is intriguing. With the end of the series we get some slightly darker material to it but it's just more of what we've had before overall. This didn't light fandom up but for those that got it and enjoyed it, it's something that you'll want more of in some form. Human Crossing was a very pleasant diversion from so many other series that forget that the characters are the most important thing.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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