Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: All
- Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
- Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan
- MSRP: ¥4700
- Running time: 30
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 1080p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Iblard Jikan
By Chris Beveridge
July 10, 2007
Release Date: July 03, 2007
What They Say
© Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan
Blu-ray release of the feature "Iblard no Sekai" featuring artwork from Naohisa Inoue and with music from Kiyonori Matsuo. Includes bonus soundtrack CD with eight songs perofrmed by Kiyonori Matsuo and the Inblard Traveling Band.The Review!
Utilizing Inoue Naohisa lush paintings and providing some life throughout them, Studio Ghibli has presented a gorgeous presentation of art coming to life.Audio:
With no dialogue to the special there isn't exactly a lot to comment on in total. This release contains both a Dolby Digital 2.0 track done at a high rate of 640 kbps and a Linear PCM 5.1 tracked done at 6.9 mbps. There are certainly strong differences between the two that make it no contest if you have the right equipment for it. The soundtrack used for the special is filled with rich music and some minor but perfect directionality to the rear speakers. There isn't a lot of bass to it but the subwoofer does get some appropriate use throughout. The overall result is one that is heavily towards the forward soundstage but has such an incredibly rich feel to it that it simple envelops you. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.Video:
Released in July of 2007, this thirty minute OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and with a resolution of 1080p encoded by MPEG-2. Coded for Region A, this is simply a gorgeous looking piece but not one without its flaws. The strength of the OVA comes from the visuals and they have an incredibly rich feeling about them. There is such a lushness to the colors and a sense of reality to them that on our 70" XBR2 you can't help but feel like you're standing right in front of a massive painting. The various water effects throughout it give a similar feeling with how it flows and ripples. The main problem with the look of the show comes down to the bit of shimmering you can seen in several areas during the various pans and zooms. It's very minor overall but it is noticeable throughout and is mildly distracting if you're looking for it. Everyone that I've shown this to since getting it hasn't noticed it at all and instead simply been taken in by the visuals. The vast majority of the feature has a bitrate of 38 mbps and even when it does the black segments between each of the chapters it's still at 32 mbps.Packaging:
Done up in a standard Blu-ray case, the front cover art features one of the scenes from the OVA with a woman standing on a ledge outside. The colors here are decent but they feel so incredibly muted after seeing the show that it becomes a pale representation of what's inside. The back cover provides another scene from the show but with the animated piece being played out in a series of smaller stills on it. The discs features and what the package contains is clearly listed as well as a few brief lines about the show itself. The bottom portion is given over to the usual standard technical grid which lays it all out clearly. The reverse side of the package contains a two panel shot from the show which looks good if you take it out of the case. I'm still hoping for cases to be made that are clear through the center and blue on the top so we can have proper reverse side artwork. The included insert has a rundown of the staff and the music used for each of the segments within the feature.Menu:
Containing both a pop-up menu and a top level menu, this release design goes right to playing the feature itself after some brief warnings. The pop-up menu loads very quickly and is simple in its design as just a series of light blue boxes along the top with the selections. Scene selection from the pop-up menu isn't my favorite though as making a selection from the text submenu causes the pop-up menu to disappear. Going into the extras is also problematic as once you are in there it returns you to the main menu instead of the feature itself where you left off. The top level menu is decent as it features a static menu with text selections to a bit of the music. It runs smoothly and without problems but doesn't have much eye-candy to entice with. Access times are generally very fast and quick to move about but the layout in terms of returning to the feature itself is problematic at times.Extras:
While the show itself doesn't need subtitles, I wish the extras had them so I could figure them out a bit better. The main extras on the disc appear to be encoded in HD whereas the nine minute trailer section is at 480p. The trailers are particularly cruel as they advertise Tales from the Earthsea at the end for the DVD release only. That film, along with just about all other Ghibli films, cry for an HD release. Within the HD extras however there are a few things worth checking out beyond the creative staff profiles. There's a series of sixty-three stills which showcases the original paintings used for the OVA. Strangely, a commentary version of the OVA is included on the disc as well that runs its full length. This isn't just the commentary track running over the MPEG-2 presentation though but rather a whole separate encoding done via AVC with a bitrate that's all over the map as it runs from the low teens to the high thirties with plenty of time spent in the twenties. Some of the shimmering you can see in the MPEG-2 presentation of the OVA is minimized through this but not all of it. Depending on how this was authored, it's an ideal study case for the differences between the two encoding processes for those attuned to such details.
This AVC encoding also appears to have two more audio tracks included with it. One is another commentary track while the third appears to be just a music score like the original. The audio mix is done with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 640kbps, the same as the main feature as well. The last extra on the disc, unfortunately done at 480p, is a seventeen minute making of featurette with the creators. Naturally it isn't subtitled but it covers some of what was going on back in late 2006 and into the production. Not on the disc but also included with this release is a CD containing all the music from the OVA.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though not exactly what Studio Ghibli fans were hoping to be the first Blu-ray release from the group, Iblard Jikan is certainly a wonderful way of setting expectations. The thirty minute OVA is essentially a series of paintings by Inoue Naohisa that are split into eight segments which have a different music piece set to them. Inoue Naohisa is best known to anime fans in the US for his work in designing the fantasy elements in the film Whisper of the Heart. Much of what made those scenes so striking and appealing is evident in every frame of this release.
Iblard Jikan takes the numerous paintings that he and the creative staff have chosen and set them to some beautiful if haunting instrumental music. The retain the feel that many Ghibli films do in their sense of wonder and beauty as well as harmony. Not content with just making a slideshow per se, they also introduced animation into the paintings and have parts of them moving. The opening piece for example has a countryside landscape where the sky portion is slowly being moved along. Blades of grass move about and the water is digitally animated to move. The water is done in dozens of scenes and sometimes it feels like too much attention was paid to it but the end results are gorgeous. One scene has a train station stop where the rain is pouring down and it leaves such an impression when it hits the ground and ripples outward.
The character animation that's introduced in several of the scenes is generally top notch. It's done minimally and with a sense of blending into it rather than dominating it. Some of the scenes have the characters (all women or young girls for what its worth) end up either starting or ending as part of the actual painting itself. Seeing the shifts from one form to the other is very well done and engaging as you start to wonder what some of them will look like in the other form. Sometimes you get disappointed that some of the painted versions don't become animated at all, such as the scene from the front cover. If there's any introduced animation to this that I don't care for it comes in the form of the whimsical little trolleys that are used throughout. They're thankfully not in every scene but some of them just look bad and far too artificial in comparison to other scenes. They're used to introduce a greater sense of depth and they do work on occasion. It's really the only hit or miss part of this presentation outside of the bad looking dragonfly plane sequence.In Summary:
Iblard Jikan isn't a special that will appeal to a lot of people. It's very calming, very relaxing and extremely beautiful to look at. It's eye-candy in the purest sense of the phrase. It's the kind of show you can slide into a demo setup in a retail store and suddenly have lots of people standing around looking at it. It's not without its flaws, both in the encoding and in the animation added into the show, but it simply wowed us from the very first painting. A lot of films have a hard time looking "HD" but a show like this simply reinforces the "looking through a window" cliché. Iblard Jikan is a great first release from Studio Ghibli and will hopefully herald more from them in the near future to showcase their other animation works. This is primarily for completists and those that want to show off their setups.
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese Linear PCM 5.1 Language,Commentary Tracks,Staff Profiles,Making Of Feature,Soundtrack CD
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.