Jin-Roh - Mania.com

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Other
  • MSRP: 237 FFR
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Jin-Roh



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What They Say

The Review!
The movie was originally shot on film with quite a bit of grain. This was primarily done to enhance the "feel" of it being set in the fifties. Having seen the only theatrical screening of it in Sydney (presented by the production team, no less), I can say that the DVD picture is a faithful representation of the film print. This includes the film grain which becomes quite evident especially in dark scenes, and a few scattered (less than 10) specks. The presence of the grain does not mar the beauty of the film at all, in fact, in succeeds quite well in placing the film in its putative time and place and in creating a sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately, the presence of the grain is not quite as amenable to the MPEG compression routines in this DVD, as there is a slight amount of artefacting at times centering around the grain. There are also some blurriness and soft edges at times, but they are deliberate and appropriate for the scene. There are quite a few dark scenes in the film, with little to no discernible artefacting in the shadows and no loss of shadow detail. Overall, I am very pleased with the video of this disc, as I believe that excessive "cleaning up" of the image would have resulted in a loss of mood. The film is presented in 16:9 anamorphic PAL format, which is handled beautifully by my widescreen television. It is an RSDL disc, with a layer change at 1:07:41 that is mildly disruptive but not in a critical scene (when will DVD encoders learn to place layer transitions in fadeouts or cuts?)

The film is presented with both Japanese and French DD5.1 soundtracks. The Japanese soundtrack was used for review purposes, and sounds wonderful. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and subtle and appropriate use of the rear channels and sub punctuate the action and underground scenes effectively. Most importantly, the encoding beautifully captures the haunting score by Hajime Mizoguchi. The French dub is of a standard with other French-dubbed films, meaning it is miles ahead of American dubs. This is largely due to the large dubbing industry in France as government stipulations state that all foreign films must be available in French. However, I still preferred the Japanese version.

There's nothing here. No booklet, no insert, not even a registration card. The disc is presented in a standard black Amaray case. The cover is actually quite attractive, with the ominous silhouette of a Panzer unit soldier in the foreground and a haunting blue rendition of Nanami's face juxtaposed with what I believe is the kanji for "wolf" in the background.

The menus are quite attractive and stylistically done, but lose a few points for useability gripes. On loading the disc, we are treated to an attractive montage of images from the film, with a voice, proclaiming in French, "And then, the wolf devoured Little Red Riding Hood". The main menu then loads up, and is quite beautiful. The key colour of the menu is in shades of red, and animated red images appear and disappear, creating the illusion of seeing through the goggles of a Panzer unit. All the while, the haunting vocals of "Pride" play in the background. Beautiful and evocative, this is the only time I have ever been compelled to stare at the menu of a DVD for yonks. When you select an option, a short animation featuring the phrase you select plays to the sound of a beating heart, again done in shades or red. Although beautiful, this can become a little frustrating after a while. My largest gripe with this disc, however, is that you are unable to select the Japanese audio track without French subtitles. Also, you cannot switch subtitles or audio tracks on the fly.

My, what great extras you have, grandma! This disc brims with a cornucopia of omake for the die-hard otaku. Firstly, there is a 36 min "making of" documentary featuring interviews with producer Mamoru Oshii, director Hiroyuki Okiura and composer Hajime Mizoguchi. It's in Japanese with French subtitles, and is a must-see for all film viewers. Also, there are 2 montage slideshows of character and weapon sketches, one with the main theme music playing, and the other with an instrumental arrangement of the beautiful "Pride". They run at 2 mins 35s and 2 mins 50s respectively, and most impressively, do not feature any visible line flicker or aliasing artifacts (cf the Memories R2 DVD). The disc also has both Japanese and French movie trailers for the film. Lastly, there is a French and a Japanese movie poster image. From an extras point of view, this disc will be the yardstick to which the English version will be compared. Hopefully, it will measure up to or even surpass these standards.

Ah! How do I find the superlatives to describe this amazing piece of work? Simply put, Jin Roh is my favourite anime movie, having displaced even the previously unassailable Memories into second place. Based on a manga by Mamoru Oshii (director of Ghost in the Shell), it is set in an alternative world to ours where Germany won WW2. They promptly turn on their former allies and occupy Japan, affecting a profound change in the nation akin to Japan's post-war fascination with Americana, but directed this time at Germany. This also engenders many social and governmental problems, which linger on even after the occupation. Set in the 1950s, Japan is beseiged by unemployment and civil unrest, the most visible manifestation of which is the terrorist organisation known as "The Sect". To combat this menace, a heavily armed government body unaffiliated with either the police or the military was created, and its troops are known as the Panzer Unit. It is here that we are introduced to our protagonist, Fuse. When he is confronted by a young girl carrying bombs for the Sect on a mission, he is unable to fire upon her, and she kills herself by detonating the bomb before his eyes.

Relieved of his duties following a formal inquiry, Fuse is sent back to the Academy. Wracked with guilt over the death of the girl, he visits her grave only to find himself face to face with her sister, Kei Agawa. However, things are not as simple as they seem and both Fuse and Kei are caught up in a web of intrigue of political machinations to determine the future of the Panzer Unit.

However, the most unusual thing about Jin Roh is that it is a love story. In several interviews, the creators have referred to it as a love story. In the Sydney premiere, we were introduced to the film by a member of Production I.G, who also told us that it was a love story. However, in almost every review, it is referred to as a political thriller. So what is the real Jin Roh? The short answer is that it is both a thriller and a romance, however, at its core, Jin Roh is a love story. The problem is that it does not feel at first like a romance story. It is never maudlin or over-sentimental, and more is made of things that are left unsaid that that which is explicit. However, it is in this novel and subtle treatment that Jin Roh truly shines. Its many layers unfold slowly, as in the many metaphors in its use of the familiar but chilling version of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. This is a film that rewards multiple viewings both with renewed pleasure and added revelation..

At the end of this review, you probably still want to know how good Jin Roh is. How good is it? Well, the first time I saw it, I cried. That's how good it is. If you can't wait to get it in R1 and you can speak (or read) French, then this disc might just be what you're looking for.

Japanese DD 5.1 Audio Track,French DD 5.1 Audio Track,French Subtitles,36min "Making of" documentary - Japanese audio with French subtitles,Character design slideshow #1 with main theme music
Character design slideshow #2 with instrumental arrangement of "Pride",Japanese Theatrical Trailer,French Theatrical Trailer

Review Equipment
Kenwood DVF-3030 Multi-Region Player, Grundig Xentia 16:9 82cm Flatscreen TV, Sony HTK-215 DTS & DD 5.1 sound setup


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