As the brothers figure out their role in the world, everything changes as a precog tells them they’re involved with the end of the world.
What They Say
Naoto and Naoya visit their old home only to find things to be not quite as they remember. Things become even more curious as they become involved in a case dealing with a school and its twisted teachers and suicidal students. After solving the mystery behind that remorseful situation, the two brothers learn a fraction more about the state of the world and their place in it. There is no time for reflection however, as premonitions of death and disease come to light, and new riddles require unraveling.
Media Blasters has kept this release to its original language only so we get a standard Japanese stereo mix encoded at 192kbps. Night Head Genesis is something of a quiet moody show with a fair bit of dialogue at times and the occasional outburst of action. It’s a show that doesn’t really require a lot of work when it comes to the mix as it’s very center channel oriented for its forward soundstage mix. There’s some decent placement at times, but the majority of the time it’s a single character on screen talking or talking to someone off screen. There isn’t much in the way of depth or complexity here but the encoding serves the material well and it’s problem free.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With a real world environment, Night Head Genesis is a rather appealing show with its visuals because the colors look so good and there’s a certain flow to the animation that’s nicely captured here. It’s moody and the transfer utilizes that, letting the dark areas come across well. The series has some very deep colors in a few places but it’s the dark areas that tend to hold up rather well overall. Outside of some noticeable source banding in a few scenes and the occasional bit of noise here and there, it looks very well done and the relatively high bitrate works in the shows favor.
Though not as appealing as the first volume, the second installment of Night Head Gensis is certainly attractive enough in how it draws in the pretty boy artwork. Having the two brothers face to face from different directions shows their differences but also draws their similarities as well. The illustration has some really nice detail to it with their hair and it’s not the kind of cover you see everywhere which is another plus. The back cover goes for the more violent side with a lot of red hued imagery mixed all over it that pushes a sense of evil. Overlaid on that is the summary which runs through the concept a little bit, we also get four widescreen shots from the show and a very thin font production credits section. The bottom section gives a nod towards the episode count as well as the solid technical grid. No inserts are included in the release nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release uses part of the front cover artwork as it focuses in on Naoya in a close-up which really does dominate the menu overall. It doesn’t have quite the feel that the first menu did since that had background to draw on as well.. The illustration looks even better here than it does on the cover with its colors and detail which is thankfully not losing much to the minimal navigation strip that’s included. Submenus load quickly and with nothing on the disc but the show itself, getting around is simple and easy. Access times are quick and due to the single language option, player presets were an obvious non-issue.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening five episodes of Night Head Genesis certainly weren’t episodes that had me eagerly anticipating the next volume. It was taking on the feel of mystery of the week in a way, reminiscent of those old Incredible Hulk episodes where the guy would wander into a town, a new mystery every week, solve it and move on. With two psychic brothers walking around, one of which can tap into the memories and fears of another, it opens up plenty of possibilities for doing something like this. Especially since it’s from a live action show where such a hook would work well and be cheap to produce.
Thankfully, this set of episodes starts to lay the foundation rather quickly for something else that could be a bit more interesting. Before it gets there though, it has to work through another mystery in order to show a few tenuous connections that will be more important later on. Over the course of a few episodes, the brothers get caught up in a suicide problem going on at a particular high school where there seems to be a trend going on. Some kids are going off and killing themselves in the early hours of the morning just before dawn and there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it that makes sense. A casual brushing up against one of the students has Naoya finding all sorts of potential issues going with a couple of teachers that are alternatively cruel and pleasant towards the students and they begin an investigation into it.
The group of seven that seems to be the focus of things starts to become clearer as events play out. Trying to figure out what the core cause of all of this is, as the brothers are directed in a way to investigate it by Mikuriya, is something that’s a problem since they think it may be spiritual and outside of their realm of apparent expertise. The two seem to have fallen into this role rather easily of being investigators of sorts and they push their way in easily with the students to try and figure it all out. The part that’s interesting in the larger picture is that there is a tie to Shouko from the first volume here, though it’s rather minimal for the bulk of this storyline. In the end, this storyline is done to showcase their abilities more, set things up for what’s to come and tie in a few more small elements.
Thankfully, that storyline isn’t exactly bad but it does segue into something more interesting. And something that’s rather reminiscent in a way of X/1999. While Naota and Naoya are going about their lives in trying to find out more about their past and what happened to their parents, there are others that are aware of them as well. This comes in the form of a man named Kamiya who is a precognitive that has seen the end of the world through a virus of some sort. And during each of this visions that he’s had, the brothers have been in them and he thinks they may be the cause of it. These statements cause one of his followers who have come to rely on his visions to seek out the brothers to try and kill them in order to stop the fall of mankind that Kamiya has foreseen.
The introduction of Kamiya brings in something bigger to the show and gives it a lot more focus as the brothers can now search for those involved with this potential virus. Of course, it’s rather easy to do so since Naoya’s abilities apparently combine with Kamiya’s abilities and it allows for them to boost each other and unearth new details that Kamiya was unaware of. This sets the brothers off on a mission to find the woman that will unknowingly unleash the virus and to deal with it in a non-threatening way. Of course, there are those behind the scenes aware of all of this – manipulating this? – who are intent on making sure things go their way. The background story is gaining more focus as the two brothers move forward with their attempts to stave off the fall of mankind. And for Naota to find a little love along the way too, apparently.
I have to admit that I’m a sucker for end of the world storylines. I loved the initial premise as laid out in Heroes second season and I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s The Stand. And this show has some parallels, very lightly, with CLAMP’s X/1999 series. All of this coming about in the last three episodes or so of this volume combined with how Shouko is starting to figure into it is turning the show into something that I’m actively looking forward to. While it started off as a journey of the week kind of series, it’s decided to be something bigger and more interesting. Whether it can pull it off based on what they’ve done so far is another story, since the pacing is a bit stilted at times and there are some odd moments with how the characters act and react. But it does look to want to change things up and that’s welcome for a show that could have been completely predictable otherwise.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.