Night Head Genesis enters a transitional phase as one storyline ends and the setup for the next begins.
What They Say
Situations intensify around the supernatural siblings Naoto and Naoya, as they become involved in stranger and more serious paranormal cases. Hidden pasts are slowly revealed in the background, and the brothers come to blows with people possessing powers that are more dangerous than ever. Afterwards, an old friend asks for their aid, and giving it means more trouble than they ever realized. And by the end of the whole affair, the Kirihara brothers are in for an even greater surprise.
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.
The third installment is quite good as it again has the two brothers together, albeit looking in different directions, while Naota is holding onto Kusahara. It’s interesting and unusual that they show her the way they do with just her back as she wraps her arm around him since it’s not something that you see that often. The illustrative nature of the cover is very appealing as it shows a lot of detail and some very good colors. 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 Naota 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)
Night Head Genesis hits the halfway mark and just beyond with this set of episode and it’s definitely a transitional phase for the series. The opening volume was chaotic and had some intriguing moments, but it was the second volume that got me hooked with its story of the virus, the end of the world and the whole precognitive aspect. The show took on some elements of X/1999 with it and it started to find its voice even if it did seem like it meandered a bit. Add in that it was a bit callous with the lives of others and you really couldn’t be sure who would survive any encounter that may happen, which is admittedly a plus for a show like this.
What’s disappointing is that the storyline that had me so intrigued and interested ends up ending rather quickly. As much as Naoya and Naoto have worked to try and stave this off with Kamiya’s help, they can’t help but feel that things haven’t finished as they would have hoped. And Kusahara herself thinks things have been resolved only to find that there are other forces at work trying to make sure that the research continues on. The manipulations going on here aren’t exactly subtle, at least from the viewers standpoint, but what these last moments of this storyline feel like is more setup for the bigger game than what’s going on here. With the way this arc has gone, I’ve certainly become interested in seeing how it all resolves but in some ways it’s a little too pat and neat as the larger forces manipulate things as they see fit and the brothers are almost simply dragged along for the ride.
With the virus storyline essentially put to rest within a single episode, Night Head Genesis starts to move towards its next storyline. What’s interesting is that at this stage of the series, we might get some standalone material that helps to flesh things out and lay down a few seeds that would take rise in the final arc. Instead, everything for the rest of this disc feels as if it’s setup material for the next big thing. This is good in that they’re laying down a fair bit of material, but it’s bad because it does seem like so little happens and there’s so little progress that you aren’t sure what you’re watching for anymore. Perhaps it comes across as more interesting and mysterious when you watch it on a weekly basis, but in a five episode collection like this it doesn’t flow all that well, especially with the recaps at the beginning of each episode.
What this set of episodes focuses on is bringing in the next round of plays, ostensibly from this mysterious Ark organization. With the virus removed from the picture and their plans for it ended, there’s a bit of uncertainty about what they want to do. In some ways, it seems like they want to bring the brothers over to their side as the send in Sonezaki to talk to them. But at the same time it feels like they want to eliminate them as well. Threats are made plainly in some ways but it’s more about the manipulations that this group will go through to achieve their goals in that they’re applying pressure on the brothers. It’s interesting to see them go for some verbal sparring to do it, while putting out the physical threats in other forms, but it’s more reminiscent of the first few episodes where there’s a whole lot of uncertainty about the pacing and execution of the story.
There are a lot of interesting things being laid out here however. The revelations about Shouko are minimal but they lead to the idea that the brothers may be the potential to reach where she is, to become more than just what they are and actually hit the next stage of evolution depending on brain usage. Such things have always been fascinating bits of science, but here they have fun with it by using it as a means to deal with the origin of the species and its place in the world. There’s also some good back story brought into everything as they delve into what Mikuriya has been doing all this time and in the past with the brothers as well while also pushing him in a new direction that puts the brothers in a very different position at the very end here.
This set of episodes of Night Head Genesis comes across as a bit rushed in how it closes out the last storyline but it does provide some tantalizing tidbits about what’s to come. Unfortunately, it seems like it’s spending too much of its time on setup and preparation instead of moving things forward. There’s a certain laid back nature to this that’s disconcerting at times, especially as things happen and the brothers don’t seem to react or know what to do so they just stand there. The things that bring me back revolve around wondering what’s up with Shouko and getting a handle on the larger mysteries, such as who was backing the research facility and what the scope of this Ark organization is. The brothers are sometimes interesting characters to view things through, but they’re still being pulled along rather than direction the currents.
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.