Night Head Genesis Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 21.9
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Night Head Genesis

Night Head Genesis Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     June 17, 2009
Release Date: May 12, 2009


Night Head Genesis Vol. #5
© Media Blasters

The world is threatened once more as forces converge and it’s up to the brothers to save it again.

What They Say

Goaded into a showdown with another powerful psychic named Mikumo, Naoto is slowly and deliberately steered down the murderer's path. As the stark consequences drive him into a comatose state, Sakie's power is pushed into motion by a terrible tragedy at Mikumo's hands. Helpless, Naoya does what he can to stem the tide of the supernatural events triggered by Sakie's awakening, only to be saved by another's.

After those events, the two brothers meet a young girl who draws mysterious pictures, and the duo are prompted on another case, no longer asking the question, "Where are we headed?"

Contains episodes 21-24.

The Review!
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The final volume of the series is one of the better ones I think as it has a very good looking visual of the two brothers standing against the very large moon in the background. The soft greens draw more attention to the men who manage to make their outfits look very good here. With the logo adding a bit more of a firmness to it all, tying it together with the color choices, it’s a very appealing piece that almost gives it an epic feeling with very little. 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.

Menu:
The menu design for this release uses part of the front cover artwork as it focuses in on Naoto 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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The conclusion to Night Head Genesis arrives with its final four episodes that brings the story to a close for at least a particular segment. It’s interesting in that we don’t get the feeling that this is the end of a chapter but rather just a break between paragraphs. Part of this comes from the way the show played out by running through several different stories that had their own sense of closure. When you finish out this volume, which completes two storylines, you are almost left with the expectation of more episodes to come to tell more stories. It’s also interesting that one of the themes of the show involves the planet at the brink of destruction multiple times. It’s almost like you have to wonder whether it would be best to let it happen since the planet seems so intent on going through an upheaval.

The first two episodes bring the story with the Ark Corporation to a close as the brothers are continuing to deal with Mikumo. Mikumo is another of the slightly off-kilter and disturbed types that have populated the series where they use their powers in a way that has put them above others, as the next evolution that can look down upon what has come before and is still out there in force. With his ability to nullify others and to push others, he’s worked well to manipulate Saki into doing what the President wants and to set her plans in motion. Her plans are still of the sketchy variety all told, but so much of what she’s trying to do revolves around making sure key things are in place before she dies. Like a lot of people who predict the future, she’s burdened by things but goes about it in a circular way to deal with it. But with her visions, you can’t discount the need to do so. But when she allies herself with people like Mikumo and lets him use his abilities the way he does, it’s hard to sympathize with her position. But therein lies the bit of character drama for her since she can see the possible end times and has to orchestrate events to try and stave it off, or use it to lessen the damage. It’s why I’ve always been drawn to the idea of psychohistory.

The second two episodes are a more of the same but they do try and change the direction a little bit. It shifts the timeline forward by about eighteen months and the two brothers have been living quietly for all that time. But now the man who watched over them for years in the lab has had them come to Russia where a five year old girl constantly draws pictures that show the world coming to an end around the edges. Her drawings are basically highly detailed maps and it points to an epicenter in Japan. Naoto and Naoya aren’t exactly hugely keen to go back into all of this again, but when Naoya falls unconscious after touching the map, they realize just how big this is. This sends them back to Japan where they learn that a super sized earthquake may be in the offing as the planet itself is trying to evolve and change by spitting out its negative energy. Of course, nobody believes the seismologist in the area as to what’s about to happen, and that leads to the small bits of character drama which are mostly dull and uninteresting.

Night Head Genesis has wrapped itself up in this epic level of intent by having the world threatened at each turn. Initially, this set up some interesting potential for the series with how the brothers will be key players in handling things one way or another. But when they knocked the legs out of it a couple of times by the halfway mark, it becomes obvious what will happen further down the line as well. They did mix this up with some smaller personal stories, such as Naoto falling in love at one point and the drama of the two brothers working through their powers and their usage of it. But sometimes these issues seemed to drag on, much as it did during this volume with Mikumo toying with Naoto about the secret murderer that may lay within him. It’s a theme that they visited a few times over during the course of the show and you start to feel like you’re doing a retreated too often, which isn’t good for a show that runs only twenty-four episodes.

In Summary:
This is such a strange series in some ways as it really doesn’t utilize its potential but does offer some intriguing moments. The series opened poorly for me but got me more interested with the second volume. It was a rollercoaster ride after that though with what it wanted to do. Some segments were really interesting while others seemed to shuffle off characters never to be seen again when they still offered so much potential. Or were simply wasted overall. In the end, I think Night Head Genesis thought too much of itself and the kind of subject matter it wanted to tackle that it forgot how to execute a story well and tell something in an engaging way. It has a lot of good moments, but they don’t make a good whole. It’s almost an interesting experiment that fails at numerous points but should provide good ideas for how to do it right in the future. This is a series that may play out better in a collection simply because of the laid back pacing, but I wonder if the repetitive themes will hurt it even more in that format than it did in this one.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

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.

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