Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 120
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Reign: The Obsession of Alexander
Reign: The Obsession of Alexander Vol. #1
By Andrew Tei
October 14, 2003
Release Date: February 25, 2003
What They Say
In the ancient world of Macedonia, science and magic are one. One man controls them both ...
From the minds of Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), Rintaro (Astro Boy, Metropolis), and Masao Murayama (Trigun, Cardcaptor Sakura). Animation by Madhouse (Trigun, Vampire Hunter D). Reign, a 21st century sci-fi spin on the epic exploits of Alexander the Great, is a visual feast of cutting edge animation, with engaging characters, an intricate plotline and majestic battle sequences.The Review!
Created from a novel by Hiroshi Aramata, Peter Chung provides the character designs for the world of Alexander the Great, infused with different sci-fi elements to create a unique vision of one of the world?s greatest conquerors.Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the show in its original language of Japanese. The music in the series is majestic, showcasing the epic nature of the series. The front soundstage gets most of the sound, but there are some very good uses of directionality. No noticeable drop outs or distortions were present, and dialogue was clear.Video:
Alexander (the original Japanese name) aired in Japan in 1999, and the transfer here is stunning. My player reported the bit rate as a constant 10 megabits per second, so something might be a little strange in the encoding. The range of brightness in the series differs greatly, from bright outdoor scenes to dark forests, but Tokyopop encoded both extremely well. There are some scenes that are purely CG, that don?t look as good. I didn?t notice any mpeg artifacts, or cross coloration. Some line shimmering was present in the CG scenes. Overall, a solid transfer.Packaging:
No packaging was included with this review DVD.Menu:
After the front loaded trailers, including one for Tokyopop?s ?100% Authentic Manga Line? (although they continue to leave Initial D in it), the front menu is shown, featuring a map of the area around the Mediterranean. Over the Mediterranean itself, glimpses from different scenes of Reign are shown with the main theme playing. There is a transition sequence when you go to another menu from the main menu. The main options are Play All, Scenes, Setup, and Extras. The setup menu has no onscreen indicators as to what language or subtitles you?ve selected. The Extras menu luckily has a play all option, since the amount of extras on this DVD is amazing.Extras:
Tokyopop has obtained a wealth of extras for this DVD. After you get past the theatrical trailer, theatrical TV commercial, Japanese DVD Release TV commercial, and a MIPCOM (a TV programming tradeshow) promotional trailer, the real extras begin. First we have an interview section with both Rintaro, the producer for Reign, and Yoshinori Kanemori, the supervising director. Rintaro goes into how the show was a collaborative effort between the Japanese, Koreans, and Americans. The show is animated in Korea, the story and music came from Japan, while the designs are Peter Chung?s. After this we have a press conference with Haruki Kadokawa, the Executive Producer, and Peter Chung. Peter got a lot of questions from the press on his background and how he views the difference between American and Japanese animation. If these were all the extras on the first volume, I can?t wait to see what?s on the others.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of one of the greatest conquerors in history comes alive, through a mix of magic and the power of the Greek arts. Philosophy and geometry come together to form magic, while the magic of priestesses try to help shape human history. This is the story of Alexander the Great.
Perhaps the Japanese thought the story of Alexander the Great on a historical basis would have been too boring for an anime, so a lot of sci-fi elements have been introduced into this ancient world setting. The architecture of the buildings feature formations we couldn?t construct today. One of the most powerful magical forces in this world are the teachings of Pythagaros, and there?s even an artifact called the platohedron. It seems as if a whole bunch of different ideas have been thrown together in order to form a world.
The story begins as Olympias, the wife of King Phillip the Second of Macedonia, is giving birth to their son, Alexander. This birth is evil though, as the naked Olympias gives birth to their son in a pool of water while entwined with a large snake. Olympias wants her son to become a powerful force that will change the very face of the earth. During the birth, the snake takes out the left eye of Phillip.
A number of years pass, and Alexander is now a young man. His father, King Phillip, has a circle of advisors that includes Attalos, who is manipulating the King into thinking Alexander is making a bid for power in order assist his own rise to power. Attalos has no fear of the King, and even sends assassins against Alexander.
Alexander seems to have a sixth sense though, and detects the assassins as they approach. The assassins have the ability to fly and meld into solid walls. Of course, while Alexander is waiting for the assassins, he?s wearing just the tiniest of loin cloths. Nudity (well, never the groin) seems to play a large part in the series.
Another force behind the scenes is Aristotle, who was Alexander?s teacher while he was growing up. He also has plans for Alexander, and is trusted by the King. Aristotle has a daughter named Cassandra who is devoted to him, and a warrior. Also, he was a follower of Plato, until there was some type of falling out.
In this first episode, Alexander basically forms a group of men around him who will be his companions throughout the series. At the same time, he also tames a man eating horse. There is something dark within Alexander which the horse responds to. This is all good for Alexander, since Alexander feels the need for speed. Unfortunately, this causes conflict with his father, as the King?s army is based on infantry while Alexander likes cavalry. In fact, Alexander tends to disobey his father?s orders if he finds that his way is better.
A lot of intrigue goes on in the first four episodes as everything is setup. Attalas continues to scheme by maneuvering the King into divorcing his wife and marrying Attalas? daughter, Eurydice. Now, we have an angry ex-Queen with a son she believes she has complete control over. In addition, the king of Babylon gets assassinated and Darius the 3rd takes over.
Probably the hardest thing to get used to about Reign are the character designs. If you?ve seen Aeon Flux, you?re familiar with Peter?s Chung character designs. His characters are extremely thin and chiseled, and there is nothing pretty about them. In a way, it works for a show that is based in ancient Greece. It reminds me of an art style used there in ancient times.
The story is developing quite nicely though; political intrigue mixed with a bit of mysticism. While the larger story of conquest hasn?t begun yet, the pacing of the story is excellent. The music in the series also fits in quite nicely, and matches it?s epic nature. Reign is definitely worth checking out, and it?s even easier if you have Cartoon Network, since it?s airing there.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Trailer Spots,MIPCOM Promotional Spot,Interview with Rintaro,Interview with Yoshinori Kanemori,Press Conference with Haruki Kadokawa and Peter Chung
Toshiba 3109 player, Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rear