Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 170
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #01
By Chris Beveridge
February 10, 2002
Release Date: July 29, 1999
What They Say
Utena has it all. Beauty. Passion. Faith. A sense of justice. She is the idol of her classmates at the exclusive Ohtori Academy. And yet, she is driven by a childhood memory of a prince on a white horse who comforted her when she was grieving over her parents' death, and who gave her an enigmatic signet ring emblazoned with a rose crest. This memory drives Utena to do the impossible: to become a prince herself, as she duels the members of the Student Council to protect the mysterious "Rose Bride."
From the director of "Sailor Moon."
Contains the first 7 episodes!The Review!
Utena is the first release from the Software Sculptors side of Central Park Media. How does it stack up? Very well. Very, very well.
The audio on the disc, thankfully, excellent. A Dolby stereo mix, it'd normally be nothing to write home about, but with the great music in this series, the mix is great. Voices are clear and distinct, and though there are no sounds going out to the rear channels, things are well placed on the front soundstage. The score in this show really dominates several sequences, and it just sounds gorgeous.
This disc, a DVD-9 (single sided, dual layered) contains 170 minutes of actual show footage, previews and song sections. Bit rates generally reside in the high 5 to mid 6 range, with several sequences running in the high 8's to 9's. What does that mean? It looks gorgeous. I've read a few comments on how this looks washed out, but from what I can tell, this was how it was animated. The show has an almost fairy tale feel to it in a lot of places, but the sequences where things are richly drawn (such as when Utena retrieves the sword of Dios) it just looks so gorgeous. High ratings here. I wish CPM would do dual layered disc for shows half the length of this and use the bitrate to bring up the quality some. That's pretty much standard practice in Japan, at least from Bandai and one or two others. Hopefully as costs go down, the practice will be adopted here.
The packaging, set apart from the style of the VHS releases, is quite nice. Enclosed in a clear plastic Amaray keepcase, the white cover is an unexpected change after seeing the blue covers on the VHS racks for so many months now. It's very striking and I love it. Information on the back is well laid out and even lists the individual episode names that are included on the disc. Great job overall here.
The menu is a little more straightforward than some of the more recent releases (most likely due to space) as there is no video playing on the main menu. Not an issue at all. The menu design is similar to what we've seen, with the focus this time around on the roses. Very nice.
As for the show itself? With this disc containing the first 7 episodes of the 13 licensed so far (39 episodes total), I'm pretty darn hooked. A few months before I even saw the show, I took a chance and ordered the music, so there was a level of familiarity with it already.
Utena is definitely not a show for everyone, but for those who see it and enjoy it, it's quite well done. There's a lot of subtext (and through some checking with the dub, a lot of the subtext seems to be lost in the English language translation, as the implied lesbian and bisexual relationships seem to be either toned down or excised completely). For that alone, I have to recommend the original language version.
A lot of ballyhoo has been made since this came out about the director of Sailor Moon being so instrumental in this show, after his feelings of how Sailor Moon could have been "done right" I believe. As much as I enjoy Sailor Moon, this is a much much better show. Don't let the connection keep you away from it. There are no villains of the week, no duels of the week. There are some repetitive animation moments (something you'll find in most anime) but these are also the most gorgeously animated sequences and have some of the best music.
Can you tell I love the music?
Through the first seven episodes, we're introduced to a lot of characters and pieces of their histories. More are to come, with the second collection coming later this year. Questions are mostly raised, with only a few sparing answers given, urging the viewer to continue watching. I know I'll continue to watch. I want to learn just what kind of creature Chu Chu is, dangit!
Kudos to CPM for a first rate DVD!
English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language,The Songs
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.