Nine years after originally releasing the OVA, ADV Films has brought their first big original project out once again.
What They Say
Enter the world of SIN. In the 21st century, the city of Freeport teeters on the verge of collapse. The twin tides of rampant crime and ruinous graft face but a single barrier, an elite strike-force labeled HARDCORPS. Lead by Colonel John Blade, they have become a fierce fighting force for justice in Freeport.
Now, Blade must unravel a series of mysterious kidnappings. An elaborate puzzle unfolds as he delves into the decadence of the city, and at its heart is Elexis Sinclaire. Brilliant biochemist, unscrupulous businesswoman, and merciless vixen Elexis will stop at nothing to achieve her monstrous goal: to bring about the evolution of mankind!
The original bilingual production is here for this release with the Japanese language track in stereo at 224kbps and the English mix done in 5.1 encoded at 448kbps . The English language track is the primary track for it. Lip movements were made to it and the original script was written for it. The Japanese language track, which doesn't fit all that well with the lip movements - not that the Japanese really care - presents a somewhat different story which was their intent. I won't get into the merits of doing things this way, suffice to say that it presents a fun thing for fans to argue and debate endlessly and provide a new precedent. We primarily listened to the Japanese track and checked out portions of the English track to compare. Both language tracks are in good shape with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2000, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The video side is a bit of a mixed bag, but not overly so. The animation style is very similar to what was used in Bubblegum Crisis 2040 from this time period with lush colors and a wide array of dark tones. There's a solid dose of computer animation as well throughout the show. There was hardly any macroblocking that I could see during the viewing, but there was some problems with line noise jitter. The show seems to have a somewhat higher than usual number of camera panning shots and most of these scenes were in tightly animated areas with cityscapes or building interiors. This caused a lot of jumpiness in these scenes. To offset that though, the animation is quite good throughout and other than that issue was really great to watch.
This edition of Sin is pretty decent though a touch murky because of the color choices. The central image through the center, which has the log overlaid on it, is of the three sort of main characters as they pose with weapons in hand as the big bad is coming at them from above. There’s a lot of detail here and enough distance to kind of soften who all the characters are so it can ride on name recognition, if there is any left at this point for this decidedly old game. The cover has some rather nice reds to it and a detailed look overall. The back cover is well laid out with a good creepy image along the left and a few shots from the show on the right side as well. The summary has slightly larger than normal text but does a solid job in laying out the basics while the remainder is given over to the production credits and the technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu layout is nice and fairly stylish with the logo and some rough artwork being the center point to the ring of circles across the screen. Selections are along one of the rings and allow quick and easy access. There’s a fair amount of depth to some of the menus but navigation isn’t too bad until you’re at the bottom and want to go all the way back to the top again. Back in 2003 when we last reviewed this, we noted that ADV Films still had the Sin site going that’s listed in the menu even three years after first launching and we gave them some good props for that. Now some nine years after its original release, that site is no longer active, which isn’t a surprise, but you’d think that for one of their own original properties they’d take better care of not letting it get into the hands of a reseller.
The extras on the disc seem to be a mix of what was on the original edition and some new ones. The best is the 20 minute grouping of interviews with the English dub cast, the dub director and the creative director. They also talk with several members of the Sin game development team and their reactions to seeing their hard work visualized by others. While I was rather disappointed that there was nothing included in these interviews with anyone from the anime production company or the Japanese cast, I was really pleased to see these kinds of interviews done. Hopefully this is something that will spread to other shows, even if they are of the English language cast. I may not enjoy a lot of dubs, but I like seeing the people who work in them and what they think of the shows they work on.
Also included in the extras are the theatrical trailer and production sketches. On the original release, I was definitely disappointed by there being so few designs and conceptual pieces considering what was talked about in the interviews. Here, we’ve got five sections worth. The photo gallery has about a minute worth of pictures from the mixing of the show, voice talent at work and other discussion areas. The storyboards section provides over five minutes worth of a look at the show, dealing with the opening sequence and providing the English track to go along with it (though no finished video is available in a smaller window). The manga concepts gallery, a much too short 36 seconds, provides numerous full color panels showcasing some interesting ideas. The actual production sketches section breaks things down even further into characters, backgrounds and vehicles. There’s also a very handy play-all feature on it. The last section, the pre-production artwork, has just under two minutes worth of varying ideas that led to the final version of the show. These are usually my favorite kind of sketches to see and this was no exception.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sin is probably one of the better game to animation transitions I've seen over the years, especially for a game from the US. As noted during the interview portion of the disc, there were approximately eight drafts for the storyline and they ended up creating a parallel style alternate universe compared to the game where some things are the same yet others aren't. In fact, the game creators commented that parts of what was created for the anime is being considered for a sequel for the game.
The story revolves around John Blade, a colonel in the HARDCORPS, a sort of best of the best police unit in 2070. Some kind of mutant is rampaging throughout the city where it takes over a person and twists them into itself. The show starts off fairly quickly with Blade's partner, JC (John Christopher) being taken control of when he ends up rescuing a girl that the mutant is after. There's no way to save these people, so Blade ends up having to kill his partner and friend.
It doesn't take long before JC's sister shows up. JC (Jennifer) is pretty ticked about the whole situation since she hasn't been told how her brother died and lists off a litany of things Blade and his father were involved in over the years, such as ties to the mafia that kept the city a bit quieter than normal. JC (Jennifer) has a bit of a chip on her shoulder about the whole thing.
From there things pretty much keep rolling along with action and more action. More of the mutant creatures are created by Elexis Sinclaire, the heir to SinTEK. There's some back history that's brought into play between her father and the death of Blade's father years back as well as mafia tie-ins. Elexis is taking her fathers work, which was roundly criticized over the years, to create these mutants to further the evolution of the species. It seems to come down to these mutants being a form of controlled person-terraforming. They can even survive in the cold harshness of space. What better way to expand into the galaxy?
The animation style for the show is overall pretty solid. Character designs are straight forward with only Blade showing a bit of originality in design, at least for anime. There were some very nice fluid sections of animation as well. The only downturn in this regard is with the vehicles. The cop cars tend to look really cartoony in several places and the helicopter CG animations look truly bad for the most part. You can almost visualize someone moving it across and into the distance. It just sticks out like a sore thumb.
One really positive piece to this release is the music. Masamichi Amano oversaw the music aspect and there were some really great pieces in there. The music throughout the show was performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic and really had a great theatrical feel to it. They didn't do the opening, but the opening music combined with the slick styled animation was probably one of the better movie openings I've seen in a long time. Halfway through it, it reminded me almost of a James Bond style opening, sans naked women in the background.
Time has not been kind to this show, though the overall presentation is pretty good since it was one of the first big original projects ADV Films got off the ground. The story doesn’t flow well all these years later and with it being from a time period when they were transitioning to computers for the animation, it looks a fair bit more dated now. There are some good moments to be had visually and the show really does feel like a throwback in a lot of ways to the big violent OVAs with monsters from the 80’s and 90’s, but it lacks what it needs to really make it work from the game world as well as being able to stand alone properly as its own property. Even back in 2003 this held up a bit better, but now nearly ten years after its original release, it’s for those few fans who want to relive a variant of a game they may have enjoyed once long ago. It’s good to have the title back in circulation, but it’s got to be quite a limited audience these days.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,English Close Caption Subtitles,CD Soundtrack,Photo gallery, Storyboards,Production sketches, Sin manga concepts, Pre-production artwork, Behind-the-scenes feature
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