Tetsujin 28 Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tetsujin 28

Tetsujin 28 Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     August 31, 2005
Release Date: September 27, 2005


Tetsujin 28 Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The journey begins when Professor Kaneda creates the ultimate soldier robot, Tetsujin, as a substitute for his son, Shotaro, whom he mistakenly believed died in a bomb raid on Tokyo during World War II. To prevent the army from using Tetsujin as a tool for destruction, the professor hides the robot on a remote island. Ten years after the war, Tetsujin is finally resurrected after 28 attempts made by the late Professor Kaneda's protege, Professor Shikishima. Meanwhile, Shotaro has grown up to become a genius boy detective and now joins forces with his beloved Tetsujin to wage a courageous battle against evil! A legendary masterpiece, which shines in the history of postwar manga, is now resurrected brilliantly!

The Review!
In the fifth incarnation of the series, Tetsujin 28 returns with the same kinds of designs as before but well updated to fit in with many of today's shows.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Both languages tracks are done in a solid stereo mix that utilizes both channels quite well with a lot of directionality during the action sequences and some noticeable moments of dialogue throughout the episodes here. The series has a good mix overall that works well with the content, giving the sound of the footsteps of these giant robots a bit of extra oomph. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the way this series is animated, it's done in a very real world style and has highly detailed backgrounds and layouts to the design while retaining the very simple and authentic original character designs. The colors look fantastic with this with so much of it being of a dark and eerie nature and retain a very solid feel to it. The transfer is essentially problem free by all appearances on our setup with no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration. There is simply a lot to see within this print and the detail here makes it very much possible.

Packaging:
The weakest link in the chain with this release, the cover artwork is just plain bad looking with a scene from the show featuring the two robots in hand to hand combat with a smoky background that's highlighted by red flames. Shotaro gets to sneak into the lower corner with the series logo as well but overall this just doesn't look good at all. The back cover is a gray bordered piece that has a shot of Tetsujin 28 flying across it while providing the summary and a number of screenshots. The discs features and episode numbers and titles are included as is the standard production information. The layout here looks much better and provides some good information on the series. The insert replicates the front cover artwork while the reverse side lists the episodes and their respective chapters.

Menu:
The menu layout is nicely done though minimal as it goes for the old look and feel of heavy iron and steel laid out across the screen while a selection of clips plays through a monitor along one side. The design and feel of it is exactly the kind of thing I expect from Nightjar menus as they just have that something extra special in how they look. The navigation is simple and effective with fast access times and quick loading menus with no transitional animations. The disc played according to our players' language presets without issues as well.

Extras:
The only included extras on this release are the clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going into Tetsujin 28, I really wasn't sure what I was going to get. I'd already laughed myself silly seeing the trailer for the live action show but at the same time I knew of the show being the basis for one of the best things I saw this year with Giant Robo. Hearing that same sound coming from Tetsujin 28 as the Giant Robo just gave me a bit of a thrill. What sealed the deal for making sure that I'll give this show every chance possible is the involvement of Yasuhiro Imagawa as the series director. With what he's done with Giant Robo and the surprise enjoyment I got out of G-Gundam, I'm willing to stick with him even when its bad, like Seven of Seven.

Tetsujin 28 takes us back to the 40's at first as we see the way things are with Japan as the war goes badly. With the country demoralized, all sorts of plans were looked into to try and change the course of events. Radical projects, things that could never be discussed in peace time, were given the green light and had all sorts of resources thrown at it. One of them, taking place on a remote island, was the building of the Tetsujin series. The idea was to build a number of giant robots that would be practically indestructible that could be launched in missiles to land in another country and then these things would crawl out of it with their basic intelligence and programming and wreck havoc. It's simple but effective but the program never got far enough in time.

The program's main scientist, Professor Kaneda, abandoned the project during the closing days of the war after being distraught over his wife and unborn child being killed in Tokyo and sealed himself inside one of the massive chambers with Tetsujin 28, proclaiming that some things should not be created and let out into the world. As the series picks up ten years later with his assistant, Professor Shikishima has built a massive complex of companies and industry along the water in Tokyo and his inventions and designs are helping to inspire the country to move forward. With the end of the occupation at hand and the feel of an economic resurgence, the country is riding high on moving into determining their own future.

So it's unfortunate that one of the things that Shikishima's crew does activates a remote signal to the Tetsujin 28 back on the island and it launches the missile into Tokyo and the Tetsujin starts making its way towards the factory where the signal is coming from as the item that has the sensor is the hand that Shikishima ended up with after the end of the war. To add to the strangeness of the entire situation, something we learned when Shikishima returned from the war was that Kaneda's wife did indeed die but her child was a born, a son she named Shotaro as her husband wanted. The police chief has seemingly cared for him since and at the age of ten he's something of a boy genius detective who people don't mind driving around in his own convertible car.

The introduction of Shotaro with the thing his father created, which he also named Shotaro, leads them to an uneasy relationship as he starts to take control of the machine with the remote device that was created and he finds himself drawn into a growing number of mysteries that arise from Tetsujin's arrival. Though it's been ten years since the end of the war, a number of things are still coming to the surface and some of the more patient elements are seeking to take advantage. Between other countries interested in the research and some of the former scientists afraid of being tied to their works, the series takes on a fairly dark tone along the way with the cast that's built up around Shotaro and Shikishima.

Knowing that the Tetsujin 28 material obviously predates Imagawa's work on Giant Robo and that most of these characters are quite old, it's interesting to see them in what I'm guessing is another rewrite of the original that pays homage but doesn't follow the story exactly. When Doctor Farunken showed up I was giddy since he retained the same as his Vogler design. The Marasume brothers were a treat to see but I was glad to see Kenji not being anything like what I knew before as he took on the role of befriending the monster that's set free. The only element that really stands out badly throughout all of this is Tetsujin 28 itself with its rotund body and simple parts. But even that is minimized as said if you check out the live action movie. The other robot that shows up in here, the Black Ox, is certainly much better looking but they all keep to the original style and designs of the time.

I've seen a number of revivals in the last few years of shows from the sixties and seventies and to my surprise the designs from them have managed to pretty consistently keep to the original but look very good when mixed with the more modern designs for backgrounds and digital animation in general. Tetsujin 28 manages to fall into this category about ninety-five percent of the time and amazingly enough, it works. A lot of that is probably attributable to my enjoyment of the derivatives of Tetsujin 28 over the years and the great visual style that Imagawa brings to the screen both with the characters and the robots. There's simply something about his shows that seem to rise up above the norm.

In Summary:
When it comes to revival shows, I really didn't suspect that Tetsujin 28 would be one that would work out as well as this first volume did. Across the five episodes we cross through some very interesting material from the arrival and origins of the Tetsujin program as well as the secrets of a one of the brightest scientists of the day. The characters are engaging and the youthful nature of Shotaro doesn't get too annoying overall since his presence is to illustrate the differences in the people that have survived the war and those who have no experience with it and what the people had to do during it. While there are some issues with it, they are overall fairly minor and I was very much engaged with this show during the entire two hour runtime.


Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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