Tetsujin 28 Vol. #4 - 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: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tetsujin 28

Tetsujin 28 Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     March 28, 2006
Release Date: April 11, 2006


Tetsujin 28 Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The journey begins with a rumor that a small robot is responsible for the arson of a treasured Kyoto temple. Meanwhile, people involved with a clandestine artificial human project called Robby are murdered one by one, and somehow Professor Shikishima is involved. After a bizarre shoot out a man whispers an ominous phrase "Bagume, Kokurymaru." What is the uniting force fueling all of these conspiracies and tragedies? Is it the evil worldwide conglomerate, the devious Professor or the brainchild of Project Robby?

The Review!
A final two-part storyline brings more of the Professor's past to light before the show goes bluntly into its new and final dark arc of the series.

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:
It's my age and upbringing showing but I still can't take most of these covers seriously even as dark as they get, especially ones like this with the giant green robots in the background and the "dark" nature of Tetsujin in the foreground trying to look menacing. It all looks so comical, which belies that material on the disc itself. The back cover is a gray bordered piece that has a shot of the American's robot about to attack 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:
Due to the episodes on this volume, a clean version of episode 15 and 16's endings are provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tetsujin 28 is one of the more deceptive shows out there at the moment and this volume really shows it in spades in different ways. Like a lot of people, the character designs and mechanical designs of shows like this, which I love that they're accurate to the original material, are the kinds of shows that are just hard to take visually. I still can't read a lot of my father's old science fiction books from the 50's that talk in "atomics" and the like, regardless of how well written or enjoyable the books are. There's just something that's so fundamentally "old" about them that they're hard to enjoy in a present tense. A lot of anime fans have similar opinions about shows like Tetsujin 28 that pay honor to the old style in which it was first done while using very up to date animation.

It's volumes like this that make it so hard to keep that attitude though because the material is just so good. In fact, the disparity is even more obvious in a volume like this. The opening two part storyline deals with an incident ten years past that the Professor and a group of associates were involved with during the war that has come back to haunt him and the survivors. A mysterious blackout event in Kyoto raises concerns that an old project may have resurfaced so along with Otsuka and Shotaro, they head out there. Kyoto is simply stunning in how it is portrayed here with its lush designs, attention to detail and overall look that's done in a photorealistic way. While the backgrounds are gorgeous and really make you feel like you're one with the city, the character designs in their simplicity stand out even more strongly as does things like Tetsujin himself.

The storyline revolves around an accidental murder ten years prior on a project where the scientists were working on creating an artificial intelligence that could operate in a very small robot which would be launched alongside the Tetsujin army into foreign lands, allowing these devices to control the giant robots and deal with the enemies. With the goal of never sending soldiers abroad again it was the right track to work along but the intelligence that was generated proved to have more issues than one would think of at those times and it led to some disastrous results. While that is at the core of the story, it revolves more around the mystery of how it's still active ten years later and the people involved in it. The Professor in particular is provided with a darker shade to his background which is important to have as we go into the next storyline. As a two part storyline, this one does have a number of obvious angles to it but it's so well executed and it looks stunning as Kyoto is a character unto itself, that it serves well as an overall mythos building episode.

With that one over, the show takes an interesting twist as the female narrator starts talking about how this new dark chapter will change everything and there are signs and portents everywhere, including times when characters part ways that they'll actually say it's the last time they'll see each other again. The storyline is showing a good deal of complexity at the start by bringing in a number of changes in the cast and placement. The good Dr. Bigfire has been released from prison and the Professor has hired him to run the day to day operations at the factories in order to keep him close at hand but also to push him in the right direction. Shotaro doesn't get to do much with him right away as he and a revamped Black Ox are sent off into the ocean to investigate a ship that has ties to Shotaro's past as his father was on it and its hold once contained something that his father seemed to consider unspeakable. While he's off on that mission, Otsuka and the Professor's positions change drastically and everything that Shotaro had known and considered reliable in his life falls out from underneath him but the one thing that was unreliable, his father, mysteriously enters his life after being dead for so long.

While the cast in this series isn't exactly large compared to others, there are a lot of tangents that these episodes go down because of the length of time and history of those involved. A lot of this naturally goes back to Tetsujin's origins and other elements from the weapons inventors during the war. The decisions that these people have to make is interesting to see played out as well as how they feel about it years afterwards as it goes in a lot of ways. What proved to be the most interesting to me with this volume though was the information about Kyoto not being involved in the bombings which led to some fascinating reading on the entire subject which provided historical context to the events of today going on in the world. Tetsujin 28 is definitely giant robot science fiction material but it's firmly rooted in a lot of the issues of the real world from World War II and its long term effects.

In Summary:
Tetsujin 28 continues to be an interesting show to watch and one of the darker giant robot shows out there. Of course, it has a huge stigma working against it with US viewers since its based on something old and no matter how modern the animation is, if you use the old style designs you're going to keep them away. Those that have taken the plunge in the series have seen some interesting story arcs so far but this volume just pushes it a bit further and more strongly into a series that's really shaping up to be quite engaging. I wouldn't have expected this show to be as good as this volume has proven it to be and it has me eager to see how the remaining two volumes will play out.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closings for Episode 15 and 16

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, 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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