Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 105
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Tokyo Babylon
By Justin Emerson
February 18, 2002
Release Date: April 20, 1999
I got this release because it was a CLAMP production and from what I've seen I really dig CLAMP stuff (see Chris's review for a quickie about who CLAMP is). As Chris also said, this is as far as I know CLAMP's only Region 1 DVD release, which is a shame, but hopefully more is on the way.
The Audio has a few problems on the Japanese audio track. In the first five minutes of each volume, there seems to be a lot of crackling, and in the second volume there are a few "skips" where you here the same sound over again for a split second. I think what Chris was describing in his review is his Dolby Digital Decoder's reaction to this glitch. Mine made the sound almost garbled a bit, but I guess his made it drop out completely. This is probably due to some corrupt audio data getting on the Master, which really is inexcusable since it's fairly obvious so their QA team should have caught it. Other than that though, the audio is fine. Nothing spectacular (it is only DD 2.0) but there nothing really wrong with the rest of it. I would've given it an A if it hadn't had those glitches during the first few minutes.
The Video looks very nice. I have no complaints in this department. I finally could tell that it's interlaced, but it's done very well and the only reason I could tell was the slight flickering when text was showing on the screen. Otherwise, it's spotless and looks great.
The Packaging is a little strange, the keepcase it uses opens differently than any other keepcase I have. Instead of two halves separating, like opening a book to a page in the middle, only the cover comes off, like you're opening a box. While there's nothing wrong with it, it just caught me by surprise. The covert art is kinda cool, and the back gives your standard fare in terms of enticing you to buy. There are indeed liner notes on the reverse of the insert, but they're very short and don't provide much information. The biggest complaint is I couldn't find any listing of the Japanese seiyuu on the disc or the packaging, which was annoying since I recognized a few of the voices (one of the voices also does Hotohori from Fushigi Yugi, I think, but I have to check) so now I'll have to go hunt around online to find out who the cast was.
The Menu is decent, there's music playing in the background, which is a nice touch, and there are chapter selections as well as some previews. Unfortunately, the previews are for all non-Anime stuff which I couldn't sit through watching, so I won't say much about those other than that if you're looking for glimpses of other Anime titles don't bother.
The Content itself is rather interesting. The main character, Sumeragi Subaru, is a "medium", the definition of which is never explained, but one character refers to them as "witch doctors" like it's a derogatory name, so from that and the other events in the films I gathered that a "medium" is someone who can serve as a mediator between people and the supernatural. Both volumes of this involve psychic powers and the like, which always serves to be an interesting plot device. Each volume is a separate story, and while they are someone intriguing they're not very revolutionary, but interesting none the less. They weren't terribly engaging, though, thus the grade.
The other problem I had was with the subtitles. I found their timing to be very poor, and most of the time they're either early or late when they appear. Compared to almost any other DVD I have (except the screw-ups like in the latter half of Macross Plus Vol. 2) the subtitling on this release is rather poor. Although I didn't find it a problem, they don't subtitle most of the one-syllable words, but since I'm used to listening to Japanese I knew what they were saying, but some people less educated may not.
If you like X-Files-like Sci-fi (whew! That's a lot of hyphens!), then this title may interest you. The animation is very cool, since it's both visually pleasing and fluid in movement (part of the benefit of having a few short pieces is that you can spend more time making the animation better). If you've got some money to spend and want to get some quality animation, this could come under consideration, but it's not exactly in the running for Best of 1999, if you catch my drift.