Yukikaze Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yukikaze

Yukikaze Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 13, 2005
Release Date: December 13, 2005

Yukikaze Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
The war rages on. The Banshee-4 goes berserk and shoots down several friendly planes. Being vital to the Air Defense, a team is sent out to investigate. Rei Fukai accompanies Tomahawk John, a systems engineer, aboard Banshee-4 and discovers a gruesome revelation about the JAM.

As the fine line between friend and foe blurs, Rei must deal with aliens that look human and allies that treat him like an alien.

The Review!
The JAM continue to get creative in their dealings with humanity while back home the reality of the war drifts further and further into fiction.

Disc 1:

With a solid 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the Japanese audio track for Yukikaze is highly versatile and engaging, but typically only during the actual aerial combat moments. There's some well placed directionality in other segments but it's very minimal overall. The bulk of the real exciting mix moments comes during the fights and it's excellent. This is the kind of show that really pays attention to the details like sound when it comes to producing it and there are so many great aural moments with the jets throughout it.

Disc 2:

The second disc takes the audio from the first disc and tosses all of it out the window except for the English 2.0 mix. In place of the Dolby mixes, we get the Japanese DTS 5.1 mix and a new English DTS 5.1 mix. The DTS mix for the show is hard to compare against the Dolby Digital one since they're not on the same disc and you can't flip back and forth, but from what I could hear I once more find myself enjoying the DTS mix over the Dolby. There just continues to feel like there's more depth and warmth to it. But as with most comparisons between the two encoding styles, it's all up to the listeners' ears. I'm a big DTS fan since my laserdisc days so I've got my own preconceptions there. I'm extremely glad Bandai was able to go out of their way to make this available here without compromising the video quality for those who have no interest in the DTS version.

The first disc is identical to the non-LE release. In watching the LE edition, I couldn't note any differences in quality. Originally starting its release in 2002 and these episodes being as recent as 2004, Yukikaze looks stunning. The bulk of the show takes place in dark hued green skies of the alien world or in deep dark interior buildings and rooms. There aren't a lot of bright moments here outside of a few areas on Earth that give us a wide variety of colors, but the dark moments are beautifully rendered. The green skies are vivid and eerie at the same time while the interior scenes maintain their black levels. With no noticeable aliasing or cross coloration, this was a real pleasure to watch. The only area where I can really find much to quibble about comes with the end credits, which are translated. Every few seconds it would seem like it was stuttering a bit, but only the credits themselves and not the animation video itself.

Unlike the first volume there isn't any LE release this time so we just get the dual disc edition in one package. The front cover has a really good looking image of one of the aircraft taking off from the aircraft carrier on the ocean with a lot of grays and dark blues used to give it a really cold feel, particularly with the whitecaps that roll about the water. It's very simple in the end but it looks slick and it fits with the mechanical nature of the show. The back cover has an interesting collage of images together along the top quarter through a heads up display while the rest of the cover is so heavily filled with text to be off-putting. The summary, with very small text, is pretty detailed, while the bottom portion contains the usual technical and production information. It's almost daunting to look at this back cover. No insert was included with this release.

The menu goes for the obvious approach with placing you visually inside the cockpit of the Yukikaze as it races down the canyons from the first episode with some of the instrumental music playing along to it while also having the controls bounce to the motion. The menu is nicely laid out and simple to access with everything where it should be and with only brief transitional animations. The only downside to the menu is that even on the DTS disc it doesn't recognize my players' defaults and instead goes with the English 5.1 or English DTS mix and no subtitles.

While the first volume of the series had a decent amount of extras, this release has no extras at all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Regardless of the quality of the show in either animation or storytelling, Yukikaze is an incredibly hard sell to fans at this point and that's very unfortunate. If not for some online retailers that keep it in stock and actually have copies, anyone who sees this new volume on the shelf at a retail store will wonder where the first volume was. If ever a show needed a re-release of the first volume to help prop this one up, it's Yukikaze.

The fault of course doesn't really lie with Bandai Entertainment nor really the shows producers who have their own issues in putting out an OVA series in a market like this in Japan. Similar series have taken several years to produce as well and unlike the manga market, fans aren't used to waiting two years between volumes, especially since if they really wanted to they could follow the installments in the monthly or quarterly magazines. That said, it is surprising at just how much of the first volume came back so fast even though it has been two years since I last saw this and I've seen a lot of anime in between then and now. Yukikaze felt like putting on an old leather glove that just fits perfectly, almost like an extension of your hand.

The two OVA episodes on this volume are just as striking visually and in terms of mood as the first volume was and the entire atmosphere and feel of the show continues to be a huge draw for me. With so many series still revolving around happy bouncy themes or lighter natures in general, something that's intentionally moody and not really about relationships is a draw. After Rei's encounter with the JAM in the previous volume, a first for humanity that seems to be vastly underplayed since his return, the way the JAM are acting and dealing with the FAF is not what it's been in the past. They've shifted to a more subtle approach where their aircraft are now mimicking the FAF's more and there are claims of sabotage and possibility infiltration within the command structure. Rei may have inadvertently given something away during his time with them though it's not outright said.

The sabotage angle is followed up in the first episode where one of the massive Banshee flying aircraft carriers, one of the two that protects a good portion of FAF airspace, has fallen under JAM control and is sweeping away from the protection zone which will leave much of their airspace in jeopardy. Rei gets sent out there with one of the engineer's whose intimately familiar with a lot of the technology involved only to find the thing completely empty of human life which leads to a greater mystery as the JAM manipulate what's on board there. The parallel story that runs to this one involves a writer on Earth who has done massive research on the entire war and written a book about it only to have it classified as fiction, which leads to more people simply not believing the JAM are real. The contrasts in the two worlds where one has a small group of people fighting desperately at times to ensure humanity survives and a world with the rest of humanity who doesn't even believe in the threat is fascinating.

This gets touched upon a lot more in the second episode as the FAF begin their plans for a new massive attack against the JAM forces as their methods are changing once again. Rei and Jack find themselves being kept out of the picture though as they're assigned to test out some new engine capabilities by taking their fighter through the Passageway back to Earth. This moves the focus back there for a bit which really emphasizes the differences again as a pair of JAM fighters hitch a ride through the Passageway as well and are essentially invincible on Earth against the craft that are kept there to defend the place. This times back into the writer again who has come to the Antarctic to do more research about what's going on.

These two episodes don't really provide a lot in terms of answers or revelations but they do push the overall storyline forward as we get to see more of what's happening on Fairy and the politics that are seeping into both sides of it. The fleshing out of various aspects naturally raises more questions than it does provide answers but much like the setup and layout of the first two episodes, it is simply fascinating to see something this atmospheric done here and in this style. Science fiction dramas typically aren't this mellow for most of the time or this laid back. Even when there are action moments, it's done from such a distance that it doesn't let you connect completely but just enough.

Visually, I continue to adore this piece. The disparity between the two worlds is shown on several occasions as we shift from the bright blue Earth or its white Antarctic scenes back to the dull and oppressive greens on Fairy. The mood created on Fairy is so overwhelming at times and is so well displayed here as it interacts with the fighters, the characters and the buildings that it really is its own character. There are some scenes that are just so striking, such as when Rei returns from the Banshee mission and sits inside the cockpit as the rain falls on it. Even on Earth there are some stunning moments such as when he and Jack make an evasive move to avoid the Earth fighters and drop to the ocean. It's very hard to turn away from this show since its visuals are simply so engaging.

In Summary:
Yukikaze feels unlike so many other series being released these days that there is simply appeal there from being different. It also appeals to a lot of things I found attractive about anime back when I started, such as the way the fighters moved so "realistically" in Macross TV and then the movie. This feels like that aspect of those properties and others in the eighties as they made a focus on realistic aircraft mechanics. It also appeals with the atmosphere and overall mood as it keeps its focus on men who don't wear their emotions on their sleeves and are dealing with very depressing and oppressive situations at a time when those that they're going through it for don't even believe it's happening. The parallels to our reality alone provide are interesting but the show has so much more than that. Yukikaze is definitely a limited appeal show for a number of reasons but for those that do fall in love with it they'll really enjoy these episodes and be eager for the ending in the next volume.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English DTS 5.1 Language,Japanese DTS 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

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


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