Zipang Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Zipang

Zipang Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 20, 2006
Release Date: November 07, 2006


Zipang Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Scheduled for routine military exercises, Kadomatsu and the crew of Japan''s newest and most modern battlecruiser, Mirai, are ready to test out the ship's state-of-the-art AEGIS systems. Instead, they find themselves transported back to June 4th, 1942 - date of the crucial Battle of Midway, where the Japanese fleet was dealt a crippling blow. But when an overzealous Kadomatsu rescues one of the battle's victims, Kusaka, from a sinking Zero Fighter, the Mirai's fate is sealed. They are forced to fight a U.S. submarine in a battle that should never have occurred, and the crew pledges not to do anything to alters history further. But the flow of history may already be diverted...


The Review!
Now in 1942 and coming to grips with the situation, the crew has to decide how to resupply and ensure they can continue on. That means a whole lot of trust.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a rather good stereo mix that at times brings in some really good moments where the sounds of the sea or the naval technology really comes through well. A lot of this volume is dialogue though as the crew member go about their jobs and trying to figure out their situation. It uses the forward soundstage well but there isn't a lot of very noticeable directional moments in how its laid out but it does sound solid. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this looks very good with a lot of taking place in dark scenes as well as ones with lots of motion to it. Black levels look good and there are a lot of scenes where it comes in to effect. The transfer isn't problem free though as a number of the panning sequences really showcase some bad shimmering. It's much more visible in the side to side pans than up and down. There is also a fair bit of color gradient visible in a number of scenes because of how the digital coloring is done. Water, particularly under the waves, tends to suffer from this the most in background shots.

Packaging:
Using the artwork from the Japanese release, the red hued cover looks good if maybe a bit too dark as it has the overall image of the ship several saluting officers. The brushed logo is really nice and gives it a bit of a rough look that adds to the starkness of it all especially since it's in white. The back cover feels a bit more streamlined and modern with its use of green and black to frame it all. It includes a few shots from the show and panels for the summary and episode numbers/titles. The production information is well covered and Geneon again has adopted a really great technical grid here that covers everything in a very easy to read manner. I was surprised to see an insert with the release considering how barebones it feels; one side replicates the front cover artwork while the other provides a shot of the ship in better colors along with the chapter listings for the four episodes.

Menu:
The menu layout for this is one of the weakest I've seen from Geneon yet as it has a still from the aerial combat. While it's better in terms of the background compared to the first volume, the faux military style text used in the navigation is unappealing looking with the color design to it. This looks even worse in submenus that don't have the extra highlight. On the plus side, the menus do work well and navigation is easy and the disc correctly read our players' language presets.

Extras:
The extras for this volume aren't really extras but just another side of the way this release feels like it's either one just pushed out the door not given the same care. With the opening and ending credits left as is in the show itself, translated versions of them are available as text pages here. The ending sequences cover each of the individual episodes however which is a plus so we don't get just a blanket list of credits for the entire series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we talked about in the first volume, Zipang is the kind of show that really appeals to my more hardcore science fiction side. I adore time travel science fiction novels, but more so the ones that are done as "hard" SF as opposed to something like The Sound of Thunder. Toss in some quantum mechanics and parallel worlds and I'm a happy camper. When it comes to anime and often manga, they tend to follow more of what we see in conventional Hollywood form in that there's an attempt to ensure as little "damage" as possible. Sometimes it's shown as a possibility of what may happen, but the effort typically is to avoid doing just that.

Zipang flirts with this idea for a little while during the first volume but it's firmly off the table come this volume. A lot of things changed when Kadomatsu rescued Kusaka from his downed plane. The damage could be limited though if they keep him to the ship and bring him back with them to their present since he wouldn't be interfering with anything from their perspective. Kusaka agrees that the person he was, based on the information he has, is basically dead. This gives Kadomatsu the belief that he can trust Kusaka a bit. This trust means that Kusaka is going to be treated as a member of the crew, which has Kadomatsu giving him access to their library that explains the future. It's a risky element but he realizes that Kusaka needs to be aware of what's at stake in the long run.

With most of the crew readily accepting their situation, the Captain and XO have decided that they need both information and supplies. The information side presents its own problems as they send out a reconnaissance plane to get an idea of what's going on only to run into some serious trouble along the way. While it isn't the most exciting scene or the best action sequence, it's one that puts some of the severity of the situation into a clearer picture when they talk about how no SDF member has died in actual combat operations before. The supply side of the situation proves to be far more interesting in the long run since it takes the crew and really pushes them into the realm of having to interact with reality. It's one thing to float at sea, it's another to sail into a port.

The level of trust required to pull this off is something that takes some time to build. Plotting out a course for Singapore since little of the Japanese fleet is there, Kusaka organizes a plan with Kadomatsu to take advantage of the colonized land and his being an unknown there in order to get the supplies they need. While the Mirai hides off in a nearby bay, Kusaka and Kadomatsu take to the land and make their way to the port area in order to secure supplies and fuel. There are plenty of tense moments along the way, but a where the show tends to focus more is on how the area is viewed by both Kadomatsu and Kusaka with their "enlightened" perspective. Kusaka doesn't have quite the same distaste for all of it that Kadomatsu does, but it's been more of a reality for him. Between all of this, the main run in comes when a former classmate of Kusaka's recognizes him and starts his own investigation.

Zipang walks a thin line sometimes in how it's portraying events, trying to make sure it doesn't quite offend anyone nor rewrite history. At worst, it manages to avoid certain realities much like many people did on all sides during that time, but it doesn't set out to be a propaganda piece. The best moments come as Kusaka reads the future and sees not only the destruction of his country but also how it will rebuild into something that's so stunning to his eyes in a mere sixty years that it brings him to tears. It's an area that's often ignored in these tales, where the near destruction is always more important than the long term reality. His seeing that future is definitely profound but it still remains to be seen how it will truly affect and sway his mind.

In Summary:
While Zipang continues to be something of a mediocre release in terms of production values for the DVD, the actual content itself is just a blast to watch. No kids, no aliens, no pets, just a group of adults in difficult situations making the tough choices and working through them for their ultimate goals. It's a solid dialogue piece with a lot of material to really think about, a show that leaves you imaging other possibilities as well. The attention to detail, the straightforward military nature of all of it, it simply works better than most tales where you're dealing with people from outside these organizations going back. Zipang is simply a show that appeals to a very strong part of what I find appealing about science fiction and it's done very well. It's very easy to recommend for like minded folks and for those that don't want another cookie cutter show of the week.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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