Zipang Vol. #7 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Zipang

Zipang Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     October 17, 2007
Release Date: October 16, 2007


Zipang Vol. #7
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
"Can a crew from the future survive the past?
With a reunited crew, Mirai finally arrives in 20th-century Yokosuka, receiving a mixed welcome. The crew is force to keep its guard up against the many who desires its demise. Once in Yokosuka, Commanding Officer Kadomatsu embarks on a search for the key to his past and ends off on the ultimate crusade on behalf of the future of Japan. Can a revered former general of the imperial navy play the pivotal role in determining the future of Mirai? With enemies on all sides, the crew bunkers down for one final battle."

The Review!
The Mirai finally finds a port to call home as the series ends what feels like the first act in a much larger story.

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 aren't a lot of very noticeable directional moments in how it's 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 a split image with the close-up of Kadomatsu along the top and a full length shot of the Mirai along the bottom. The back cover feels a bit more streamlined and modern with its use of purple 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 one of the airplanes along with the chapter listings for the three episodes.

Menu:
After the first five volumes of poor looking menus, the changes made to the previous volume and this one continue to be welcome. Using some of the red filtered designs of the front cover, this one features a close-up of Kadomatsu while below are shadowed outlines of numerous planes from the era. While some sort of instrumental music for the menu would have improved it only a little, not having it makes the menu seem all the more stark. Language selection is far improved even as basic as it is here with a clean listing of what's there as well as showing which language options are set as the default. The disc didn't read our player presets as it defaulted to English with no subtitles. If these menus had been used from the start it wouldn't have raised the ire that the earlier ones did even though these aren't much more than the basics.

Extras:
The extras for this volume aren't really extras but just another side of the way this release feels like it's one just pushed out the door and 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)
Zipang draws to a close with this volume and the three episodes that do that are all very much epilogue pieces for what's come before it. That provides for a bit of a let down with the volume as there aren't any key moments that just strike at you like the previous battle but it does set the stage nicely for what is to come.

With the battle against the American's now over and the ship getting closer to Yokosuka, tensions are fairly high which is in direct competition with the depression that much of the crew is sharing. The loss of five members while another dozen or so are in critical condition has shown them clearly the horrors of war up close and has left them demoralized. It's not directly affecting anyone yet in their performance but there's a precipice there that they are on and it strikes deeply for Kadomatsu once he returns from the submarine. He's been in so many situations that has him questioning what he's done that it's a surprise he doesn't end up stopping himself more when he makes the quick decisions.

With these being the last episodes of the arc, a good deal of time is spent in moving about the various locations as the Mirai sails ever closer to its port of Yokosuka. The battle of Guadalcanal has gone as poorly as expected while those there are grappling with what the reality of the situation is. Similarly, those at headquarters in Yokosuka are grappling with what to do about the Mirai as what Yamamoto has instructed may be disastrous for them in the long run. No clear decisions are being made which has led to a great deal of uncertainty. With a strong faction insisting that destroying the ship is the only to handle things, the fate of the Mirai is still in constant doubt.

The character interactions are what continues to be the best draw here, especially as the Mirai sends out a clear signal about what they're capable of and what assurances that want before docking at the port. The introduction of "old man" Yonai to the cast is one that works very well since it has that air of someone who really knows what's going on and has an understanding of history. The meeting between him, Kadomatsu and the captain isn't as tense as some other meetings have been and there is a sense of general understanding between them. Where the trouble comes in, as always it seems, is that Kadomatsu has very different plans as to what should be done. He doesn't butt heads with Yonai but he works himself into a position where he can confront him in a manner that allows both to save face yet get his point across.

In Summary:
In the end however, all of this finishes out in a way that will likely not satisfy most. Going into this series with the knowledge that it's incomplete certainly helps as well as knowing that the manga series is apparently still ongoing with over thirty-one volumes in trade form out there. Sadly, I doubt there will be a follow-up season for the series and I imagine it would be pretty pointless begging anyone for the manga. Not only would it sell in low numbers, it would likely sell low enough to not merit continuing very far before giving up on it. This is a real shame since Zipang is a series that provides some serious challenges for its characters in a realistic fashion all while working through the difficulties of a massive war. The views on war have long been a staple of Japanese animation but it has slackened off over the years as more varied shows have come about. Zipang harkens back to that era in a fascinating and very direct way which is unusual. Anyone who got into the series likely loved just about all of it and will have enjoyed the ride we have gotten. There are series you're always sad to see end and Zipang is most definitely one of them.

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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