(2002) - Toei (ADV Films)
by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/C+
Specs and Features
90 min, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 56:48 in chapter
13), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with ADR director
Matt Greenfield and ADR engineer Christopher Bourque,
Vehicles & Equipment and
Key Backgrounds animated
production art galleries, ADV previews, animated film themed menus
with sound, scene access (18 chapters), languages: Japanese and
English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
is one of those rare imported anime titles that actually made it to
the American theaters, albeit it as a limited release. Detailing the
efforts of ARKAM, a secret government agency trying to prevent
powerful ancient artifacts from falling into the wrong hands,
Spriggan specifically tells of
the discovery of Noah's Ark, and the efforts to keep evildoers from
gaining godlike power from it.
Sounds kind-of generic doesn't it? It is. But it's not like you'll
care while you're in the middle of some of the most beautifully
choreographed gunplay and action sequences found in anime this side
of Akira. There may not be a
lot of depth here, but who cares - it's all about pumping that
subwoofer and wowing away at the visuals.
On DVD, Spriggan is presented
with a very nice anamorphic transfer, which I assume was remastered
by ADV for this release. Holding this disc next to the Japanese
release, you'll find that the Japanese disc emphasizes purity of
image, while the ADV philosophy seems to be a more film-like
transfer, with a light layer of grain. I don't know which I prefer,
as both presentations seem to be equally valid, with their own
unique pluses and minuses. I spotted a couple very minor instances
of artifacting in the transfer, but only the most trained eyes will
ever notice it.
On the sound side, Dolby Digital 5.1 is provided for both the
Japanese and English tracks - a welcome addition since the Japanese
track usually gets shafted. Both have good fidelity, but the dub mix
seems to have been "cooked" quite a bit. There are tons of
little additions, voices in the background, greater split surrounds
and noticeably greater punch to the explosions and gunfire. While
it's a very impressive mix, the performances drag the quality down.
The Japanese track is more subtle, but very effective in its own
right. I always advocate listening to any film in its original
language, and this is no exception.
For an anime disc, there are quite a number of extras included.
First up, are three video montages of production art and drawings.
If you're interested in these aspects of the production, I'm sure
you'll find the highly detailed artwork fascinating. Next, we get a
commentary with the director of the American soundtrack dub
(otherwise known as Additional Dialogue Recording or ADR) Matt
Greenfield and sound technician Christopher Bourque. This is a good
commentary - contrary to tracks on films like Pokemon
and Godzilla 2000, the
participants don't relish on how they "improved" the
movie, but instead concentrate on the difficulty of producing such a
complex multi-element mix. I found a lot of good information in
here, and even if dubs make your ears bleed, at least you'll walk
out of this track with some insight you might be able to use someday
to put your money where your mouth is.
If you're looking for an action title that doesn't take too much
mental effort, Spriggan is
your flick. This is one of the best discs to come out of the
domestic anime studios on all levels, and I can't do much other than
recommend it. Give it a spin... at the very least you can impress
your friends with your sound system.