Monday, September 22, 2008

FUNimation Blu-Ray Roundup, Sept 08

As great as Blu-Ray is there is not a ton for us anime fans to enjoy. The major bright spot for anime fans is FUNimation who has a very nice Blu-Ray line of features. Right now we are getting mainly re-released movies and one-shot series with hopes that the future will bring full series on Blu-Ray, it will happen. For now what I would like to do is give you an opinion, all I can give you, based on my experience and viewing with a few titles, ones I’ve watched in their original forms and now one Blu-Ray. So without waiting here is my first FUNimation Blu-Ray Roundup.

Afro Samurai
The story of a samurai out for vengeance against the man who shot his father down. A simple sounding concept, but when you mix in hip hop, crazy technology and oodles of style wrapped about voice acting by Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Perlman what you get is one of the most stylish, flashy, just plain bad ass anime to come along in a very, very long time. It’s violent, stylish and on a level the goes above anime, its pop culture that will suck in new fans as Ninja Scroll did so many years ago. As with many Blu-Ray you get more scenes, endings and a picture that would make Mona Lisa show teeth with joy. If there is a copy of Afro in your collection already you will not be wasting money by picking up this edition. This is what anime in HD is supposed to be, this is what anime fans want.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
Where Afro is a classic, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is following up a classic, on which introduced current anime fans to the genre. The original Robotech, mashed-up as it was of three separate series, holds a special place in many a fans heart, mine included. The Shadow Chronicles was met with much trepidation, but it delivers. It meshes the previous series with updated animation and new mech designs that keep with our favorite valkyrie designs. The animation is solid, mixing in computer CGI and voice acting from Mark ‘I’m More Than Luke’ Hamill this is a worthy beginning to the continuation of the Robotech legacy, one that picks up in 2044 with the retaking of Earth, loss of Admiral Hunter and appearance of a new enemy. While note a deep as Afro, if you don’t have this title yet then pick it up. Otherwise don’t bother as the animation looks good, but I would hold out until the full series, whenever it hits, comes out and you can revisit this movie again. Solid, but just below classic.

Dragon Ball Z Bardock/Trunks Double Feature
An oldie but a goodie. Released in special edition DVD, VHS, DVD … and now Blu-Ray this double-shot of The History of Trunks and Bardock: The Father of Goku stands the test of time as the whole DBZ saga does. By now you either love Goku and gang or hate them so no need to sell this established series. I will say if you have the special edition DVD then pass on the Blu-Ray. The picture quality even on 1080p is not that different, more the fault of the series age, but if you have any other version of these features then go out and buy. For the price, two features, it’s solid, and as we’ve seen with Brolly features and a few other movies, DBZ is hitting HD in the right manner. The history of Trunks and story of Bardock bring back fond memories and make watching the series over again all the more pleasurable, and a great way for new fans to get into the series. A solid purchase for DBZ collectors.

Listen, the anime industry is settling down. The boom was here, claimed a few victims, but not all is lost. FUNimation, Bandai, Viz, to name a few, are still producing great titles but as fans we need to get behind their efforts, like these Blu-Ray features. The more we support, the more we will get in new anime, new DVD, new Blu-Ray. Last time I checked there are no Blu-Ray fan-subs.

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