Arjuna-Volume 1: Rebirth (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||73:58 (Case: 75)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Shoji Kawamori|
Maggie Blue O'Hara
Tabitha St Germain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits|
Life was created on this planet,
and countless species have appeared and disappeared;
even if human beings were to become extinct
the Earth will continue to journey across the galaxy.
Arjuna, or Earth Maiden Arjuna (the more literal translation of the Japanese title that appears at the start of each episode), is not the kind of anime you watch casually. It is, at its core, a morality tale about the way mankind is rapidly destroying the Earth, but there's quite a bit more to it than that.
The episodes on this disc are:
|1||The Drop of Time||"One hot summer day, I died..."|
|2||The Blue Light||Arjuna is dropped into a battle with no training, no warning, and no idea of what she should do|
|3||Tears of the Forest||Arjuna must be cleansed, so she's dropped into a forest without food or water|
This is an interesting introduction to the series. Before the opening credits on the first episode we see the central character die. The episode begins a little before that, though, so we can meet Juna Ariyoshi, the girl. She's an archery student (using the Japanese bow, which is a very long bow), but she's not all that good — something interferes when she's attempting to shoot. She has a boyfriend of sorts, Tokio Oshima. The two of them take off on his motorbike to see the sun set into the Sea of Japan, but they have an accident, and that separates them — he lives, and she dies. As her spirit starts to withdraw from the Earth she sees the destruction of all life on Earth, and then she gets an extraordinary offer: if she agrees to defend the Earth against the Raaja, her life will be restored. An interesting offer...
The offer comes from Chris. When she sort of agrees, he restores her to life, then insists that she immediately come with him. She runs from the hospital emergency room to outside, where a helicopter lifts her off.
Juna becomes Arjuna, the new Avatar of Time, replacing Chris, who was the previous one. Chris's interpreter / nursemaid Cindy (a telepath) is distinctly unimpressed with her. Arjuna lives down to Cindy's expectations in her first mission, even though she does manifest some unexpected talent.
Chris, Cindy, and now Arjuna, work for an organisation called S E E D (no, we don't know what that stands for yet). They battle against the Raaja, a kind of demon that we are told will destroy life on Earth..
If you get the impression that there are a lot of things that are more than a little unclear, then you are right — this is one of those series where we are presented with a variety of confusing bits of information, and we're expected to try to make sense of it all.
The only thing I didn't like: it gets a bit preachy at times, like when it is talking about nuclear reactor.
This series is beautiful to look at, with extraordinary music, and a storyline that I hope will become clear before the series ends (this is quite a short series, with just 12 episodes).
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. Another wide-screen anime series — I could get used to this!
The show uses a mixture of animation techniques; characters look to be drawn traditionally most of the time, with backgrounds that look to be painted; however, some action sequences look as though they have been 3D generated. There are even a few shots that are live-action — they look strange in amongst the animations.
The characters are sharp and clear, as is the 3D animation; the painted backgrounds are softer. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is impressive. The spirit power (I don't know what else to call it) that Chris and Arjuna call upon manifests in brightly glowing colours. The rest of the world is somewhat less bright, but still expressed in a rich diversity of colours. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are no film artefacts that I could see. It is possible that this was mastered digitally, but I don't think it was.
There is some aliasing, but it is at a fairly low level, and I didn't find it disturbing. There's only a tiny touch of moire, and no MPEG artefacts.
As happens often enough on Madman-mastered discs, we're provided with two sets of English subtitles, one just covering signs, the other giving full dialogue as well. I watched the full dialogue subtitles, and they are easy to read, and seem mostly well-timed and accurate. As usual, they don't match the English dub, because they translate the Japanese fairly literally, while the dub has been adjusted to better match the mouth movements.
The disc is single-sided and single layered. That's because there's simply not enough material to required a second layer..
The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, the expected choice for anime. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1, and both offer some subtle surround work. I watched all thee episodes in both languages. The soundtracks sound very similar, except for the dialogue of course.
The English dialogue seems fairly well-written. It has been matched to the characters rather well. The Japanese dialogue (which I don't understand) shows a glitch or two in syncing with the characters.
The gifted Yoko Kanno, composer for Cowboy Bebop, provides the score and the music for the theme songs. The music is superb, and is a real part of the drama.
The surrounds are used well for score and ambience. The subwoofer gets plenty of work, including some awesome stuff at the end — there are some lovely deep rumbles that make you glad to have a sub.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menus are animated with music. The main menu is really quite beautiful.
This is real karaoke, with no lyrics, just backing music, and lyrics that change colour to indicate when they should be sung. The song that is played is Mameshiba, which is one of the closing themes. Lyrics are provided in Romaji (top of screen) and in a mixture of what looks like kanji and hiragana across the bottom.
Two TV spots that make much of this being a Director's Edition.
Three episode previews, for episodes 2, 3, and 4.
Eighteen pages of pictures of the main characters.
Six trailers that can be selected individually:
This is a hefty list, and only the first and last have been on previous DVDs.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc was released late last year.
The Region 4 disc is missing:
The Region 1 disc is missing:
There's quite a bit of difference between the two, but it is mostly extra stuff, not vital. Given that both discs contain the episodes, and the quality of the transfer is reportedly quite similar, there's little to choose between them.
Another new anime series produced on a high quality DVD. This series is not a popcorn movie — it deals with some fairly deep issues, and does so in an interesting way. We will probably need to see at least one other volume before it will be possible to make a real decision.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is excellent.
The extras are decent, although I would have liked to have had the isolated score.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|