Arjuna-Volume 4: Understanding (2001)

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Released 10-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
TV Spots-Meriken Burger Commercial
Featurette-Appare Adventures, part 3
TV Spots-East Side Commercial
Trailer-episode previews (0:15)
Gallery-artwork sketches
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (5)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 82:36 (Case: 75)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shoji Kawamori
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Mami Higashiyama
Maggie Blue O'Hara
Tomokazu Seki
Andrew Francis
Aya Hisakawa
Tabitha St Germain
Yuji Ueda
Brad Swaile
Mayumi Shintani
Brittney Irvin
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Yoko Kanno


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, extra material between episodes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

One hot summer day, I died...
and then I saw the future of this planet
as it faced its death.

    Arjuna is a treatise on how badly technology has been used; how much evil has been done in the name of progress; how life would be so much better if we gave up the comforts of modern life and returned to a simple life, living in harmony with nature. Even if you believe in these ideas, you can probably see the irony of promulgating them on DVD in wide-screen video with 5.1 sound. Oh, the idea is to reach those most contaminated with high technology? Maybe...

    If you haven't read my review of the first volume, or second volume, or third volume, you might care to do so before reading this one. This is the last volume of the series.

    This volume is about as heavy-handed than volume 3, but although parts of the argument irritated me (I was particularly annoyed by the claim "There was a time when there wasn't any garbage" — that's a blatant untruth, given that investigations into even the earliest man have found rubbish dumps) it wasn't as upsetting as the anti-abortion propaganda on the previous disc. The series creators seem to put some of the most obvious preaching into the mouth of the Theresa Wong character, and then give her reason to be bitter as some kind of justification. The funniest part is that I'd like to agree with more of what they have to say, but they go two or three steps too far down the road of "technology is evil". I wouldn't be surprised if mine is a common reaction. I suspect they'd get more agreement if they weren't so extreme. Hey, maybe this is ultra-clever propaganda by supporters of the "evil" chemical industries, and they are trying to put us off the "greenies" by painting them as fringe extremists? That would also explain the use of this hi-tech medium. Aha, maybe I'm onto something! (and the voices in my head agree with me!)

    The last three episodes of the series are:

11 Day of No Return Juna is in New York dealing with a Raaja, and resting afterwards, when Tokyo is destroyed
12 The Death of a Nation Tokyo is in ruins, Japan is disintegrating, and Juna is desperate to return to help
13 The Here and Now They want Juna to destroy the whole of Japan, everyone she cares about, that's all...

    This disc is a Special "Director's Cut" Edition. The normal progression of episodes is a bit mixed up by some added material and extension. It is less obvious on this disc where the additions are.

    These episodes are really one long story, showing the destruction of Tokyo (the translation gets a bit confused over whether it's all of Japan, or just Tokyo, at times), and Juna's desperate attempt to save the day, and everyone she loves. These episodes do quite a reasonable job of winding up the series.

    The makers of these DVDs have messed things up a bit. Now that I've seen this disc, I understand that the blurb on the previous volume was talking about events that happen on this disc; in particular, about Juna being in New York. Also, the episode previews on the previous disc included one that previewed episode 12 — that should have been on this disc. I think I have worked out what has happened, though. It looks as though the R1 version of the third volume has four episodes on it, while the R1 version of this disc has only the last two episodes; that would explain the blurb and the previews. We get a more even distribution, with three episodes on each disc, but the makers of the R4 should have adjusted the blurb and extras to match the change.

    There's a mess-up in the opening credits of episode 11 on this disc. The English title for the episode should be displayed for a few seconds. It isn't. In fact, it isn't even displayed for a whole frame! It appears for part of a frame, but vanishes before the painting of the frame is completed — I confirmed this by single-stepping into the faulty frame. Another irritation is that the default audio language is shown (in the Setup menu) as Japanese, but it plays the English. Interestingly, if you play a bit, then go into the Setup menu, it is correct.

    The series is quite pretty to watch. The sound is rather good. I'd really like this series if it weren't for the heavy preaching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    These episodes contain a bit more real-life video, but all the action is animation.

    The foreground characters are sharp and clear, coloured fairly simply with primitive shadows. The painted backgrounds are softer, exhibiting more subtle shades of colour, and more detailed lighting. There is no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is beautifully rendered, and the artists drew on a decent-sized palette of colours. There are no colour-related artefacts, although one or two scenes have a deliberately over-bright element, and there are a number of glowing objects (the glow is not colour bleed!).

    There are no film artefacts that I could see.

    There is some mild to medium aliasing, but it wasn't too bothersome to me. There's no moiré, and no MPEG artefacts.

    We're provided with the familiar two sets of English subtitles, one just covering signs, the other giving full dialogue (plus signs). I watched the full dialogue subtitles with both the Japanese and English sound. Occasionally they seem to run a little behind (or in front of) the English dialogue, but that may be appropriate to the Japanese dialogue. Hard to tell.

    The disc is single-sided, single-layered. That means no layer change. There doesn't seem to be any problem about fitting all the content into the single layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, as usual. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1 (not usual!), at the higher bit-rate of 448kbps. I watched all of the episodes in both languages. The soundtracks sound quite similar.

    The English dialogue sounds fine, and matches the animated mouth movements well. The Japanese dialogue sounds equally clear.

    Yoko Kanno provides both the score and the music for the songs. The music is varied, pleasant, and well-suited to what's happening on-screen — in fact, it heightens the impact.

    The soundtracks make good use of directional sound. There is superb placement of voices for on and off-screen characters, and some clever use of the surrounds. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, supporting the audio without drawing attention to itself. You'll be glad you have 5.1 sound!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are animated with music. They are subtly shaded in purples this time.

Meriken Burger Commercial (0:15)

    This is one of the commercials we see on American TV while Juna is in New York.

Appare Adventures Part 3 (2:30)

    More strange footage featuring the doll that appeared in the Appare-Genki Juice advertisement. This is strange, but entertaining.

East Side Commercial (0:14)

    Another of the commercials Juna sees.

Episode Previews (0:15)

    Just one preview, previewing episode 13. The other preview that should be here, previewing episode 12, was included on the previous disc by mistake.

Gallery — Artwork Sketches (15)

    Fifteen pages of sketches for characters and other things we see in these three episodes.

Trailers — Madman Propaganda

    Five trailers that can be selected individually:

R4 vs R1

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 early this year.

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    That's a lot on the side of the R1. Beware that you need to get volumes 3 and 4 from the same region, though, because of the different distribution of episodes across the discs.

Summary

    This heavily preachy, but beautifully drawn, series comes to a close.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are nice, but pale in comparison to those on the Region 1 DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, September 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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