Witch Hunter Robin-Volume 1 (2002)

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Released 11-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version-Textless Opening And Closing
Gallery-Production Art (36)
Gallery-Stills (20)
Trailer-Geneshaft, Last Exile, Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Heat Guy J
Trailer-S-Cry-Ed, Grave Of The Fireflies, Argentosoma
Reversible Cover
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 123:20 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shuko Murase
Studio
Distributor
Sunrise, Inc.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Akeno Watanabe
Kari Wahlgren
Takuma Takewaka
Crispin Freeman
Jun Fukuyama
Johnny Young Bosch
Kaho Kouda
Wendee Lee
Kyoko Hikami
Michelle Ruff
Hiro Yuuki
Dave Wittenberg
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Taku Iwasaki


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Hints at the next episode

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

Plot Synopsis

    Witch Hunter Robin is a new anime series that is a bit different from its peers.

    This series is set in an alternate current day, in Japan. Unbeknownst to the general public, there's been a upswing in the number of people displaying psychic powers (they are referred to as "witches" in this series, despite the lack of Wiccan ritual, or spell-casting paraphernalia). These witches are being tracked by a multi-national organisation called STN, and we watch the activities of one group in the Japanese branch: STN-J. One of the things they have at their disposal is a huge database of genetic records, going back generations (their "witch" traits are genetic, another reason for questioning the term).

    The STN-J hunter group is fairly small. The boss (Administrator) is a man called Takuma Zaizen, who is calm and serious. He has a 2IC who is, I guess, a "chief of staff" — everyone refers to him as "chief", but no one respects him (with cause: he's a bit of a fool, and obsessed with procedure over substance). The hunters are led by Amon, a quiet, mysterious man who is quite good at the job. Then there's Yurika Dojima, who doesn't take the job seriously (she was pushed into it by her parents) — she shows up late, takes off early, and thinks nothing of ducking out to go shopping. More serious is Miho Karasuma, who has considerable psychic power (she can read emotional impression by touching people or things). And Haruto Sakaki, a young man who tries hard, but isn't the most successful member of the team. Their back-at-the-office hacker help is provided by Michael Lee.

    The new addition to the hunter team is Robin. She is a 15 year-old girl with considerable psychic power (lots of power, but not so much aim; given that she specialises in fire, this is dangerous!). She is a Craft User, a fact that unsettles Zaizen and Amon, although we don't yet know why. This team is using a new technique to get the job done, based on a thing called Orbo. We don't know what this is yet, but Robin describes it as "disgusting"... It functions both offensively (in the form of bullets from gas-powered pistols) and defensively (in a form the hunters wear as pendants).

    Robin was raised in an Italian monastery, and wears a floor-length dress that covers all but her hands and head (except in bed!). She goes to a (Christian) church to pray every day. She is living with a woman called Touko (or Toko) Masaki — we know little about her, but she appears to have some unspoken connection with Amon. Robin wears her hair in an unusual way, in two sort-of ponytails that stick out of the sides of her head (you'll see).

    Robin is assigned to be Amon's partner, but he goes off without her all the time, and treats her with little or no respect. Robin tries to cope, but this upsets her, understandably. She gets along better with the other members of the team.

    There are other elements at work, too. When the hunter team incapacitate a witch, a team from Factory collect him or her — we don't yet know what they do with them, though. There's also a place or team called Solomon, with some kind of authority. Lots of mysteries, which may, or may not, be uncovered.

    The episodes on this disc are:

1 Replacement The hunter team's newest member arrives, and helps capture a powerful witch
2 Addicted to power A business man who killed his partner without touching him can't be touched by the law
3 Dancing in darkness Dead witches, whose corpses look like shrivelled mummies, start to appear
4 Stubborn aesthetics Robin is told to study old case files, and comes across one that's close to home
5 Smells like the wandering spirit The team is chasing a witch who leaves no trace but a smell of sweet olives

    These are introductory episodes, concentrating on establishing the characters and the work they do, so we get nothing but hints at larger story elements. We have yet to see much that illuminates Robin's depths, but I'm guessing they will be revealed slowly. The most noticeable, and irritating, thing about her is that strand of hair that so often appears across her face. But she is a sufficiently sympathetic character that I want to know more.

    I've read hints that this series takes its time, but builds up to an impressive story — I guess we'll see. So far it's a nicely dark and mysterious show, with some characters that are more than cardboard cutouts.

    We don't exactly get a preview of the next episode at the end of each one. What we get is a short and mysterious passage (read by Robin) that hints at the subject of the next episode. Each of these passages starts with: "320 years have passed since the coven sank in the dark." — that's an ominous beginning!

    I'm not sure, yet, that I'll be really drawn in by the show, but I'm certainly willing to watch more. It's nicely drawn, and a pleasure to look at.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio, so we can't complain.

    The image is clear and sharp. There is no significant film grain, and no low-level noise. There's no visible edge enhancement.

    Colour is superb, with a wide palette of lovely colours, all well-rendered. There are few really bright colours, but there are plenty of rich colours. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts.

    There is surprisingly little aliasing, no moiré, and next to no shimmer. This is a clean transfer, which gives me very little to talk about!

    There are two sets of subtitles on this disc, both English. The first subtitles only songs and signs, while the second is a set of full subtitles of the dialogue; the Japanese dialogue, that is. The subtitles are easy to read, seem to be well-timed, and the English dialogue matches them surprisingly well. They are often quite long, suggesting that they've made an extra effort to be accurate. I did see one glitch, but only on one player, and only on one line — all that happened was that the subtitle appeared and disappeared in the one frame. It wasn't an important line, anyway.

    The credits are shown in Japanese on each episode. After we've seen all five episodes we get one set of closing credits in English. They are quite complete, including a cast listing for both Japanese language and English language voice actors, which I like.

    The disc is single-sided, dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is placed between episode 3 and episode 4, at 73:05, making it essentially invisible.

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, both in Dolby Digital 2.0, 224kbps. I watched every episode in both languages.

    The English dialogue is clear and readily understood, even the lines spoken quietly. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough too.

    The score is modern, using a mixture of styles and instruments, and very well-suited to the show. It's credited to Taku Iwasaki.

    These are pure 2.0 stereo soundtracks. They are full-range, but there's nothing for the surrounds or subwoofer to do.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is subtly animated (watch closely!) with music. The menus are quite pretty, and they are easy to use.

Reversible Slick

    The slick can be slid out of the case and reversed. The cover as shipped shows Robin on the front. The reverse shows the other two women in her team: Dojima and Karasuma. There is not a lot of difference between the two sides when it comes to the back.

DVD Credits

    A different style from usual, but still a single page listing the Madman people associated with the disc.

Textless Opening (1:33)

    This is interesting to watch, because the opening to this show is intriguing.

Textless Ending (1:31)

    Not as interesting as the opening, because little happens. There are things in the background, in black on dark red, but they are more hinted at than visible.

Gallery: Production Art (36 pages)

    This is mostly pencil sketches, although there are occasional pages in full colour.

Gallery: Stills (20 pages)

    All these are full-colour pages.

Trailers (11:33)

    This is a series of trailers, shown one after another, rather than individually selectable as is more common from Madman.

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 wasn't released very long ago (not too surprising, given that the show only screened in 2002). It is fairly similar to this one, except for a few differences in extras, and different menus (I think our menus sound better).

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    By reports, the R1 transfer is as good as this one, so there's really nothing to choose between them. I'm quite pleased with the Region 4.

Summary

    The first volume of a new series that's both interesting and beautifully drawn. It's presented very well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are fairly basic, but the art galleries are nice.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, March 01, 2004
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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