Tezuka: The Experimental Films (Directors Suite) (1962)

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Released 18-Jul-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Audio
Interviews-Crew-Tezuka Osamu (18:19)
Featurette-Making Of-Jumping (with Director Commentary)
Audio Commentary-Philip Brophy (3)
Audio Commentary-Anthony Lucas (3)
Trailer-Astro Boy (1960); Space Firebird 2772; Kimba The White Lion
Trailer-Astro Boy (1980); Mon Oncle; Tokyo Story
Alternate Ending-Pictures at an Exhibition (2:09)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 152:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Osamu Tezuka
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Mussorgsky
Tchaikovsky


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Tezuka Osamu has had an immeasurable influence on Japanese animation and overall culture. He's best known to western audiences as the creator of classic television series Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. This disc collects Tezuka's experimental animated films together in chronological order, playable individually or as a whole.

    These short films range from the surreal, to the plain bizarre. Have you ever seen a car with breasts? You'll find it here. But, in all seriousness, this is the kind of animation that has been made for lovers of the process and admirers of substance. Despite many of the themes and ideas having dated poorly, there are a lot of aspects to these films that warrant attention and study.

    If your idea of impressive animation begins and ends with Pixar, then this is most certainly not for you. Those of you who appreciate animation that is a little more stylish and surreal will be blown away.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The actual measured ratio of the image varies from one short film to the next. Widescreen sources are 16x9 enhanced where appropriate, while full frame sources are obviously not 16x9 enhanced. Combine this with 16x9 enhanced menu pages, and this made for rather frustrating viewing via my projector, having to manually alternate between screen modes for many of the films.

    This is a nice PAL transfer, with no visible signs of NTSC conversion artefacts. The animation is fairly sharp and clear, with decent presence of detail. Lines are nice and smooth and there are no unsightly jagged edges to be concerned about.

    The dominant issue in this transfer, besides the age of the source material, is video compression and noise. On a big screen, expanses of a single rendered colour, particularly blues (Tales of a Street Corner, 3:17) and off-whites, are very noisy and blocky. The MPEG bitrate struggles to render the detailed artificial film artefacting in Broken Down Film (1:48), with heavy MPEG blocking visible at times. Other MPEG compression artefacts can be seen throughout, usually in the form of mild grain around moving objects and the like.

    There are inconsistencies in the colour rendering, but this is usually the fault of the limited animation techniques, not the transfer itself.

    Film artefacting is noticeable, but acceptable considering the age of the source material. Specs of dust, dirt and scratches are common and several isolated moments of print damage can be seen, coupled with varying degrees of telecine wobble.

    A single English subtitle stream is activated by default, translating the infrequent appearance of Japanese dialogue. The font is yellow and the text is easy to follow.

    This title is authored on a dual-layered, DVD9 disc. I didn't notice any layer transition on my system.

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

Audio

    The audio presentation is a bit of a mess, so I'll try and explain it as best I can. The cover slick and disc menus list Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options, but none are present on the disc. Many of the short films include multiple soundtrack streams, but for some reason there are duplicates that occupy disc space unnecessarily. For example, the animated short Legend of the Forest clearly lists Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in the menu but instead includes the following audio options:

  1. Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
  2. English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
  3. English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) (Duplicate)

    To confuse the situation even further, despite the infrequent occurrence of Japanese language dialogue throughout the various short films, none of the applicable audio streams have been labelled as Japanese in the authoring process. All are labelled "English".

    The rather infrequent dialogue in these soundtracks is clear and easy to discern. Despite its age, the audio is surprisingly well balanced and vibrant, particularly the score. I noted a few moments of minor distortion, but audio sync seems fine.

    There is no subwoofer or surround activity present.

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

Extras

Menu

    The main menu page is static, 16x9 enhanced and includes an audio clip. Each short film has its own individual page with access to special features (where applicable) and a list of specs, most of which contain inaccurate data. A runtime is listed for each film, but none are correct. There are also a couple of spelling errors in the text.

Audio Commentary- Philip Brophy (Tales of the Street Corner)

    Philip discusses Tezuka's influences and style, particularly in comparison to European animation from this period. A very informative, worthwhile commentary, consistent with Philip's other commentaries below.

Alternate Ending- Pictures at an Exhibition (2:09)

    A heavily artefacted and very different end to the piece, returning the film to a live action setting with the orchestra in full swing. Japanese credits close the piece.

Audio Commentary- Philip Brophy (Pictures at an Exhibition)

    An interesting commentary, in which Philip examines the relationship between post-war Japanese and European culture, specifically in animation. He talks us through each short episode in the piece, pointing out the parallels to common social critiques of the 60s.

Featurette- Inside Jumping (7:16)

    Our Director discusses most aspects of the lengthy production, in detail, while we view much of the film in story board form. English subtitles are included.

Audio Commentary- Philip Brophy (Jumping)

    Phil introduces himself here, so this must have been the first of his commentaries to be recorded. In this commentary he touches on Tezuka's influences, production style and overall intentions with the piece.

Audio Commentary- Anthony Lucas (Jumping)

    Anthony directed the popular Jasper Morello animated film, and offers his thoughts on Tezuka's work here. He also points out some of the finer details in the animation that you would need a sharp eye to see.

Audio Commentary- Anthony Lucas (Broken Down Film)

    A worthwhile examination of Tezuka's style, and the tools he has employed for comedic effect.

Audio Commentary- Anthony Lucas (Muramasa)

    Anthony discusses Tezuka's influences and points out the many homages to Kurosawa that can be found here.

Audio Commentary- Philip Brophy (Legend of the Forest)

    Another informative commentary from Philip, further examining Tezuka's career and touching on his relationship with Disney.

Interview- Osamu Tezuka (Director) (18:22)

    Tezuka discusses the inception of his production company, Mushi Productions, as well as his specific techniques and his work in television. He's quick to express his frustration with the industry, particularly in Japan, but stipulates his intention to aim for a global audience with his work. The spoken commentary during the Jumping featurette was sourced from this interview, so some repetition is present.

Tezuka Trailers

    An assortment of animated trailers for; the Astro Boy DVD Collection (1960), Space Firebird 2772, Kimba the White Lion DVD Collection and the Astro Boy DVD Collection (1980).

Madman Trailers (2)

    Trailers are included for other Madman releases; Tokyo Story and Mon Oncle.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A Region 1 compilation existed, titled Osamu Tezuka Film Works, but now appears to be out of print. It contained the Tales of a Street Corner short, among others.

    This particular DVD compilation of Tezuka's work seems to be exclusive to Region 4. I presume a Region 2 Japanese equivalent must exist also, but I don't see any reason not to go with the local product.

Summary

    Tezuka's experimental films are challenging, rewarding viewing. If you desire something a bit different in your animation, this could be exactly what you're looking for.

    The transfer is good, considering the age of some of these sources, but some flaws are visible in the DVD presentation.

    The extras give good insight into the Director and his style.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

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