Short Film-4 Omake Shorts
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||2006|
|Running Time||606:20 (Case: 650)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Case||6 Clip and Ring|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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|
Utawarerumono (pronounced oo-ta-wa-rey-roo-mono) is a fantasy anime set in a mystical feudal world, based on a manga of the same name. It concerns the ongoing adventures of a mysterious masked man, Hakuoro, who sets about defending his country, in the name of its people, against all manner of foe and ultimately shaping the destiny of the wider world.
The story begins as Hakuoro is discovered wounded and unconscious in the woods by a family of two girls (well, girls with dog ears and tails) and an elderly woman (of the same genetic persuasion as the girls). As the family and their village nurse the stranger back to health, they discover that he has no recollection of his life before that point and the mysterious horned mask on his face cannot be removed. As he recovers he witnesses all manner of atrocities against the poor villagers he is living among. Eventually one of these atrocities pushes Hakuoro and the villagers to breaking point and they lead a rebellion against the wicked emperor. A long and bloody war eventually sees Hakuoro crowned the Emperor of a prosperous new country.
After this Braveheart inspired opening arc, which lasts for about the first quarter of the series, the story moves on to two further plot arcs, each gradually moving toward explaining the secret past of the show's hero.
The second plot arc of the series sees Hakuoro, and the diverse band of companions he has gradually assembled, defending their new country against advances from a power hungry neighbour. This more or less continues the same vein of the opening act.
The final plot arc takes a sharp turn from the preceding story and veers the series into a sci-fi tinged maze, coupled with a philosophical pseudo-theological angle, that David Lynch would be proud of.
The animation is of a good standard, though it is serviceable rather than spectacular.
The story is a little unevenly paced, moving at lightspeed one episode and crawling the next, but there is little filler in the series.
Utawarerumono will not win any new fans to anime, but it will certainly satisfy fans of story driven action anime. Whether your usual bag is big robots or swords and sorcery, Utawarerumono has an intriguing story and enough well paced action to keep you happy.
This six disc set contains all 26 episodes of the show.
The series is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.
The video is quite sharp and free of grain and low level noise.
The colours are bold and even, with a traditional painted look.
Most of the video contains no noticeable MPEG artefacts, however interlacing artefacts and pixelation are quite noticeable during scenes containing fast motion (particularly action/combat scenes). There is no sign of film artefacts at any point.
Clear yellow English subtitles are available for each episode. The subtitles are a direct translation of the Japanese dialogue rather than the English dialogue.
Each of the six discs in this set is dual layered. The layer break on each disc occurs between episodes and is consequently not noticeable.
An English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio track are available for each episode.
The dialogue in both tracks is clearly audible and easy to discern. The audio appears reasonably well synchronised to the video, at least as good as you could expect for a dubbed cartoon.
The show features in a fairly standard orchestral score that incorporates traditional Japanese pipes. This is nothing more than you would expect from this sort of cartoon, but it serves the show well.
The surround channels are put to reasonable use, particularly during the action scenes. The subwoofer usage is a little underwhelming.
|Surround Channel Use|
The set comes with a 32 page booklet containing transcripts of interviews with the cast and crew about the production and the development of the story. This provides a good alternative to a "making of" featurette, which the set lacks, particularly given that any featurette would likely have been subtitled anyway.
Each disc contains a short gallery of character art, including conceptual art and final production art.
Four comical shorts featuring characters from the show in everyday situations, away from the show's main storyline. These were originally made for the Japanese DVD release and are only available with Japanese audio and English subtitles. The animation is fairly crude, particularly in comparison to the regular episodes of the show, but certainly good enough for bonus material. The shorts themselves are actually reasonable funny.
Each short ends with a series of still images, many of which (particularly those after the second short) make it pretty clear that the primary market for the show is teenage boys with a penchant for busty cartoon girls.
An unusual series of Q&A shorts in which the creators answer questions about the show and its story (presumably sent in by fans) while playing back bits of episodes that help answer the questions.
Each disc contains a featurette that provides previews of each episode that are longer and more detailed than those at the end of the episodes on the disc. This is a rather pointless extra, particularly considering that the set includes all the episodes in the series.
Each disc contains a text glossary that explains various terms and bits of history that are relevant to the episodes on the disc.
Each disc contains this same set of 2 featurettes, which contains the opening and closing animations without the credits that usually run over the top of them.
The Region 4 release is identical to the Region 1 release save for PAL/NTSC differences and a handful of unrelated trailers for other Madman releases.
An entertaining fantasy action series, with a virtually unpronounceable name, that will please most anime fans.
The video is fair, but a pixelated during the action sequences. The audio is serviceable. The extras are abundant and mostly worthwhile.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|