20th Century Boys: Chapter Two-The Last Hope (Dai 2 shô-Saigo no kibô) (2009)

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Released 1-Sep-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 134:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshiaki Karasawa
Etsushi Toyokawa
Takako Tokiwa
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI Box Music Ryomei Shirai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, an introduction to Part 3

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

Plot Synopsis

     It is 2015, 15 years after the events of 31 December 2000 that have come to be called “Bloody New Year’s Eve”. Friend is now firmly in control of Japan and the accepted school text is that he alone in 2000 saved Japan and the world from destruction. Kenji has disappeared, a wanted terrorist blamed for the explosion that devastated Tokyo on that night, Otcho (Etsushi Toyokawa) is in an island prison and Kenji’s niece Kanna (Airi Taira) is now a teenager, mentored by Yukiji (Takako Tokiwa). Kanna goes to school but works in a restaurant in the notoriously violent Kabuki-cho area of Tokyo where Chinese and Thai gangs fight with guns in the streets. She is a natural leader with an aura of command; she halts one gun battle by her presence alone and is instrumental in bringing the waring gangs together. While some police are controlled by Friend, and commit murders to safeguard his secrets, Kanna comes to trust Detective Chono (Naohito Fujiki) although they are unable to prevent the murder of Britney (Hirofumi Araki), a person who had been sent to “Friend Land” for re-education but had returned disturbed and with dangerous news.

     Kanna is disruptive at school and she and her friend Kyoko (Haruka Kinami) are “selected” to be sent to Friend Land. There they participate in a mind bending virtual time warp back to 1971 seeking the identity of Friend. They are rescued by Yoshitsune (Teruyuki Kagawa) who has gone undercover in Friend Land. Meanwhile Otcho has escaped from prison and starts to seek out other class members, such as the chemist Yamane (Fumiyo Kohinata) and teacher Sadakiyo (Yusuke Santamaria) both of whom have been involved with Friend in some way and who have things to resolve. Then disturbing news surfaces about the existence of another Book of Prophecy, written by an unknown person, which states that in August 2015, at the Shinjuki Catholic Church in Kabuki-cho, a saviour will arise to uphold justice but will be assassinated and that Doomsday will then occur. Could the saviour be Kanna, as some think? When Friend announces that he will visit the Shinjuki Church, Otcho and Kanna are present and the stage is set for a series of confrontations that may, or may not, confirm the prophecy.

     While the first film in the trilogy, 20th Century Boys: Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End , took its time to set up the plot and to introduce the characters, 20th Century Boys: Chapter 2 – The Last Hope delivers the goods and is into the action from the start. While the time period jumps still occur, they are brilliantly integrated into the plot and we see sequences already viewed in Part 1, such as the school lab scene, but through different eyes and with additions that explain (almost) what happened. Events and characters only fragmentarily seen in Part 1 gain substance, such as classmates Yamane and Sadakiyo, and we learn far more about Kanna’s mother Kiriko (Hitomi Kuroki) and her part in the production of the deadly virus that devastated whole cities in 2000. CGI is also kept to a minimum in Part 2, with reliance instead upon physical effects. This works well; the action in and around the Shinjuku Church involving hundreds of extras is tense and well staged by Director Yukihiko Tsutsumi. Part 2 is also well served by the principal actors: Airi Taira as the spirited Kanna is excellent and Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho delivers on the promise he showed in Part 1. Finally, the climax of Chapter 2 – The Last Hope wonderfully sets up Part 3.

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa. The second film, 20th Century Boys: Chapter 2 – The Last Hope (20-seiki shonen: Dai 2 shô - Saigo no kibô), delivers on the promise of Part 1 as the trilogy well and truly gets into its stride with a fabulous film full of action, tension and revelations that make you eager for Part 3! And make sure you watch until after the credits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Chapter 2 – The Last Hope is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, close to the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     There is nothing wrong with the print, although it was not as sharp as I would have expected. Colours are muted, yet natural, blacks and shadow detail are fine, brightness, contrast, skin tones good. I saw no film artefacts.

     The English subtitles are in a yellow font and I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Captions translating Japanese signs are in white.

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

Audio

     Audio is a surprise. While Part 1 offered a choice between Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps, Part 2 has only a Dolby Digital track at 224Kbps .

     The good news is that this is still a very good audio track and was surround encoded. Dialogue was clear, effects were clean, music and effects occurred in the surrounds and the subwoofer did support the music and the occasional effects rumble.

     Lip synchronisation is fine except for the man who plays the Thai gang leader.

     The score by Ryomei Shirai used both electronic and orchestral music and added some Japanese and Western pop songs. It was an excellent support for the film.

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

Extras

Making of 20th Century Boys (Part II) (33:20)

     This is the second part of the on-set behind the scenes video diary. It was shot during the making of Part 2 and Part 3 of 20th Century Boys; it has a linking voiceover and includes also comments from cast and crew. This continues to be an excellent and interesting look at the locations, blue and green screen work, computer effects, stunts; it also has extensive footage of the Robot climax to Part 3 and the rock concert sequence with thousands of extras. This part ends with the premier event for Part 3 and it is fitting that the manga author Naoki Urasawa gets pretty much the last word.

     Both video and audio is of variable quality but the problem with the subtitles continues. Some go past very quickly, but the more frequent issue is that English subtitles in a yellow font are placed on top of white Japanese subtitles. On other occasions, the question to the cast or crew member is placed in white on the screen actually overlapping the white Japanese title. This does make them difficult to read.

Cast Interviews (21:13)

     Unlike the excellent “making of”, these are pretty pointless press pieces filmed on the set and there is little of interest said. Questions in text about their character, the manga or other cast appear on the screen and the interviewee speaks to the camera, mostly about how happy they are to be involved in the project. The sound is quite poor, with on set noise and background hum and there are a couple of grammatical errors at 8:36 and 8:59. Interviewees are Toshiaki Karasawa (Kenji), Etsushi Toyokawa (Otcho), Takako Tokiwa (Yukiji), Teruyuki Kagawa (Yoshitsune), Hidehiko Ishizuka (Maruo), Takashi Ukaji (Mon-chan), Hiroyuki Miyasako (Keroyon) and Kuranosuke Sasaki (Fukube).

Original Trailer (1:36)

R4 vs R1

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

     The individual films have been released separately in Region 1 US, Region 2 Japan, Region 2 UK and elsewhere. The Region 1 discs are single discs which seem to have similar video and audio to ours and only trailers as extras.

     In Region 2 Japanese individual release contains trailers but does not have English subtitles. The Region 2 UK release Chapter 2 – The Last Hope is reported to also have a 24 page booklet (made up like the Book of Prophecy) but does not seem to have any extras that we don’t have on our single disc edition. I am unable to find out if the audio for the UK edition is more than the Dolby Digital 2.0 we have.

     The complete trilogy is also available in Region 2 Japan and Region 2 UK. The UK version seems the best as they have a 4 disc edition with the booklet and all the extras on the fourth disc. Here in Region 4 Madman has spread these same extras across the 3 discs. The Region 2 Japanese release is a 3 disc set which does not seem to have any extra features that are not on the Region 4; for example, there is no audio commentary.

     I did not notice any compression issues in the Region 4 disc, but clearly having the extras on one disc would free up space. That and the booklet would give the Region 2 UK individual version and the trilogy the win.

Summary

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa. The second film, 20th Century Boys: Chapter 2 – The Last Hope (20-seiki shonen: Dai 2 shô - Saigo no kibô), delivers on the promise of Part 1 as the trilogy well and truly gets into its stride with a fabulous film full of action, tension and revelations. The video and audio are good, the “Making of” is an excellent extra, the cast interviews best ignored.

     In Region 4 Madman have released the three 20th Century Boys films as one box set containing all the extras on the three discs, unlike the Region 2 UK release that has the extras on a 4th disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, October 25, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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