Overall | 20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008) | 20th Century Boys: Chapter Two-The Last Hope (Dai 2 shô-Saigo no kibô) (2009) | 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

20th Century Boys-Trilogy (2008)

20th Century Boys-Trilogy (2008)

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Released 1-Sep-2010

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Overall Package

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa consisting of 22 graphic novels. With a myriad of characters, numerous story arcs condensing such a mass of material would not have been simple.

     Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End as the first part of the trilogy takes its time to set up the plot and to introduce the characters but it does succeed in setting up the characters and the intriguing premise and moving into the story. Chapter 2 – The Last Hope 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 Last Chapter – Our Flag, certainly tries to tie up all the loose ends and the plot strands, although it almost drowns under the weight of all the exposition.

     To its credit, at it’s core the 20th Century Boys trilogy is about more than action; it is also a reflection on the nature of friendship, alienation, and what it means to be a 20th century man. While not a total success due to the numerous character arcs and plot strands, the 20th Century Boys trilogy has an intriguing premise, interesting ideas, some good action and set pieces but it is really a case of the parts being better than the whole.

     The video is good but not exceptional; for example, the picture quality of all three is not as sharp as one should expect of a modern film (although from what I have read, the other region releases are no better), the audio is also good, although Parts 2 & 3 only have Dolby Digital 2.0 (albeit quite effective). The “making of” is an excellent feature.

     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)
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008) | 20th Century Boys: Chapter Two-The Last Hope (Dai 2 shô-Saigo no kibô) (2009) | 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008)

20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008)

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Released 1-Sep-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer-x 2
TV Spots-x 5
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 136:25
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
Teruyuki Kagawa
Hidehiko Ishizuka
Takashi Ukaji
Hiroyuki Miyasako
Katsuhisa Namase
Fumiyo Kohinata
Kuranosuke Sasaki
Shirô Sano
Mirai Moriyama
Kanji Tsuda
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI Box Music Ryomei Shirai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, after the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa consisting of 22 graphic novels. Condensing such a mass of material, even into the 7 hour trilogy running time, would not have been simple but generally fans of the manga seem to have been positive about the trilogy, helped no doubt by Urasawa’s involvement as screenwriter in the film project. I have not read the manga, so it was sometimes hard to keep up with the multitude of characters but mostly I had no problem in enjoying these films, starting with 20th Century Boys: Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End (20-seiki shonen: Honkaku kagaku boken eiga ).

     In 1969 a group of school children create their own hidden world, physically and mentally, in a field. They build a grass hideout where they shelter from the world and the terrible twins and they construct an imaginary world in which an evil person seeking to control the world is unleashing a deadly virus on specific cities. This story is chronicled in a Book of Prophecy drawn by Kenji and his best friend Otcho, who also creates their secret “hand” symbol. Their last prophecy is that at the end of the century, on the 31st of December 2000, a massive robot will attempt to destroy Tokyo.

     In 1997 a virus is causing deaths in cities around the world, the bodies being drained of blood. In Japan a cult led by a man known only as “Friend” is attracting adherents from a wide range of society. Kenji (Toshiaki Karasawa), a failed rock performer, now works in a convenience store with his mother and looks after his baby niece Kanna while Otcho has disappeared in Thailand. At a school reunion Kenji meets again some of his boyhood friends, including Maruo (Hidehiko Ishizuka), Yoshitsune (Teruyuki Kagawa), Mon-chan (Takashi Ukaji), Keroyon (Hiroyuki Miyasako) and Fukube (Kuranosuke Sasaki). They realise that there is a disturbing correspondence between their imaginary Book of Prophecy and the events taking place in the world, and that the Friend Cult is using their secret hand symbol as their banner. Both the prophecies and symbol are only known to about 12 school classmates, and they start to believe that Friend is someone from their school class.

     As deaths start to mount and more of their prophecies, such as explosions at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, come true Kenji receives information that Kanna is at risk and that it is he, Kenji, who must save mankind. However, things continue to deteriorate as Friend’s cult contests the elections and Kenji is framed and becomes wanted as a terrorist by the police, now increasingly controlled by Friend. As the prophesised Doomsday of 31st December 2000 nears, Kenji reforms the childhood group and reunites with Otcho (Etsushi Toyokawa) and Yukiji (Takako Tokiwa), the only female group member. On New Year’s eve, 31st December 2000, they set out to stop the destruction of Tokyo by the giant, virus spewing robot and so avert Doomsday.

     As the first part of a trilogy 20th Century Boys: Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End quite rightly takes its time to set up the plot and to introduce the characters. And there are indeed a large number of characters which, together with the different time periods the film shifts between, 2015, 1969, 1997 and 2000, could have been confusing for those not familiar with the manga. However, while it does take a bit of attention, especially for minor players who appear briefly and may have roles later in the trilogy, Kenji, Otcho, Yoshitsune, Yukiji and Maruo are easily identified and Director Yukihiko Tsutsumi keeps a firm grip on proceedings. Indeed, for non-manga readers following the story is helped by the fact that the film focuses primarily on Kenji. This, however, was a problem for a couple of reasons. First is that Kenji as reluctant hero is rather a wimp and inept to boot, and as Toshiaki Karasawa is also fairly bland it is hard to be fully involved in his character and his story. Second is that nearly all of the back stories of the other members of the group are absent or sketchy, so that their motivation for joining the “resistance” against Friend is missing. This effects them all, even the only female Yukiji and Otcho (who is absent for the first two-thirds of this part) although Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho does look to have the goods. Apparently one whole novel in the series was about his adventures in Thailand, of which we get only one brief action sequence.

     First films in epic trilogies are difficult to pull off. They need to introduce the characters and the plot, make sense and have enough interest and / or action to get the viewer involved. Although the action in Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End is limited and the CGI effects, especially the giant robot, are not up to the standard of recent Hollywood films (or indeed other recent Japanese films such as Gnomon), Chapter 1: Beginning of the End does succeed in setting up the characters and intriguing premise while moving into the story. The film is not complete in itself, and ends with a cliff hanging sequence that makes you eager to know what comes next. And I guess that is all one can reasonably ask. Oh, and make sure you watch until the end of the credits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End 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 some scenes were 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 choice between Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps. I listened to the 5.1 and sampled the 2.0 audio.

     The 5.1 was a good enveloping track. Dialogue was clear, there was good separation, the rears are used for music and effects and the subwoofer supported the crashes and thumbs of the robot and the music. The 2.0 is surround encoded but sounded quite tiny by comparison.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The score by Ryomei Shirai used both electronic and orchestral music and added some Japanese and Western pop songs including 20th Century Boy by T-Rex and Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. It was an effective 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 I) (57:59)

     This is basically an on-set behind the scenes video diary shot during the making of Part 1 and Part 2 of 20th Century Boys; it has a linking voiceover and includes short comments from cast and crew. This is an informative and interesting look at the locations, casting, blue and green screen, computer effects, stunts and some of the sequences where up to 2,000 extras were on set. This part ends with the premier event for Part 1 of the trilogy in Paris.

     Both video and audio is of variable quality but acceptable although I had a problem with some of the subtitles, which were difficult to read for two reasons. The first is that some go past very quickly, but the more frequent issue is that the English subtitles in a yellow font are placed on top of white Japanese subtitles making them hard to read. On other occasions, the question being asked of the cast or crew member is placed in white on the screen actually overlapping the white Japanese title. Despite this issue, this extra is an excellent look at the production and is well worth watching.

Trailers

     Two Original trailers (1:08) and (1:36).

TV Spots

     Five TV Spots (0:18), (0:36), (0:21), (0:36) and (0:32).

R4 vs R1

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

     The three 20th Century Boys 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.

     The Region 2 Japanese individual release of 20th Century Boys – Chapter 1: Beginning of the End contains trailers, plus a guitar pick and Friend Flag. In Region 2 UK there are two disc editions of the three films. The Chapter 1 Beginning of the End includes a 24 page booklet (made up like the Book of Prophecy) but does not seem to have any extras that we don’t have in Region 4.

     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. 20th Century Boys: Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End as the first part of the trilogy takes its time to set up the plot and to introduce the characters but it does succeed in setting up the characters and the intriguing premise and moving into the story. The video and audio are good, the “Making of” is an excellent extra.

     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)
Friday, October 22, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008) | 20th Century Boys: Chapter Two-The Last Hope (Dai 2 shô-Saigo no kibô) (2009) | 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

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

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

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Released 1-Sep-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | 20th Century Boys (20-seiki shônen: Honkaku kagaku bôken eiga) (2008) | 20th Century Boys: Chapter Two-The Last Hope (Dai 2 shô-Saigo no kibô) (2009) | 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter-Our Flag (Saishû-shô-Bokura no hata) (2009)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Sep-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Alternate Ending
More…-Press Conference Promo
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 149:41
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Yasushi Fukuda
Naoki Urasawa
Naoto Takenaka
Teruyuki Kagawa
Arata
Kôichi Yamadera
Renji Ishibashi
Gregory Pekar
Ryûnosuke Kamiki
Mayuko Fukuda
Hitomi Kuroki
Eiko Koike
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, alternative ending after credits

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

Plot Synopsis

     It is 2017. The resurrected Friend has become a god and World President after a deadly virus released on his orders killed more than half of the Earth’s population. Tokyo has been encircled by a giant wall to protect the residents from the virus, although some people survive outside the walls, saved by the vaccination discovered by Kanna’s mother Kiriko (Hitomi Kuroki). And there is a new prophecy from Friend: on 20 August 2017 aliens will invade the Earth and the remainder of the population will be killed by a new, even more deadly virus. Only those who believe in Friend will be saved. Inside the wall, Kanna (Airi Taira) is a resistance leader urging the people to rise up on 20 August and attack Friend, Yoshitsune (Teruyuki Kagawa) still leads the few remnants of their old group while Maruo (Hidehiko Ishizuka) is on the track of Kiriko and a possible vaccination for the new virus. Otcho (Etsushi Toyokawa) scales the wall from outside searching for Kanna and Yoshitsune with the news that he believes Kenji (Toshiaki Karasawa) is alive and may be coming to save the world. As 20 August looms, all the main players gather for a showdown that will either finally reveal all or lead to the total destruction of humanity on this planet.

     Part three of the trilogy 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter – Our Flag (20-seiki shonen: Saishû-shô - Bokura no hata ) starts off with a recapitulation of the first two films and then proceeds to try to tie up the many character story arcs and other loose ends. Indeed, much of The Last Chapter – Our Flag is bogged down in exposition: what a number of the characters have been doing, what really happened during “Bloody New Year’s Eve” or outside the Shinjuki Church, explanations for the virus and Friend’s resurrection and “magic” tricks, another version of the school lab sequence. As such, it takes about 45 minutes for the story to get started and although there are some good minor action sequences involving Kanna and Otcho, and tension in the sequence when Kanna confronts Friend, there is not really enough of these two characters who made Chapter 2 – The Last Hope so interesting. The Last Chapter – Our Flag also returns to the extensive use of CGI effects that were so prevalent in Chapter 1 - Beginning of the End although parts of the climax, with flying saucers spewing the virus over Tokyo while a giant robot rampages through the city, are exciting enough. .

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa. The third film, 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter – Our Flag, certainly tries to tie everything together but almost drowns under the weight of all the exposition. As well, like that other famous third firm The Return of the King, it has trouble making up its mind when to stop and we have two endings of the film, one before and one after the credits, so make sure you don’t stop watching. Indeed, while the first ending ties up the plot, the second actually has more to say about motivation, and friendship, and its opposite: the effects of alienation from society.

     To its credit, at it’s core the 20th Century Boys trilogy, and especially this last chapter, is about more than action; it is also a reflection on friendship, alienation and isolation, and what it means to be a man of the 20th century. While not a total success due to the myriad of character arcs and plot strands condensed into three films, the 20th Century Boys trilogy has an intriguing premise, interesting ideas, some good action and set pieces but it really is a case of some parts being better than the whole.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter – Our Flag 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 except some edge enhancement.

     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

     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 3 follows Part 2 in only having a Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 Kbps.

     The good news is that this is still a very good audio track. It was surround encoded. Dialogue was clear, effects were good and music and effects were in the surrounds. On my system the subwoofer was very active, especially with the flying saucers and crash of the robot’s feet in the climax.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The score by Ryomei Shirai used both electronic and orchestral music and added some Japanese and Western pop songs including 20th Century Boy by T-Rex. It was an effective support for the film.

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

Extras

Alternative Ending (24:30)

     This is an extended version of the ending that occurred after the credits with a few additional pieces, such as Kanna meeting her mother.

Press Conference Promo (4:41)

     An extended ad for the first film.

Original Teaser (0:35)

Original Trailer (1:42)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman. Included is The Grudge: White Ghost & Black Ghost (1:13), Love Exposure (2:12), Goemon (2:18), Survive Style 5+ (1:36) and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (1:14).

R4 vs R1

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

     The three 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. The Japanese Region 2 release is not English friendly.

     In Region 2 UK there are two disc editions of the first two films but I cannot find The Last Chapter – Our Flag available on the sites I checked.

     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 a 24 page booklet (made up like the Book of Prophecy) 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 of the trilogy the win.

Summary

     20th Century Boys is an epic trilogy based on the hugely popular manga by writer Naoki Urasawa. The third film, 20th Century Boys: The Last Chapter – Our Flag, certainly tries to tie up all the loose ends and the plot strands, and it almost drowns under the weight of all the exposition. To its credit, at it’s core the 20th Century Boys trilogy, and especially this last chapter, is about more than action; it is also a reflection on friendship, alienation and isolation, and what it means to be a man of the 20th century. The video and audio are good, the extras minimal except for the alternative ending.

     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)
Tuesday, October 26, 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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