Usavich-The Collection (2006)
Bonus Episode-Time for Work (Alternate)
Featurette-Making Of-MTV Special Dissecting Usavich
|Year Of Production||2006|
|Running Time||47:00 (Case: 60)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Satoshi Tomioka|
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
File this one under .... Only In Japan!
It is likely that anyone reading this review with a flicker of recognition will have seen Usavich tagged on as an oddity at the end of ABC TV's Good Game. Running at roughly 90 seconds per episode Usavich is a strange little animated show, created by Kanaban Graphics for MTV Asia, which combines Japanese sensibilities against a Russian Gulag setting to create something quite different. Usavich has now reached its third season. This DVD set comprises the seasons to date. Inexplicably the distributor has put each season onto an individual disc. As the price point is about $30 it may not be a problem but with each season running a total of 19 minutes and only a smattering of extras it is surprising that they were not all put onto the one DVD. Anyway ...
The plot of Usavich is a little difficult to describe. Kirinenko and Putin are two cellmates in a Russian prison. They are, naturally, both rabbits. The show is a blend of surreal situations and black humour. Putin is a bit thick and wears sandals and a green striped uniform. He dances a Russian dance at the beginning of most episodes in the first season, with his movements syncopating with the sparse bleepy soundtrack. He has a low fear threshold and frequently changes face colour under pressure. Former mob boss Kirinenko is fond of his sneakers, in fact his life revolves around wanting shoes and reading about shoes. He is calm and passive - until he is disturbed, at which point he is capable of feats of incredible strength and unrestrained violence.
Each season of the show features a different setting. The first is set in the prison, the second when they are on the run after breaking out of prison and the third whilst they are wandering through a shopping centre in search of a nice pair of sneakers. The episodes are as follows:
Along their merry way the pair are accompanied by the transvestite chick (as in the poultry kind) and Leningrad the frog, who has a bad habit of eating things and defecating them out again! The Play All function selects the entire season which runs without closing credits. The show is basically animated and contains no real dialogue.
Funny and strange at turns it is a cult show in the making.
Usavich is presented on DVD in a 1.33:1 transfer. Naturally, it is 16x9 enhanced.
Is this the correct aspect ratio? Difficult to tell.Usavich has a Wikipedia page (it didn't when I started watching the show) but it has no IMDB page. The other regions DVD also refer to 1.33:1 aspect ratio so I have assumed that this is the original aspect ratio.
The animation is no frills and the characters are deliberately basic in colouration and design. The image quality is fine without being spectacular.
There are no technical defects with the presentation.
The sound for Usavich is Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 224 Kb/s. That is really all the show needs. There is no dialogue as such except for squealing noises and a few Russian phrases. The sound effects are fine.
The show features a burbling electronic score that is hypnotic and annoying in equal measures. Don't let it get into your head! The other piece of music used is, naturally ?, Bach chorale Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude from J.S. Bach's cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, better known as Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring. You'll know it when you hear it.
Once again, nothing special in the sound stakes but perfectly acceptable.
|Surround Channel Use|
The DVD set contains just a few extras.
A variant on the final episode this sees a horrified Putin faced with various means of execution.
With an animated series as short and sharp as Usavich it is perhaps not surprising that the making of featurette is fairly short. We are taken through the process of constructing the episodes from storyboard to wire-frame animation to eventual finished product. Then, naturally, we follow a life size Putin mascot as he catches a bus to Tokyo Tower and meets up with the Tower mascots. He then travels around Tokyo Tower. Riiight....
The featurette is in breathless Japanese with burned in subtitles. It was made in preparation for the second season which it promises will be "both wacky and a little heart warming"! A little kooky but worth a watch.
Each DVD carries a profile of each of the characters from the three series.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 DVD is the same as the Region 1. The Japanese brought out a DVD for each season. The box set includes, as best as I can tell, a couple of stickers and a surprise figurine! Unless you want to take a chance on that I suggest the Region 4 is the go.
Usavich is a strange beast and the creators wouldn't have it any other way. The three seasons can be watched in one sitting, as long as you have a secure grip on your sanity, and there are laughs and head scratching moments by the dozen.
On DVD the show looks pretty much as it did on TV. It won't win any awards for animation but the rough style suits the milieu of the Soviet Cold War era.
The extras are brief but entertaining.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|