TO (Elliptical Orbit & Symbiotic Planet) (Blu-ray) (2009)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Director and Cast (30.17) and (30.23)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.10) and (1.18)
Trailer-Promotional Videos (2.08) and (2.29)
|Year Of Production||2009|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Fumihiko Sori|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Most Dangerous Thing in Space is Man
Tagline for TO
†††† The curiously named TO is, in fact, a pair of 45 minute animated films. The two stories in this collection - Elliptical Orbit and Symbiotic Planet, are taken from the 80s Manga series 2001 Nights by Yukinobu Hoshino .
†††† The reference to 2001 in the manga is no accident. The stories are fairly serious and thought provoking without indulging in bombast. The themes are in keeping with the spirit of Arthur C. Clarke and Kubrick, namely man's place in the Universe. The stories are not connected in time or place although there is a rough sequence to the manga. Both stories are presented using CGI rather than traditional animation which is perhaps not surprising when the director Sori was behind the CGI film Vexille.
†††† In Elliptical Orbit there is action and intrigue at the most unlikely place - a cargo terminal orbiting over the Earth moon base controlling the delivery of supplies to the base. The captain of the station is a sad, quiet old man. When a spaceship, The Flying Dutchman, docks at the station old memories are invigorated. The beautiful young female captain of the ship is connected, in a way that plays out through the story, to the station captain. When a gang of terrorists arrive at the base old hurts must be put aside for the good of the station and mankind. There are gunfights and danger but the story is really about the challenges of interstellar space travel and the terrible toll it can take on relationships.
†††† Symbiotic Planet is unashamedly a Romeo and Juliet story set in space. Instead of Montagues and Capulets we have the Eurasians versus the others. Aon and Elena, as luck would have it, are young scientists working for rival empires, both of whom have established bases on the foreign planet. The only times they can meet is out in the alien World. Ironically, their stolen moments are a source of greater frustration as they can gaze longingly into each otherís eyes but never actually touch - the toxic atmosphere puts paid to any human contact. Back at their respective bases both are the subject of suspicion.
†††† Aon has studied the biological life forms on the planet - primitive looking balloon like creatures that exist in a symbiotic relationship with the spores that seem to be everywhere on the planet. Tension mounts when a United Nations delegation lands with the aim of bringing the warring nations closer to a sense of co-operation - a symbiotic relationship if you will. Instead, old rivalries flare into great hostility. Together at last the pair is exposed to the alien spores . Will this be the death of Aon? Will the Eurasian Empires militaristic aims destroy the fragile peace. Symbiotic Planet has its share of explosions and tension but at heart it is a thoughtful piece about love amongst hatred and the remote possibility of mankind ever truly working together for the greater good.
†††† Both stories are thought provoking and at times moving. The bangs and gunfights perhaps detract from the hard science fiction ideas but it is easy to understand why the films needed some action to entice the general viewer. Ultimately the only strong criticism to be made of TO is that there aren't enough episodes- here's hoping that more of the stories get green lit for production.
†††† TO is a CGI animated pair of films which come to Blu-ray in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
†††† The show alternates between stunning vision and the average. The backgrounds are fully realized CGI and it is clear the team working on the spaceships had a ball putting together some incredibly detailed imagery. The character models look more cell shaded and some of the elements, such as hair, are unconvincing. Still, these are issues relating to the original source, not the transfer.
†††† What is noticeable in the transfer is slight digital noise from time to time which gives a shimmer to some moments. Additionally, some minor aliasing is noticeable. Otherwise the colours are strong and there are no compression issues.
†††† There are subtitles in English.
†††† TO carries two soundtracks for the original Japanese and the English dub. Both are Dolby True HD 5.1.
†††† The sound for the show is excellent. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. The Japanese dub is preferable perhaps only because of the lengths Sori went to in order to select his cast. Otherwise the English is fine.
†††† The surrounds are used throughout to give a sense of breadth and ambience. The sub-woofer is heavily engaged once the action starts.
†††† The music for the two films is perfectly adapted to the subject matter - reflective and thumping for the first and moving for the second.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† There are stacks of extras on this Blu-ray, although only a couple have real heft.
†††† There are two interviews with the director and cast members.
†††† On the first interview Sori is joined by Akio Ohtsuka and Romi Park. Well, not actually joined, it is simply a case of intercut interviews. Sori describes his films as full CG animation with the feel of cell shading. The decision to do it in CGI arose out of the desire to make the experience closer to live action than animation. He had read the manga when a young man and was privileged to be able to bring them to life and tried to make as few as possible changes. The actors talk about their approach to the roles and generally kid about.
†††† The second interview has Sori and actors Aye Hirano and Jun Fukuyama. The format is really no different and the cast describe how easy it was to sync to the lips when working on this show due to the awe inspiring visuals and great script. The director talks about some of his references including the opening scene from A New Hope which influenced the size and style of his spacecraft shots.
†††† Overall these are interviews for the real fans. Others, like myself, may feel that one hour is a long time to talk about 90 minutes of animation, particularly when the director is so earnest and filmed in his comfortable though dark study.
†††††The version released in Region A is identical in features.
†††† TO will be enjoyed by fans of thought provoking science fiction although they might find the resort to violence either a reflection on manís eternal desire to conquer and dominate, or as just a cheap way to get the kids watching!
†††† The defects in the picture quality are minor though there are some who just don't like this style of animation used for traditional Japanese anime.
†††† There are a number of extras but the quality isn't overwhelming.
|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|