Reviewby Luke Carroll, Aug 12th 2008
Anime Classics: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust / Spriggan / Millennium Actress
CONTAINS 3 CLASSIC ANIME FEATURES
Before BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT, the acclaimed studios MADHOUSE and STUDIO 4°C gave fans these classic anime features.
Discover where the legend began!
VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST
One of the few surviving vampires in a dark future where his kind has been all but wiped out, the enigmatic D is at war with himself, struggling between his humanity and a burning bloodlust. Produced by studio Madhouse and directed by the legendary Yoshiaki Kawajiri (NINJA SCROLL, HIGHLANDER)
The ancient artefact, Noah's Ark, has been uncovered, with the potential to elevate its holder to godhood, or wipe away humanity! Only the elite team of Spriggans, can fight through monstrous half human cyborgs to save our species! By the ultra creative STUDIO 4°C (MINDGAME) under supervision by Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA)
A moving exploration of the power of memory and imagination from Satoshi Kon (PAPRIKA), Japan's new cinematic master. A TV interviewer has tracked down Japan's most famous star, Chiyoko. Her story of lost love treads the line of fantasy and reality as we witness the past, present and future.
Tying itself closely with the then popular Matrix movies, Madman's first Anime Classics box set featured three of the most highly acclaimed titles to ever reach our shores. With the recent releases of Gotham Knight and the chilling Dark Knight currently making its way in cinemas, Madman have finally seen fit to bring us its next installment in the Anime Classics series. Containing the likes of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Spriggan, and Millennium Actress, this second set certainly lacks the same amount of punch as the first did. However that does not stop it being quite an enjoyable collection that is perfect for those who somehow overlooked these titles their first time around or are new to the anime scene.
The first disc in the collection is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, a rather intriguing title that tells the story of D, a dunpeal (half human, half vampire) who kills vampires for money. When the daughter of a rich family is kidnapped one night by the powerful vampire Meier Link, her family hires D and a separate group of hunters in a bid to return their daughter before the worst happens. What unfolds is an entangling mix of action, drama and love that reaches out to the viewer on many different levels during the course of the film.
Having been produced back in 2000, Vampire Hunter D feels quite dated in its animation. There seems to be a complete cover of grain during the film, dulling the detailed designs. Disappointingly, there is only a 5.1 English Dub with this title, and the subtitles are inexplicably all in capitals for some reason. On the extras side of things, there is a decent 20 minute 'behind the scenes' feature, a number of tv spots and theatrical trailers, storyboard comparisons and Madman propaganda. Overall, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust will not be everyone's cup of tea, however its hard to deny that even on the outside there is a lot of good action pieces to be enjoyed during the film, and certainly enough to warrant at least a single viewing.
The second feature in the collection is Spriggan, a 90 minute long action romp that proves itself to be a great starting point for those who are new to the anime scene. Spriggan follows the story of Yu Ominae, an elite soldier and member of the secret organization called ARCAM, who one day uncovers the ancient artifact known as Noah's Arc. With this artifact potentially containing the power to control life on the earth as we know it, the US decides that they instead must have this device, and set out on taking control of it by force. What unfolds is a series of blood ridden battles as Yu, joined later by French Spriggan Jean, set out to stop the US and their half human/half machine creations from taking control of the Ark and the potential destruction of the world.
The animation for Spriggan certainly does its job well. As with many older films, there is a slight grain effect going on throughout the entire feature, but this becomes a minute issue when the action hits. The audio for both the English and Japanese tracks are presented in Dolby 5.1, and for the most part sound quite decent. There is however a noticeable amount of low sounding voices in the Japanese track due to the special way they recorded their character's lines, and the menu system used on the disc contains some very small font that may prove hard to read on smaller tv sets. On the extras side of things, there is a neat feature length commentary from two of the ADR staff, character designs, vehicle and equipment designs, key backgrounds and Madman propaganda. Overall, Spriggan will certainly appeal to anyone who loves to see action flicks; its wonderful animation and attention to detail only help cement it as a must see for any anime fan wishing to find an excuse shut their brains off for a while and gorge on hundreds of bullets.
The final disc in the collection is Millennium Actress, a masterfully told tale of love that is brought to life by the ever so mind bending Satoshi Kon. Unfolding into what can only be described as a 'play within a play', Millennium Actress tells the story of Chiyoko Fujiwara, a popular actress in the mid 1900's who one day suddenly vanished from the public eye. Having eventually tracked her down, two documentary makers present Chiyoko with a key that used to belong to her. This key proves to be the catalyst for her memories, and soon the two documentary makers find themselves living out Chiyoko's past through a mix of memories and film scenes that seemingly blend together and constantly distort reality.
Despite lacking a lot of detail in the character art, Millennium Actress manages to look quite brilliant when in motion, paying constant homage to the artistic direction Kon took in Perfect Blue. The audio is definitely the biggest draw card of the package, featuring both the English and Japanese tracks in an amazing Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mix. The extras are a mixed bag, containing an interesting 40 minute 'making of' feature, the US Trailer, and some Madman propaganda. Overall, Millennium Actress is certainly a must see for Satoshi Kon fans alike; it's wonderfully told story and beautifully directed scenes make it a masterpiece in its own right and a welcome addition to anyones collection.
If there is one other disappointment I have with this collection, it would certainly be the choice of disc art chosen, or actual lack thereof. The discs included are simply just reprints of their respective titles, and with the effort Madman went into to with regards to making their own cover for the release, it would have certainly made a much nicer package if the discs also contained a similar style to them. Despite this though, Madman's second Anime Classics box set is a very well rounded package, featuring a decent set of titles that, although lacking the same amount of punch as the previous lot did, are still very much classics in their own right. This set is certainly a must see for those who are new to the anime scene, or managed to overlooked these titles somehow and have been waiting for an excuse to pick them all up cheaply.
Due to there being 3 features in this set, the scores have been shown below
+ Great way to introduce someone to anime, Hard to pass price point
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