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REVIEW: Night Raid 1931 Blu-Ray


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Otaking09



Joined: 24 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:14 pm Reply with quote
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Overall: B+


...and...

Quote:
Night Raid 1931 ultimately gets a little too ambitious for its own good. It wants to be both a hard historical fiction work and a super-powered spy story, two foci which sometimes detrimentally compete with each other and, in so doing, fill up so much of the time that little is left for proper character development. None of the plot twists are particularly fresh, either, and the final disposition of one of the main characters feels unsatisfying.


How does that equal a B+ Key?
I mean, just for novelty sake?
For art sake?
I mean spoiler[no closure about the superpowers] is one thing, but I'm surprised that...

Quote:
Along the way the series shows snippets involving the heavy-handed way that the Japanese treated the Chinese, looks at how girls and young women from desperately poor families were sold off to help their families, touches upon the scourge of opium dens, and suggests that Japanese elements may have influenced China's internal conflicts during the time period. The occasional narration makes sure that viewers understand what is going on, too. In short, it is as unflattering a portrayal of Japan as one is likely to see in an anime series, and the creative staff at A-1 Pictures deserves credit for not pulling their punches on any of it.


...this gets any credit at all; "harrowing" is the word, and this series is far too detached.
As far as war stories go, FLAG is probably the closer comparison to something like Grave of the Fireflies than anything here.
Accuracy is nice, but unless you can emphasize "why" (I mean... shouldn't a period drama [especially one about something important] hammer the nails of truth a bit more... urgently?), then "why" watch?
I know I shouldn't compare an A1-Picture to something like Fireflies... but I dunno.
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Megiddo



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:19 pm Reply with quote
Either don't look at the letter grade or just subtract a full point from each. That's how I've learned to deal with Key's reviews. I, personally, dropped this one after the first episode. I was super hyped to see how Japan would deal with a historical (and controversial) event and pretty much everything turned me off. The stupid super powers were probably the greatest reason for me to drop it. I just anticipated a more serious and real show and did not get that.
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Greed1914
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:33 pm Reply with quote
I definitely plan to watch this at some point. If nothing else, the setting is unique.

And I had forgotten about one of the episode being left for online streaming due to the controversy.
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Key
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:36 pm Reply with quote
Otaking09 wrote:

How does that equal a B+ Key?
I mean, just for novelty sake?
For art sake?


So what would you give it, then? Regardless of how you feel about how the series handles its subject matter, it is a well-made series and its structural, technical, and writing flaws aren't big enough to warrant it being thoroughly slammed.

Quote:
As far as war stories go, FLAG is probably the closer comparison to something like Grave of the Fireflies than anything here.
Accuracy is nice, but unless you can emphasize "why" (I mean... shouldn't a period drama [especially one about something important] hammer the nails of truth a bit more... urgently?), then "why" watch?
I know I shouldn't compare an A1-Picture to something like Fireflies... but I dunno.


But that's normal for anime titles that endeavor to portray historical events. Look at Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen: both of them showed the awful stuff that happened, but in a generally non-judgmental way. There are no recriminations in those movies, no one either overtly or covertly saying that such-and-such was right or wrong. They just lay out what happened, documentary-style, and let the audience be the judge. Tokyo Raid 1931 is far more similar to those than it is to Flag, which did have a lot to say and wasn't shy about saying it. Self-recrimination in cinema seems to be more of a Western (and especially American?) phenomenon anyway.

And Megiddo: Except for the incongruous light-hearted bits I mentioned, the series does take things seriously. There's nothing lacking in realism about its depictions of actual historical events, either.
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Otaking09



Joined: 24 Feb 2009
Posts: 636
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:39 pm Reply with quote
@Megiddo

When it's something typical of anime, I usually trust Key's opinion since he tends to rate them on a level of enjoyment more than anything.
The occasional times he does review things that are atypical (like one of my favorite reviews on this site period: Now and Then, Here and There's), Key hits the points pretty HARD...

I know I shouldn't compare a man's work from 5+ years ago, but this review seems quite forgiving.
And considering that the show leaves no sense of thought provocation (how I wish I could compare this to HBO's John Adams or the great Schindler's List itself...), but entertainment-wise... nope still nothing.
Seriously Key, I had to actually look up details because I was lost with where this show actually mattered in history because of its lack of engagement.

EDIT:
Quote:
So what would you give it, then? Regardless of how you feel about how the series handles its subject matter, it is a well-made series and its structural, technical, and writing flaws aren't big enough to warrant it being thoroughly slammed.


Easy Key, I'm not dtm, and I haven't aggressively attacked you with your opinions before... ever.
My concerns aren't with it's subject matter, but subject handling.
I know you were being sarcastic, but I'd like to say that art-wise, this is one of A1-Pictures sharpest looking series; Those EXCELLENT backgrounds did have me reaching for my inhaler from time to time...

Quote:
But that's normal for anime titles that endeavor to portray historical events. Look at Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen: both of them showed the awful stuff that happened, but in a generally non-judgmental way. There are no recriminations in those movies, no one either overtly or covertly saying that such-and-such was right or wrong. They just lay out what happened, documentary-style, and let the audience be the judge. Tokyo Raid 1931 is far more similar to those than it is to Flag, which did have a lot to say and wasn't shy about saying it. Self-recrimination in cinema seems to be more of a Western (and especially American?) phenomenon anyway.


Isn't that the way it should be?
I mean, letting the audience feel everything for themselves generally does more for internal conflict than glazing history with spoiler[inexplicable superpowers, wooden characters, and an otherwise indifferent handling].
FLAG provided multiple sidepoints (one of the greatest and boldest decisions as I'm sure you'd agree too, if you haven't already) to the story; compared to a haphazardly planned piece of hollow wood like Night Raid, wouldn't you say that the show failed?
I mean... what exactly was the point?
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Key
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:26 am Reply with quote
Otaking09 wrote:
I mean, letting the audience feel everything for themselves generally does more for internal conflict than glazing history with spoiler[inexplicable superpowers, wooden characters, and an otherwise indifferent handling].
FLAG provided multiple sidepoints (one of the greatest and boldest decisions as I'm sure you'd agree too, if you haven't already) to the story; compared to a haphazardly planned piece of hollow, wood like Night Raid, wouldn't you say that the show failed?
I mean... what exactly was the point?


Honestly, it simply never occurred to me that the point of the series (or lack thereof) would even be an issue. If you want to focus on that angle, though, then I don't think the series was meant to have one. The creators just wanted to tell a spy tale that was deeply imbedded into actual historical events. Their biggest fault is that they got carried away with developing the historical context, doing so at the expense of character development. And the whole super-powers thing? I just looked at them as a substitute for all of the fancy gadgets normally seen in dedicated spy series. (And really, if you think about it, don't all of James Bond's cool toys have something of a super-hero flavor to them?)

Basically, I thought the historical context and a handful of really sharp episodes (the "Demon in the Opium Den" episode in particular) carried the weaker elements well enough to justify the writing grade I gave the series, and with all of the technical and dub merits being strong I didn't feel justified in giving an overall grade lower than what I did.
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Echo_City



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:34 am Reply with quote
I'm honestly not sure that this show can redeem itself after the awful cat-chasing episode, which brought back bad memories of GetBackers! Honestly, the teleporter and the telekinetic in Night Raid plagiarize Ban & Ginji, and the episode served no purpose but to showcase these striking--ahem--"similarities ", and allude to a similar "more than friends" scenario.

The annoying Chinese girl, their attempt at unneeded comic relief, truly grated on me. She's also eerily similar to a certain character from Caanan.

I bought this show expecting a serious political drama. I heard it threw corny superpowers into the mix, but that need not necessarily kill a story. Darker than Black was rife with superpowers, and IMO it was awesome. This doesn't even belong in the same class as that. This show is as shallow as a kiddy pool, and about as original as the average shounen plot. I suppose I should have expected this from the team that made Soranowoto & Occult Academy, which embodied the same flaws as this show, but I'm an optimist, and I naively believed in the facade this show presented as being a "serious, dramatic political action thriller".

Well, I bought it, got it autographed (prior to seeing it), and will finish it and hope for the best. After all, I finished similarly lackluster Canaan, Soranowoto and, though it pains me to say it, Occult Academy. This certainly isn't worse than those, but I expected better for my money.
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Otaking09



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:47 am Reply with quote
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The creators just wanted to tell a spy tale that was deeply imbedded into actual historical events. Their biggest fault is that they got carried away with developing the historical context, doing so at the expense of character development. And the whole super-powers thing? I just looked at them as a substitute for all of the fancy gadgets normally seen in dedicated spy series. (And really, if you think about it, don't all of James Bond's cool toys have something of a super-hero flavor to them?)


Which Bond movies are we talking about here? Anime hyper
But seriously, most spy flicks at least have a kind of character/intelligence integrity. With a jumbled mess of priorities in Night Raid, how could I not rub my face in frustration as the ending episodes rolled.

Quote:
Basically, I thought the historical context and a handful of really sharp episodes (the "Demon in the Opium Den" episode in particular) carried the weaker elements well enough to justify the writing grade I gave the series, and with all of the technical and dub merits being strong I didn't feel justified in giving an overall grade lower than what I did.


Well, the way you wrote it, you made it sound like both complement each other when, really, both are just... there; saying that both elements (separately) are passably fine is one thing, but saying that the strong points of said elements are enough to negate the lows is another.
I do apologize to you though Key. Anime no Chikara was just a failure overall (Why o' why couldn't have Nozomi gave Sound of the Sky a dub...), for it's lack of polished refinement which is, I think we both agree, the biggest flaw.
Because, unlike Sound of the Sky, the subsequent titles exchanged using the superficial bull as a catalyst in favor for being the prime foundation.
The result in my book? The sum is lesser than the parts it contains. That's pretty much it.
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Takamachi Ryoko



Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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Location: 東京, 日本
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:06 am Reply with quote
Boy, I read the review, liked it then went here and things already looked ugly Wink So just want to let everyone know the world isn't made up with one damn mind.

Anyway, back to the real deal, that was fast, skin was put up a few days ago and now a review. I admit SnN didn't really pique my interest much for its story, only the art looked good. Just rewatched it a few weeks ago, this time looked closer and it was actually pretty good. The first half was boring, the second improved a little bit: political scheming, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, atomic bomb, etc. The only problem I have is character development, only a handful of them were given specific origins and spoiler[Takachiho Isao died in a cheapass way for the main antagonist.]

And the casting was fine, although I don't know why they removed Chinese, Russian in the dub, those were cool.

Like Key said, it ultimately gets a little too ambitious for its own good. Still has its own issue but a decent series nonetheless.


Last edited by Takamachi Ryoko on Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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tsunayakuin



Joined: 26 Mar 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:10 am Reply with quote
Who is this Kirino in Night Raid, I thought the girl's name was Yukina.
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Echo_City



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:57 am Reply with quote
Did anyone else notice the hilarious irony in the subbed version of episode 6 wherein all of the Asian powers (used loosely) meet to discuss their mutual need to cast off the oppressive yoke of the Imperialist Western powers & return to their unique Asian cultures, yet the only common language that they have to communicate with is English?

Sadly, most of those actors in that scene speak English like an over-the-top impersonation of the already-exaggerated depiction of Kim Jong Il in Team America:World Police. The only one who spoke English with any degree of fluency was the man who portrayed India, though he lacked any Indian accent, which seemed an oversight in a show so devoted to historically accuracy to me. All of this made the drab and otherwise boring and banal scene rather amusing.

BTW does anyone else find it odd that Karbowski has been called to be the lead role in 2 almost back-to-back Sentai releases? I think there's a thing called actor overuse, and Sentai has achieved it.
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Dimlos



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:59 am Reply with quote
Echo_City wrote:
BTW does anyone else find it odd that Karbowski has been called to be the lead role in 2 almost back-to-back Sentai releases? I think there's a thing called actor overuse, and Sentai has achieved it.
Don't find it that odd, really, as Funimation does it all the time. If this is happening with Sentai, then I'd just say they're toeing the line.
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Key
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:26 am Reply with quote
Echo_City wrote:
I'm honestly not sure that this show can redeem itself after the awful cat-chasing episode, which brought back bad memories of GetBackers! Honestly, the teleporter and the telekinetic in Night Raid plagiarize Ban & Ginji, and the episode served no purpose but to showcase these striking--ahem--"similarities ", and allude to a similar "more than friends" scenario.

The annoying Chinese girl, their attempt at unneeded comic relief, truly grated on me.


The cat-chasing episode is the one I referred to in the review as being a big failure for its attempt at comedy. It is, by far, the worst episode in the series. Everything which comes after it is considerably better, so don't let that episode color your opinion of the series as a whole. (And there is no "more than friends" interaction even remotely suggested about Kazura and Aoi, as you'll see going forward.)

tsunayakuin wrote:
Who is this Kirino in Night Raid, I thought the girl's name was Yukina.


Ugh. Fixed.
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wandering-dreamer



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:58 am Reply with quote
I'll admit, I did like that A-1 tried to have the characters speak many different languages instead of having everyone speak Japanese all the time, a shame that apparently most of the accents were awful (I remember that scene with all the English and I thought it was okay, just funny how the Indian didn't sound Indian at all). Don't think I ever saw episode 14 but I do remember seeing episode 0 and wondering why this wasn't episode 1 and they cut the cat story instead. I know that a lot of people dropped the series after the cat story and, even though episode one was a nice, exciting start to the series, episode 0 just would've worked better. Guess I'm in the minority here since I liked the show and would love to have it on BR someday but oh well then. Razz
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YukiTori



Joined: 22 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:27 am Reply with quote
Thanks Key for the review. However I'm a little confused ... you said "The Blu-Ray splits its content across two episodes, while the DVD version uses three, and both versions use the same cover art." Don't you mean discs, or am I missing something. Embarassed [EDIT: Corrected. - Key]

I've watched the first couple of episodes (dubbed version) through Anime Network on Demand through my cable system and thought it was okay so far ... wasn't sure about a purchase yet though. Still not sure of a purchase after reading your review, but it has me glad to at least view it legally for now. Very Happy

Been reading ANN for quite a while but decided it was time I made it official and joined up Smile
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