Reviewby Theron Martin,
DVD 1: The 25th Hour
Human Crossing is an anthology of stories about the relationships between ordinary people muddling through life. Four stories are covered in this volume, one per episode. In “The Wound,” a champion boxer reflects on his real motivations for becoming a boxer and the shallow falsity of the public image he has created. In “The 25th Hour,” an idealistic young lawyer searches for the real meaning of, and purpose for, the law and finds it in the case of a young woman seeking to regain custody of her baby from his grandparents. In “A Promise,” a workaholic father who is nonplussed by his son's indifference to being given a new bike is given cause to reflect on his own relationship with his father and the reasons why he has such fond memories of getting his first bike as a kid. In “Direction,” a woman must take custody of her deadbeat father for a time, a thoroughly uncomfortable experience for her since she has tried for many years to distance herself from her unpleasant childhood.
Human Crossing is a rarity amongst anime titles licensed and distributed in the States: a series intended for adult audiences which is devoid of extreme graphic content. Though the setting is Japan and the characters Japanese, these are stories which cross cultural boundaries; at least three of them could have easily taken place in the U.S., and the fourth could with only a little modification. Each of the unconnected stories shows a different aspect of human relationships, and each ends on a positive note with the key character having come to an important revelation about himself or herself. It's somewhat like watching excerpts from a Hallmark Hall of Fame special, except in animated form.
Each episode features a different writer and director, so there is a significant degree of variance in storytelling quality. Because of this, the ratings given below are overall averages which may not be applicable to all episodes. The weakest of this lot is “The 25th Hour,” which comes off as preachy, improbable, and forced. The best of the lot is “Direction,” which may not seem like anything special early on but will surprise you in the end with its poignancy and emotional appeal. “A Promise” is also reasonably effective, while “The Wound” is average and a bit transparent.
The artistry, technical merits, and musical score for Human Crossing are all decent but unremarkable, though they remain consistent through the four episodes. Character designs are not particularly appealing, with the lawyer character in “The 25th Hour” looking somewhat goofy, and shortcuts are taken on the animation. This is a series whose episodes are focused on the characters and their stories rather than its look, though, so how in this case how the series looks isn't as important as long as story execution is working. The opener and closer both use live rather than animated footage set to songs unlikely to excite, but, notably, these are the original Japanese opener/closers with subtitles; to get a translated version you have to refer to the Extras menu.
Though Geneon produces and distributes this title, the English dub work was done by Ocean Productions, so many of the English cast members are carry-overs from the dubbing team for Inuyasha. The effectiveness of their performances varies from episode to episode; the only one I would rate as being a good job is “Direction,” while “A Promise” and “The Wound” are passable and “The 25th Hour” is weak. The English scripting never drifts too far from the subtitles, though.
As noted before, the Extras include the translated versions of the opener and closer—and the credits given this way are cumulative for all four episodes. The only other extras are a textless version of the opener and Geneon previews. Subtitle and language track options are separate, with subtitling further broken down into “signs only” and “dialog with signs” options. Interestingly, none of the menu screens have any music set to them.
If you're an adult looking for a mature—and clean—anime viewing experience then Human Crossing may be your ticket. Though the content of this series is family-friendly, young viewers are unlikely to get much out of the stories. This is a series for adults, despite its rating.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : C+
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