H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 5600 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)
Harmon Cardon DD/DTS receiver
Ascent (main) + Boston Acoustics (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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The Wings of Honneamise [Blu-ray and SD Combo DVD]

 

(Hiroyuki Yamaga, 1987)

Review by Gary W. Tooze and Luiz R.

Studio: Bandai Visual/Honneamise

Distribution: Geneon/Pioneer
Video: 1080p - 16:9 - AVC ( 27Mbps)
Audio: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 ( 3.5Mbps), Japanese PCM Dolby Surround 2.0 (1.5Mbps), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (640kbps)
Subtitles: Japanese, English, none

Disc: Dual-Layered Blu-Ray (50GBs)
Runtime: 120 min.

Extras: Trailer, Pilot (5min.)
Release Date: September 11th, 2007
Case: Boxset w/ Blu-Ray+Dual-Layered DVD and English Booklet

Synopsis (from the back cover):
"I will not give up. I will realize my dream...even if it means death!" Acclaimed by anime fans all over the world, Royal Space Force-The Wings of Honneamise comes back to life 20 years after its original release! The stirring odyssey created by nascent anime masters at GAINAX is still unsurpassed for its meticulous artistry and heartfelt drama of a young man's coming of age in a turbulent world!

The Film:
This was directed by the 24 year old (by the time) Hiroyuki Yamaga with the help of Hideaki Anno (Evangelion) and Yoshiuyki Sadamoto (Evangelion manga), both as animation directors and the Oscar winner composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. The now famous names part of this groundbreaking project doesn't stop there - this anime was carefully made taking over 3 years to in production and the result is an innovative, technical, and poignant anime.

 

This Blu-Ray was the first time I watched this anime and I was expecting something like Patlabor - and indeed they share some similarities. Both anime have that 80's look in the animation style - both deal with politics, intrigues, armed forces and maturity. "The Wings of Honneamise", while dealing with the load of intrigue and science-fiction, centers its focus on an immature young fellow that falls in love with a religious woman and by heavily dealing with the personal affairs of the main character the movie becomes another coming of age story. So, isn't "Akira" a coming of age story also? I don't think so, but it is good that "Akira" was brought up.

I consider "The Wings of Honneamise" more groundbreaking than Patlabor, but they are both behind "Akira" when the subject is innovation. If you watch Otomo's anime today you probably won't think it was made in the late 80's, but "Wings of Honneamise" probably will leave you with some tips, to begin with everything is very rounded... But don't get me wrong, the animation is beautiful and in many aspects the futuristic architecture is a strong point, but it is not so progressively sophisticated as Akira.

The sci-fi part of the movie is strongly connected to historical events and presents some arguments that will seem familiar to occidental viewers. Characters resemblance to some roles from American sci-fis from the 70's is another trait that gives an more occidental approach to the movie. But, although the anime has an innocent look, it is definitely not for kids. There are at least 2 unexpected and violent scenes that requite caution. Many censored and cut versions of this film were released prior to this one because of these two scenes and maybe others. There is also a religious theme present, not really surprising if you consider that Hideaki Anno, part of the project here, later was going to develop a project with a heavy Christian theme behind. The character chosen to portray the religious ideas is indeed the best person in the whole movie and the most responsible to the improvement in the main character's personality, so the way i see the anime gives a good role to religion in contrast with the bad role that politics and bureaucracy plays. Mostly this is a pleasant experience that will easily give you 2 hours of fun. This is highly recommended to anime fans and might have something to offer to those not really interested in animation, the story has some parts that are quite current.

The package


The Video:
In general the image is good, compared to the SD DVD that comes in the same package - the BRD provides a strong upgrade, mostly in resolution. But there are some weird "colored shades" that I believe are a result of bad black adjustment. The same flaw happens with the DVD as well. Another interesting and sad point is the video Bit Rate, this American version has an average of 26 Mbps, all my other Japanese releases of this collection have an average of 38Mbps. I don't know specifically about the Japanese release of this one, since it was released just a couple of months before I tend to think they are the same. Since there are some GBs available maybe they decided to release the same transfer to both HD DVD and Blu-Ray, since HD DVD cannot pass the limit of 29Mbps for video bit rate.

Besides the presumed bad black adjustment, there are some dirt present here too (you can even see some of it in the captures bellow, at least some dots), since this is the second release from this collection that I see this amount of dirty, Bandai seems to be more concerned about releasing it fast instead of taking the time and do some cleaning. Some brightness differences between the frames also appears during playback, but rarely. The majority of the movie presents a clean image with a good saturation, sharpness and contrast, every detail is visible. The grains are nice and with the Blu-Ray that 3D feeling is strongly enhanced in some scenes.

I didn't see any previous release, but I am satisfied with the image here and I can tell by comparing it with the DVD that you will be pleased also. There is room for improvements but I don't think that waiting some years (or many) for another release worth it, this one is good enough especially if you haven't seen this masterpiece previously.

Luiz R.

Screen Captures

 

Subtitle sample

 

 

(SD DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray DVD BOTTOM)

 

 

(SD DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray DVD BOTTOM)

 

 

(SD DVD TOP vs. Blu-ray DVD BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Not exact frame

 

 

Caps from the Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio:
The audio comes with a Japanese PCM Stereo (1.5Mbps) which is the same released in theaters in Japan back in 1987, it is good and if you want that nostalgic feeling from the old theater release you will be happy. Now, there is a new 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, that was also released in theaters a while ago, that will sound great for the audiophiles. The Dolby TrueHD gives you a powerful immersion into the movie, this crystal clear sound is even better than the image.

There is also an English Dolby 5.1 DUB that is as good as a DUB can get. Compared to the DUB that comes with the DVD the Blu-Ray one sounded better, so this is probably the best DUB ever released for this movie in a DVD. But if there was a theatrical DUB in the US I don't know why they didn't include it, as I said there is space available.

Extras:
Besides the extras there is a pilot of 4 minutes, it is kind of trailer anyway. So, as usual the collection came with no significant extras.

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