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 7500 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)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







Vexille (aka 'Bekushiru: 2077 Nihon sakoku' [Blu-ray]


(Fumihiko Sori, 2007)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: FUNimation



Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:49:43

Chapters: 24

Feature film disc size: 19.6 Gig

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 4th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC


Japanese: TrueHD 5.1, DUB: English: TrueHD 5.1

Feature: English and none


Opening Comments from the Locarno Film Festival
Following Sori's Work as an Animation Creator
Voice Acting Footage
Creating the Cities in VEXILLE
2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair Event
Sori's Guest Lecture at Digital Hollywood Tokyo
An Old Friend Pays Sori a Visit
Behind-the-Scenes Footage of ICHI
Creating VEXILLE's 3D Animation
Creating the Music in VEXILLE
Sori's Closing Comments
The Secrets of VEXILLE
Original TV Spots and Previews


Product Description: 2067: Isolation. Japan seals herself off from the eyes of the world in the face of unilateral international policy setting strict limits on the use of robotic technology. The island nation exists only behind a veil of seclusion. No soul shall enter. No soul shall leave.

2077: Revelation. The veil is breached. Japan is infiltrated by agents of the organization S.W.O.R.D., a fighting force operating outside of the protection of the United States and her allies. Their mission: Determine if the Japanese are developing banned robotic bio-technology, forbidden due to its threat to humankind.

In the battle between machine and man, humanity stands to suffer most...




The Film:

Ten years after Japan withdrew from the U.N., cut their ties with all the nations of the Earth, and built an impenetrable electromagnetic field to prevent any outsiders from entering their borders, a high-tech American commando unit is dispatched on an unofficial mission to penetrate the shield surrounding the country and gather information about their highly advanced robotics program. The year is 2077, and Japan has been accused of conducting illegal robotics research. As a result, the leaders of Japan have decided to construct a massive electromagnetic field known as RACE to prevent any further meddling in their domestic affairs. Meanwhile, back in the United States, an elite commando unit dubbed SWORD launches a surprise attack on a powerful Nipponese conglomerate known as Daiwa Heavy Industries and nearly captures primary android Saito (voice of Akio Otsuka).



The leader of SWORD is fearless commando Vexille (voice of Meisa Kuroki), and though she may have failed to capture Saito Vexille is determined to succeed at her team's next mission. American intelligence has gathered that Daiwa has recently made substantial advancements in the realm of robotics, and despite the difficulty of breaching Japan's borders they are determined to learn these valuable trade secrets. In order to make this happen, Vexille and her boyfriend Leon (voice of Shosuke Tanihara}) will have seventy-two hours to lead their team into Japan, gather the information on Daiwa's robotics program, and get out. It's a secret mission that hasn't been officially sanctioned by the U.S. government, but could benefit that current leaders and politicians greatly. But once in Japan Vexille is separated from the group, and quickly discovers that Saito has been awaiting their arrival. Upon awakening in a barrio-like district that was once the capital of Japan, Vexille quickly teams with resistance fighter Maria (voice of Yasuko Matsuyuki) - a former girlfriend of Leon's who also harbors a growing grudge against Daiwa. Later, after Vexille gathers the necessary resources and locates the rest of her team, she, Leon, and Maria lead a daring attack on Daiwa's artificial, offshore fortress...

Excerpt from Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guid



Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Despite what you may think of the still captures below - the moving image of Vexille on Blu-ray is immensely impressive. The picture quality is nothing short of pristine. Being digital animation (straight digital-to-digital) there are virtually no flaws whatsoever at 1080P resolution. The transfer seems to represent an 'absolute' in terms of a perfect visual presentation. As for the animation style itself - it was something I quickly became accustomed to. It has such a realistic look at times with an excessively high level of detail for inanimate objects (floors, walls, still water, motion-less robots, the Shanty-town of Tokyo etc.). Faces and eyes can appear very good at times too - but hair has a tendency to look like plastic (of course perhaps all the cast were wearing gel :) ) and shadow lighting is clumpy - but this is part of the 'style'.  The feature size is a respectable 19.6 Gig on the single-layered Blu-ray. Of course there is no DNR or edge enhancements necessary. You may click on the screen grabs to see the full 1080 resolution. This may be one of the more impressive animation Blu-rays that I have seen and in motion it can be quite stirring. It is extremely pure and crisp.



















Audio & Music:  
I was feeling a bit lazy and after testing the original Japanese track - I watched the majority of the film with the English DUB. Both are offered in TrueHD and sound quality matches the video. It's nice to hear a Surround track without easily identifying the sound from the rear speakers. This was such an experience. Audio floated about the room with a lot of subtlety. Initially the fronts seem to get most of the more bombastic exposition/battle work with the mix supporting the less dynamic elements of the soundtrack to the rear speakers. If I did have a complaint it would be that center-channel dialogue was hushed compared to the other audio effects. Action sequences can get very loud and aggressive. I wasn't a fan of the modern music chosen for the film (Bands such as Basement Jaxx, Boom Boom Satellites, Asian Dub Foundation, Dead Can Dance etc. while there is a music score by Paul Oakenfold.) - it didn't seem to work very cohesively with the plot/animation in my mind. But, like the visuals this audio is pristine and crisp. Full marks.  There are optional subtitles offered only in
English (no other languages).


Extensive and endless with over 2 hours of material mostly in the form of two specific featurettes (one running 1 hour and the other 50 minutes). I'll be honest, I am not a big follower of this Anime genre and am a bit lost when it comes to all that is discussed regarding the development and detailed minutia and rehashing of the plot specifics. Fans will surely be satisfied and there is also a ton on production and input tidbits from director Sori. Nothing is in HD but anyone wishing to know more will have plenty to indulge in here (see full list above).



Bottom line:
In some respects this is kind of typical Japanese anime sci-fi adventure - from the limited amount that I have seen of the genre. It seems a shade more 'adult' than many. The film has some unique elements and it is imaginative with decent plot detail depth - one has to be impressed at times. It's a good movie story for sure - reminding me a lot of 'Bladerunner'. The
Blu-ray image and audio are excellent - good enough for those unfamiliar with Japanese anime to feel confident enough to
give it a spin. This is quite an experience and one that we give a full recommendation.

Gary Tooze

October 25th, 2008





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