Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection

 

The H-Man aka Bijo to Ekitainingen (1958)         Battle in Outer Space aka Uchu daisenso (1959)      Mothra aka Mosura (1961)

 

Directed by Ishirô Honda

 

Toho, the most famous of all Japanese movie studios, first made its name in the West for the extraordinary masterworks of Akira Kurosawa. But they really struck box office gold with the wildly colorful kaiju eiga (monster movies) that began in 1954 with the original Godzilla (Gojira), the creation of director Ishiro Honda and special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya. Now for the first time on DVD -- and in their original Tohoscope aspect ratios -- Sony Pictures presents three Honda classics that display the enormous breadth of the Toho magic during its glory years. The H-Man, Battle in Outer Space and Mothra are presented in both their Japanese and U.S. versions. So travel back to the days before CGI, when special effects were real and the results were spectacular!

Titles

Theatrical Release: 1958 - 1961

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony Pictures (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Sony Pictures (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime

H-Man 1:18:51 (English), 1:25:54 (Japanese),

Battle in Outer Space - both English and Japanese (1:30:15)

Mothra 1:30:15 (English, 1:40:45 (Japanese) 

Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.79, 5.67, 4.91 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s  

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

H-Man

Bitrate: 

Battle in Outer Space

Bitrate: 

Mothra

Audio DUB: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary on Battle in Outer Space by authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski
• 
Commentary on DUBBED (English) Mothra by authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski

DVD Release Date: August 18th, 2009

Keep Case
Chapters: 28 X 3

 

Comments:

Okay, let's get right to it - the packaging sucks - the three separate discs are stacked one on top of the other (with no barrier) in a standard keep case. What this means is the playing surface of two of the discs are touching the label side of another. You must remove the entire stack to access the DVDs underneath. I've only ever seen VCI Entertainment do this with a Film Noir set and I find it a very poor way of presenting discs.

There are 3 anamorphic DVDs transferred in the 2.35 aspect ratio. Each offers the English (DUBBED and/or edited) version of the film and the original Japanese. Battle in Outer Space is single-layered and an interlaced transfer. (NOTE: Our mistake: The bulk of the feature, however, is encoded as progressive (starting approximately 3 minutes in). On this disc both versions are the same length and the only difference I can discern is the English version is DUBBED but it appears to be the same film (with different language opening and end credits). The H-Man is on a dual-layered disc and is progressive. The English version is edited (7:03 shorter). Mothra is also on a dual-layered, progressive, DVD disc and the there is 9.5 minutes between the English and Japanese versions. Image quality is imperfect with all sources looking dirty with some minor scratches and speckles. Details is at the low end and colors are less faded than I was anticipating. I don't suspect any boosting and essentially these films are not in pristine digital condition but are watchable.   

Audio doesn't have any bumps and is all 2.0 channel for both original Japanese and the humorously poor English DUBs. There are large white optional English subtitles with no other language choices.

NOTE: We've had email that some DVD players report subtitle issues with Battle in Outer Space. The Japanese version subtitles are exactly the same subtitles used on the English version and don't always fit as well as they should. (Thanks Peter for telling us!) 

Extras include a commentary on Battle in Outer Space by authors and Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle (writer of Japan's Favorite Mon-star  - The Unauthorized Biography of Godzilla) and Ed Godziszewski (Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!: The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films). They work well together and seem prepared and professional with plenty of details about the film(s) and science-fiction in general. The commentary can be accessed on both English or Japanese versions of Battle in Outer Space but the authoring does not offer subtitles for the commentary. Battle in Outer Space is probably the worst of the three films and, although frequently assumed, this NOT a sequel to 1957's The Mysterians. The same pair do another commentary on the DUBBED (English) Mothra only and likewise they do a good job on this superior, better known, film. I appreciate the information on Ishirô Hondo - the director of all three films and the boxset could have even been labeled an Ishirô Hondo Collection, Vol. 1. Thankfully the commentaries don't dissolve into the type of sarcasm you see on Mystery Science Theater and the discussion is kept at an informative level. There are also some previews on H-Man.

Thankfully the 2 commentaries add some value to the collection. Stuart Galbraith IV may have been another solid choice. The films are what you may have expected from Toho and Hondo from the late 50's and early 60's. I LOVE this type of cinema and really got into these films - which I watched consecutively (all Japanese versions with subs). It's a shame about the packaging and the single-layering of Battle in Outer Space but overall I liked the package and the films might be considered quintessential for this sub-genre. I expect fans of this era of Japanese sci-fi will be very entertained especially as I don't believe these have ever been released on DVD before. Let's hope for more volumes and better packaging!   

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus


 


The H-Man (1958) 

 

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   Battle in Outer Space (1959) 

 

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Mothra (1961)
 
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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Sony Pictures (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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