The original manga 2001 Nights by Yukinobu Hoshino, published in English translation by Viz in 1990, was a collection of science-fiction stories based around the expansion of humanity into space following a technological Great Advance. Although each of the stories were standalone, collectively they considered the necessity of humanity leaving behind old beliefs and attitudes in order to flourish in a new environment, face the possibility of extraterrestrial life, colonise new worlds and face other unknown challenges. It takes a while for humanity to adapt, but the insights gained, the ideas explored and the discoveries made through the stories managed to be intelligent as well as thrilling space adventures.
Adapting only two of the dozen or so stories, 'Elliptical Orbit' and 'Symbiotic Planet', Fumihiko Sori nonetheless manages to faithfully capture the flavour of Yukinobu Hoshino's original series in 'To'. The two stories don't perhaps give a sense of some of the more ambitious themes of the stories relating to religion, antimatter and the seeding of planets, but as an introduction, the two stories adapted here have a good balance between ideas and SF action. Originally drawn in a much more realistic style than the typical manga series, it's appropriate also that Sori brings the 3D CG and motion capture techniques used in Appleseed and Vexille to 'To', the detail of the vast spaceships, the creation of planetary landscapes and the fluid movement of animation all working perfectly with the deep space settings.
Clearly however, the CG animation techniques are not to everyone's taste, particularly when applied to human figures and movements, but this is still animation, and it doesn't need to look perfectly 'real' (no one complains about unrealistic body movements in traditional cel animation). Saying that, the sense of movement and facial expressions are actually very well done here and completely involving, particularly in the Japanese language version (the English dub is good, but doesn't match words or expressions quite as well). It also looks phenomenal in High Definition on the Blu-ray disc, with tremendous detail and smooth movements. The UK Blu-ray release from Manga Entertainment also includes two long interviews with the director and the Japanese voice actors, as well as all the usual promos and trailers.