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Roland Fender

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Freedom Collector's Edition Double Play (Blu-ray/DVD)
Freedom Collector's Edition Double Play (Blu-ray/DVD)
Dvd ~ Daisuke Namikawa
Price: £16.20

3.0 out of 5 stars An okay series dragged down by a bad blu-ray release, 3 Mar. 2013
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Freedom is a seven-episode mini-series about a boy's struggle against authority and his quest for a girl, who he only knows from a photo found on the moon. The distinctive character and vehicle design by Katsuhiro Otomo sets this show apart, and was the main reason for me to buy it.

The story is okay, if at times too cliched. It also fluffs over details like having combustion engines in a closed environment on the moon. Not very likely. I think it's worth watching, even if it sometimes made me groan. The fact that it started life as a promotional animation for instant noodles is thankfully not too obvious, except for some product placement here and there.

The animation relies heavily on so-called cartoon-rendered 3D, which looks a little off compared to proper hand drawn animation. Particularly in the first three episodes the difference between the 3D and the 2D animation is a little too distracting. It starts working better later on, and this is certainly not the worst 3D animation I've seen. Don't expect this series to get anywhere near the quality of Akira or Steamboy. They clearly did not have the budget for that.

As already reported in some of the other reviews, this release is really let down by the out of sync audio tracks. In episode 4 the japanese audio track is more than a second too late, which makes it unwatchable. The same problem also appears in a lesser degree in both the english and the japanese audio tracks in episode 7. Very sloppy. Chapter placement is also not good. Skipping the opening makes you miss the start of the episode.

So for the show itself I'd rate it a 3 to 4 stars. There are better stories with better animation out there. The technical problems with the blu-ray and lazy DVD conversion drag it down to 2 to 3 stars for me. Had I known in advance, I wouldn't have bought the blu-ray version.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 25, 2014 9:14 PM BST

Dead Leaves [DVD]
Dead Leaves [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hiroyuki Imaishi

5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing stylized violence, 11 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: Dead Leaves [DVD] (DVD)
If you want a good story, character development and a slow pace, then look elsewhere. Because Dead Leaves sets out to be something else entirely.

Pandy and Retro, the main characters of the animation, wake up from their hibernation capsules naked and with their memories wiped. They soon start on a violent rampage through the city while speculating wildly about who they are. When the police finally capture them they are sent to the maximum security orbital prison "Dead Leaves". But is maximum security enough to stop these two? And why do they get the feeling they've been there before?

The disc features english and japanese soundtracks with optional english subtitles. The extras include the usual staff interviews and an amusing video of the staff doing a Dead Leaves drinking game.

Dead Leaves is all about fast, wild and crude over-the-top cartoon violence. It has a very unique art and animation style that suits the story very well. Just don't go looking for any depth to the story, because it simply isn't there. Definitely worth watching though.

Ghost in the Shell  - Solid State Society [DVD]
Ghost in the Shell - Solid State Society [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Offered by Disc-uk
Price: £21.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Stand Alone Complex Part 3, 11 Oct. 2009
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Solid State Society is the follow up to the two Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex TV series from the same writer(s) and director. Like the S.A.C. series it is closer to Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga than the two feature films by Mamoru Oshii.

Ghost in the Shell was always interesting as it strikes a balance between action, investigation and philosophy, and Solid State Society continues in that same fashion.

Sound and animation are quite good, though as another reviewer also mentioned, the 3D animations isn't always that convincing. The attention to design detail is greater than in the S.A.C. TV series and the inclusion of real concept cars is a nice touch. The music is once again by the talented Yoko Kanno and fits the mood and atmosphere of the anime perfectly.

The first disc features japanese and english sound tracks with optional english subtitles. The second extras disc contains "Uchikomatic Days", a few interviews and production documentaries. The one about the making of a working Tachikoma robot model is a neat extra and worth watching.

I was personally a little disappointed by the story, which would have been better off as two or three episodes of a new season. I thought the cicumstances in which Kusanagi left Section 9 to be a little forced. And in the end the status quo is restored, making a follow up a little too easy. The film does rely heavily on what happended before. Watch the two Stand Alone Complex series before watching this.

If you liked the series, you will also like Solid State Society.

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