Friday, February 11, 2005

DVD: Bleach vol. 01

Released a few days ago (~02/02?), the first volume of Bleach has finally been received and watched. Below are my impressions of the disc release. I leave the summary to other people, should they want to do it.

Bleach vol. 1 was released in two different versions. That is, as far as Amazon Japan is concerned (where you can still get it if you want). One contained a Drama CD issue 1 and the other, just by the disc itself. If you're having trouble which one to get, go get the version with the CD, as it's just priced the same. I went with the w/-CD route and am currently enjoying the CD itself.

In terms of packaging, it comes with a jacket-box to hold the DVD and CD cases together. Both discs come in a DVD-sized jewel box. For some reason though, both discs are turned upside-down and were very hard to remove from their respective cases initially. (Sadly I accidentally broke the CD case. [cries] ).

Cover art-wise, we get a standard shot of Kurosaki Ichigo in his Shinigami outfit, while posing as a badass with his Zanpakutou. The shot itself takes the entire cover art and when removed works as a small fold-out poster. The show's lettering are foil-stenciled, and are done somewhat lazily. Instead of having a reverse cover for this release, the DVD specs are listed on one side, while the other has "You are to become a soul reaper"-comment written all over it.
With the disc itself, we get to see no design image at all, except possibly the show's logo and the DVD logo. But that's about it. Heck, both the CD and DVD look almost exactly alike you can confuse the two.

Extras and Menu. Since these two are just going to be short, I'll link them together. If we're talking about the bundled version, the extras include the drama CD and the jacket-box. On disc itself, there's none. There might be some easter eggs but haven't found any so far. Considering this series is an anticipated release, I was really hoping to see even just the creditless OP or ED. The menu itself, leaves much to be desired as well. All you get are the play and menu-buttons, and depending where you are, some episode shots while browsing the chapter stops.

Impression of the episodes itself : If you've basically followed the manga version of the show, I highly suggest that you stick to that version as far as this first set of episodes are concerned. Too many things were moved here and there, and while they make it more cohesive somewhat, it's being done at neck-breaking pace. The episodes themselves weren't bad, but it definitely needed to be slowed down even by a bit. :sd: Of course, this being a manga-to-anime series, it follows the original relatively close, if not for the minor changes. Compared to some shows like Starship Operators or School Rumble, it doesn't take much to understand what is going on with the show.

As a recently aired series, the DVD release does look great in this format. Though I have to wonder if it's just me or do the episodes themselves do kind of look flushed out, if not blurry. In some cases, it's not bothering and serves as to enhance the presentation (like in episode 1), however, in most cases, it's very distracting (episode 4).

Overall, volume 1 serves as an introductory volume for the unfamiliar to the series, and that's just really what it does. No frills, no anything. Well, except the CD. I can only hope that volume 2 gets a nicer DVD cover art and some extras in that this volume didn't.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The much delayed post...

After 1+ week hiatus, I'm finally able to post again in this thing. Y'know the deal, school + work = less anime viewing time. Though it may seem to have hampered my viewing sessions, I'm glad it happened. In a way, a breather was required for my part, what with the deluge of R1 DVDs I ordered from last year that I am slowly but surely reducing in size (just finished the underrated and often ignored Black Heaven and the first volume of Kino's Journey), as well as the still torrenting (hah!) wave of what's currently on in Japan (well, what I'm viewing anyway).

Just by looking around, looks like a lot has happened as far as the new shows are concerned. Bleach managed to pick up now. Xenosaga Animation is getting it's DVD release in April, and a lot of mysterious convoluted stuff is happening in My-HIME. Jinki EXTEND got a lot better too, from what other blogs are showing!! I guess it's time to do a marathon now. -_-

Xenosaga. As far as this anime goes, someone confirmed it that it's going to run only for 12 episodes. DVD version is to come out on Apr. Go check CDJapan for the actual release details. While I'm a heavy fan of the line, I'm having some serious doubts now as to how the anime is beind dealt with. First episode showed incredible promise, that while there were some significant changes, it catered to every fanboy's delight. Sure, we see some annoying cowlicks or that KOS-MOS used her special weapon too early on, nonetheless, it was animated good and it was really cool to hear some of the original seiyuu reprise their game counterparts here. But come the subsequent episodes, I can only ask, "what happened?" Things really got off-model, and not animated correctly. It's as if there were the same instances with the aired version of Bakuretsu Tenshi or the sudden nose-dive of Vandread's second episode (well, at least the CG remained intact). We're already at episode 5, and there's still no sign of improvement. KOS-MOS and Momo are two of the known characters that really get off-modeled. Junior is slowly joining their ranks as well...

With the DVD version coming and at a staggering price of $180 for the first box (contains 6 episodes), I'm not sure if I should buy it or not. That's almost the same price as getting the limited edition of Xenosaga Episode II. At least with that one, there are figures included. (Note: If you do the math, Xenosaga Animation boxset actually comes out cheaper than, say individual School Rumble DVDs).

Speaking of figures, my BLEACH figure (Kon and Rukia) along with the Fujisawa Yayoi (Stellvia) figure finally shipped from HLJ. Ichigo is still being held hostage for undisclosed reasons.. [cries]. In addition, it looks like there's a new set of gashapon set that's coming out probably in April. A search in ebay and Hobby Search turned up the results. IMO, this set looks more promising than the previous one.

My A!MG Terzetto figures have also arrived but with a very significant incident. Once I'm finally resolved the matter with the seller, I'll get the pics up for this set.

School Rumble. I'll have to drop this one from my viewing pile. Why? Because I'm getting the R2 release anyway. True that I'll end up waiting for a while til I see the next episode (uh, I think 17?) but then again, it works to my advantage. By not seeing it, the anticipation level increases. Besides, I'm doing my part to support our Japanese brothers' industry. Hmm.. still have to pick up Eri's OST.

By the way, pick up Starship Operators from Amazon JP. Not only is it an excellent show, first volume DVD is pretty cheap too. Of course, it's probably a ruse to sucker you in (much like School Rumble 1), but hey, it's an excellent show.

Did I mention that I got my computer fixed? Now I can take screencaps once again! ^_^