Inu Yasha Movie 2 DVD (Hyb): The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass
Trish Pellerito - Dec 16 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass Raises the Bar
Christmas came early - I received my copy of this film today (12/16/04) Although I've enjoyed my Reg. 2 release for a while, I was anxiously waiting for this Reg. 1 in order to see how well the NA adapation held up.
POST-PRODUCTION GRAPHIC PACKAGING: The menu graphics of the VIZ NA releases have all the aesthetic appeal of a PowerPoint presentation and, like all VIZ Region 1 products, offers no extras like portrait cards, enhanced special features or drama CDs. (What I wouldn't give for an audio bloober reel or a featurette of the Ocean Group cast goofing in the booth!) That's my only major gripe.
VOICE ACTING: The NA voice cast have surpassed their outstanding performances from "Affections". Like the Nihon cast, the NA voice actors seem very comfortable with each other and their characters. I was particularly impressed with this dub, especially compared with Nihon voice cast: the Vancouver crew has definately been doing their "homework" and their performances have certainly benefitted as this series progresses. In many key instances, inflections echo the performances of the original cast, yet the Ocean Group cast retains their own autonomy. It's certainly refreshing to enjoy an anime series which shares a dynamic and talented cast of voice actors on BOTH sides of the Pacific!
SCREENPLAY: The screenplay for "Castle" took a very complex story and did a wonderful job of making it a cohesive viewing experience. Kathy Westlake has done a yeoman's job of adapting Inu-Yasha for the small screen, and now her work is coming into full bloom with movie series. The story contains many cultural and references to Japanese classic literature - stuff even Japanse school kids twitch through -- but Ms. Westlake's adaptation makes these cultural tidbits easy to digest for a general Western audience without compromising the original Nihon version too much. Expositional dialoge is handled seemlessly and succinctly.
Like the anime series, expect the dialoge to be a bit Westernized and contemporary. It's one of those small compromises mentioned above. SOUND QUALITY: I'm no audiophile, but I can tell you there were no skips, burps, gargles and the dolby 5.1 was well balanced and clear on my equipment.
MUSIC: Kaoru Wada's orchestrations were, as usual, excellent. Expect some catchy J-Pop, too. If you don't have the first "Best of" CD, you'll be missing the guitar solo from EP "Yura Yura", plus a pretty ballad, "Ai no Uta"(Song of Love) during a key scene.
ANIMATION QUALITY: Comparable, if not more fluid than the first Inu-Yasha film (which was excellent). Beautifully rendered, Lavish backgrounds provide a convincing environment for the characters. This film uses Hideyuki Motohashi character designs rather than Yoshihito Nishinuma's (TV anime)although Nishinuma-san shares screen credit. Expect CG but it's used sparingly and seemlessly, enhancing the cell-animation as good CG should! The color pallet is rich, vivid and well-used throughout the film to enhance mood, action and locale.
EXTRAS: As mentioned before, this is where the DVD falls short of it's Reg. 2 counter-part. No prizes in this box of Crackerjack! It's also really Spartan with it comes to added features on the disc. There isn't much more in the "Features" to differentiate it from the Inu-Yasha series releases. However, to be fair, the extras included will be of interest to Inu-Yasha fans: Besides the usual Line Art Gallery, the disc includes a sub-titled featurette that's pretty cute as well as Movie Promos for this film and a preview promo for "Tenka Hado no Tsurugi", the 3rd Inu-Yasha film.
My advice? "Castle" is a keeper worth a place on your shelf. I can't wait for #3.