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Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 25, 2012 by  



“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is an enjoyable, action-packed film that will appeal to “Dragon Age” fans or those who love the action/adventure genre with swordfighting, monsters, dragons and  sorcery.  While not a groundbreaking film, it’s an animated film full of action and looks and sounds absolutely great on Blu-ray and features that Fumihiko Sori style that I enjoy watching!   The film takes place within the Dragon Age universe and showcases the origins of “Dragon Age II” characters Cassandra Pentaghast and Divine Justinia V.  And most of all… who doesn’t love a strong female character who can kick major ass!? “Dragon Age” fans and action/adventure fans…”Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Electronics Arts, Inc. FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker

MOVIE RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition HD Native, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV MA (Violence, Fantasy Violence)

COMPANY: EA/BioWare/FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: May 29, 2012

Directed by Fumihiko Sori

Screenplay by Jeffrey Scott

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi

Character Design by Daisuke Nakayama

Sound Design by Koji Kasamatsu

ADR Director: Mike McFarland

Featuring the voices of:

Luci Christian as Revered Mother

Colleen Clinkenbeard/Chiaki Kuriyama as Cassandra Pentaghast

Pam Dougherty as Divine

R. Bruce Elliot as High Seeker

Chuck Huber as Frenic

Mike McFarland as Lazarro

Brina Palencia as Grand Cleric of Orlais

Christopher Sabat/Gackt of Knight Commander

John Swasey as Byron

J. Michael Tatum/Shosuke Tanihara as Regalyan D’Marcall

In a land where battles are fought with swords and magic, a young heroine rises to glory as Templars, mages, and dragons clash. Cassandra, a brash and beautiful warrior, must stop a conspiracy that threatens the realm’s most powerful religious order. Accused of treasonous crimes and hunted by friend and foe, Cassandra must clear her name and overcome her rage in order to save the day and take her place in legend.

When it comes to video games, the Canadian video game developer BioWare is famous for creating successful video game franchises such as “Baldur’s Gate”, “Neverwinter Nights”, “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”, especially the popular “Mass Effect” series.

And in 2009, BioWare created “Dragon Age”, a successful dark fantasy role-playing video game whichled to a sequel, “Dragon Age II” in 2011 and since have spawned novels, a Facebook game, a Flash game, a tabletop game, comic books, action figures, a web series and now, an animated film which was co-produced by BioWare, Electronic Arts and FUNimation Entertainment.

The animated film is directed by Fumihiko Sori, best known for his directed the live film “Ping Pong”, but for animation, known for his style of anime featured in the films “Appleseed” and “Vexille”.

The animated film was released in theaters in Japan in Feb. 2012 and in the United States in May 2012.  The film will also be released via Blu-ray/DVD combo on May 29th.

As “Dragon Age: Origins” took place in the country of Ferelden, in the continent of Thedas, gamsrs were introduced to the race and background of a Human Noble, Magi, Daish/City elf, dwarf commoner/noble but most importantly to the Dragon Age mythology.

While there is a connection between “Dragon Age II” to the “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker”, in order to be accessible to a large audience who have never played the video game, a short narration is given on the state of the world.  But the  film features a younger Cassandra Pentaghast.

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” takes place during a time when people believed in faith, faith in a dominant religious order led by The Divine Justinia V.  Her Templar Knights have a tight control over the mages and making sure that no one uses their power in a negative way in ordering to bring upon the “Blight” (a period when a darkspawn tries to find and corrupt one of the Old Gods and transform it into an archdemon).

There has been corruption within the Templar Knights but fortunately, the best of the Knights, known as “The Seekers of Truth” (who were selected by the Divine), have rotted out corruption within the mages or the holes of the chantry.

And with a celebration for the ten year gathering of the faithful is bringing pilgrims from all over world to the Orlaisian Empire to pray for the peace.

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” begins with the antagonist, Frenic (leader of the blood mages) forceably feeding the blood of Drake (a male dragon) to an elf named Avexis, in order for her to have the abilities to control the dragons.

When the Seekers arrive to fight the Blood Mages and save Avexis.  We are introduced to Cassandra Pentaghast, a Nevarran royal and Seeker of the Chantry and her mentor, the great seeker named Byron who has treated Cassandra like she is his own daughter.

And while the Seekers are successfully able to save Avexis from Frenic, Knight-Commander Martel (the head of the Templar Order in Orlais) has a major distrust towards the Seekers of Truth and does not get along with High Seeker Aldren.

One night, Cassandra awakens from a nightmare and hears someone walking around the castle.  It is her mentor Byron who has taken the elf, Avexis and is trying to flee the castle.  When she confronts Byron about why he is taking the girl, he does not want to tell her nor get her involved with his special mission.  But when the Templar Knights realize that the girl is missing, both Byron and Cassandra escape with Avexis and learn that Byron suspects a conspiracy that involves the High Seeker and the Chantry.

Because Byron knows that Avexis can control wild beasts, he wants to make sure no one uses her for evil and so he planned to give her to a friend and keep Avexis hidden.  But as Chandra tries to make sense of all that is happening, they are attacked by Blood Mages and in the process, Avexis is once again kidnapped by the Blood Mages and Byron is killed.

But right after the Blood Mages have left, Cassandra detects another Mage, a circle mage  named Regalyan D’Marcall.  But because Cassandra has a major distrust towards mages, for what they did to her family long ago, she can’t believe that Byron was working with a mage.

Now Cassandra must make a decision, to continue her job as a Seeker or to betray her fellow Seekers and the Divine in order to investigate the corruption in the Chantry and carry out the mission that her dead mentor had began.  But this means that she must work with a mage.  What will Cassandra do?

Needless to say, Cassandra decides to continue with what Byron had started and now, Cassandra and Regalyan are now wanted by both The Seekers of Truth and the Blood Mages.  What plan does the Blood Mages have with Avexis? And how is the Chantry involved?

VIDEO:

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is an animated film that has Fumihiko Sori’s style.  Presented in 1080p High Definition, “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.

For those familiar with “Applessed”, “To” or “Vexille”, it’s a unique style that Sori films are known for.  That is to feature beautiful background art, well-detailed surfaces, may it be vehicles, structures or in this case, dragons.  But most importantly, it’s the design of his characters.  Some may say “over-exposed” or a “shiny” look.  It’s unlike any other anime film and it’s Sori’s style of creativity and when you see this style, you know he’s involved.

Sori is also known for having his films showcase black levels and shadow details.  Everything is pretty deliberate when it comes to the look of Fumihiko Sori’s work and whether or not you like it, I personally have enjoyed Sori’s animated films and see how far he can take his films and trying to incorporate realistic movements with his animated style.  And for the most part, he is able to accomplish a style that is much different from “Vexille” and also “Appleseed: Ex Machina”, but you can tell from this film of how far Sori films have come since “Appleseed”.

AUDIO:

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and because the film’s many action sequences, the film sounds absolutely impressive.  Great use of the surround channels, as well as LFE and dialogue and the musical score by Tetsuya Takahashi is crystal clear.  But things really do get immersive towards the final action sequences in the film and for the most part, audiophiles should be pleased with the lossless soundtrack.

And as far as the voice acting goes, both English and Japanese voicework are well-done.  Both Colleen Clinkenbeard and Chiaki Kuriyama do a magnificent job with their voice role for Cassandra Pentaghast and for J-Rock fans, I’m sure many will love the fact that Gackt does the voice of the Knight Commander.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” comes with the following special features:

  • Bioware Studio Tour – (7:56) Mike Laidlaw (Creative Director of “Dragon Age”) gives viewers a tour of BioWare’s Edmonton studio.
  • Dawn of the Seeker Backstage Pass – (20:40) Featuring BioWare and FUNimation staff discussing the film, the visual design of the characters, the characters in the film and how the movie came about.
  • Dragon Age Production Art – View various sketches and art created during production of “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker”.
  • Previews – FUNimation Entertainment and BioWare trailers

EXTRAS:

“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” comes with a Blu-ray and two DVD’s featuring the English feature film and the Japanese version of the feature film.  Also, included is a code for a free download of a “Dragon Age: The Silent Grove” digital-exclusive comic which can be redeemed from Dark Horse Comics’ online store.  Also, the Blu-ray release comes with a slipcover case.

I have probably watched “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” four times now and part of the excitement of why I enjoyed this film is because of the work of Fumihiko Sori and his staff.  The look and feel of the animated film was very cool and I was very impressed by the 3D rendering of the dragons and also how beautiful the landscapes and structure were.  The Blu-ray really does a magnificent job in showcasing the detail plus the various colors of the film, may it be the dark blacks to the vibrant outdoor, day colors.

And for “Dragon Age” fans, especially those who have played “Dragon Age II”, will get a kick out of watching a storyline that revolves around a younger Cassandra Pentaghast.  Also, for the fans who have watched the web series “Dragon Age: Redemption” and seeing the tie-in between Cassandra and the characters of “Redemption”.

As for the film itself, while I do feel that “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” will appeal to “Dragon Age” fans, fortunately the storyline is accessible to those who have never played the “Dragon Age” video games.  Writer Jeffrey Scott (who worked on the animated TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Dragon Tales”, “Mega Man”, “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”)  was able to make a straightforward screenplay that doesn’t get too convoluted in Dragon Age mythos.  All you need to know is that Cassandra is a seeker, an important position within the Chantry and that she is on a mission to uncover a conspiracy within the Chantry and also how it relates to the Blood Mages.

The film itself is rather violent, has a lot of blood, major loss of body parts and thus the reason for the TV MA rating.   But for those who enjoy this genre will find “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” to be more to their liking and may entice them in playing the video game series.

The Blu-ray release looks and sounds magnificent and I was pretty impressed of how Sori’s films have gotten better in look since his work on “Appleseed” and for audiophiles, the film also has its fair share of awesome moments during action sequences in producing an immersive environment.  As for special features, I did enjoy the studio tour of the BioWare Edmonton studio and also interviews with crew of BioWare and also Funimation but I was hoping to see a few more special features.  May it be an audio commentary or even featurette involving the Japanese side who worked on the film.

Overall, “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is an enjoyable, action-packed film that will appeal to “Dragon Age” fans or those who love the action/adventure genre with swordfighting, monsters, dragons and sorcery.  While not a groundbreaking film, it’s an animated film full of action and looks and sounds absolutely great on Blu-ray and features that Fumihiko Sori style that I enjoy watching!   The film takes place within the Dragon Age universe and showcases the origins of “Dragon Age II” characters Cassandra Pentaghast and Divine Justinia V.  And most of all… who doesn’t love a strong female character who can kick major ass!?

“Dragon Age” fans and action/adventure fans…”Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is recommended!






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