Top

Fafner: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 22, 2012 by  



A mecha anime series that is complex, action-packed, heartbreaking but also captivating and deep.  If you love deep mecha anime series with a strong storyline and character development, “Fafner: The Complete Series” is recommended!

Images courtesy of ©2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fafner: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-26 (650 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Dolby Digital, Audio: English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: 14+

COMPANY: FUNimation

RELEASE DATE: September 18, 2012

Directed by Nobuyoshi Habara

Series Composition by Yasuo Yamabe

Script by Kazuki Yamanobe and Tow Ubukata

Music by Tsuneyoshi Saito

Character Design by Hisashi Hirai

Art Director: Toshihisa Koyama

Mechanical Design: Naohiro Washio

Anime Production: Xebec

Featuring the voices of:

Kohei Kiyasu/Steve Cannon as Soushi Minashiro

Makoto Ishii/Kevin Hatcher as Kazuki Makabe

Marika Matsumoto/Jennifer Sekiguchi as Maya Toomi

Masayuki Tanaka as Fumihiko Makabe

Miyu Irino as Kouyou Kasugai

Miyu Matsuki/Tiffany Gayle as Shouko Hazama

Sakiko Tamagawa as Ayano Kondou

Yoko Soumi/Wendy Lee as Yukie Kariya

Ai Satou/Wendy Lee as Chisato Kodate

Terrorized by a hostile alien race’s mental warfare, humans hear only this question just before their lives are destroyed by the violent invaders. Kazuki and his classmates lay everything on the line to pilot their heavily guarded island’s secret weapons: towering mechs for which only they are genetically qualified to control. With most of Earth in ruins, humanity’s survival relies on these youths’ selfless determination to protect the only home they know. But when each battle pushes the pilots to the brink of assimilation, who will protect them?

A mecha anime series that will no doubt become a classic, “Fafner: The Complete Series” (Fafner in the Azure/Sokyu no Fafner) receives its Blu-ray release in America courtesy of FUNimation!

Originally created back in 2004, “Fafner” received a lot of hype because the anime series featured artwork by character designer Hisashi Hirai (known for his work on “Gundam Seed”, “Infinie Ryvius” and “s-CRY-ed” and a screenplay by Tow Ubukata (“Le Chevalier D’Eon”, “Mardock Scramble”, “Heroic Age”).

But also because it’s an anime series that captures the despair of humankind against its alien antagonist.

“Fafner in the Azure” would also be released in a TV special in 2005 and a theatrical animated film titled “HEAVEN AND EARTH” in 2010.  The mecha from the animated series would be featured in the popular “Super Robot Taisen K” video game for the Nintendo DS and an RP for the Sony PSP.

While the series was released originally on DVD by Geneon, Funimation now owns the license to distribute the anime series and all episodes from the TV series will be included in the Blu-ray and DVD combo-pack.

“Fafner” is set in the remote island of Tatsumiyajima.  It’s also an island that is host to major weaponry and has been undetected due its cloaking shield.  But while everyone lives their peaceful lives, the adults in the island have kept a major secret from the children.

The fact is that Japan and other countries have been destroyed by an unknown alien entity known as the Festum.  Unaware of this, one young man has returned to the island.  His name is Soushi Minashiro and he has come to look for his friend Kazuki Makabe.

Immediately, the Alvis Base on Tatsumiyajima Island has detected a Sphinx Type Festum above the island.  As the pilots think that defeating the Festum would be an easy task, all of them, many men who are the fathers of children on the island, are killed.

The Festum which keeps asking the question “Are You There?”, has the ability to read the minds of humans and thus lose the battle.

In order to fight the Festum, the island has one powerful mecha and it is the Fafner Mark Elf.  Soushi meets with his childhood friend Kazuki and tells him that he is Earth last hope and he must pilot the Fafner Mark Elf, while he is linked with the Siefried System and can help guide Kazuki during battle.

With the island losing many of their pilots, Fumihiko and Dr. Chizuru Tomi have selected a few children who have been been born with an ability for it to communicate and pilot a Fafner and were raised primarily for this occasion if the island is ever attacked.

Meanwhile as the military on the island have their hands full with training the children and ramping up the production of more Fafner units, The Neo United Nations wants full control of the island’s mecha to fight against the Festum and that means fighting against the humans on the island to get what they want.

An anime series that doesn’t sugarcoat the disparity of war, “Fafner: The Complete Series” is a heartbreaking, action-packed, mecha anime series that shows that no matter what odds humanity is facing, humans will always find a way to keep fighting and surviving, even if it’s against an unknown, powerful alien species.

VIDEO:

“Fafner: The Complete Series” is part of FUNimation’s continuing support to bring classic anime to Blu-ray and with the planned October release of the upcoming film on Blu-ray, I’m actually quite thrilled that a mecha anime series such as “Fafner” is being released on Blu-ray.  Granted, it will be an upconverted anime series but definitely better than what Geneon released back in 2005 on DVD when it comes to picture quality.  With that being said, I emphasize that this is an older anime series.  Created back in 2004, you’re not going to get awesome picture quality of what one is used to seeing on a newer anime series.

But for those who owned the previous DVD release and want to upgrade to Blu-ray, I can easily say that “Fafner” in HD is worth it.  The picture quality feels much cleaner and sharp than the original DVD release.  Colors tend to be much more vibrant and while it does have the softness as other anime television series, I’m quite pleased with this upconvert.  It’s not amazing, but it’s much better than its previous DVD counterpart.

AUDIO:

“Fafner: The Complete Series” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  Both Japanese and English voice acting is well-done and for the most part, dialogue is crystal clear with a good mix for its action sequences.  Granted, I would have loved to hear this mecha anime series in 5.1 but the voice acting, special effects and also the wonderful musical score by Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra is quite noticeable and sounds more dynamic than its older 2005 DVD counterpart.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fafner: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Making of Fafner – (20:33) A featurette that goes into the creation of Fafner, focusing on the musical aspect with pop group Angela (who perform the opening theme “Fly Me to the Sky”), using the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra to create the music for the anime series and a snippet of the day of the actual anime screening with a Q&A with the Japanese voice talent.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:35) The Japanese promotional videos for “Sokyuu no Fafner”.
  • DVD Commercials – (2:08) The original Japanese DVD commercials for “Sokyuu no Fafner”.
  • Textless Opening Version 1
  • Textless Opening Version 2
  • Textless Episode 01
  • Textless Opening Episode 26
  • Textless Closing Version 1
  • Textless Closing Version 2
  • Textless Closing Episode 01
  • Textless Closing Episode 15
  • Textless Closing Episode 20
  • Textless Closing Episode 23
  • Textless Closing Episode 24
  • Textless Closing Episode 25

EXTRAS:

“Fafner: The Complete Series” comes with the entire series on both Blu-ray and DVD.

I love the fact that FUNimation is bringing out these older anime titles on Blu-ray.  Sure, they are upconverted and sure, it’s not going to please the videophile who would rather focus on newer anime titles that take advantage of Blu-ray.  But for me, anytime we can get a classic anime series, let alone a mecha anime series on Blu-ray, I’m all for it!

First, let’s discuss “Fafner” the series and its storyline.  What I loved about this anime series was its unpredictability.  In some ways, it does remind me of the older “Kidou Senshi Gundam” series because the survival of humanity is put into the hands of younger people.

And in this case, these are regular teenagers who are not raised with a military lifestyle (with the exception of Soushi, who was raised and was told of the true state of the planet and devastation).  These are teenagers who are not perfect.  They are not sure about their emotions, they have not been in any romantic relationships.  They were selected and forced to take on the role of protecting the island and fight against the Festum.

You have the relationship between Soushi and Kazuki, two friendships that was strengthened due to an accident that damaged Soushi’s eye and Kazuki feeling responsible, he vowed to always be there for Soushi.  Then you have Maya, a teenage girl who likes Kazuki but also your character who is often seen as too weak to participate in battle, but slowly starts to find her courage.  You are also introduced to characters such as Shouko, friends of Kazuki who is often sick and unable to join her friends, but desperately wants to do things with them, even if it means protecting her friends.  And you have Kouyou, usually the guy who looks up to Kazuki to do everything, but after one tragedy, he also tries to find his inner strength to fight for the person he cared for.

And as you see the relationships of teenagers, often put into duress because of war and tragedy, you also get to see how the parents react.  Mothers who have become widowed because their husbands were pilots and were killed or mothers who raised these children who were selected and drafted to fight in the war after the island loses its adult pilots to the Festum.  And then you also see this Japanese side of parenting.  Similar to how Japanese parents stress over their children’s entrance exams, in this case, some parents expecting so much out of their children to become a pilot.  I don’t want to spoil too much about the parents involvement in the anime series but one of the heartbreaking moments is seeing Kouyou’s parents.  Parents who raised him to be a pilot, but act as if they have no love for him.  They are more concerned about him being a pilot and being a hero and what they get out of it, rather than care of what their son feels.

But “Fafner” really goes all out in trying to show us a variety of perspectives of the young pilots, their families and the lifestyle they lived.  And how war can easily alter life dramatically.

So, while this is a mecha anime, it attracts the average anime viewer because of its characters and its deep, complex but yet smart (and easily accessible) storyline, and for the mecha fans, there are enough technical details to give the mecha fan an appreciation for its real robot qualities.

And what I also enjoyed about this anime series is that the writers were not afraid to confront war in a way that people can easily be killed.  Major characters that you end up rooting for, you just don’t know if they are going to survive.  And I’ll warn the viewer right now, this is one anime series where many characters are killed in battle.  It’s war plain and simple and with humanity fighting against such a powerful enemy, there was only so many ways that humans can fight the Festum head on.  And what it comes down to at the end, I really enjoyed how they ended the series.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Fafner: The Complete Series” includes the previous special features that were included on the 2005 DVD release.  Once again, this is a 2004 anime and it’s not going to look all that great on Blu-ray compared to newer anime series.  But I support the fact that FUNimation is bringing out older anime series for Blu-ray release and also releasing the series in preparation of the Blu-ray release of the Fafner movie, “Heaven and Earth” (which will be released on October 30).

Overall, “Fafner” was an awesome mecha anime series.  It has the real robot theme of a military going into mass production and developing the weaponry to fight the Festum, but also showing the limitations and how one can easily be killed in battle, let alone, having their mecha unit destroyed easily.  So, mecha fans can appreciate that aspect of the series.  Especially the political drama between the military and Neo United Nations that adds to the complexity of the series.

But for non-mecha fans, there is the character dynamics of its ensemble cast.  While Soushi and Kazuki are important characters, we see how other characters have an importance into the storyline.  Maya, Kanon and others teenagers who are selected into battle play an important part.  And like any war film or series, there are going to be major casualties.

A mecha anime series that is complex, action-packed, heartbreaking but also captivating and deep.  If you love deep mecha anime series with a strong storyline and character development, “Fafner: The Complete Series” is recommended!






General Disclaimer:

J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.

For Product Reviews:

For product reviews, J!-ENT has purchased the above product for review purposes or may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews, may it be positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.

For Advertising:

Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.

J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Comments

Bottom