HAL (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 3, 2014 by  


“HAL” is a short animated film that will captivate you by its charm, its characters but what makes you enjoy it even more is its surprising twist.  A gorgeous animated film on Blu-ray, “HAL” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


YEAR: 2013

DURATION: 60 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment


Release Date: September 2, 2014

Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Izumi Kizara

Storyboards by Ryoutarou Makihara

Music by Michiru Oshima

Character Design: Katsuhiko Kitada

Art Director: Yusuke Takeda

Director of Photography: Koji Tanaka

Anime Production: Wit Studio

Featuring the following voice talent:

Yōko Hikasa/Bryn Apprill as Kurumi

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Chris Burnett as Haru

Mamoru Miyano/Todd Haberkorn as Ryuu

Shinpachi Tsuji/Bill Flynn as Aranami

Tamio Ohki/Grant James as Tokio

Ako Mayama/Pam Doughtery as Tsukiko

Hikari Yono/Linda Leonard as Rumiko

Hiroki Gotou as Maru

IKKI/Mike McFarland as Nepali

Kanami Satou as Megane

Ryō Kuratomi as Ryuu’s Friend

Shoko Tsuda/Lauri Steele as Mami

Yuko Tachibana/Juli Erickson as Erika

Kurumi’s heart was broken by the sudden death of her boyfriend in a tragic airplane accident. Forced to carry on without her beloved Hal, she fell into a reclusive and joyless existence. Kurumi had given up on the world, but a brilliant scientist devised a plan to win her back. By melding futuristic technology with the binary equivalent of human emotion, they created an ultra-lifelike robotic surrogate to take Hal’s place – and lure Kurumi from her shroud of solitude.

Resistant at first, this shattered beauty slowly yielded to her feelings of longing – and took comfort in the company of a robot. Though their unique bond grew stronger with each passing day, Kurumi and Hal would soon discover that nothing about their artificial love story was quite as it seemed.

From director Ryotaro Makihara (“Guilty Crown”, “Tatami Galaxy”) and writer Izumi Kizara comes the animated film “HAL”.

With a Japanese and United States theatrical screening back in the summer of 2013, FUNimation has picked up the distribution rights to the animated film.

While the DVD release of “HAL” is to be announced, journalists received a screener of the animated film.

“HAL” takes place in the future where robot technology has come to the point where robots can emulate humans and for one older man, he has requested for a robot named Kuroichi to become the robot “HAL” in hopes he can save his girlfriend/companion Kurumi.

Kurumi has not been herself since a major plane accident in which Hal died. She no longer has her smile, she no longer has shed tears and she is hurting to the point that she has isolated herself from everyone.

With Kuroichi now becoming the new HAL, he tries to learn about how the previous HAL had lived and do all he can to make her happy. And with each layer that HAL peels away from the wall that Kurumi has around her, will HAL be able to reach her and help mend her heart?


“HAL” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  Because this is an animated film, the production values are much higher and it shows with its beautiful backgrounds, sharp and colorful environments and great shading with the characters.  There is a bit of softness and a little banding but for the most part, the picture quality of this animated film is great!


“HAL” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.    The film is dialogue-driven but there is great use of the ambiance of the environments, may it be near the water or festival, the film utilizes the surround channels effectively for ambiance.  Both soundtracks are well-acted and overall audio is very good!


“HAL” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with ADR Director Mike McFarland, Chris Burnett (voice of Hal), Bryn Apprill (voice of Jurume) and Bill Flynn (voice of Aranami).
  • Making Of: Production Process – (11:10) A Japanese featurette about the storyboards made for “HAL”.
  • Making Of: Animatics and Scratch Tracks – (6:17) A Japanese featurette on the animatics for “HAL”.
  • Textless Closing Song – (3:23)
  • Original Trailer – (1:13) Theatrical trailer for “HAL”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “HAL”.

An alternate future when humans and robots co-exist.

And a story about one helping out one in need.

“HAL” may be a short animated film at an hour long, but what an emotional, enjoyable film with a surprising twist.

I enjoy sci-fi animated series and for “HAL”, I thought it was your typical story of a robot or android trying to help a grieving girl get over tragedy.  It seemed like a simplistic film about a boy trying to help a girl during her darkest time in her life and thought it was your formulaic story that was far too easy to predict.

Was I wrong!

And I’m glad I was.  The film is one of those rare stories that you see in an anime where they surprise you with a twist that you never really expect.  And without going into details, I recommend this animated film because it’s non-banal, it’s gorgeous and the acting on both Japanese and English were well-done.

Yes, it’s short and a longer storyline would have made the film flow much better.  But considering a lot of animated films in Japan are short (especially those that are derived from a popular TV series), I’m glad that film is affordable and American fans looking for a sci-fi film that is not overly deep or violent, will find “HAL” possibly to their liking.

But it’s an accessible animated film that doesn’t require you to know any long back story, it’s a straightup one-hour animated film that you can easily watch, enjoy and be surprised at the end of the film.

The Blu-ray features great picture quality and lossless audio was very good thanks to the use of the surround channels.  And you also get a few special features including an audio commentary and making of featurettes.

Overall, “HAL” is a short animated film that will captivate you by its charm, its characters but what makes you enjoy it even more is its surprising twist.  A gorgeous animated film on Blu-ray, “HAL” is recommended!

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