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Legend of the Millennium Dragon: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 24, 2011 by  



Based on Takafumi Takada’s novels comes the anime adaptation of “Onigamiden” titled “Legend of the Millennium Dragon”.  Entertaining, action-packed and not dark or excessively violent, “Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is a film about one young man’s search for his inner strength.  An anime film worth checking out!

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Images courtesy of © 2011 Takafumi Takada/Kodansha and Legend of The Millennium Dragon Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Legend of the Millennium Dragon: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 98 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

RATED: PG-13 (Some Violence and Scary Images)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2011

Directed by Hirotsugu Kawasaki

Script by Hirotsugu Kawasaki, Naruhisa Arakawa

Storyboards by Hidekazu Ohara, Hirotsugu Kawasaki, Mamoru Sasaki

Unit Director: Yoriyasu Kogawa

Music by Eitetsu Hayashi, Ryudo Uzaki

Original Work by Takafumi Takada

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio

Art Direction by Mutsuo Koseki, Satoshi Matsuoka

3D Director: Takayuki Chiba

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Director of Photography by Atsuho Matsumoto

Anime Production by Studio Pierrot

Featuring the voice talent:

Kensho Ono as Jun Tendo

Satomi Ishihara as Mizuha

Shidou Nakamura as Gen’un

A spectacular journey of an unwilling young hero thrust into a mysterious past full of monsters, dragons, and strange hidden powers. Through a series of out of this world battles and adventures, Jun, a shy middle school boy, is transformed into a hero destined to battle evil and ensure harmony and tranquility in the world.

A beautiful action film adaptation of Takafumi Takada’s “Onigamiden” novels, “Legend of the Millenium Dragon” on Blu-ray features the director’s cut, a Blu-ray +DVD Combo Pack and also another visual and audio treat via HD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment!

In 2010, director Hirotsugu Kawasaki (“Naruto” films, “Record of Lodoss War”) and Studio Pierrot took on Takada’s historical sci-fi novel.  Featuring a screenplay adaptation by Naruhisa Arakawa (“D.N.Angel”, “Blue Seed”, “Spice and Wolf”) and music by Ryudo Uzaki (“Queen Millennia”, “Kamen Rider” films, “Dagger of Kamui”), “Legend of the Millennium Dragon”.

The film begins in the distant past as an army of Oni (devil) are attacking a village of humans and many die trying to fight the evil monsters but as they create a giant monster, a monk is able to use his supernatural power to destroy it and temporarily stop the war.  The monk wonders what will happen next?

“Legend of the Millennium Dragon” revolves around a 15-year-old named Jun Tendo who lives in Kyoto.  His father died years ago after saving a child who was about to be hit by a train and without a father, Jun has been left to live with his mother and pretty much not have a father to take care of him.  While his father is considered to be a brave hero, his mother has wanted him to follow his father’s example and be strong.

But whenever Jun sees things that are not right, he knows he doesn’t have the strength or the guts to do anything about it.

One day, while walking outside a shrine, one of the oni show up and tries to attack Jun.  Jun runs inside the shrine where he meets the monk, Gen’un who tells him that he is a member of a warrior tribe that fought and destroyed the oni back in the past using the Orochi (an eight-headed dragon).  Of course, Jun doesn’t believe any of it, but when Gen’un brings the Oni out of the paintings inside the shrine, Jun collapses.

When he wakes up, he sees Gen’un but also wakes up to meet a young warrior named Raikou.  Raikou is shocked to see Jun at the shrine because he is the boy that is told in the prophecy, the one who will defeat the oni.  But to Raikou, Jun does not resemble any kind of warrior and he is right.  Jun is not a warrior, nor does he know how to fight.

Jun also realizes that he is not in his own time.  He is back in the distant past of Japan where man is fighting oni and the village is putting all their trust in Jun to defeat them.

But Jun has no idea what they are talking about.  He has no special ability or power.  But Gen’un tells Jun that the tattoo that he was born with is a symbol of an ancestry of special warriors who used the dragons Orochi to defeat the oni.  But for Jun, he is not a fighter nor did he want to be involved in any of this.

But the following day, the village is attacked by the Oni and the village is being destroyed.  As Jun sees all the destruction, he realizes that many people need him to use his power.  But for Jun, he doesn’t believe that he has any power.

But when he sees Raikou nearly killed, Jun unleashes a power that wakes Orochi and also saves his new friend.

And Jun finds himself riding on the Orochi and not knowing how to control it.

Orochi takes Jun to another village and when Jun goes to find someone, he runs into a wounded oni.  But the villagers manage to take it’s helmet off and what he sees is not a monster but a regular girl.  As the village warriors try to kill it, Jun escapes with orochi along with the oni girl named Mizuha.

Meanwhile, word gets out to Gen’un about Jun helping an oni and he is not pleased.  He sends Raikou out to find him.

As Orochi takes Jun to get medical help for Mizuha, they end up in the village of the oni.

Scared for his life, everyone in the village removes their helmets and Jun quickly learns, these are not bad people.  They just wear helmets that give the appearance that they are mean looking.  And their story is that Gen’un has kicked these villagers out of their homes and Gen’un took control of it for his own selfish reasons.  And the reason why an oni went to Jun’s real reality was to find him and ask for his help to defend and fight with the Oni to stop the evil Gen’un.

But for Jun, he has heard two different tales from both warring factions.  Both sides needs his help to destroy the others, but Jun is not like that.  He doesn’t want anyone to fight anyone.  He’s not a fighter.

So, Jun feels the best thing to do is send him back home.  There is no way he can fight any of these people.  They are good people and he doesn’t want to get mixed up in anyone’s war.

But when it is revealed that one side is actually lying…will Jun stay and fight?  Or will he go back home and let one group suffer because he didn’t use his power?

VIDEO:

“Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is presented in 1080p High Definition and anime production is by Studio Pierrot.  For those familiar with the “Naruto” TV series and films, will notice Tetsuya Nishio’s work for the character designs for this film.  It’s a different style than what most people are used to seeing in an anime series but for the most part, the action sequences of this film are well-done and are quite fluid.

The beauty of this film lies within its art backgrounds as the modern day Kyoto is actually based on real-life areas of the city.  The creators of the film wanted to capture the authenticity of modern-day Kyoto that they worked with various companies for tie-ins to promote the film.  From store chains to shrines, nearly everything featured in the modern-day setting is based on actual Kyoto business and buildings.

The film is vibrant with colors and there is a good amount of detail on the art backgrounds and for the most part, picture quality for the Blu-ray release of “Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and also French, German, Portuguese and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  I did a test listening to both soundtracks and for the most part, dialogue is crystal clear from the center channel while action and music comes clearly through the front and surround channels.

The good news is that it is an active soundtrack and for every action sequence, may it be building being destroyed, crowds of people fighting each other, fireballs, Orochi hitting objects, etc.  There is a lot of that throughout the film, so it’s an active soundtrack.

The Japanese voice acting is well-done and the English dub, the good news is that the casting of the characters sound nearly the same with their Japanese counterpart, but some of the acting for the English dub was OK.  Granted, I’m more biased to watching films in their original language, but for the most part, fans who prefer to watch anime in English, will probably feel the dub is quite suitable for them.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Legend of the Millennium Dragon” comes with a concept art gallery (viewed by remote control selection).

“The Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is a beautiful action film showcasing one young man’s search for his inner strength.

The storyline does have its share of banal plots such as one going back to the past and being involved in an epic war and making big decisions and the usual “I will protect those I care about”.  From “Fushigi Yuugi” to “Haruka ~Beyond the Stream of Time~” to name a few, when I think of similar anime, typically the heroine from the future is typically a female, but in this case, we have a young kid who lost his father and has to find his own strength.

But what I enjoyed about the film is the twist and finding out that the oni are not “devils” but people who were forced out of their village and are just trying to survive.

And when you look at life historically, Americans had done the same with native Americans and making them out to be the most horrible people on the planet, when in fact, by colonizing, we literally took their land that they were trying to protect.  The same can be said in Japan, and the treatment of early Japanese ala the Ainu’s, who also have had their share of unfortunate prejudice that even takes place today.

But in the end, “Legend of the Millennium” is an action film geared to people of all ages.

The Blu-ray release looks fantastic while the characters designs have a lot in common with an anime series like “Naruto” courtesy of Tetsuya Nishio who worked on the “Naruto” series and films, while the art backgrounds are beautifully painted, thanks to Studio Pierrot.  The lossless audio is also well done as you hear the action and the music being well utilized from the surround channels and for the most part, an anime film with a solid soundtrack.

Special features were a bit lacking with only a concept art gallery but if anything, the good news is that the Blu-ray does shine in the PQ and AQ department.

Overall, “Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is an enjoyable anime film.  Especially those who enjoy the underdog being transported to the feudal era in Japan and having to prepare to fight, despite not knowing how to fight.  The main character Jun Tendo can get on your nerves as its evident that the character is not much of a fighter and would rather not fight.  But at the same time, it’s the film’s strength because this character eventually needs to find his true strength in order to protect people and we get to see how Jun Tendo eventually grows up.

Entertaining, action-packed and not dark or excessively violent, “Legend of the Millennium Dragon” is a film worth checking out!

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