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TO Film Collection (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet) (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 27, 2011 by  



Visually stunning! Two stories from Yoshinobu Hoshino’s 1984-1985 sci-fi manga classic “2001 Nights” receives an animated CG adaptation courtesy of Fumihiko Sori (“Vexille”, “Appleseed”).  Both films look and sound great on Blu-ray and by the end, I was wanting even more! I’m hoping we will see more of the stories from “2001” receiving adaptations but for now, if you are a sci-fi fan and an anime fan, I highly recommend “TO Film Collection”!

Image courtesy of © 2009 Yoshinobu Hoshino – Futobasha/”To” Committee.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: TO Film Colletion (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet)

DURATION: Elliptical Orbit (43 minutes), Symbiotic Planet (46:03)

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

COMPANY: Showgate/FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: June 7, 2011

 

Directed by Fumihiko Sori

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi

Original Work by Yukinobu Hoshino

Anime Production by Oxybot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Elliptical Orbit

Akio Ohtsuka/Mark Stoddard as Dan

Romi Park/Stephanie Young as Maria

Bryan Massey as Willie

Chris Cason as Mark

Christopher R. Sabat as Space Terrorist Leader

Scott Freeman as Rick

Symbiotic Planet

Jun Fukuyama/Eric Vale as Ion

Aya Hirano/Brina Palencia as Alina

Chuck Huber as Major Beltin

J. Michael Tatum as Snaut

John Swasey as Meyer

Jonathan Brooks as Michael

Pam Doughterty as Tatiana

R. Bruce Elliott as Guerin

Steve Powell as Lange

Elliptical Orbit
Fifteen years after its last contact with our world, a space freighter known as the Flying Dutchman requests permission to dock at a remote moon base. This mysterious ship carries liquid protons: a power source essential to the survival of Earth’s population. But before the precious cargo can be delivered, the base is ambushed by galactic terrorists who seek to destroy the new form of energy and issue a death sentence to all of humanity.

Symbiotic Planet
Against a backdrop of peculiar alien life forms, Aon and Elena – star-crossed lovers from rival countries – struggle to build a life together despite the objections of their superiors. Their budding romance is thwarted by an outbreak of potent alien fungus and the interference of a cutthroat militaristic madman. To survive, the young couple must maintain their faith in each other… and learn to trust the unique creatures which inhabit this strange and wondrous planet.

In 1984, a science fiction manga titled “2001 Nights” (2001 Nisen’ichi Ya Monogatari) by mangaka Yukinobu Hoshino (“Blue City”, “Saber Tiger”, “Kotetsu no Queen”) was serialized in Futabasha’s “Monthly Super Action”.  By 1986, three bound volumes were created and were published in the USA in 1996.

Inspired by hard science fiction and paying homage to sci-fi novel and films that Hoshino enjoyed, the first OVA was released on VHS in 1987.  In 2009, two stories from “2001 Nights”, “Night 13” (aka “Symbiotic Planet”) and “Night 15” (aka “Ellitical Orbit”)  known as “TO” (pronounced as “Tou”) received a CGI OVA adaptation including a 10-minute trailer released by Avex Entertainment in 2009.  Both were directed by Fumihiko Sori, known for his CG animated films “Appleseed” and “Vexille”.

Now, “TO” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD box set courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

The first OVA “Elliptical Orbit” features a woman named Maria arrives with her crew of the space freighter “The Flying Dutchman” dock a space station to refuel.  The person in charge of the space station in the remote moon base is a man named Dan, a person that Maria has some mysterious connection to.

As “The Flying Dutchman” which is carrying liquid protons is planning to be delivered and will be used as a power source essential to Earth’s population, out of nowhere, galactic terrorists have shown up to destroy the cargo and insure death to humanity.

With the terrorists taking over the space station, Maria and Dan must do all they can to ensure the terrorist do not get to the cargo.

The second OVA “Symbiotic Planet” is a sci-fi love story  as both Aon and Elena are lovers who come from rival countries.  As both are in love, people on both sides of resent the two falling in love and both have their own ideas of their own colonization of the planet.

But when an outbreak of an alien fungus takes place in the planet, both sides are now preparing for war against each other and the two lovers know that life and their love may be torn apart by their country’s rivalry.

VIDEO:

“TO Film Collection (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet)” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  For those familiar with Fumihiko Sori’s work on films such as “Vexille” and also “Appleseed”, they can expect the same visual style with both OVA’s in “TO.

Visually, both films look fantastic!  From the design of the space station and vehicles, to see details of smoke coming from the release of cargo to the amount of detail that can be seen on Blu-ray was well-done.  The character designs are like “Vexille” but the actual 3D for the physical objects have much more detail and shading than previous Sori films.  Colors are vibrant, black levels are nice and deep and the shading for the film is well-done.

Between both films, “Symbiotic Planet” is much more visually stunning as it focuses on the backdrops of the planet and we get to see more detail from the planet surroundings, while “Elliptical Orbit” focuses more on the overall look of the space station.  While not the same level of visual awesomeness of “Vexille”, granted that was a film, these two are OVA’s, still the picture quality for both “Elliptical Orbit” and “Symbiotic Planet” are well-done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“TO Film Collection (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet)” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Japanese and English.  Both lossless soundtracks are very well done as the surround channels utilize the ambiance of space (for “Elliptical Orbit”) and its music, while “Symbiotic Planet” has an ethereal feel with the living creatures of the planet, the Pacard, its use of music.

But both lossless soundtracks are crystal clear in dialogue and utilization of ambient noise and music through the surround channels are nicely done.  It’s not the most immersive soundtrack but the audio is well-utilized.  Also, I was quite pleased with both the Japanese and English voicework.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“To Film Collection (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet)” comes with the following special features:

  • Special Interview with Director Fumihiko Sori, Akio Ohtsuka and Romi Park – (30:16) Director Fumihiko Sori talks about working on “TO”, voice actress Romi Park (Maria) and voice actor Akio Ohtsuka (Dan) about their characters.
  • Special Interview with Director Fumihiko Sori, Jun Fukuyama and Aya Hirano –  (30:22) Director Fumihiko Sori talks about the theme of “TO”, voice actress Aya Hirano (Alina) and voice actor Jun Fukuyama (Ion) talk about their characters.
  • Elliptical Orbit Trailer – (1:11) Trailers for “TO: Elliptical Orbit”.
  • Symbiotic Planet Trailer – (1:18) Trailer for “TO: Symbiotic Planet”
  • Teaser – (1:33) Teaser for “TO: Elliptical Orbit”
  • Promo Video (Rental) – (2:08) Promotional video for the rental release of “TO”.
  • Promo Video (Sale) – (2:29)  Promotional video for the video release of”TO”.
  • TV Spots – (:49) TV Spots for “TO: Elliptical Orbit”.
  • Trailers – Funimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“To Film Collection (Elliptical Orbit/Symbiotic Planet)” comes with both a Blu-ray disc consisting of both films and special features as well as two DVD’s featuring each film and their own special features.  Also, “TO Film Collection” comes with a cardboard slipcase.

For many sci-fi fans in Japan, Yukinobu Hoshino’s “2001 Nights” is a very special series, a sci-fi classic as it contains various stories and aspects of sci-fi filled with adventures, drama and action.

The stories in “2001 Nights” are loosely related episodes from man’s exploration of the galaxy and Hoshino’s tales are vast are quite intriguing considering the stories were made back in 1984 and seeing how those stories created over 25-years-ago are just as enjoyable and intriguing today.

While not all stories from “2001 Nights” have been animated, we get two stories “Elliptical Orbit” and “Symbiotic Planet”.  The first is quite interesting as it focuses on relationships, especially how it affects traveling through space via hibernation or light speed and for me, the storyline was quite intriguing because the last anime series that really touched upon the space travel and aging was the 1988 OVA series “Gunbuster” and interesting enough, Hoshino touched upon this in his 1984-1985 manga series.

Without spoiling “Elliptical Orbit”, I just found it quite intriguing to see the predicament between Maria and Dan.  These two obviously have some type of history and slowly, we start to learn what that relationship is.  Also, intriguing is the concept of terrorism.  In today’s modern climate, it’s such a big topic that is relevant today but in 1984, while there was terrorism, you can’t help but think how vast Hoshino’s tales were, it was like forward thinking of what he expected to see in the future.  Granted, he was inspired by sci-films and novels but even for 1984, it was quite interesting to see how relevant these stories can be for people watching it today.

As for the second story, “Symbiotic Planet”, I liken this to Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”.  Two people who are in love but their own race are rivals towards each other.  Both wish they can live in peace, to hold each other without wearing space suits to survive.   But both feeling the wrath of their own people when they are forbidden to see the person they love because of the rivalry between the races, as both are in a hurry to stake their claim on the planet and the tyranny that takes place on both sides.

But Sori best describes the second OVA as if humans were to colonize another planet, will they continue to repeat the same patterns on Earth?

For the most part, these two OVA’s are essentially sci-films that further Hoshino’s tales of exploration but it also adds elements of romance, drama and action.

I’m glad to see Fumihiko Sori’s animated style once again.  While I do enjoy his work with “Vexille” which was fantastic visually, both “Elliptical Orbit” and “Symbiotic Planet” look good as well.  “Elliptical Orbit” for its mechanical design for the space station and the vehicles and thought that went into the overall look and feel especially its functions was well-done, while “Symbiotic Planet” utilized more imagination when it came to the overall look of the planet, its alien animal residents to this ethereal feeling, especially how the formation of the rocks were and its overall look.  Obviously the second OVA had more color use for its backgrounds, while the first OVA took place pretty much inside the space station or in space.  Nevertheless, both are well done.

And I just have to add that the ending theme “Aoi Tsuki to Ambivalence na Ai” from moumoon is fantastic!  One of my favorite bands from Japan and I was suprised to hear this song used as the ending theme.

As for the Blu-ray release, aside from the wonderful PQ and AQ as I discussed earlier, FUNimation Entertainment has continued its theme of releasing dual Blu-ray and DVD box sets which is pretty cool especially those who want to share with friends or wanting to watch it during long commutes.  Personally, it would be nice if FUNimation Entertainment also considered digital download for iTunes and Windows Media Player (especially as more anime fans are watching anime on their iPad, iPhone and mobile devices), although only if consumers are not charged too much for the additional disc.

Overall, “TO Film Collection” featured two storylines from Hoshino’s “2001 Nights” which I enjoyed a lot.  But the fact that there are more stories from “2001 Nights”, I am hoping that this would be a series or a potential of more of the stories from Hoshino’s manga series that would be released via OVA in the near future.   Because I enjoyed both “Elliptical Orbit” and “Symbiotic Planet” and it left me wanting more!

But seeing that it’s not the case and the fact that “TO Film Collection” was released back in 2009, I’m guessing this is all that we are going to get for now.

But still, I’m quite content with this Blu-ray release and the fact that we get two really cool sci-fi films and also a good number of special features, if you are a sci-fi fan, I definitely recommend checking out “TO Film Collection”.

Recommended!

 






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