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

January 16, 2009 by  



“VEXILLE was meant to be seen on Blu-ray!  Beautiful and eye popping visuals, incredible sound and a thought provoking storyline with a special feature loaded Blu-ray Disc!  Highly recommended!”

Images courtesy of (c) 2007 VEXILLE FILM PARTNERS.  Licensed by FUNimation Productions, Ltd.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: VEXILLE

DURATION: 105 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: English & Japanese Language, 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD Japanese 5.1 and English 5.1

CATALOG #: FN-09592

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY: SORI

THEME SONG: “Together Again” by MINK

ORIGINAL SCORE: Paul Okenfold

SOUND DESIGN: Kasamatsu Kouji

CO-WRITTEN BY: Handa Haruka

PRODUCTION BY: Hishiyama Toru

EDITING BY: SORI

PRODUCERS: Nakazawa Toshiaki, Yoshihara Yumiko, Takase Ichiro

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Hamana Kazuya

CAST INFORMATION:

Meisa Kuroki/Colleen Clinkenbeerd as Vexille

Tanihara Shosuke/Travis Willingham as Leon

Matsuyuki Yasuko/Christine Auten as Maria

Otsuka Akio/Jason Douglas as Saitou

Park Romi/Luci Christian as Takashi

Sakurai Takahiro/Illichi Guardiola as Ryo

Morikawa Toshiyuki/I. Michael Tatum as Kisaragi

Kakihara Tetsuya/Todd Haberkorn as Taro

2067: ISOLATION

Japan seals herself off from the eyes of the world in the face of unilateral international policy setting strict limits on the use of robotic technology. The island nation exists only behind a veil of seclusion. No soul shall enter. No soul shall leave.

2077: REVELATION

The veil is breached. Japan is infiltrated by agents of the organization S.W.O.R.D., a fighting force operating outside of the protection of the United States and her allies. Their mission: Determine if the Japanese are developing banned robotic bio-technology, forbidden due to its threat to mankind.

In the battle between machine and man, humanity stands to suffer most.

“VEXILLE” was meant to be seen on Blu-ray!

Having reviewed the DVD version of “VEXILLE” back in July, I was very excited to see how VEXILLE would look on Blu-ray via 1080p High Definition and sound via TrueHD audio and I was literally floored.  Let’s just say that my appreciation for this film literally skyrocketed.  FUNimation Entertainment really went all out to give fans a true definitive Blu-ray release in the US for “VEXILLE”.  But before I go into the differences from the DVD and Blu-ray release, let me first explain a little bit about the storyline.

Having watched “Appleseed”, it was pretty much a no brainer that I would be giving “VEXILLE” a try.

The latest theatrical effort from SORI combining 3D and animation together that have made films such as the two “Appleseed” films has been quite exciting to watch and see develop overtime and just pretty much to see where animators are able to take things to a new level is always exciting.

As a viewer, I’m open to new technologies and to see technology and well-told storylines come together.

Of course, what makes things even more interesting is that SORI (Sori Fumuhiko) has evolved from his directorial debut with the live action theatrical hit “Ping Pong” back in 2001, produced the 2004 “Appleseed” film and here he is now as the director and screenwriter for the animated film “VEXILLE”.

With “VEXILLE”, the creators of the “Appleseed” film are back with a storyline that I have to say is quite thought provoking and animation that is quite mesmerizing to watch but this is a storyline that I wish was fleshed out in several movies than just one.

The main story is about how in 2067. A time where cybernetic robotics has peaked and with a U.N. ban on the development robotics, of course, Japan is the country that is being pressured to stop with its development.

Japan leaves the United Nations and pretty much seals itself up to the world. No one knows what is happening in Japan and because of new technology, no one enters or leaves Japan. And in the middle of this technology is this sinister corporation known as Daiwa Heavy Industries.

Flash forward ten years later and in 2077, the U.S. based organization S.W.O.R.D., after a mission has received some evidence that Japan has been producing some type of biologically/cybernetic construction on humans but additional intel is needed and S.W.O.R.D. must prove that Japan is developing banned robotic bio technology that could threaten humankind.

You are introduced to the main two characters of S.W.O.R.D., Vexille and Leon. Both are a couple but dedicated to their jobs. Unknown to Vexille, Leon has a secret.

It appears that Leon was in an undercover mission in Japan (before Japan left the U.N. and before all foreigners were deported from Japan) before his relationship with Vexille and that he has a major reason for wanting to go back.

During a security mission for Daiwa, Leon and a partner from S.W.O.R.D. go on pursuit after someone causing trouble at the San Pedro shipyard. During the tragic pursuit, the assailant relays information to Leon about a major meeting in Japan and a message from a “Maria”.

Of course, these chain of events is enough for S.W.O.R.D. to act quickly and devise a team (led by Leon) to infiltrate Japan, gather intelligence and send over the data to the U.S. to prove Japan is literally devising robotic weaponry that can be used against other nations.

The mission is botched and leads to Vexille being the lone soldier of S.W.O.R.D. now wandering an area that is supposed to be Tokyo but an even bigger shocker exists and what has become of Japan since 2067 and what happens when she comes face to face with this person named “Maria”.

From there on in, while the SWORD team tries to find out what about to Tokyo in the US, Vexile joins forces with Maria and others to free Japan from an evil scientist and leader of Daiwa and those working for him.  But in their way is a heavily secured island and the JAGS.  Will Vexille, Maria and crew be able to stop Daiwa?

VIDEO:

First, let me first preface by saying that “VEXILLE” really looked good on DVD. But on 1080p High Definition (16×9), I was blown away by the Blu-ray release.  You start to realize how much detail was incorporated into this film.  Something that I really never saw during the DVD review.

With the Blu-ray release, there is detail from the building structures, the pores on the concrete and you see how clothing is blown through the wind.

And the Jags, you really see the detail of the junk that it’s comprised of.  The video literally knocked my socks off because everything looked beautiful.  The lighting, the shading really stood out and I thought things looked beautiful on DVD but on Blu-ray, I was floored.

The video quality is just incredible and as of right now, for a modern release on Blu-ray from Japan, the picture quality of “VEXILLE” was just incredible.

AUDIO:

When I first heard the audio on the DVD version, I thought it was OK but my mind kept zeroing in on the audio since music does play a great part in this animated film.  But the English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track again, floored me.

The way the channels were distributed through each speaker, from footsteps, to each shot taken and in the market, hearing voices all around you and a table being kicked and hearing it from the front speaker and then hearing it continue to the rear speakers, I was very impressed by the audio quality on this Blu-ray release of “VEXILLE”.  Fantastic!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

With the DVD release, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of special features especially knowing that the Asian release had a good number of special features included.  But fortunately, for the “VEXILLE” Blu-ray release, this disc is fully loaded with over 115 minutes of extra features.   The special features are featured in 480i Standard Definition and in Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.  Included on the disc:

  • Opening Comments from the Locarno Film Festival
  • Sori’s Work as an Animation Creator
  • Voice Acting Footage – Voice of VEXILLE
  • Creating the Cities in VEXILLE
  • 2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair Event
  • Sori’s Guest Lecture at Digital Hollywood Tokyo
  • Voice Acting Footage – Voice of Leon
  • An Old Friend Visits Sori
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage of ICHI
  • Creating VEXILLE’s 3D Animation
  • Voice Acting Footage – Other Cast Members
  • Creating the Music in VEXILLE – Part 1
  • Creating the Music in VEXILLE – Part 2
  • VEXILLE’s Premiere
  • Sori’s Closing Comments
  • The Secrets of VEXILLE
  • Original TV Spots and Previews
  • FUNimation Trailers

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the film. You get hooked on these characters such as Vexille, Leon, Maria and you just want more character development. Heck, even the main enemy scientist of Daiwa or even the corporation itself, you want to ask why did they do what they did. So, you are left with questions but of course, there is only so much you can cover in a film that is already at 105 minutes long.

So, for me, I wish the storyline would lead to another film but pretty much the way everything was written, everything is contained to one story, one movie and focusing on the overall situation in Japan ala 2077 than the characters.

But as much as I really enjoyed the DVD release of “VEXILLE”, the Blu-ray version just blows it out of the water. The amount of detail that is present in the Blu-ray release is incredible. The picture and audio quality was incredible and again, just the amount of detail that went into a structure, inanimate object to the flooring or walls and the water effects, truly amazing!

And for the audio, again…on the DVD release, I felt that I was picking up more of the music more than the effects but this time around, all special effects from people chattering, footsteps to the action scenes were just so much more evident on Dolby TrueHD. The audio quality was fantastic!

“VEXILLE” was meant to be seen on Blu-ray. This is one solid release from FUNimation and a definite must-own for anime or fans of Japanese animated films or Japanese releases period on Blu-ray. Beautiful and eye popping visuals, incredible sound and a thought provoking storyline with a special features loaded Blu-ray Disc!

Highly recommended!

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