The WINGS of REAN Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
June 22, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“Tomino Yoshiyuki returns with a a six-episode ONA (Original Net Animation) spinning off from his ‘Aural Battler Dunbine’ series. The first volume really doesn’t need for one to be familiar with the original series but it is a series that requires your attention because its one of those series that thrusts you into a setting where there are so many things happening all at once.”
DVD TITLE: The WINGS of REAN Vol. 1
DURATION: Approx. 48 minutes + 20 minutes (special features)
DVD INFORMATION: COLOR/NTSC / 16:9 LB / Japanese Audio (Dolby Digital 5.1 ch and Dolby Digital Stereo / English subtitles
CATALOG #: BUDH0108
COMPANY: Bandai Visual/Honneamise
RATING: Suggested 13 and Up
DIRECTOR: Tomino Yoshiyuki
VISUAL CONCEPT CREATOR: okama
CHARACTER DESIGN: Kudoh Masashi
MECHANICAL DESIGN: Shinohara Tamotsu, Sakura Takumi
COLOR DESIGN: Yokoyama Sayoko
ART DIRECTOR: Ikeda Shigemi
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Oogami Youichi
MUSIC: Higuchi Yasuo
SOUND DIRECTOR: Wakabayashi Kazuhiro
PRODUCED BY SUNRISE, BANDIA VISUAL, BANDAI CHANNEL
Two decades after “Aura Battler Dunbine”, legendary director Yoshiyuki Tomino returns to the land of Byston Well!
The Aura Road has been opened… As two unfamiliar worlds collide in a fog of war, the Wings of Rean call for the holy warrior. Thus begins an epic tale of fantasy and romance!
Terrorists have attacked the US military base in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. When it’s discovered that the culprits are two of Aesap Suzuki’s friends, Aesap is also mistakenly hunted by US forces and the Japanese police. As the innocent Aesap escapes arrest, he spots of a flying warship suddenly emerging from the luminous ocean. A the bow is a young woman with wings of light on her feet. Her name is Lyukus, daughter of King Sakomizu of Byston Well – a world located where land and sea meet. “My father is a Japanese named Sakomizu Shinjiro,” she says. “You will help me, won’t you, Aesap Suzuki?” Unwittingly drawn into the war of an unknown land, Aesap can only wonder what fate the future holds for him-and the world he thought he knew.
Tomino Yoshiyuki is a director and writer that is a person who I highly regard his talent for creating such series such as “Mobile Suit Gundam” (and many more series under the Gundam monicker), “Heavy Metal L-Gaim” and “Aura Battler Dunbine”.
With the latter, Yoshiyuki introduced to viewers back in 1984, a new world known as Byston Well (a world that exists between the land and ocean) and from the 49-episode series of “Aura Battler Dunbine”, in 1988 with the three episode OAV series “Aura Battler Dunbine: The Tale of Neo Byston” and an OAV with the 1999 “Tales from Byston Well: Garzey’s Wing”.
In 2005, Tomino returned with the six episode ONA (Original Net Animation) series titled “The WINGS of REAN” which is based on a light novel of his published back in 1983 through 1986.
Having only seen the first DVD volume of “Aura Battler Dunbine” (originally released in the US by ADV Films and probably won’t watch it since vol. 12 is one of the most expensive anime DVD’s and has one of the lowest print runs for an anime volume in the US), I was happy to watch “The WINGS of REAN vol. 1” and know that I didn’t need to own the previous anime series or side-stories.
If anything, my main reason for wanting to watch this anime series is because frankly, I think that as long as Tomino Yoshiyuki releases an anime series, I’m going to be one of the first Americans to purchase his anime directorial or written works.
So, after watching the first episode titled “Uninvited One”, I have to admit that I was really scratching my head and was a bit confused. The episode wasn’t cerebral but you are immediately thrown into a war where you see a young group of kids who want to rebel against the Japanese government working with the US and China and acquiring weapons to either make a statement or become terrorirst against their own country.
While the police go after these young kids, you learn that Suzuki Aesap is not just part of the group but his father is a high ranking military officer.
That’s when things start to go a bit haywire as these huge spacecraft start to come out of the ocean and a girl named Lyukus has the ability to fly through her boots that sprouts wings (aka the WINGS of REAN) and give her the ability to fly. Lyukus happens to be the daugther of King Sakomizu of Byston Well.
Through all the confusion, we see Aesap and Lyukus together, trying to survive but all these other characters wanting to go to war. Sound confusing?
Well throw into the mix that aircraft from the US military start attacking the spacecraft and all of a sudden, everyone is sucked into some portal and into a new world and everyone then you have these ships from another world battling each other, US and Japanese government (mainly US) taking on the various spacecraft and introduced to people of those spacecraft and really episode 1 ends up to be an episode that really didn’t offer any character development.
You’re literally watching multiple battles ensue and I have to admit, I found myself lost.
In episode 2 titled “The King of Hojo”, after a US jet flies directly towards one of the alien spacecraft, everyone around is sucked into Byston Well.
The episode then focuses on Lyukus and Aesap being joined by a fairy like creature known as the Ferario and many people not too thrilled that Lyukus brought the WINGS of REAN (which so far you learn that these are boots that grow wings and allow a person to fly) to the surface world (real-time Earth) and that there is an expectance of Aesap to be the next holy warrior and should take command of the WINGS of REAN.
You also learn that Lyukus, the daughter of King Sakomizu is rebelling against her father. Eventually, he has been a changed man since marrying his second wife whose tribe have helped him build the Aura Battlers (a special type of mecha suit). From the holly warrior who created the country of Hojo, her father has now become a tyrant.
Since this DVD release is from Bandai Visual, and BV releases are known for its quality, the video is 16:8LB and presented with a framerate of 1.78:1. As for the animation, the animation was very colorful and the character designs are by Kudoh Masashi, known for his work his character design work for “Aquarian Age”, a few episodes of “Planetes” and “Witch Hunter Robin” but mainly for the popular series “Bleach”. The mechanical designs were done by Shinohara Tamotsu (known for his live action work with the “Kamen Rider” series and creature designs for “Samurai Deeper Kyo”) and Sakura Takumi (who has worked for Tomino in series such as “Turn A Gundam” and “Brain Powered”).
With the amount of battles happening in the first episode, that is where you start to enjoy the audio from Banda Visual releases. Again, known for their quality for encoding at 448 kbps, “The WINGS of REAN” sounds very cool ala Dolby Digital 5.1.
I have to admit that there was one special feature that I just had to see and that was the “Cross Talk” segment which featured director Tomino Yoshiyuki and singer ANNA TSUCHIYA (who sings the ending theme “My Fate”).
For those who are not familiar with Tsuchiya’s music and how she is during interviews, she’s an artist that really speaks her mind out, a professional who knows how to communicate effectively of flirtation, sexuality and darkness through her music.
And interesting enough, Tsuchiya is upfront of how she feels about Tomino and all in all, a very interesting interview with both individuals. If anything, I enjoyed Tsuchiya’s candidness and Tomino talking about how difficult it was to come up with the animation for ANNA TSUCHIYA’s song with only two weeks to work.
A very cool interview with both individuals.
Bonus features also included are the textless ending and promotional trailer (English subtitled).
And last but not least, with every Bandai Visual release is a cool informative insert and in this case, you get a 32-page booklet that showcases overlook details from the anime series, an interview with Tomino on drawing the storyboards, the drama, the characters, fast-paced storytelling. There is also an interview wtih Kudoh Masashi and his approach to the character designs. Also, an informative piece on the characters which helps for the appreciation of the series.
To end the booklet, there is a rough sketch gallery by Kudoh and storyboard extracts from episode 1 and 2, which I am so happy to see included in this first volume of the DVD.
I’m not going to lie to you. My first view of the first episode left me with question marks and I was confused. I felt that maybe I needed to stop and watch “Aura Battler Dunbine” to understand what the heck was going on because I was lost.
Fortunately, after the second episode, things started to make sense and I’m glad that the frenzy of battle and too many characters introduced, episode 2 started to focus a lot on the main two characters Lyukus and Aesap.
I also have to admit that on the second viewing, I started to appreciate it more after reading the insert booklet. I have to be thankful for Bandai Visual for their continuing effort to include these booklets because they really do put you in the shoes of the director and character designer and see things from their perspective.
Also, how the booklet introduces the characters and explains things that you may have not picked up in the first two episodes.
I would expect that the majority of people who are watching the ONA series are fans of Tomino’s work and know that it takes patiences when watching his animated series.
For me, that’s quite fine because so far I enjoy watching each series director and written by Tomino that I just find very intellectual, very entertaining and all out awesome!
The first volume of “The WINGS of REAN”, I may have been a bit confused with the first episode but I’m sticking with this series because really, Tomino’s works have been special and I look forward to watching how this one ends.
I look forward to volume 2!
+ Another story from “Aura Battler Dunbine” written and directed by Tomino Yoshiyuki
+ Cool video and audio and an informative booklet provided again by Bandai Visual/Honneamise. Gives you appreciation of the work of the director and character designer.
+ Very good voice acting
+ A rare interview to see both Tomino Yoshiyuki and music artist ANNA TSUCHIYA. An unusual pairing for an interview but quite enjoyable!
– No English dubs for those who need that
– First episode is very confusing
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