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The Empire of Corpses (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

empireofcorpses

M”The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline. But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Empire of Corpses

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Ryoutarou Makihara

Screenplay by Hiroshi Seko, Koji Yamamoto, Midori Gotou

Original Creator: Project Itoh, Toh Enjoe

Original Character Design: redjuice

Character Designs by Takaaki Chiba

Chief Animation Director: Hirotaka Kato, Takaaki Chiba

Mechanical Design by Gorou Murata, Hitoshi Fukuchi, Junjya IShigaki, Shinobu Tsuneki

Art Direction by Yusuke Takeda

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Anime Production: Wit Studio


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayumu Murase/Todd Haberkorn as Friday/Noble_Savage_007

Kana Hanazawa/Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith

Taiten Kusunoki/J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Jason Liebrecht as John H. Watson

Akio Ohtsuka/Sean Hennigan as M

Daiki Yamashita/Micah Solusod as Nikolai Krasotkin

Shinichiro Miki/Mike McFarland as Alexei Karamazov

Houko Kuwashima/Caitlin Glass as Moneypenny


From the studio that produced Attack on Titan comes The Empire of Corpses, a captivating historical action thriller based on a Phillip K. Dick Award winning novel by Project Itoh. In an alternate version of 19th century London, the world has been revolutionized by “corpse reanimation technology” creating armies of undead who serve the living as laborers across the globe.

In an attempt to revive his dearly departed friend, young medical student John Watson becomes obsessed with replicating the work of Dr. Victor Frankenstein – the legendary corpse engineer whose research produced the only re-animated corpse to possess a soul. But when his illegal experiments put him at odds with the British government, Watson is drafted into a worldwide race to find the lost research notes of Victor Frankenstein before the secrets of the human soul fall into the wrong hands.


From anime production studio Wit Studio and director Ryoutarou Makihara (“Hal”, “Umi Monogatari”) comes “The Empire of Corpses” (Shisha no Teikoku).

An animated film adaptation of Project Itoh (creator of “Harmony and “Genocidal Organ”) and Toh Enjoe’s novel, the film was released in Japan in 2015 and had a limited theatrical release in the US courtesy of FUNimation.

And now, the animated film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

The film features a screenplay by Hiroshi Seko (“Ajin”, “Mob PSycho 100”, “Seraph of the End”), Koji Yamamoto (“Harmony”) and Midori Gotou (“Attack on Titan: Junior high”, “Hozuki no Reitetsu”, “Loups=Garous – The Motion Picture”, music by Yoshihiro Ike (“Gundam Evolve”, “Rage of Bahamut”, “Cobra the Animation”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”), character designs by Takaaki Chiba (“Sengoku Basara”, “Attack on Titan”) and art direction by Yusuke Takeda (“Armitage III”, “009-1”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Eden of the East”).

The film is set in an alternative future of 18th Century England during a time where English scientist Victor Frankenstein has created “The One” (Frankenstein) which revolves reanimating a corpse with a soul in order to think, feel and speak.

But after his creation was destroyed, another method to replace a missing soul was developed and is known as “Necroware”, which can be programmed and upgraded but unlike “The One”, it has no ability to think, feel or speak.  It follows commands.

The world has brought many corpses alive in order to use them as servants which has boosted the economy as they can be used as workers but also by the military, who can use corpse technology for military use.

The film introduces us to John H. Watson, a corpse engineer who has illegally created his own Necroware and has resurrected his deceased friend, who he names it Friday.

Watson is visited by two mysterious individuals and one of them, M, is a member of the British Secret Service and has information that Watson was experimenting with illegal Necroware.  So, he tells John that he can either go to prison or become an agent of the British Empire.  John Watson decides to join the British Empire.

Their first mission is to go to India and follow U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant but they are immediately attacked by corpse assassins who have a grenade embedded inside them and when they pull a pin from their neck, they can explode.

Fortunately for both Watson and Friday, they are rescued by Captain Frederick Burnaby and Watson receives his mission from M that he must find Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, a Russian corpse engineer who stole “The Memorandum”, the research material belonging to Victor Frankenstein on how to reanimate a corpse with a soul.

But as the three who are joined by Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary Hadaly Lilith and their guide Nikolai Krasotkin, are chased and are targeted by corpse assassins, these assassins have the ability to move differently than a regular corpse.  They are quick and also surprise Watson by showing the ability to possibly talk.

But what happens when they come across Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov and learn more about “The Memorandum” and why is John Watson so interested in it?


VIDEO:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in 1080p High Definiton (16:9 anamorphic widescreen). The animation features wonderful character design and gorgeous art backgrounds.

I was struck by how detailed the background art was. How beautiful these painted backgrounds looked and how it complimented the characters.   Overall, picture quality was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Empire of Corpses” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. As for the lossless audio, both Japanese and English soundtrack feature crystal clear dialogue and music. Action sequences (such as the fights with the zombie corpses, explosions galore, people screaming and the sounds of the live corpses) utilized the surround channels very well and the voice acting for both soundtracks are fantastic.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Empire of Corpses” contains the following special features:

  • Funimation Short Empire of Corpses – (7:38) Featuring director/writer J. Michael Tatum (voice of Alexei Karamazov) and Mike McFarland (voice of Frederick Burnaby), Morgan Garrett (voice of Hadaly Lilith) and Jason Liebrecht (voice of Dr. John Watson) discussing working on “The Empire of Corpses”.
  • Promo Videos – Featuring two Japanese promo videos
  • Original Trailer – The original theatrical trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Empire of Corpses” comes with a slipcover and both the Blu-ray + DVD discs of the film. The Blu-ray also comes with an UltraViolet code for those wanting to watch the film on their PC/Mac, tablet or cell phone via Digital HD.


What happens when you take an alternative version of England, throw in zombie corpses that are revived and used by society to better the economy.  No more having to worry about how long one can work, these corpses can work 24/7 and follow their master’s request.

These corpses have feel no pain, can’t speak nor do they have a soul to share any emotion towards anyone.

But one corpse was given a soul and that was the creation made by Victor Frankenstein but that creation ended up being destroyed.  So, now we have John Watson trying to follow the footsteps of Frankenstein by digging up and turning his best friend into a living corpse and naming him Friday.

Unfortunately for Watson, he is caught and is given a choice…work for the British government or go to prison.  And of course, Watson chooses to become an agent for the government and try to find a Russian scientist who has obtained documents of the work of Victor Frankenstein.

But what Watson, Friday and the others are not aware of, someone has created a new type of corpse. Faster, humanlike movement and they appear to be wanting to speak.

And as Watson and others try to look for these documents known as “The Memorandum”, their research starts to uncover who is the real culprit pulling the strings of these frightening occurrences.

“The Empire of Corpses” is a complex animated film with so many twists and turns that one probably will find themselves watching multiple times, to see if they have missed anything important.

The film manages to capture the essence of zombies, combined with Frankenstein, showcasing an alternate universe of a world dependent on corpses and what happens when these controlled corpses are being utilized as weapons and possibly used for nefarious situations.

The Blu-ray release features wonderful picture quality as character designs are well-done, the art backgrounds are highly detailed and done magnificently well.  As for special features, you do get a short featurette, promotional videos and a trailer.  And you also get a digital HD code.

Overall, “The Empire of Corpses” is an an animated film that is complex, smartly written, featuring wonderful animation and art backgrounds but while entertaining, the film may prove to be too complex for some viewers and thus may require multiple viewings in order to grasp the storyline.

But if you are looking for a beautiful and smartly written animated film, “The Empire of Corpses” is recommended!

 

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

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

hal-a

“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.

TITLE: HAL

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

RATED: TV-14

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?

VIDEO:

“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!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“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!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“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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