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Planzet Blu-ray Review

8 min read

The end of the world is here, but thank goodness we have this ultimate weapon!

What They Say:
In 2047, an unknown, alien lifeform descends upon the Earth, destroying all the major cities in one fell swoop. The survivors unite and build a Diffusor to stop the Februus, the invaders the military would later codename the FOS, and a temporary peace is achieved.

Jump forward to 2053, the present. A last, desperate counterattack is being mounted against the enemy. Hiroshi Akishima, soldier in the Planetary Defense Forces Alliance, would like nothing better than a shot at the aliens responsible for his father’s death six years ago. However, the new offensive requires the Diffusor to be dropped, leaving the entire planet terribly vulnerable once more. Will humanity regain the stars or lose everything in the final, ultimate gamble?

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as both the Japanese track and the English track get a 5.1 mix done using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. There is a good bit of sound thrown to the rears but it is primarily the music, not that doing that is a bad thing as it builds it up to a good surround feeling. The dialogue when placed along the forward soundstage is solid and there are some good sequences dealing with the depth and actual placement of it while the action has some strong moments as well around the whole field. The bass level in particular gets some very good moments as the action picks up, but what shines throughout is the music, whether it’s the big moments or the incidental bits that come up. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 2010, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The feature covers a lot of ground with its visual design for its CG style, working an old school feeling right from the start that’s almost amusing with what it’s trying to do. There’s a good film-like appearance to it at this stage since it’s attempting to look nostalgic, but once it gets into the meat of the feature itself, it has the good, clean but still detailed and rich look that I expected from the film. Detail is very well presented, colors look good and there’s little in the way of noise or other problems. It may not have the exact polish of some other CG movies, but it has its own look and it works it well here with the transfer.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is presented in a standard size Blu-ray case which fits well with the artwork here. It does make it clear that it’s a CG film, though the blending and design is a bit better than some other ones in the last few years. It’s a busy cover with a lot of things going on, but the central focus is on the two lead characters. With the various mechanical elements scattered around and the futuristic aspects, it’s a good cool balance against the hot logo along the bottom that’s given an explosion for a background. The back cover plays it like a lot of SF movie releases with some hard, dark and worn down colors that gives it the right feel for this kind of film. The discs extras are clearly listed and easy to read and we get a good selection of shots from the feature. The summary doesn’t go into too much detail but lays it all out well to make it intriguing. The remainder is standard fare with the production credits and a solid technical grid that lists everything accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.

Menu:
The main menu has some good design elements to it, using an explosive scene from the feature that’s a really great looking illustration, as it provides that mechanical and quasi-futuristic feel while also highlighting the action elements. With no music to it though, it feels a bit weaker and kind of barren. The overall layout is good though and the menu navigation along the bottom is very in-theme in a good way while also doubling as the pop-up menu. Submenus load very quickly and without any problems and navigation is an absolute breeze. The show defaulted to the English with sign/song subtitles for us rather than our players’ language presets.

Extras:
The release has some good extras to it that should please the fans of the film. The first two are a pair of interview pieces with the lead actors done individually that run about ten minutes each and lets them expound on how much they like the feature and what it represents. The original creator, Jun Awazu, also gets an interview that runs about fifteen minutes and details where he went from working on Negadon in 2005 to this and everything in between. He’s got a few interesting things to say in regards to the approach but it is pretty standard promotional material. There’s a neat twenty-two minute animatics sequence with Awazu showing it in a side by side form with how they went from A to B in creating the feature and the general design and set up for it. Add in a commentary track and good collection of trailers for the feature and there’s plenty to like here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work from ComixWave, Planzet is a 2010 film from Jun Awazu, who had worked on and created Negadon years earlier much to a lot of fans delight. Planzet brings us a new CG film to an anime audience this is still largely unwilling to embrace the medium and what it offers, which at this point continues to be fairly straightforward science fiction tales of different types. Once Appleseed first hit the market, it opened up the potential for more and it seems stuck in this area, but it’s the one most suited for it at the moment as they continue to do some very good work in making the characters more accessible through their animation and designs.

This film gives us an interesting if familiar world as it takes place in 2053, several years after an attack by an alien species. In 2047, a small alien world appeared in orbit around the Earth and through success waves of attacks over six days, the majority of humanity was wiped out. A simple workover of the polar caps did a lot of the damage as huge cities were quickly flooded, landmasses changed and other major metropolitan areas were left to be razed and gutted. Mankind fought back and did so for months and years afterward with a quick push towards a global military government of sorts in order to deal with coordinated strikes against the enemy. The opening does a decent job of showing what happened in some simple shots but not with much in the way of fanfare, adding to the oppressive feeling.

Within this world we do get to know a few characters, but with the way the film is designed it doesn’t matter too much. The main par we get is a brother and sister where the elder brother is in the military, flying combat mecha in an attempt to push back against the aliens, while his sister has been forcibly enrolled in a Defense Middle School so she can become one of the elite. As he indicates, it’s the only way to ensure a decent life in the interim until they can either win the war or lose at everything. With his three person team, Hiroshi has a good group that can do the missions they’re assigned, but they’re facing some incredible odds based on what’s happened so far.

The film is fairly predictable with its overall storyline and the way it’s kept to just a few characters, making it easy to get into and to enjoy the way it approaches things. It has a good, gritty feeling to it that’s definitely appropriate as it showcases humanity on the edge, even with some very high tech though not always functional pieces of equipment. It has an air of hopelessness about it, but what helps to make this work is its run time. Coming in just under an hour, it avoids some of the usual things that slow things down with the whole “character development” thing. Normally it’s what you want in a movie, but here the whole point is to just show what the few remaining people are doing to survive and fight back. The way to best view this is as a short story, one that gets into the meat of things, shows it unfolding and then running towards the climax.

In Summary:
If you don’t expect grand things from Planzet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much fun it is as it deals with short form storytelling. Anime itself has largely lost this form over the years as the 50 minute OVAs disappeared and we instead got padded out TV series or movies that weren’t structured well. Planzet is a pretty fun short science fiction story in the traditional Japanese sense where it gives us a fascinating change to the world and lots of things that you want to explore more, but keeps its real focus narrow. It has that air of unreal about it in some ways, such as when the Ultimate Weapon is introduced, but it’s a longstanding piece of Japanese science fiction, especially if you go back to a lot of the manga of the 1980’s. If this was longer I probably would have been bored more, but in this form it just hits things one after the other and goes with it. It may be very light on characters, but it works in just about all other ways, including some very enjoyable CG animation.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Interviews, Animatics, Commentary Track, Trailer Collection

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 22nd, 2012
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 53 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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