What They Say:
Brand new anime episode on DVD: “Attack on Titan: No Regrets” – the backstory of Captain Levi! Special variant dust jacket by comics artist Cameron Stewart (Batgirl, Catwoman)!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only and it’s done up in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show is certainly familiar enough in sound design to the TV series so it has all the right nods here and comes across well for both the action and dialogue. It’s a bit quieter overall since there’s not a lot of action, but the mix handles the Titans well in the big and small scenes and the dialogue is well placed where needed throughout. The show always provided a good balance during its run and this one largely mirrors it while not stretching itself in any new directions. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2014, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The single episode has plenty of space and works a good bit rate at higher levels for it as it brings the quality of the animation to life. With it working off the same production as the TV show, the result is one that blends well with the existing material and adheres to it so as to not look radically different. The standard definition transfer is certainly a little jarring if you’ve only seen the show in high definition before but it’s a clean looking release outside of some minor line noise during an occasionally camera panning sequences. Colors are solid and properly muted for the world and detail is well handled within the constraints of the standard definition world.
The packaging for this release is fairly simple as we get a thin cardboard box that holds the DVD keepcase and the manga volume inside. The box itself uses the same artwork as the manga on the front with a nod towards what’s within along the bottom while the reverse side goes for a standard DVD back cover, providing the details and all that you need to know in a clean form here. The DVD case itself is done up well with a good image of Levi in his civilian clothes of the time but with the gear on going through the movements of action. It’s dark and murky but it’s still striking, especially with his expression. It’s laid out well with the logo and the nod towards the OVA title and being part of the special edition. The back cover works with a shot from the show as its background that blends to black and a good summary of what the OVA is all about. The production credits take up a decent bit of space and we get some good shots from the show as well. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Working with the image from the cover, the menu is a straightforward static piece here that gives us a bigger view of the background as it pulls back some so we get something a little more epic. With Levi off to the right, the detail and color stands out well to give it a really strong flair overall. The layout lets the navigation and logo sit on the left side of the screen, blending surprisingly well with the background artwork. It has a brighter and cleaner look than the packaging itself does and just feels richer and more appealing across the board. The navigation is straightforward with subtitle options at the top level as well as scene selection and you can also turn the subtitles off and on during regular playback as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released with the manga in Japan back in 2014, this special edition was the fourth OVA to hit that I believe is categorized as episode 0.5, allowing it to take place amid the frightening events that were going on for the main cast at the time. OAD episodes like these are dicey in getting pickups and I’m still surprised that Kodansha USA not only was able to do but chose to do it. Admittedly, I’m still hoping something can be worked out with Funimation as well because they need a collection of them in high definition and dubbed for the fans. But being able to get the OAD here and enjoy it in the meantime – in a very affordable way overall – is definitely a good thing. With a list price of $20 with the manga included in the bundle, it’s definitely worth exploring.
With this episode going back a good ways here, what we get is something that’s definitely intriguing. Levi was certainly the breakout character in the second half of the series, commanding quite the following with his deadpan style and focus, so digging into his time before he became a part of the Scout Regiment adds a lot of value. Particularly since, at least for me, it introduces something wholly new that I don’t recall from the TV series in that there’s an entire underground city within the walls. It’s here that an immigration plan failed and instead turned into a place where few people are able to escape and even if they do, the city above rejects them eventually as overstaying their welcome. With a lack of sunlight and illnesses that comes from all of that, the underground city has a real sense of desperation and a different kind of insecurity about it that really is striking.
It’s here that Levi has been with his friend Farlan where they worked as thieves to earn money and survive. They had the mobile gear themselves, something that let them stand out even more and accomplish things, but it also gave them a reputation. The episode plays a flashback within as it shows us how he and Farlan ended up with Isabel in their group and the kind of tight bonds that formed between all of them as she learned and trained. It’s an indication of where Levi can go, which is reinforced when the job they have goes bad later on and the Scout Regiment is sent in to acquire them. The first meeting between Levi and Erwin says so much about their dynamic in the years to come and it all works to establish more of the man he’ll be and why he does what he does. It’s not deep or full of exposition and instead works on things simply being inferred, which works better in the long run here.
With this being the first of two parts, No Regrets does the heavy lifting of setting up a new location, introducing the core characters, and going for some action. It’s structure is a little awkward but works well once you step back from it and the animation itself is pretty strong, making for an engaging experience – even if Levi is a character that’s hard to connect with because of his personality. There’s a lot to like with this in what it brings to the surface with Levi and the others and it still has another episode to go in exploring it. Definitely fun and adds a couple of new elements to the larger narrative that I like.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Running Time: 23 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.