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 Paolo Rivera)!
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 and Erwin with different dark and intense looks about them that has an almost grayscale or sepia approach to the color palette. 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 tje character artwork 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)
While I hadn’t read, well, any of the manga for Attack on Titan, I enjoyed the first part of this story adaptation that we got a few months ago. Levi quickly turned into a fan favorite when he appeared in the TV series and had a solid following from the manga prior to that. Once you cross the threshold from one to the other, however, it takes on its own life. Exploring Levi’s past with the others that are essentially family to him worked to give him a bit more humanity while still making it clear that who he is in the present has largely been who he’s always been. Plus, we got to explore the underground side of the city, something that I don’t think I was fully cognizant of being a thing based on only watching the TV series previously.
With the second half of the story here we get to see more of what the trio are like now that they’ve been brought to the surface. With Lovof having made plans with them for their stay here if they kill Erwin, as he views Erwin and the expeditions as a threat to his power, the group is all on board to do this and are just looking for the right time. And it’s not hard for them to maintain that desire as once they’re placed within the forces here they find themselves being ridden pretty hard with what it means to be a soldier. It’s something that works well as it drives up their intensity and it gets them to act and perform better than everyone else too, since they can’t stand to be thought of as inferior after all that they’ve been through. Their motivations are simple but well captured here as they bide their time.
Naturally, the best opportunity is on a scouting mission since there are a lot of things going on. But it’s amusing to watch as they really begin to grasp what being on the surface is like as well as outside of the city walls. That pales next to their first encounter with the titans, however, and they find themselves really going at it. Though they perform above expectation to be sure, it’s a situation where they’re not soldiers and don’t grasp the larger picture – and how to protect the force as a whole. So it’s little surprise that as it progresses we see things go worse and the expected tragedy arrives that more firmly puts Levi on the path that we know from the present day storytelling. While you know where it’ll end up and largely how, it’s well executed here in watching the hard and harsh moments play out and how Levi copes with it. Particularly since it’s very strikingly animated with some real quality on the screen to give it more impact.
While it probably works better watching the two episodes together, the back half of the No Regrets story plays out pretty well. I like what we get to explore with Levi and his friends as they experience more of the surface world, pro and con, as well as getting into what it’s like outside of the walls. The Lovof material feels a bit weak as it doesn’t have enough meat of material to work with but you get the trappings and structure that lets it work as needed to tell the tale. The big win is the action side when the force makes its way out as we see some good fighting with titans and the realization for all three of these new members of just what it is they’re up against. I’m definitely glad Kodansha was able to bring these over as they add some very welcome color to the main property itself, but I’m still hopeful that we can see proper bilingual Blu-ray releases some day in association with Funimation.
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: August 2nd, 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.