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Yukikaze Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Yukikaze PackagingWhat is needed most for this war? Machines or mankind?

What They Say
Yukikaze is a masterfully told science fiction tale combined with breathtaking aerial animation that will keep you on the edge of your seats! Based on the award-winning novels “Yukikaze” and “Good Luck”, Yukikaze tells the story of Rei Fukai, a young man who trusts his advanced armed tactical reconnaissance plane, Yukikaze, more than he does his fellow man. He comes into contact with the alien force known as JAM while gathering military data on board his beloved aircraft. JAM, showing interest in Rei and Yukikaze, begins to wage fierce battles against mankind with every means conceivable. Before long JAM begins to launch an all-out attack upon the Fairy Air Force!

The Review:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in the English dub. There are two language tracks on this disc and they both sound great. The Japanese 5.1 language sounds very crisp and clear. The English 5.1 sounded pretty crisp and clear with no dropouts or distortions. The English dub cast was very solid and did a decent job of portraying the characters. However, the Japanese cast seemed to be a bit more convincing and dramatic in their portrayal of the main characters. The sound effects from the fighter planes, JAM, battles, etc… was spectacular. The surround sound effects that came out of my television set were nothing like I have ever experienced. My standard TV setup does not allow me to enjoy the true surround experience, but it sure felt like I had one when watching this series. Yukikaze sounds fantastic, offers a compelling listening experience, and has two TrueHD tracks that will appeal to the dub fan and sub fan alike. The song RTB that resounds throughout the show is a very memorable song that further characterizes Yukikaze and leaves you with a melancholic reflection about the story every time you hear it.

Yukikaze is a horse of a different color in the Blu-ray world of high definition video. The original animation was created in standard definition, which means that it is going to appear in a letterbox frame of 4×3 on your HD TV. Of course, this means that the original footage had to be upconverted to 1080i resolution. Unfortunately, the transfer fails to best other high definition anime releases on the market. With that in mind, this is not something as bad as one would think. The disc was created from the original digital source materials, which means every ounce of detail from the original source is represented and preserved without any compression as one would find in a standard DVD release. Yukikaze’s video footage does appear soft and a little dull. Sometimes you can really see the lines losing their definition. However, the video footage certainly looks better than any upconverting I’ve seen to date. On the bright side of things, the added bandwidth means that compression macro blocking and splotchiness is significantly reduced to a minimum. That’s not to say that there are times where you can see some artifacting, source noise, and sometimes a bit of aliasing.

Hands down, this is the best 480p I have seen on a Blu-ray release and is a definite upgrade in video quality as compared to the previous Yukikaze releases.

Disc 3 contains the extras footage that comes with this collection. The Yukikaze Experimental Movie gives you a taste of what Yukikaze would really look like in full HD glory as it is in full widescreen format. That footage looks great and hopefully will give us a taste of what’s to come if there any further Yukiaxe projects in the future.

Yukikaze’s packaging for this release is in a heavy chipboard box. The front side features Jack and Rei with an image of the FFR-41 MR MAVE version of Yukikaze stretching from the spine and around to the back side of the box. The top if the box features the Fairy Air Force logo. The spine of the box also features the Yukikaze kanji.

Unlike many box set releases, the backside does not provide any details about the show. This information is provided on a removable paper ribbon that wraps around the bottom of the box.

The cases for discs 1 and 2 feature Jack and Rei on them respectively. Disc three has widescreen depictions of Yukikaze on other military aircraft on it. I assume that disc three’s design it for drawing your attention to the true HD content in this collection. Each DVD uses the Fairy Air Force logo as the disc art. Each DVD case provides the technical specs for the show.

The menus for the Yukikaze discs are pretty standard and easy to navigate through. No looping music or animation is found on the menus. The main menu for each disc is the same with the Yukikaze kanji centered on the screen with the menu options listed at the bottom. The menus were easy and simple to navigate.

The extras for this release include:

6-minute Yukikaze Experimental Movie
More like a movie trailer, this is a nice extra that shows you what Yukikaze would really look like if it were mastered in 1080i. It left me wondering if there will be a true remastered version of this created in 1080. This presentation really shined and looked awesome.

28-minute feature “Aircrafts in YUKIKAZE from pilot’s eyes”
This extra was pretty cool to watch a former Japanese F-15 pilot compares and contrasts Yukikaze with his experiences. The pilot provided some great insight into the physics and convincing animation that was used in many of the flight sequences. He also pointed out what appears to be realistic and is truly fiction. His insight added further emphasis on the care and detail that the animation crew put into the flight and combat scenes.

20-page full-color SAF Flight Manual
Yukikaze can be a bit confusing at first when watching it for the first. At all costs, avoid reading this manual as it reveals a lot of major spoilers. On the flip side, this is a great addendum to the series as it helps you connect with some of the story concepts that you might have missed. Drooling over the combat scenes can cause you to forget about the story; this is where the manual comes in handy.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Based on a popular science fiction works of Chōhei Kanbayashi, Yukikaze was produced in commemoration of Bandai Visual’s 20th anniversary. Kanbayashi is well known for his highly intellectual and engaging science fiction stories. Originally airing in 2002, Sentou Yousei Yukikaze occurs in the near future where an alien force known as the JAM have invaded the Earth through a dimensional portal that appeared over Antarctica.

To combat the JAM threat, the United Nations created a defense force to oppose the intruders, managing to push the enemy back to the other side of the portal. Securing the earth side of the portal has been left up to the UN while the other side, on a planet named “Fairy”, is left to the Fairy Air Force. The earth is safe and the JAM threat is unseen. However, the battle still rages on as the Fairy Air Force continuously engages the JAM on Fairy.

The main character, Rei Fukai, pilots the Super Sylph B-503 fighter, nicknamed “Yukikaze”. Yukikaze is an advanced armed tactical reconnaissance plane equipped with a near-sentient AI computer system. Yukikaze belongs to the Special Air Force (SAF), the strategic recon wing of Fairy Air Force (FAF). After one mission, B-503 and crew encountered what appears to be a friendly Super Sylph. Yukikaze immediately assumes control from Rei and shoots down the other aircraft.

The opening sequences for Yukikaze are really intriguing as it places the viewer right in the middle of the action and events that have lead up to the Fairy Air Force’s involvement with the JAM. Very little detail and background is revealed from the beginning which would have been OK if the plot would have been richer throughout the remaining episodes. Yukikaze has the making of a great story but fails to connect the viewer with the plight of the main characters.
Rei is not fit the mold for your typical fighter pilot as he is very introverted and self-absorbed. Diagnosed as having a tendency toward social rejection, he seldom shows interest in any objects other than B-503 “Yukikaze”. He also tends to be very enamored with Yukikaze as if it were a real person. Rei’s plight in this series often makes you feel sorry for him and feel as though he were suffering from either social anxiety or depression.

Jack Bukhar’s role was never explained, but it is assumed that he is the commander of 5th Squadron “Boomerang”, Special Air Force, to which Fukai and Yukikaze were assigned. He is Rei’s only true friend. They seem to have a strong bond that is never really explained which has often lead viewers to wonder if that relationship was more than just friendship. Perhaps the 5th squadron was named by Jack, but a prominent theme with him is his interest in boomerangs.

I really wanted to like Yukikaze as it was engaging and fun to watch. The aerial combat sequences are among the best I have ever seen. The combat was convincing, engaging, and thrilling. In hindsight, perhaps this is what contributed to the plot not meshing together. The overarching plot of the story seems to focus on the JAM’s ability to mimic humans in form and function thus, confusing the Fairy Air Force from determining the true enemy. Yukikaze seems to be the only person/thing to distinguish a JAM from a human.

Unfortunately, the plot will leave you wanting to know more about who and what Yukikaze is and the bond between it and Rei. This is never really explained but is strongly implied as it sometimes appears as if Yukikaze is able to communicate with Rei beyond just simple on-screen commands from within the cockpit. Even more mysterious is Jack and Rei’s relationship as it is never really reconciled nor explained.

The weak plot leaves the viewer wondering what the story was all about. Is it about the war with the JAM? Is it about Rei and Yukikaze? Is it about Rei and Jack? These questions are never really answered when the final credits roll. Perhaps this is better explained in Chōhei Kanbayashi’s written works.

Action, convincing characters, and an engaging plot are prime ingredients for a great anime feature. Yukikaze contains those essential ingredients, but like a cake that is baked too fast, this story is a bit gooey in the middle. Yukikaze’s outer appearance begs you to anticipate a very attractive, compelling, and engaging story. However, after the first couple of bites, you’ll be dissatisfied when it fails to meet those expectations. Mildly recommended.

Japanese 5.1 TrueHD Language,English 5.1 TrueHD Language,English Subtitles,6-minute Yukikaze Experimental Movie, 28-minute feature “Aircrafts in YUKIKAZE from pilot’s eyes”, 20-page full color SAF Flight Manual,Deluxe packaging: An exclusively designed gorgeous box with outer Box illustration: original work by Yumi Tada (character design) and inner Jacket illustration: original works by Kohichi Hashimoto (animation character design)

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

Released By: Bandai Visual USA
Release Date: April 8th, 2008
MSRP: $149.98
Running Time: 186 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080i AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

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