What They Say:
The destruction of a cruise ship leaves thousands dead, but the body count is only beginning. As researchers try to make sense of the strange new fish and insects appearing around the world, scientist Rurika Yuno and the N.I.D.F. attempt to track down the source of the mutation, a mysterious artifact called the Book of The Dead. When the Book is finally located, all Hell breaks loose. Literally. As swarms of hellspawned fireflies and giant unearthly creatures attack mercilessly across the planet, Rurika is forced to use the Book to resurrect her dead lover, fighter pilot Aiba Shu. But can even humanity’s last desperate line of defense – the Necrodiver – defeat an ancient evil whose only goal is to exterminate all mankind? The final war has begun!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as the only one, encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. With a show that’s essentially non-stop action, the sound design is solid enough as there’s generally plenty going on during those sequences across the forward soundstage. They may not leap out in a huge way but it’s quite well done with movement and placement hitting key marks and giving it all a bit more impact. Dialogue is a lot simpler overall without a lot of necessary work in the placement side of it but the show does come across in a clean and clear fashion with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-six episode series is spread across four discs with the main show on the first three while the fourth has the OVA and three of the episodes with their on-air version. Animated by Satelight, the show has a really strong first and maybe second episode in terms of design and animation quality before it turns into more of a middling project for the rest of it – the OVA excluded. The show has a kind of standard animation design to it that gives things a bit of a flat look that doesn’t do it any favors. The encoding captures the look of the show pretty well, especially since it’s done in kind of washed out colors for a lot of it, and it maintains a clean and solid look. There aren’t any noticeable issues with the video presentation as it captures the look of it without any noise or breakup in the solid color fields nor any line noise.
The packaging for this release comes in a thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds the four discs on hinges. The front cover works a familiar visual of the main cast spread around looking upward while the villainous side is shaded into the background along with one of the planes. THe logo is kept to the top but it’s done up in a font that makes it near unreadable for a good part of it with what’s included. I mean, I know what it was because I’ve written about it over the years but showing it to someone non-anime savvy and they eventually figured out the planet side and the engage aspect. The back cover draws in a bit from the front cover and puts the summary of the premises along the right in an easy to read form. The episode count and disc count is clearly listed as are the extras while the remainder breaks out the production credits and the technical grid in a simple and accurate way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release goes simple but with just enough to stand out and feel unique. The design is a split screen one where the left side has the episodes by number and title under the logo where It has a decent look to it so that it changes up slightly as you make your selections. The right side uses different pieces of artwork for each disc that either gives it a distinctive feeling or uses some good character artwork for it. With no language selection and the extras kept to later discs, they’re pretty simple menus overall and easy to navigate for what little you need to do with it.
The extras for this release are pretty minimal as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with some of the Japanese commercials and promo spots. The set also comes with the on-air versions of several episodes as part of the fourth disc and I’m glad they were included for those that deep dive on such things, but they were of complete non-interest to me.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work that ran in the spring and summer seasons of 2007, KISSDUM-R Engage Planet is a twenty-six episode series that has been fairly controversial over the years. It was originally picked up for license by Bandai Visual USA before they shut down and it’s been more of a show talked about than anything else. And the reason for that from what I’ve been able to glean is that it “lost” its director early on and nobody knew what the plan was once that happened. The result is a show that has no path, no real plot points that get hit, no development of characters, and no idea of what it wants to be. It’s a confused mess that I don’t think I’ve seen the likes of before and it left me wondering why the whole project simply wasn’t pulled when all the things that went wrong early on happened.
The premise is that something was discovered in 2013 when a cruise ship wrecks with no survivors (that will factor into it later, not that it matters) before shifting to twenty years later as the world is about to suddenly end. An ancient evil that predates mankind has resurfaced and is now ravaging the world and throwing it into chaos and destruction because nothing seems to make an impact on them. The bulk of what we see initially are fly-like creatures called Beelzeb’s that swarm about and that takes out huge chunks of the population around the world. The mightiest of weapons and aircraft can’t make a dent and they’re fairly well taken out too. The threat, known as Hadeans, have no true central villain that gives their side anything to work with (there is one, but she’s poorly used and it doesn’t give you a more traditional side to work with and understand). To combat this as humanity’s numbers dwindle, the NIDF is formed and there’s a range of scientists and military types that are a part of it.
The series opens on a very chaotic episode that’s essentially all action. From a visual perspective, it’s one that works well as it’s beautifully animated and has a lot of intensity to it. The downside is that it does very little to draw you into the characters and that isn’t rectified as it goes on. The ostensible main character of Shu Aiba, who we follow as he tries to do right by the professor that he had a crush on that died early on, gets what feels like the same amount of development as fellow NIDF member also named Shu that died early on but gets a second chance later in the series. The main Shu gets put on the mission of helping the professor’s younger sister, Yuno, to try and find the Book of the Dead that was being searched for prior to the event as it would help in dealing with fighting back against the Hadeans.
Really, though, it’s just a bunch of bullshit. This show really felt a lot like a bunch of old 80’s anime series where it’s filled with one-off episodes as a group moves about and deals with all sorts of attacks and in the moment characters before moving on with little really changing. The cast expands a bit with who Shu is with but none of them feel formed at all. And most of each episode felt like it was just about the survival/action aspects and a lack of context to how everything is happening. Perhaps it’s wanting a bit more from a series about the end of the world and just how disastrous it would be, but KISSDUM doesn’t manage to engage the basics here with it. With the idea that there was at best a flimsy plan to this once the original director left, who was also the writer on it, And I like Yasuchika Nagaoka because Godannar was a hell of a lot of fun when he did that a few years before this. This project felt like after he left after the first episode they just extended the action from that for three or four more episodes while trying to figure out what to do as a story. And they never found their footing which resulted in this disaster of a series. The show, especially in marathon form, becomes a kind of oppressive force of action and more action with character designs and “plot” movements that make no sense as we get humanity trying to not become extinct.
That’s eleven hours of my life I won’t get back.
With the series almost moving into the territory of myth and legend, I’m glad that it got licensed and those that are interested in it can actually own it. There are some decent technical aspects along the way but nothing as good as the first episode. The characters aren’t even paper thin and the plot is even thinner. It’s a familiar idea that’s simply poorly executed from start to finish and I don’t think it achieves a single goal beyond leaving the viewer frustrated and/or angry.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Commercials & Promos, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: D
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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.