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Birth Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Few things encapsulates 80’s anime than this series does.

What They Say
Aqualoid was a prosperous planet, but an attack from a mysterious life force, the Inorganics, transforms it into a post-apocalyptic shell of its former self. When Nam finds a mysterious sword, he is suddenly the object of a planet-wide chase. With the Inorganics closing in, will Nam and his friends discover the secret of the sword and save their world? Or will they destroy Aqualoid in favor of a new Birth?

The Review!
Audio: 
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps while the English dub, new to this release at the time, was done up in a 5.1 format at 448kbps. The feature has a pretty standard stereo mix but considering its age and origins, it doesn’t exactly do much more than feel like a split mono track giving a full performance. Directionality is minimal in what’s done here but overall the track sounds decent enough. The English mix is more marketing than functionality in 5.1 but it does provide for the new cast to do a bit more placement and to have some greater clarity overall with what it does. Dialogue is clean and clear and there were not dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video: 
Originally out in the mid-1980’s, the project is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. It’s definitely a product of its times and the transfer has suffered a bit over the years. The biggest problem people will have is the amount of dirt and scratches on the transfer that is visible throughout. Some are worse than others, but when combined with the film grain from this time period it’s a show that’s definitely looking like it’s twenty years old. Some of the backgrounds, such as the space shots early on, showcase some macroblocking and you can see some shiftiness in some of the blue sky backgrounds. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and aliasing is fairly minimal in general.

Packaging: 
Providing an interesting almost half-complete feel to the illustration, the front cover has character shots of most of the cast in various action poses. Some of it looks good, some of it looks just too rough but in the end it feels incomplete. The back cover provides a few shots from the show meshed together as a collage with a surrounding summary that basically tells you the entire plot. The discs features and technical information are easy to read but the release avoids having the standard technical grid. Surprisingly, no insert was included in this release.

Menu: 
While not the bare bones style of some past releases, the menus here are definitely the kind that makes you realize that they weren’t intent on putting in too much time on this title. With simple mono-color backgrounds and various windows used through to hold parts from the show, it’s a basic design with no real imagination to it. It’s decent but it’s the kind that just lets you know where the title must rank. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players default language selections.

Extras: 
The only included extra is a production sketch video gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Birth is the kind of movie where halfway through it you realize that you are indeed halfway through it and nothing that’s come before has really made any sort of sense or progressed anywhere. Not only do you wonder what the animators were smoking but wonder if something is supposed to be included in the case.

The plot is actually really simple. It’s some time after a particular war on a planet and there are few survivors from it. A race called the Inorganics have spread throughout the galaxy on their mission to eliminate all organic life. A lot of them are currently in the area where the series lead characters are. A couple of them are on their way to the planet as they’re chasing a huge energy sword that’s seemingly created out of one of the planets. Their journey takes them back to their own world where they meet up with their friends, the hot looking Rasa and her male friend Nam. They’re helped by a cute goo-ball that gets them both in and out of trouble. The Inorganics are hot on the trail of the energy sword as it’s supposedly one of the things that can stop them from taking over the universe and eliminating life for good. So when the sword falls into Nam’s hands, it’s a non-stop chase sequence between the two sides.

Literally. That’s the bulk of the show. There’s some dialogue here and there about how to deal with the bad guys and their big robots that roam the planet looking for them and any other signs of life, but it is otherwise one big chase sequence. There are some really good moments where the minimalist designs work really well, such as Rasa’s early on sequences where she’s being chased on her skimmer and it just keeps going and going, aided by her being in a simple red-type bodysuit with a helmet. The backgrounds go with the old style busy line work and the sky is a simple blue and her animation is minimal, but it pulls together nicely there and during a few other chase sequences.

But as it goes on and on, it really does drag as they keep trying to avoid bigger and bigger Inorganics. With the Inorganics being just that, they’re kept as lifeless machines with little personality that only chase them. While some of the designs are interesting, they aren’t threatening in any way really either. So as the crew deals with being chased and searching out older weapons from the previous war, there isn’t much in the way of interesting dialogue or anything else other search, run, search and conclude. The conclusion makes sense in its own weird way and was only interesting in that they actually deviated from what made up the other 99% of the film.

About the only thing that had me laughing throughout the show was just how off a lot of the lip flaps were in Japanese. While this isn’t new in general and it’s more common in older shows, this one really takes the cake in the amount of time and times where a character has their lips flapping and no dialogue coming out of them. It gets progressively better as the show goes on, but those early moments are priceless. And dialogue-free.

In Summary: 
I had never heard of the show before it was licensed and can’t imagine there being too much of a fan base for it but it was interesting to see. It felt more like an experimental animation film from the 80’s that we saw here in the US more than an anime show itself between some of the visuals and the minimalist designs and dialogue. With little to the show itself, it’s hard to find anything to recommend unless you’re a fan of chase scenes and want an entire feature that’s based around it. In fact, it’s hard to find anything positive say about it at all other than maybe it’s great for insomnia.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Art gallery

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

Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: July 13th, 2004
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
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.

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