What They Say:
The world, as Hajime Murata knew it, is about to be turned upside down. First, an alien ship appears over Tokyo. Then a mysterious, new student ” wearing an ancient school uniform ” transfers to his school. The student’s name is Muryou, and with his arrival, everything begins to change.
Classmates suddenly begin to display psychic powers. A giant white guardian faces off with alien creatures in the skies over their town. And men with threatening weapons lurk in the shadows of the school’s campus.
With all these strange events taking place around him, Hajime is determined to figure out the truth about the world he thought he already knew. His story is a tale of aliens and humans, starships and spies, and friends who are often more than they appear to be. Join Hajime as he discovers the mysteries of SHINGU!
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this collection in English. The track sounds solid with no noticeable dropouts or distortions. The musical score was an interesting choice. There was some reflection by the reviewer if it had been heard before, once, in an elevator, but overall it fits the overall mood and culture represented in the series. It can also be taken as an occasional source of irony.
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame 4:3 aspect ratio. Being a Madhouse produced show, the animation in here is really quite attractive and smooth throughout. Sometimes it feels as though you are watching a Studio Ghibli production in how there is so much detail in the background. The transfer in general is average with some noticeable aliasing, random artifacts, and a little cross-coloration. The opening and closing sequences are done with alternate angles so that one of them has the original Japanese logo and credits while the other has fully translated credits and English language production information.
The thinpack collection box houses five discs along with the special 42 page booklet. The box is attractively assembled with a wrap-around image of the main characters set onto a black background. The front side of the box features Hajime and his sister Futuba along with Setsuna. Wrapping around the spine and towards the backside of the box is Nayuta and Muryou. The individual cases feature different images of the main characters on the front with a brief description of the episodes on the back.
The menu layout is designed the same as the front cover of the individual cases. The layout is simple and easy to use with no navigational quirks and features an easy way to move between episodes in the scene selection area.
The extras provided with this collection are essential to gaining a full understanding of the story. The masterful twists, curves, ups, and downs of the plot can make it difficult for the viewer to follow. Right Stuff has included what I call “just-in-time character bios” that are included with the extras on each disc. These types of extras give the viewer just the right amount of information about a character without giving the whole show away. This helped us out a lot as there are many characters and many subplots. The 42 page booklet included in this collection also helps the viewer gain a deeper appreciation for the Director’s (Tatsu Sato) attention to detail and Japanese culture. The extras are essential to understanding and gaining a greater appreciation for this unique show.
Suddenly all the electronic-based devices and machines in Tokyo are disrupted, and turn off as a strange object appears over part of the city. Sitting on the edge of a building near the event, a young man in a school uniform watches the alien ship with his grandfather. Another unidentified object quickly emerges from the sky and destroys the alien ship into thousands of cherry blossoms. The young man, Muryou Subaru, and his grandfather seem completely unaffected by the sight as they eat their packed lunches. Their reactions and the opening scenes introduce the first of many subplots hidden in mystery of Shingu.
So begins the story as the perspective of the story quickly changes from the young man in the uniform to a soon-to-be good friend, Hajime Murata. The story-line changes as Muryou and his family move to Tenmo. Muryou goes to his first day at school, but he does not go unnoticed. A ripple effect begins and Muryou soon finds himself in a fight with another student, Kyoichi Moriguchi, on the top of the school building. The fight catches the eye of Muryou’s fellow classmate, Hajime, who climbs to the roof as well. Hajime feels responsible for Muryou as his class representative to the student council, but he gets an eye-full of abilities he didn’t know existed.
Hajime’s reaction to the new experience is not one of being overcome or scared, but rather tempered curiosity, which seems to be the general reaction of most of the characters throughout the series. The rest of the cast is soon introduced, as we become aware of a mystery within the town of Tenmo. We find ourselves immersed in Hajime’s perspective as the events unfold to reveal more and more of the town’s past and secrets. Beginning with his knowledge of Muryou, the story soon takes in the entire student council, classmates, and eventually numerous individuals in the community of Tenmo.
Tenmo is found to have powers and truths that may protect or destroy the entire solar system. It is here that we discover that an intergalactic struggle between two factions has continued for more than a millennia, with Earth hanging in the balance. The strength of the individuals in the town forged through the burden of the Shingu, and the bonds of true friendship may eventually be the deciding factor for life as we all know it.
Enjoy the development of numerous characters in a somewhat familiar but very fresh storyline. This series does an excellent job of holding a viewer’s interest by keeping the element of mystery until the final curtain. When that veil is finally lifted, many questions are answered, but as in any good story the director continues to let us mull a few things over in our minds after the credits roll. As the saying goes, still waters, and a little elevator music, can run deep in a good story writer’s hands.
Shingu is definitely an exhibition in the masterful art of Japanese storytelling. The intricate balance of plots and subplots are slowly revealed throughout each episode and is brought to a climatic ending that will satisfy the biggest otaku and sci-fi nut. As a result, Shingu demands a second viewing just to gain a greater appreciation for the storytelling and to pick up on the subplot points that the viewer may have missed the first time through. Bottom line, this is a sleeper hit that is a “must get” for every anime fan out there.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character bios, Line art galleries, Original production notes, Textless opening and closing, Special 44-page booklet
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: April 24th, 2007
Running Time: 650 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 HDMI Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.