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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars Complete Series
Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars Complete Series
Right Stuf // Unrated // March 12, 2013
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 2, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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Shingu


Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars
is surprisingly one of the more under-appreciated anime series to find a release in North America in the past several years. This is an anime that focuses mostly on character development and that doesn't simply strive to emphasize one action sequence after another to ordinary results. Many anime series spend too much time focusing on the action and to such great lengths as to eventually become uninvolving and uninteresting. Anime fans who prefer having better storytelling and character development will find both aspects are crucial to Shingu, which also tells a complete and well rounded story -- one that takes a viewing of the entire series to appreciate.

The story focuses on a Japanese community where a lot of strange things start to happen. Tokyo has an alien space-ship that is sighted floating above the city and it isn't long before it's confirmed that aliens are on earth. Hajime Murata, a rather intelligent student attending Misumaru school begins to notice students who seem to have special powers. Everyone at this school in Tenmo is talking about aliens and space. The student clubs begin to discuss what the future might hold if people and aliens are living together. Could these students need to protect our planet from aliens or is a peaceful coexistence what lies in the future? The students of Misumaru will have a long journey ahead of them as they work together to find out for themselves, and Hajime Murata will have the most fascinating moments ahead as he seems connected to all the events and people involved in this alien business that has been affecting his small town called Tenmo.


Tatsuo Sato brings the series a pacing that is often slow but always thoroughly interesting, because the characters are more important to the storytelling by being given enough time to become unique. Sato seems to have learned something from the works of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki: Story and Character are the elements most needed to make audiences care about the overall filmmaking experience. The series manages to be a unique blend of sci-fi action and personal drama with the skill that is rarely seen in short form storytelling. Shingu is one of the more compelling anime series to tell a story-arc with only 26 episodes.

The animation is well produced and there are many moments with captivating imagery of the wonderful landscapes - the beautiful trees, the green grassy lands, and the bright blue sky. The designs for the sci-fi elements are also particularly effective with interesting art used for the space portions and the uniquely staged battles (which are sparingly used but well crafted in this series). Character designs many not reach the heights of the greatest anime series to be produced but they are also far from bland either and these manage to make a lasting impression by being well made for each character. That is an impressive element. The bulk of the visually artistic choices made for Shingu become important and easily notable in a variety of ways.

Music plays an important part in the series as well. The opening theme to the series was the perfect way to help introduce the idea of the show having a greater focus on character and quietly reflective moments - which would become an essential element used throughout the entire series. The music created a sense of tranquility that was quite beautiful and moving, far more so than expected, and it helped to create the right kind of mood for each episode.

The overwhelming positive reaction to Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars was pleasantly surprising. The completed story arc was satisfying for viewers who followed the entire series. Animation was consistently beautiful and well done. Characters were important. This is a worthwhile show that is still deserving of finding more of an audience to enjoy it's unique story and universe.

The DVD:


Video:

Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars is presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1:33:1 full frame. The source material used seems as though it could be slightly dated. Colors appear to be slightly faded, but they are still impressive for an older anime series. The black levels are not that strong though and this was one of the more easily noticeable drawbacks to the overall transfer. There seems to be some inherent softness to the image but this is still a reasonably sharp and clean looking image. The picture quality isn't perfect but it's difficult to imagine the overall quality disappointing viewers. Owners of the original 2007 DVD release of this anime series should expect similar (if not identical) picture quality and are not encouraged to upgrade.

Audio:

The audio is available in 2.0 for both the original Japanese language dub and the English language dub. Either option provided a pleasing audio experience with good directionality, and impressive clarity for both music and dialogue. It would have been nice to hear a 5.1 surround sound mix for such an impressive anime series but given that the 2.0 tracks are true to the source material it's hard to be that bothered by the lack of one. Subtitles are included in English for viewing with the Japanese dub and in English for the Japanese text (and this option can be experienced while viewing with either the Japanese or English dub). The voice acting was impressive for both the English and Japanese dub yet for this series the English dub surprised by being somewhat more enjoyable than the original language track.

Extras:

Shingu only includes a small selection of extra materials. Each disc in the set includes some character bios, a line art gallery, original production notes, English production notes, and a selection of RightStuf trailers for other anime DVD releases. The final disc also includes the opening as a textless version.

Final Thoughts:

Shingu was a unique anime experience from beginning to end. Director Tatsuo Sato cared far more about developing interesting characters and having a consistent storyline with an impressive ending than on trying to make a more standard sci-fi action series. This helped to make it an especially worthwhile series that can stand out from the crowd as something worth celebrating.

This re-release box-set contains the entire series in one 14 mm 5-disc case that is more manageable space-wise when compared to the art-box release given to the series before. The DVD discs inside of the case are identical to the previous edition, but you lose the fancier packaging and a booklet containing production notes, mini comics, and an interview with series director Tatsuo Sato. On the positive-side, you gain plenty of shelf-space and you get a quality anime series for a good price. The DVD release features good enough PQ/AQ, and a small selection of extras. The high quality of this series makes this easy to recommend to anime fans looking for something more character-based and with a slower pace. This overlooked series deserves a wider audience. Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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