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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Yukikaze - Danger Zone (Vol. 1)
Yukikaze - Danger Zone (Vol. 1)
Bandai // Unrated // February 17, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 19, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
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The Show:

Some of the most interesting animation to come out of Japan in the last couple of years has been produced by Gonzo Digimation.  This was the team responsible for Blue Submarine No. 6 which was released here a few years ago, and Last Exile, the first volume of which has just come out.  Their newest animation, Yukikaze, continues to utilize more standard animation techniques and CGI effects while blending the two seamlessly.

Over 30 years ago, an alien race, the Jemm, attacked the earth.  They created a portal over Antarctica from where they launched their invasion.  The United Forces of Earth fought back with high tech fighter planes.  One of those planes, the Yukikaze, is a very fast high altitude jet piloted by Rei Fukai.  Rei's job is to monitor and photograph aerial battles, but not to take part in them.  The tapes he makes are presumably used to analyze the enemy's tactics.  While returning from a mission, Rei encounters an unidentified plane that is exactly like his.  He can not make radio contact.  Something strange happens to Yukikaze's on board computer, as if someone was trying to hack into it.  The radar display identifies the unknown plane as a hostile, and Rei, following Yukikaze's advice rather than the evidence of his eyes, shoots it down.  No wreckage is found.

Since the plane was never identified, Rei is grounded while an investigation is carried out.  This causes him to brood and become depressed.  He talks about how Yukikaze is the only one he can trust, and how much the plane means to him.  Soon he's flying again, and the plane seems to share a bond with Rei.  It gives him advice during fights and control keeps flipping back between the computer and Rei.  But when the Yukikaze is fitted with a system that allows it to fly without a pilot, Rei goes almost catatonic, and Yukikaze, in a break from it's programming, fires upon some United Forces planes that it has identifies as the Jemm.  Have the Jemm succeeded in infiltrating the Earth forces, or has the plane gone rouge?

This DVD contains the first two episodes in a five part OVA series.  The animation is absolutely stunning.  From the air rippling in the heat of a jet's exhaust, to a missile's vapor trail, every detail has been carefully animated.  The CGI effects are meshed perfectly with the traditional animation to create an amazing world.  The futuristic plane designs are dazzling, as are the battle scenes.

If the show has a fault, it is that the plot is a little confusing.  They play with non-linear story telling, so I'm not sure when the saga takes place.  At the beginning of the show it is stated that the Jemm attacked and were repelled 33 years ago.  Then it cuts to a battle scene.  Is this taking place in the past or present?  I'm also not sure if Yukikaze is supposed to have an artificial intelligence on board, or if it's computer somehow gained sentience.  Events like these make the show somewhat hard to follow.

Another point of contention I have is that there are only two episodes on this DVD.  The first one runs 45 minutes, and the second one 30.  With a retail price of $30, I was expecting more than 1 ¼ hours worth of episodes.  While I realize that OVAs, and animation in general, cost more in Japan than in the US, this is still a lot to pay.
 


The DVD:


Audio:

You can listen to this show in the original Japanese, or with an English dub.  Both languages come with a stereo or 5.1 mix.  There are English subtitles.

The five channel mix is excellent.  One of the best I've heard.  Missiles launch from behind you and zoom to the front of the room.  Planes swoosh from left to right engulfing you in sound.  But the best part is that the audio doesn't collapse to a mono or stereo track when there is not a lot of action going on.  The full soundstage is used throughout the show.  A very impressive mix that is reference quality.  A great disc to show off your sound system.

Video:

The video, as mentioned in the body of the review, is exceptional.  The lines are crisp and clear, and there is no aliasing, which plagues a lot of animation.  There is an interesting color pallet used, mostly greens and grays.  Dark colors.  A lot of the scenes are realistically dark, but it does make details a little hard to discern.  The dark palate does  make it all the more impressive when the brightly lit flame from the back of a missile zooms onto the screen.  A really nice looking DVD.

The Extras:

This disc has a very good set of extras.

Yukikaze Making Report:  A half hour behind the scenes documentary.  There is no narration (or English dub, though there are subtitles) to this.  Just a series of clips of the creators at work.  It starts out with the director and animators taking a tour of an air base.  They ask a lot of questions and the director ends up taking a short ride in a jet.  Next there are shots of the animators working at their computers, and talking about the animation.  They show the voice actors dubbing their lines, and it contains a short interview with some of the cast.  The last segment, and the most interesting, is with the writer who originally penned the story over 20 years ago.  This whole report didn't really excite me.  The lack of narration to tie the scenes together gave this extra a haphazard feel.  Like they threw some footage together and slapped it on the disc.

Mission Briefing:  A text piece on the background to the show.  This does flesh out the show a little, but I feel that a successful show shouldn't have to explain things in a text file.

Glossary:  A rather complete glossary of terms and acronyms used in the show.

Technical Data Files:  Another text piece that gives technical data about the Yukikaze.  I wasn't really wondering what the width was or what type of engine it had, but if those questions ever bother me, now I know where I can find the answers.

Trailers:  Witch Hunter Robin, Infinite Ryvius, and S-Cry-Ed.
 

Final Thoughts:

Even with the slightly bewildering plot and the short running time, this show is very good.   The story is intriguing and the animation excellent.  The sound on this disc is absolutely top notch.  Gonzo fans should run out and get this.  Recommended.

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