- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit); Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (640kbps)
- Subtitles: English
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 3
- Studio: Funimation
- Release Date: November 03, 2009
- List Price: $79.98 [amazon-product align=”center”]B002KPINDY[/amazon-product]
BestBuy.com: Shop with us for more Blu-ray releases at Amazon.comOverall The Series Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Fans familiar with Top Cow Production’s Witchblade comic should brace themselves for a whole new universe when wandering into this anime re-visioning of the character. Not only has the lead character been given a new name (Sara Pezzini has now become Masane Amaha), but the story has been reworked, all new characters have been added, and even the design of the Witchblade has been altered; frankly, this is a different universe altogether.
The lead character in Top Cow’s comic book and subsequent live action television series was a police officer who comes into possession of and bonds to the Witchblade, a supernatural artifact with immense powers. The weapon has always bonded with various women throughout history. This latter part remains intact in this anime adaptation, but now Masane Amaha is no longer a police officer, she is simply a hapless woman who has lost her memory during a cataclysmic event and the Witchblade has chosen to bond to her. She is found after this disaster with a child who is assumed to be her daughter, Rihoko, but she has no memory of giving birth.
Masane ends up caught in a power struggle between a huge corporation and a government agency — both seeking to control the power of the Witchblade, — while trying to live her life peacefully with her daughter. Masane must do battle against women known as Neogenes, raised to wield clones of the Witchblade as well as Excons, which are violent weapons made from the reanimated corpses of humans.
The series is very tightly integrated and, despite its marketing hype, it is far heavier on drama and tension than it is on simple action. There is a running sense of drama and mystery in Witchblade, even melancholy as Masane struggles to have a simple domestic life with her six-year-old daughter, but is befallen by the ancient fate of wielding the powerful Witchblade. At times, the anime series feels to have a twinge of an X-Files vibe with little bits of The Dark Knight thrown in. It’s good drama and mystery — exactly what the Witchblade comic book is all about — just a little bit different.
Witchblade arrives on Blu-ray in a 3-disc, AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio from Funimation. Frankly, the image is unimpressive from the start on the entire set. There are moments that make one wonder what the source material for this Blu-ray release actually is. I seriously suspect it may not even be a true HD transfer. The line art is plagued throughout with jaggies and detail extension is always on the soft side. It’s as if a 720 x 480 standard definition master were simply blown up to 1.78:1 at 1080p at times. There are also issues with blocking and color banding that seem to be inherent to the source as well. Softness prevails, colors never really pop, and the overall presentation only barely seems cleaner or sharper than what one might see from a very well done up-scaling DVD player.
The audio is only a minor step up in quality for this release. The English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack does offer some moments of good activity in the surrounds and discrete panning, but ambience sounds a little stifled and high frequencies are harsh. Explosions and other loud sound effects are more distorted and “boxy” than they are resounding. Dialogue is clean, however, and shows no signs of clipping. The Japanese track, sadly, is only provided in a Dolby Digital 2.0 (640kbps) variety, that sounds, again, a little tight, or claustrophobic.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Japanese Cast Interviews (1.33:1; 480i/60):
- Masane Amaha
- Rihoko Amaha
- Yusuke Tozawa
- Reiji Takayama
- Hiroki Segawa
- Tatsuoki Furumizu
- The Witchblade Forged (1.78:1; 480i/60):
- Part I
- Part II
- Part II
- Inside Top Cow (1.78:1; 480i/60):
- A Tour of Top Cow Studios with Marc Silvestri
- How to Create a Comic Book the Top Cow Way
- Coloring a Comic Book Page
- The Early Days of Image Comics
- The Top Cow Staff Talks about Comics
- Experiences in Japan/Other Top Cow Franchises
- Crossing into Other Media
- Textless Songs:
- Opening — XTC
- Opening — Dear Bob
- Closingc– Ashitano — TE
- Closing — Kutsuhimo
- Japanese TV Spots (1.33:1480i/60)
- Promotional Video (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:01.55)
- Tower of Druaga
- El Cazador de la Bruja
- Spice and Wolf
- Samurai Champloo
The Definitive Word
Witchblade the Complete Series is a mixed bag on Blu-ray. Those who loved the original comic may not necessarily appreciate this Japanese animated adaptation considering the significant changes to the storyline. With that being said, the anime is an engaging story in its own right that manages to capture the essence of Witchblade, which is to say it offers a compelling, continuous story arc replete with tense drama. Unfortunately, the transfer from Funimation hinders the presentation. It looks much less than a top-notch HD presentation of animation.
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