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King of Thorn Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese & English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 120 Mins.
  • Studio: Funimation Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • List Price: $24.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

King of Thorn (いばらの王, Ibara no Ō) is the feature-length anime film from director Kazuyoshi Katayama based on the manga series written and illustrated by Yuji Iwahara. A psychological sci-fi thriller and fantasy, the story broadly follows the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty in a modern interpretation that finds the world overcome by a virus, known as Medoussa, that suddenly turns people to stone. The only solution humanity reaches is to place 160 people into a cryogenic sleep until a cure can be found, known as project Sleeping Beauty.

Kasumi Ishiki, one of the 160 is forced to enter into the sleep without her beloved twin sister Shizuku. Afraid, she goes along with the hope that the supercomputer known as Alice will protect her and the other subjects. But suddenly, at some unknown time in the future, the survivors are suddenly awoken and the castle in which their cryogenic pods were being stored has been overrun by thorny vines and dangerous new beasts they’ve never seen before. Where have the lab technicians gone and what happened to Alice? After a merciless and bloody attack by flying “Demon Bats,” only a few of them survive, including Kasumi, as well as Marco Owen, a muscular British man who went into the project a prisoner, the beautiful, but badly infected Kathleen Turner, a young boy named Tim, an Italian senator, Alexandro Pecchino, an American policeman, Ron Porter, and Peter Stevens, original engineer for the pods. The group must fight their way through the hazards to the outside world and discover what has become of the world.

The film, as Katayama points out, is multilayered, with plenty of visual and textural symbolism that doesn’t necessarily sink in the first time through, but may reveal itself on multiple viewings. That being said, King of Thorn does tend to drift off track at times and become just a little confused in its intention – is it a fantasy, an action film, or straight up sci-fi? Still, one cannot argue with the visual power of the animation. An anime film of this nature, given the context of the film’s themes, probably hasn’t meshed its animation and plot so well since Paprika.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The digital animation source for King of Thorn looks about as clean and detailed as one could and should expect for a title such as this. There is no visual evidence that the AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement is imparting any damage upon the crisp lines, detailed backgrounds and vivid colors of the animation. Video noise is basically absent and there is no color banding or aliasing to be found.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The two lossless soundtracks offered for King of Thorn – the original Japanese track and an English dub – in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) are wonderful. With a completely encapsulating 360-degree sound field, the mixes surround you with everything from the whirring of helicopters on your left, right, or flying directly overhead to bullets whizzing by. The low frequencies are extended way down so that you can really feel every gunshot, every explosion, and every impact, while dialogue is crystal clear. Dynamic range is never compromised, as the sound goes from the subtlest of of atmospheric to the most bombastic, in your face effects.

Supplemental Material

[Rating:3/5]

King of Thorn comes packed with a heavy dose of interviews and promotional materials that should serve the fans just right.

The supplements:

  • Talk Event at Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:29:23) – A Q&A with the director and producer.
  • Director Interview (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:11:32)
  • Pilot Film (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:01:54)
  • Original Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
  • Overseas Trailer (1.85:1; 1080i/60; Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0)
  • TV Spot (1.85:1; 1080i/60)
  • U.S. Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; English Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Funimation Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

King of Thorn offers a wild ride with stunning visuals and a wonderful soundtrack. Its layered storyline may be at times a bit difficult to track, but it is still ultimately satisfying given how well it updates a classic fairy tale and injects an unexpected twist.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase King of Thorn on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B008D1RCKY[/amazon-product]

Purchase King of Thorn on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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