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Night Raid 1931: Complete Collection Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo, English DTS-HD master Audio 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English (Forced)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Sentai Filmworks
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 16, 2011
  • List Price: $69.98

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BestBuy.com:
Night Raid 1931 Complete Collection (2 Disc) - Subtitle

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

What a refreshing break from the typical anime series Night Raid 1931 is.Rather than your typical high school hijinks, sci-fi mecha, fan service or the like, director Jun Matsumoto and the people at A-1 Pictures and Aniplex have given us this character-driven, spy thriller placed in the early days of World War II, and blended in just a touch of sci-fi to keep anime traditionalists appeased.

It’s Shanghai 1931 and the Imperial Japanese Army has moved into Mainland China. After the recent Sino-Asian, Russo-Japanese, and World (I) wars, Japan has grown in power and status, but there is also a growing anti-Japanese sentiment among other Asian nations swelling alongside an anti-colonialist sentiment that will eventually swell into one of the greatest world wide military conflicts in history. Against the backdrop of this cosmopolitan city is set a story filled with sex, drugs, and political intrigue. The special covert organization of spies called “Sakurai kikan,” staffed by humans with superhuman abilities has been dispatched to the city to uncover the most dangerous threats.

Sakurai kikan is headed by its sole female member, Yukina, a telepath from a wealthy family with little experience in the real world. Joining the group in order to be able to find her brother, a member of the military who went missing, Yukina can use her powers to read others thoughts, pick up impressions and memories from objects, and amplify others thoughts.

Natsume was born to poor farmers and served as a loyal servant to Yukina’s family. Joining Sakurai kikan so he can protect her, his clairvoyant powers are useful to the group for surveillance and he also serves as their sniper.

Aoi has a telekinetic ability that allows him to manipulate objects around him and even dodge bullets, but he has a time limit on how long he can use this ability in at one time. He’s a fun loving guy with a great sense of humour who is also proficient in Chinese, English, Russian, and German. With a photo studio that serves as his cover, Aoi also plays the violin as a hobby, having first been taught by his dead fiancé, Shizune.

Finally, the team also includes Kazura who has the ability to teleport. A descendent of samurai, he is proud and stern and often at odds with Aoi. His pride often makes him reluctant to use his ability against his opponents as well.

Together, these four are dragged into an ever-widening conspiracy in the early days of the War, involving a Pan-Asian agenda and the setting up of the Manchukuo puppet state in Northern China on the Soviet border.

The series begins a little slowly and it is at times a little difficult to follow the storyline, with there being a bit too many branching subplots and tertiary characters. Eventually, by the halfway point, it all comes together and offers a very pleasing, edge-of-the-seat drama that transports the viewer back in time to a bygone era. It’s cloak and dagger animation taken to the heights.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is a beautiful high definition transfer showing up on Blu-ray in a 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from Sentai Filmworks. The image is clean and nuanced with sharp and detailed line art, and a great amount of clarity even in the most purposely gritty scenes.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Audio arrives as two lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mixes in the original Japanese and an English dub. Both are quite good offering a spacious stereo soundfield with a good ratio of dialogue to sound effects and musical score, yet the Japanese soundtrack is the better of the two. The dialogue in the English soundtrack sounds a bit pinched and nasally, whereas the Japanese dialogue sounds fuller and more natural. Either mix will give good overall dynamics and natural sounding high frequencies.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

In the area of supplements, Sentai has included two OVAs, “Demon of the Opium Den” and “Panther Atop the Snow”, plus the special episode “The Prophecy”, which serves as an abridged version of the entire series.

The supplements in this release are:

Disc 1

  • OVA: Demon of the Opium Den (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:22:40)

Disc 2

  • Special Episode: The Prophecy (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:24:43)
  • OVA: Panther Atop the Snow
  • Clean Closing Animation
  • Also Available on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks
  • Disc Credits

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Night Raid 1931 looks and sounds beautiful on Blu-ray and it has a fantastic story behind it as well. Gorgeously animated with a unique story, this is one that fans of Japanese animation should really love for years to come.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product align=”right”]B0050I976A[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Night Raid 1931 Complete Collection (2 Disc) - Subtitle

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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