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TO Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 7, 2011
  • List Price: $34.98

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To: Anime Movie (2 Disc) (W/Dvd) -

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film(s)
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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 Films(s)

[Rating:4/5]

Director Fumihiko Sori (Vexille; Ichi) brings his “3D live anime” to life again in these two, roughly forty-five-minute-long short films that take you away into an amazing futuristic world, but one where humankind’s quest for advancement into space is hindered by our penchant towards violence.

Both stories take place well into the future and humans have developed the ability for interstellar travel. In Elliptical Orbit, it is years after a devastating intercontinental war on Earth, resources have been completely depleted, and people have begun to colonize space. On a moon station, a freighter known as the Flying Dutchman, a mysterious ship that only comes around every fifteen years, requests permission to dock. They are carrying dangerous liquid protons, an essential power source necessary for the survival of people on Earth. Before the cargo can be delivered, a group of terrorists attack, attempting to claim the precious cargo for themselves and threaten to blow it up if they don’t get their way. But, at the center of this drama is the mysterious history between the captain of the moon base and the captain of the Flying Dutchman.

The second of the two films is Symbiotic Planet. We are still in the same “universe” where the Earth has been devastated by war, and only two continental nations remain, America and Eurasia. On a distant planet populated by bizarre alien life forms, Ion, an American scientist, and Alena, the daughter of a Eurasian politician develop a romantic relationship that has been forbidden. Against this Romeo and Juliet-like backdrop, a crisis develops when an outbreak of an unidentified fungus occurs that seems to have a devastating effect on the human body. Somehow the two lovers must overcome the tremendous obstacles of danger, the struggle for limited resources, and impending war, to be together and save this burgeoning colony.

Being a fan of Vexille and Appleseed, another Sori production, there is only one word I can use to describe the look and feel of these two new stories – awesome. Watching TO is like being set adrift in a dreamworld. The technology and innovations from the previous films have been ratcheted up and they converge here for an excellent and absorbing bit of sci-fi.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The HD CG animation of TO looks mostly pleasing in this 1080p AVC encodement from Funimation. It seems to linger at a bitrate around ~28Mbps, peaking as high as 32Mbps. Detail is strong and video noise is absent, but there are a few quirks here and there like some aliasing in the CG and some spotty color banding that keep it from being absolutely reference quality.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtracks for both the Japanese and English programs are both strong examples of sound design. Elliptical Orbit gets the more aggressive mix due to the nature of the story, but neither one could be considered tame. The surrounds are filled with a plethora of atmospheric effects for a full, wholly-encompassing soundscape, while some discrete panning through the surrounds is used to great effect as well. Spaceships, laser-fire, footsteps and even instrumentation from the score populate all the main channels. Dynamics are wide, lows are rather deep, and high frequencies are not at all fatiguing.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The best set of extras here will be the two half-hour-long interview segments with the director and the members of the Japanese voice cast. Everything outside of that is promotional in nature.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Special Interview with Director Fumihiko Sori, Akio Ohtsuka, and Romi Park (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:30.17)
  • Special Interview with Director Fumihiko Sori, Jun Fukuyama, and Aya Hirano (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:30.23)
  • Elliptical Orbit Trailer (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • Symbiotic Planet Trailer (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • Promo Video (Rental)
  • Promo Video (Sale)
  • TV Spots
  • Teaser
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

TO ain’t your older brother’s anime. This is cutting edge, thought provoking, and beautifully crafted stuff. Maybe not everyone is down with the anime market moving so heavily toward CG, but I think it works in the right hands, and Sori’s hands seem to be darn good.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004TA1GD2[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
To: Anime Movie (2 Disc) (W/Dvd) -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film(s)
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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