Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
It seems some reviewers really hated this film. Kinda a shame really as while it isn't groundbreaking anime it is quite a bit of fun. It tells the story of Ominae Yu the top Japanese operative, called a Spriggan, for the world wide ARCAM organisation. This organisation has found an ancient warning proscribing great danger to those who activate the mysterious and semi-legendary artifacts of a previous civilisation.
Recently ARCAM has discovered "Noah's Ark" in Turkey, an event that has seemingly triggered a connected series of masacres as another shadowy organisation wipes out ARCAM research teams and collects data from other digs around the world. Lured by a dire and cryptic warning delivered by suicide friend mail Ominae travels to Turkey to find out why someone has been targetting his friends to deliver these homicidal messages and what connection that has to the worldwide anti-ARCAM activity.
Naturally this involves a lot of gunplay, explosions and enough testosterone that if they were real people they would die from testosterone poisoning. Mixed in with it is a little character development of both Ominae and Jean as well the revealation of exactly what Noah's ark is and why it must be placed beyond humanities control.
This isn't deep stuff and is pretty much a nice action film with one high concept floating behind it to make it fun. The crew at ADV have done a nice job handling the video and audio so that we get a pretty good English dub along with a pretty immaculate transfer. Very little to complain about as far as I could see and you have the option of the Japanese soundtrack if you prefer it as originally intended.
ADV have made a few subtle improvements to their English dub, one major one being the early clarification of exactly who is responsible for the suicide messages Ominae has been receiving. One or two other places with subtle walla effects & the odd muffled sound improvement. Similar to their effort with Gasaraki my preference is for the English dub because of these minor tweaks and the fact that the voice acting is of similar quality to the Japanese.
The only substantive extra we get beyond the usual theatrical trailers (and madman propoganda on the R4 release) is a commentary track from the english dub supervisors. The track is a lively one with a great deal of discussion about the detail that went into the english dub, the work on the video transfer as well as general tidbits about the plot of the movie and the attention to detail the various backgrounds had. All in all I am enjoying these commentaries as this and the Boogiepop Phantom one have been worthwhile additions allowing you to get a better understanding of the work involved in bringing these to the english speaking market.
Is it a masterpiece film? Not really. Is it a fun film? Well if you liked the older Schwarznegger films like 'Commando' or 'Running Man' then you should have a great deal of fun with this film. Indeed one of the jokes ADV reworked even explicitly pokes fun at the film's similarity to these films. It is presented well with an extremely competant dub and a plot that hangs together well enough to let the world be threatened and it still to all work.