Bandai’s Disappearing BD!

Opening in theatres in Japan on February 6th, 2010 and premiering internationally at Viz Cinema on May 25th, 2010, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was one of the biggest anime movies last year both in per cinema sales as well as disc sales in Japan. Kadokawa released the JP version of the movie last December to coincide with the actual date featured in the movie, but Bandai Entertainment has finally released the NA version! BDInfo/JP BDInfo

I could sit here and say what I think about the movie for a third time, but I’ll just summarize it: KadoAni chose a great method to tell the story that may or may not have been better situated in the second season. The pacing feels slow at times, but always keeps you going forward. The highlights are greatly accentuated by Satoru Kosaki et al’s wonderful background music. I greatly enjoy it, even though it focuses on my two least favorite of the SOS Brigade. It’s something that should be seen by any fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise.

Bandai released the film in both DVD-only and Blu-ray/DVD combo packs. Being the fan of HD anime I am, I opted to purchase the combo pack as seen above. This contains three discs: a BD version of the movie, a DVD version of the movie, and a DVD of extras.

     

For the Japanese version, I flew to San Francisco for the North American premiere last year. It was worth it then, and it’s still as amazing today when I watch it. The subs are slightly altered due to Bandai’s preference not to use honorifics in main features, but they are otherwise the same as that script translated by Sam Pinansky I saw last year. It’s a wonderful translation and I am very pleased Bandai used it.

For the English version, I waited in line 2 and a half hours at Anime Expo this year to see the premiere of it (seriously a coincidence this time) and greatly enjoyed it. Crispen Freeman was tasked with carrying this film on his back and he succeeded amazingly. His acting as Kyon ranges from depressive to absolute joy and there is not a moment where you go “someone else would do a better job.” It’s incredibly difficult to choose between Sugita and Freeman on who does a better Kyon, which is a compliment to both men. It’s insufficient to say he did a great job, but that’s the problems with words.

I liked Wendee’s Haruhi as usual. Michelle Ruff chose not to go “shy” as much as “bookworm”, which differed from the JP version but was very well at the same time. Stephanie Sheh is amazing as Mikuru, and Johnny Yong Bosch is good as Koizumi. Dub fans will be incredibly happy to finally see this movie and will absolutely enjoy it. It’s one of the few times I will say that the dub is equally as good as the JP version.

Visually, Bandai compressed an already compressed film into something that looks good at times and looks godawful at times. There’s one scene near the end of the movie where even my BD player, which smooths over so many faults and plays things like a tank, showed compression issues. I fault both Bandai and Kadokawa on this. It’s difficult to put a near three-hour movie in high definition on a BD with current technology. Perhaps when 10-bit becomes common, we’ll see how good it looked in theatres again.

As for Bandai’s choices in audio, I can happily say that it’s lossless and not mono on either track. It sounds great from my sound system and plays just as good as the JP version. As I told muhoot, if it’s not the same as the JP, it’s damn close.

And now we get to why I chose to buy Bandai’s release: subtitled extras. While I’m slowly improving my Japanese, it’s great to have an official translation for extras when they’re as great as the Haruhi ones. The problem is that these felt very rushed and incomplete. There’s many times where a line gets cut down to half it’s length and loses some meaning or lines aren’t translated at all. I’d say that a person had problems hearing, but there’s times when lines are at the same volume and only half are translated. It’s only about 5% total, but it’s very jarring when watching it. I’m satisfied, yet not completely satisfied with the extras.

The location scouting was fun. It was good to see that I got the general gist of what happened with the JP set. The BGM recording was great to see Honda switch tempos for Gymnopédie No. 1 and the trip to Sydney. I loved hearing from the cast in Toyko and Kyoto. Sugita, Goto, Ono, and Shiraishi have amazing chemistry together and carried the stage greetings. There were a lot of interesting facts such as how close the film came to not being made if it wasn’t for Ishihara’s enthusiasm that convinced Producer Itou to make the film. Cutting, Dubbing, Editing is another great look behind the scenes of how it was made. The PV making highlighted how not translating the jokes between people feels off. The viewer senses something is missing when Shiraishi, Itou, and Saito are joking around and nothing’s on the screen.

Other extras that need no comment are teasers, trailer, commercials, and the ASOS Brigade episode where Christina Vee disappears.

So overall, do I recommend this set? Of course I would! You’d have to be 36% stupider than Haruhi to realize I would easily say anyone should get this set! Bandai and Bang Zoom Entertainment did an amazing job with the dub for dub fans and the subtitles are great for sub fans. The extras are more than enough to keep anyone happy for another three hours after the film as well. It’s easy to say that this is Bandai’s best Haruhi release yet.

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9 thoughts on “Bandai’s Disappearing BD!

  1. Yes, can’t wait to get my copy ^_^ I sort of feel like waiting before watching it again since I just saw it twice in one weekend at AX a couple of months ago…but I know that when I get it in my hands I’ll probably want to watch it again anyway XD

    I usually don’t care for bonus features but I’ll definitely give these ones a look. As you know, I’ve bought tons of anime DVDs over the years but the Haruhi ones are the only ones that have such extensive extras from the Japanese side of things. Glad the movie set is no exception~

    • If it wasn’t for this review and the fact that it was so late, I would’ve watched it again after viewing the extras. I got so exited during the cutting/dubbing/editing feature. It’s a great three hours to watch things about the film.

  2. There’s nothing inherently difficult about a 3 hour movie on blu-ray. At that length you can average over 35 mbps on a BD50. If you can’t manage to properly encode something at that high a bit rate, you’re probably doing it wrong. If they had used something like SBMV, they probably could have eliminated the banding, that is if some degree of banding wasn’t inherent in the animation itself.

    • It’s likely that the masters they received from Kadokawa were flawed (as that scene is bad, but not nearly as bad as Bandai’s) on the JP BD and Bandai used their usual techniques to trim down size and they showed up more visibly this time. I forgot to post the BDInfo for the disc while making the post. The video bitrate for Bandai’s version is 17 mbps while the JP’s is 29 mbps. According to you, they’re both doing something wrong.

      • At 17 mpbs, it sounds as if Bandai put a 3 hour movie on a BD25, which is usually a bad idea, but would mean they were trying to be as cheap as possible. If it’s a BD50, there’s going to be a lot of empty space while costing them more, which would be stupid in its own right.

  3. First off, I am so glad that I pre-ordered from RightStuf and got it the same day that you did. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got the package with the DVDs(at some point I will also purchase the combo pack).

    I suppose that you almost want the movie to be perfect given that a lot of us have been waiting for over a year and a half to have the North American version. Of course, the movie was not perfect, but it was a great movie,no doubt. Crispin, Wendee and Johnny all delivered absolutely fantastic performances. Johnny’s take on the “I’m jealous” line had the right tone to it. Actually Koizumi was well-utilized for his limited role. (I also eagerly await seeing him really command my respect in Surprise if that ever gets animated). Stephanie manages to subtly make us a little more uneasy about Mikuru(Big). Michelle was also pretty good. She went with a more subtle approach with alt. Yuki being rather soft-spoken and shy, but she didn’t really accentuate Yuki’s moe when she could have really stirred our emotions even more. I still love that small Yuki smile that she gave Kyon in her apartment.

    I was glad to see that it seems like we got a lot of the extras that the Japanese got. I learned a few interesting things(Tsuruya’s seiyuu loves Asakura.) I would have loved to be able to have had the actual PV that Minori did(with the Closing Theme) but I know that wasn’t on the Japanese version either.

    And finally, a small nitpick for Bandai. I would have really enjoyed seeing a subtile showing Sasaki’s name on Kyon’s phone during that scene where her name is briefly visible(in Japanese of course). I am not sure if they(Bandai) knew about Sasaki’s future importance to the Haruhi novels, but it would have been really nice if they threw Sasaki fans a bone(and it would have rewarded sharp-eyed viewers with a little foreshadowing). As it is, Sasaki is a character that I am hoping to be animated soon. She is just a fantastic character. But this small thing did not subtract from my enjoyment of the movie.

    • I was expecting them around Saturday since Bandai had copies to distribute last weekend in San Francisco. RightStuf usually gets things to me in two days using USPS, so I am satisfied with their service.

      Is this a perfect movie? No, it’s very long and somewhat melancholic for the first hour. It’s very cliche and doesn’t step outside the boundaries of the novel much. Regardless of that, it still manages to be intense and surprising. I’ve greatly enjoyed it everytime I’ve sat down to watch it subbed or dubbed. Your comment about everyone is apt except for Michelle. I don’t think Bang Zoom went for moe regarding Yuki in the NA side. I see it more as the “glasses girl” stereotype in more Western media instead of the JP moe side. They’re trying to appeal to a broader audience than just anime fans to sell more movies and that’s more understandable to that audience.

      The NA release has all of the JP disc extras. I’ve watched them twice now. The PV is actually available on Lantis’s Youtube channel and I watched it after that extra as well. It’s more of a Kadokawa/Lantis feature than anything. I’ve rarely seen them put anime PVs on DVDs/singles.

      They can’t single out Sasaki. That’s one of the things that’s a “did you notice” than anything else in the JP (and there twice-look when he tries to call Haruhi on 12/18!) and they would have to translate all the names for 1 second of screentime that people would look over anyways. This subtitle track wasn’t produced by Bandai, it’s by Kadokawa’s international branch with some alterations. I too wish to see Sasaki animated soon. I’m developing the thoughts for a post on her soon when I can take a break from translating.

      • You raise a good point about Michelle’s portrayal of human Yuki, and maybe that will help if Disappearance ever gets to be aired on North American television(something I that do hope happens because I love this anime franchise and welcome being able to share it with more people). Although your average non-anime fan isn’t going to know what Kyon means when he says that Mikuru is a moe character during his Soliloquy of Awesome.

        Thanks for the information regarding how most producers handle anime PVs(promotional video). Again, I am in awe of your Koizumi-like expertise on many things.

        I suppose it is a blink and you miss type of thing. I guess it is a sort-of reward to those who can read Japanese. I look forward to your thoughts on Sasaki. I am curious as to who you think would be the right seiyuu for Sasaki if there is going to be another season. I am still learning about various famous seiyuu since I am started to watch a few series on Crunchyroll. Perhaps I should just ask in the anime speculation thread on Animesuki.

  4. Thanks for the tip. I need to look now for this release as well… :)
    One thing that I like more about Japanese release is that it has more extras, like books, postcards, etc. Still, this edition has something cool, the subtitled extras as you mentioned before.

    I sent you an email to see if you can help me with something…

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