SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: the NEXT

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SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: the NEXT

Postby Tsuyoshi » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:54 pm

The Story in a Nutshell: This story follows a fifth grader, Ryuhei, and his acquaintances, Yoshio & Shun, as they meet-up to find the lost “Treasure of Japan” reportedly hidden under Tokyo. Ryuhei’s little brother, Satoshi, tags along as well and the adventure begins as they begin to follow the map that Ryuhei found in his father’s old notebook. As they begin to explore the underground tunnels beneath the city, they are thrown into a wild action adventure in an unknown world hidden from the daylight. They have a run in with Sojiro Yamashita, an old war veteran who believes the war is still going on and is still dedicated to his mission assigned so many years ago. During this Ryuhei is separated from his little brother, who is taken by Sojiro. They are then met by Momoyo Takiyama, the younger cousin of Yoshio, who saves them from an onslaught of rats. She is highly intelligent and follows the boys after finding out about their plans because she feels she must protect the boys from their own immaturity. The group meets Matakichi while trying to find Satoshi and is introduced to a whole commune living in an abandoned underground construction site. The explorer team is reunited with Satoshi as he is helping Sojiro mount an all out assault on the commune. The explorers do find the “Treasure of Japan” in the end, which Sojiro was placed in charge of all those years earlier.

Review in the Matter: This feature is based off of the short manga by Katsuhiro Otomo and was produced by the same creative team that worked on Steamboy. This story is a modern adaptation of the manga with references to the original work, which are presented in a few key scenes through the film. It’s a simple tale of friends seeking adventure and discovering a far bigger world than they could have even imagined. The action is very well paced and you are able to get a good sense of the characters even though it is only 40 minutes in length. Fans familiar with the manga or those seeing the story for the first time will enjoy the fast paced ride equally. Adults should be able to enjoy the simple tale as much as the kids; this is a title the family should enjoy together.

In Technical Terms: The film is fully CGI. However, the creative team implemented a new technique which reduces the harsh impact 3D animation can have by giving it a 2D cell animation look and feel. I’ll get into that more in the Featurette section of the review. Because of the “Toon Shading” used to blend the CGI with the look of customary cell animation, the film has a great look in high definition. The audio is excellent and the subtitling is easy to read.
Featurette: The Blu-ray comes with an excellent insert to give details about the film’s characters, history, and even a partial interview with the creative team. The Blu-ray Disc comes with an excellent “Making of” special feature. This feature gives a detailed explanation of how much work truly went into make this CGI work have a sense of traditional hand drawn animation. Although not perfect yet, as even the staff state, it shows the painstaking work and creative forces behind making a new way of creating 3D animation. This Blu-ray is worth the purchase just for this “Making of” bonus material, which any animation fan should watch. A nice touch is that there is an English voiceover with the explanations of all the techniques that had to be invented and implemented for this film. Also included is an interview with the creator of the story, Otomo, as well as trailers and commentary.

Case in Point: This feature shows how 3D animation truly should look in the future. It’s a new standard that the rest of the animation world will have to follow.

Scale from 1 - 5 (5 being the highest)

DISC SPECIFICATIONS: Color / 40 min. + 27 min. / Japanese Audio (English Voiceover on Featurette) / Dolby TrueHD 5.1ch & Linear PCM Stereo (Extras) / 16:9 (1080p HD) / English Subtitles
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