Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I finished watching the first Witch Hunter Robin DVD last night. The transfer is supernaturally crisp and clean, considering the dark shadowy palette that WHR uses. If you compare this disc to MediaBlaster's DVD of Weathering Continent or ADV's Devil Lady DVDs, there's just no doubt about it. Both of those counterexamples are full of colorblocking and digital noise in the dark areas and shadows. I don't think I saw a single glitch on my copy of the WHR DVD. Phenomenal job.

One has to wonder if they put the effort into that brilliant encode that they skimped on things like translating credits. Bandai is a Japanese-owned company; what's so hard about stripping the Japanese credits out and replacing them with professional English credits? I don't know, maybe there's an alternate angle for the English dub with English credits; if so, that's pretty damn lame, people. If they just didn't bother - for God's sake, it's 2003! The masters have got to be digital; it's not as if it's some grand chore to remove the credits layer from the opening and ending and swap them out!

The DVD encode really brings out the subtle charms of this show. There's heavy use of computer graphics for background work, especially in the character's office space. The DVD looks better than the digisubs, which is really saying a hell of a lot - I hadn't expected them to exceed what had been a very high level of quality work on the part of the amateurs for WHR.

For those of you hiding under a rock, Witch Hunter Robin is an occult police-procedural show featuring the Japanese branch of a secretive witch-control organization, who take out witches who go wild and use their powers. Our protagonist, Robin Sena, is STN-J's newest member. She's quiet, convent-raised, stone-faced and affects a very stark and anachronistic mode of dress. She's a "craft user", which in the show is a euphemism for a witch who is tolerated by the authorities. She doesn't start out the series as a particularly adept "hunter", as she has virtually no control over her pyrokinetic talent, and blows a number of traps by setting fire to everything but the actual targets.

The show is lacking sex, fanservice, humor, flamboyant villains, hyperviolence, trippy editing, giant robots, and transformation sequences. It's slow-moving, dark, and somber. As such, I can't imagine it becoming much of a breakout hit. It isn't one for the kids. But it is a great show.

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