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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Fans of Japanese "Samurai Cinema" are very familiar with the LONE WOLF & CUB series. It first appeared in the U.S. as a hybrid composite of the first two films, with English dubbing, a narration and an all new music score. For years high quality bootlegs of the Japanese laserdisc, with added fan subs, circulated comic book, anime and sci-fi conventions. Then Animeigo released the same Japanese transfers on laserdisc and VHS, with brand new subtitled translations.


Now Animeigo has acquired the DVD rights to the 6 part film series and is creating 1080p/24 masters from newly struck prints and so far the resulting DVD's are extraordinary. Each film runs approximately 90 minutes. The DVD's are single layer, but sans extras (other than some trailers), so the bit rates are high enough to handle a good amount of detail. Subtitles are optional and thankfully in the multi-colored style of the laserdisc editions.


But wait until you see what these films look like now. Parts 1 & 2 are currently available and they are so dramatically superior to the older analog widescreen transfers that a direct comparison is enough to make you go blind. No longer do you see a muddy, detail lacking, soft and fuzzy image. For the first time we can see real detail in shadows, colors that do not bleed and a sharpness that makes the laserdiscs look like EP recorded VHS.


Edge Enhancement is not a problem here. It looks like what EE is present is at the most minimal levels. I only spotted some after zooming in on some high contrast shots. The old laserdisc has those hard edged, black halos. Interestingly enough, the trailers are absolutely loaded with EE. It's one hell of a contrast.


MPEG encoding on this title is of the highest quality one can find on a single layered release. Going RSDL likely would not have resulted in much improvement. I have no complaints (and I am very picky).


The original Japanese audio is not quite as full as the audio on the laserdiscs, but 198k DD mono can never compare to uncompressed analog or PCM. That being said, you should not have any problems with the soundtracks. I need to clarify, the analog soundtrack of the laserdisc is the best out there. The digital soundtrack on the LD's were noise reduced and sounded musted or hushed. I should have made this more clear when I first wrote my review. The later titles in the series were not affected this way. The DVD soundtracks sound better than the hushed tracks, but not better than the analog tracks.


Subtitles are easy to read and all of my DVD players were able to handle the multi-layered subtitles, which appear within the 2.35:1 area. There are two sets of subtitles to choose from. The second includes a sort of running dictionary that defines certain words not known to most Western audiences. These dictionary subtitles are at the top of the frame, but I do not recall if they go into the top black bar. I'll check and update this review later.


Animeigo is currently selling the first two films on DVD exclusively through their website, but at full retail. Shipped, they will cost you a little over $30. Unfortunately, there is no ETA on when they will be available through mass merchants, online stores, etc. Typically they wait 6 months to year. We are already past the six month mark on the first film.


The rest of the series will be released throughout 2004. Other Japanese Samurai films are also slated for 2004 and 2005, including some very good Zatoichi films. Unfortunately, Animeigo no longer has the rights for the HANZO THE RAZOR Trilogy, easily one of the most bizarre film experiences of all time. You either laugh at the absurdity of it all, or are repulsed and disgusted by it. My ex called them "really sick ****." :)
 

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Wow sounds great! I own a bunch of the r2 japan series of lone wolf. I've never seen the AnimEigo ones. You have any idea how they compare to the various series box sets?


I'm pretty sure I have them on laser somewhere, but it sound like I should forget about watching them and get the DVD!
 

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Huh... I swear I checked the Central Park Media website years ago for LWAC and they were out on DVD then, but pricey and I just couldn't afford them. If they are going to look as good as you say I'll have to spring this time though! Bad news about the Razor series; I've been dying to get those for ages as well. Is it available in a R0 or other release that anyone knows of?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Only Animego's product features the new transfer. I believe the R2 Japanese releases are from older transfers.


I would kill to see these new HD transfers on HDNet Movies. God, that would be fantastic!
 

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Quote:
Animeigo is currently selling the first two films on DVD exclusively through their website, but at full retail. Shipped, they will cost you a little over $30. Unfortunately, there is no ETA on when they will be available through mass merchants, online stores, etc. Typically they wait 6 months to year. We are already past the six month mark on the first film.
The first two (Sword of Vengeance and Babycart at the River Styx) have been available since at least the end of July. I got mine from dv-depot and I know others who got them from elsewhere. It seems that they're no longer in stock anywhere though. Perhaps Animeigo underestimated the interest for these movies and didn't make enough copies to go around?


Did you really think that the sound was much better on the LD? I noticed that the DVD sound didn't have quite so much noise-reduction as the LD's did. On the PCM track of the LD there is hiss in the background as long as sound effects or dialog is heard and then when it's quiet it's really quiet like the sound has been muted. It drove me crazy and I used the analog sound when I watched it.


/Anders
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I listened to the analog tracks on the LD's since they were not hiss reduced and sound better. My bad. I should have been more clear in my review when talking about DD2.0 vs. PCM or analog LD.


Later Baby Cart titles on LD were not hiss corrected and sound better in PCM vs. the analog.
 
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