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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Complete Collection


Starring (voice): Daisuke Namikawa, Showtaro Morikubo and Dai Matsumoto
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 10 October 2011

Takeru, like many of his contemporaries, lives for the thrill of racing, through the largely abandoned lower levels of the Eden moon base. The base has, for the last one hundred and sixty years, survived and thrived, cut off from an Earth which they all believe is essentially dead following environmental catastrophe and war. Being restless, and daring in nature, Takeru strays further from the safety of the domes than he should, only to discover a picture of a girl with an enigmatic message written on the back. Although he does everything he can to find her, only a picture in Alan’s room holds the clue he is looking for and the truth that the message came from an Earth which is very much alive...

Freedom (2006 - 3 hrs, 23 min, 42 sec) should have been a load of tosh, considering that the main reason to make the seven episode OVA was to celebrate thirty-five years of Nissin Cup Noodles, Oh yes! You will see noodles being carelessly held up throughout the story. The idea was that an anime advert would be created, which in turn would act as a spring board for the larger OVA project. I can just tell that most of you are groaning inside. But from even the stupidest idea, an interesting project can spring, especially if you have a reasonably open wallet to buy some real talent.

As it turns out, noodle placement aside, freedom is a very enjoyable anime. The show was directed by Shuhei Morita and written by Katsuhiko Chiba, Yuuichi Nomura and Dai Sato, but the real kicker and the reason the look and feel of the show seems so familiar, especially for fans of Akira is that the character and futuristic designs were provided by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy). The bottom line here is that the show looks great.

The story on the other hand does, and did, get quite a kicking - some deservedly, some not. Let's get the first thing out of the way... Yup the science is pure rubbish, but likewise I haven’t seen a real Orc, so such elements are not the thing to get hung up about. One plot element which does not ring true, and unfortunately it’s one of the linchpins of the narrative, is that Takeru would fall so in love with a photo, that he would steal a spaceship and travel to Earth, a supposedly dead planet. That one takes a lot of swallowing.

The relationships between the young men on the base reflects very much that found in Akira, with an obsession with racing and gang affiliations, a general sense of adventure and a distrust of authority.

The two disc DVD set which was submitted for review did have a number of problems. Episode one had no English dub, only the same Japanese audio track for both options. From chapter two onwards there was the option for either a Japanese or English DD 5.1 track with English subs. The converted picture is bright, clear and has the general stylistic feel of Akira.

The first disc in the set holds all the OVA episodes, disc two is where the extras hide. There are a lot of trailers, as you would expect, from the original ad campaign as well as trailers and teasers for the various episodes. The vast majority of this material is in Japanese with subs. Now, mostly watching this sort of thing after you’ve watched the show is a little redundant as generally the same shots are used in both, but these is a lot of different stuff in here, which didn’t make it to the final cut and is, for once, well worth a look. Another Vehicle Race (1 min, 11 sec) has the kids racing bikes rendered into a real location. The two meatiest pieces on the disc are Talking about Freedom 1 & 2, which has the director and series planner discussing the genesis of the show and the first couple of episodes. Fly Me to the Moon 1 & 2 gives a potted history of manned space flight.

Overall this was an impressive series, surprising given the reasons behind its creation, in fact I enjoyed it so much that I watched the whole thing in one sitting and at no point did the story flag or become repetitive. It looks impressive on DVD, though it probably looks stunning on Blu-ray.


Charles Packer

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