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Bandai Visual USA presents
Freedom 2: Twin Format DVD and HD-DVD (2006)

"I just wanna know who the girl is."
- Takeru (Daisuke Namiwaka)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 19, 2007

Stars: Daisuke Namikawa, Showtaro Morikubo, Kappei Yamaguchi, Takuya Kirimoto
Other Stars: Kohei Fukuhara, Kazunari Tanaka, Seizou Kato, Unsho Ishizuka
Director: Shuhei Morita

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (thematic material, some mildly scary images)
Run Time: 00h:25m:06s
Release Date: September 25, 2007
UPC: 858604001189
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-A B-

DVD Review

This second episode of a six-part OVA is the first "Twin Format" DVD/HD DVD that we've run across. On this disc, unlike the usual double-sided combo DVD/HD DVD, both the DVD-5 layer and the HD DVD-15 layer are presented on the same side of the disc. When placed in a standard DVD player, it goes directly to the DVD layer; if placed in an HD DVD player, it gives the user the option to play the HD or SD version. It's a nifty concept and works without a hitch on the several players that we tested it on.

Several hundred years in the future, all of humanity lives in Eden, a colony on the moon, after an apocalyptic war on Earth. Eden is controlled by the Guidance Council, which encourages conformity and regimentation. When Takeru (Daisuke Namiwaka) finds a photo of a young woman in an unknown place, with the cryptic message, "We are safe. Is anybody out there?", he becomes fascinated and tries to track her down. His efforts are fruitless, though, even with his friends Kazuma (Showtaro Morikubo) and Biz (Kappei Yamaguchi) helping out. But they do stumble onto what appears to be an odd reticence of the Council to share information about Earth. Is it possible that the photo can be a message from Earth? And if it is, how far is the Council prepared to go to suppress it and everyone who knows about it?

Although this is the second episode, the recap at the top makes it reasonably accessible for viewers who don't have the first episode. There is a segment in which Takeru helps another friend, Taira (Takua Kirimoto), who has been injured in a speeder bike time trial, that feels a bit out of place and interrupts the flow, but no doubt this will prove to be important later in the series.

The design of the characters is reasonably realistic for the most part. The voice acting is solid, with Namiwaka in particular coming across well as mildly obsessive but not offensively so. The production design for Eden is thoughtful and visually appealing, contrasting the gleaming exterior with the rather decayed underbelly where the young men work on their bikes and attempt to get some privacy. There are some nice touches as they visit old Alan (Seizou Kato), who has in his care a bunch of old Apollo-era equipment, searching for clues. The end of the episode concludes in a cliffhanger that will definitely leave the viewer longing for more. Whether the brief content (just about 25m) is sufficient for the price, however, is open to question. I'd be more inclined to recommend it if at least two episodes were included; about $240 MSRP for all six episodes seems a bit pricey for only two and one-half hours of content.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes

Image Transfer Review: The HD version is completely crisp and gorgeous, as one would expect. There's slight motion artifacting on quick pans, but that's really the only issue I had with it. Color is superb, with delicate texturing in the backgrounds. I didn't notice any edge enhancement. Difficult patterns such as ben-day dots in the opening titles comes across cleanly in the HD version. There are some minor aliasing issues on the SD version, but on the whole it looks pretty good as well. The letter grade is for the HD version.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: No dubbing allowed here. The program is presented in Japanese only, though the choice is offered between a DD+ 5.1 version and a lossless PCM 2.0 track. The latter is preferable, since it seems warm and lifelike, and somewhat more detailed. Both have plenty of oomph, however, with the clank of pursuing robots and explosions coming across with tons of LFE and presence. I had things falling off shelves in my HT, at well below reference levels.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Super Jewel Box
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 3DCG simulation video PIP
  2. Downloadable content
Extras Review: When the main program is played on the HD layer, there are several options available. The "A" key brings up the cast and crew credits in a sidebar, while the "B" key brings up the relevant storyboards for comparison. The "C" button allows bookmarking. There's also a "3DCG Simulation Video" that is a Picture-in-Picture presentation of the feature with partially-finished animation and, in spots, 3D animation. There are a number of interesting techniques to examine here, and there is plenty of flexibility for viewing: one can adjust the size of the PIP, as well as its transparency, it can be swapped for the main picture, and the positioning can be adjusted in four directions. The folks at Bandai are pushing the envelope for interactivity with the extras, which is certainly commendable. The disc contains a 1m:31s "next episode" teaser, and there is supposed to be downloadable content available. However, as of this writing the only such content downloadable was the short trailer for the series that we understand was also available on the HD DVD of the first episode. It's a good concept, but more content would be welcome. In short, the disc feels as if it offers more extras than it really has. The SD version has no extras whatsoever.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Things just start to get interesting when it's time for episode 3. The HD looks terrific, though, and there are plenty of extras on this uniquely formatted disc.


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