Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Mamoru Oshii has been the creative force behind some landmark projects, such as Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Avalon, the PatLabor series, and most famous of all, the anime classic Ghost in the Shell. So Oshii’s talents are well known, but not all of his films have found much exposure, which is a real shame. But Pioneer has solved that problem to an extent, with the release of the Mamoru Oshii Cinema Trilogy. This four disc collection holds three of Oshii’s lesser known projects, so that we can view some of his earlier works. All three movies are live action and while not on the same level as his best work, these are well crafted and worthwhile pictures. You can see his style and technique evolve over the course of these three flicks, so the seeds of his later masterworks were sown in these projects. You can purchase the three films in separate editions, but if you nab this box set, then you’ll also get a bonus Stray Dog soundtrack. I found these to be solid, well executed movies and for the price, this box set is a nice value. I have included a brief synopsis below for each film, so don’t miss this terrific release.

1. Talking Head- The most anticipated anime release of the year is close to release, which has fans on pins & needles. But the fans aren’t as nervous as the producers, as the film’s director has vanished and the production hasn’t even started. In order to get Stray Dog back on track, a new director is brought in and he is given the task of preserving the original director’s vision, as well as completing the picture on a quick schedule. But when crew workers turn up murdered, one by one, the production gets even further behind. With his turn to be slain around the corner, the new director begins to investigate the killings, while also keeping Stray Dog on track. But will he discover the truth in time, or will he become the next victim?

2. The Red Spectacles- The streets have turned into warzones, people have become sadistic, and chaos is around every turn. This means that crime has skyrocketed, as violence and madness flow through the landscape. In order to battle this sheer chaos, the Metropolitan Police create a new elite unit of officers to level the scales of justice. This squad is known as Kerberos, The Watchdogs of Hell and that name has truth to it, given the state of the streets they patrol. The idea was started with good intentions, but soon the squad turned violent and corrupt, making the streets an even more dangerous place. A rebellion of sorts took place, but only one man, Koichi escaped, though when he returns, he discovers only he can make a difference.

3. Stray Dog- Koichi, the man who rebelled against Kerberos and then returned to battle back against the corruption, is now deep in his mission. A riot orchestrated by Koichi resulted in the arrest of numerous Kerberos members, including a man named Inui. After he serves his time, Inui is released and given a second chance. But he isn’t going to start a new life for himself, instead he wants to seek out Koichi. As soon as he is back on the streets, he begins a search for his former leader, but with poor results. The hunt for Koichi will be a difficult one, especially when Inui is hindered by a string of bad luck. Is this hunt really his own will, or is someone else using him as a pawn, in order to further their own plans?

Video: How does it look?

All three films are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of visual treatment, but Pioneer has done some nice work here and delivered great editions of all three pictures. The prints are in good condition, with no serious nicks or debris and only light grain in a few sequences. This means softness is minimal and of course, that allows the visuals to be much more impressive. I found the colors to be bright and natural, though each film has a specific color scheme, so there is some variance. No troubles with contrast either, as black levels are top notch throughout all three features. So all three films have been treated with great care, which should thrill fans to no end.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original Japanese language soundtracks have been preserved, which is excellent news and the audio is quite solid here. I noted no serious flaws, as volume balance is consistent and the material has a nice overall presence. Of course, without full on 5.1 surround options, the audio is held back somewhat, but it never proves to be an issue. I heard some decent channel separation, which adds some life to the mix, but not the kind of balls-out surround presence some of the scenes could have used. Even so, all the basics and then some are covered in these soundtracks, such as dialogue, music, and the assorted sound effects. All three films also offer optional English subtitles, should you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A selection of trailers has been included on each, while this collection includes a bonus CD soundtrack as well.

Disc Scores