Plot: What’s it about?
Kyosuke has just been thrown into a world of darkness, doubt, and sometimes even chaos, one in which very little is what it seems. At a church, Kyosuke finds himself hanging from a single chain above the ground, after he crashed down from a balcony. His fall wasn’t planned per se, as it was a result of a violent, unexpected attack that took by him by total surprise, to say the very least. It was his own mother who thrust a razor sharp knife into his chest, sending him off the balcony and toward his demise, or so it seemed. Although Kyosuke was declared dead, mourned for, buried, and left to wander in the memories of those who knew him, there was a young woman who was convinced his time had not arrived. She treks out to the graveyard and begins to dig up Kyosuke’s burial site, hoping to recover his lifeless form. Once she has pulled him from the ground, she takes him back to her apartment and as it turns out, her suspicions were correct. Kyosuke has risen from the dead and his wounds have healed back again, but what kind of world does he return to and what is his reason for being given this second chance of sorts?
This first volume of The SoulTaker contains three episodes, but don’t expect to have much revealed after you’ve viewed them. A lot of episode based anime try to pack the first installments with a ton of information and such, to set the table for the events to come, establish characters, and other developmental touches. But with The SoulTaker, the filmmakers don’t give us a whole lot to work with in terms of those traditional elements, though that doesn’t mean we’re not glued to the tubes waiting on the next episodes. We meet some of the characters, including the central one and some of the backstory is revealed, but The SoulTaker wants us to make us “suffer” at times, never giving us as much information as we’d like to have. This enhances the suspense and really pumps up the viewer for the future episodes, but not because of some generic cliffhanger, instead because we just want to find out more, since the little we have is so excellent. So these first three episodes don’t let us see much down the road, but they do what they were supposed to, which is suck us into the realm of The SoulTaker and make us crave more episodes. Pioneer’s disc is more than solid also and as such, fans of darker, more complex anime should check this out.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, as intended. If the visuals here don’t inspire more anime studios to use widescreen, they must be asleep behind the wheel, as The SoulTaker looks excellent. I know a lot of anime is intended for full frame, but I think more studios should use widescreen, as the visuals can be more immersive and the added dynamics from being anamorphic really drive home the gloss & sparks. I saw no print defects here, as everything is smooth and clean, just as it should be. The colors are vivid and lush, with no errors I could see, while contrast is stark and refined as well. This is one of the best looking set of anime episodes I’ve seen, terrific work from Pioneer on this release.
Audio: How does it sound?
As per usual, Pioneer has included stereo mixes in both English and Japanese, both of which sound more than acceptable. Of course, you can’t expect the world from these stereo options, but they handle the material and that’s what matters. There is some cool panning effects, but for the most part, this is a basic stereo mix and that’s sufficient. The vocals come through well enough and the music & sound effects are presented in fine form, with a little more depth than expected, especially in certain scenes. In other words, I doubt anyone will be let down with these mixes, as both sound more than solid and deliver on all fronts. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, which are always nice to have, especially if you don’t speak Japanese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the textless opening & ending sequences, as well as a selection of bonus artwork.