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Expelled from Paradise Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000174697
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 1/7/2016 17:03
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    Review for Expelled from Paradise Collector's Edition

    9 / 10


    After the comparative deflation of Aldnoah.Zero, I needed a reminder of just why I rate Gen Urobuchi so highly as a writer. I had to wait a full 24 hours for that reminder. All the Anime are releasing the Expelled From Paradise feature film hot on the heels of the Aldnoah.Zero series, and that too comes from the pen of Gen Urobuchi, while it’s directed by Seiji Mizushima, the man behind the original Full Metal Alchemist television series (also out this year on BD from All the Anime). That’s a tantalising combination if ever I’ve seen one. But on the other hand, rather than a traditional 2D animation, Expelled From Paradise is a 3D CG animation, cel-shaded to give it a pseudo-2D feel. It isn’t the first such anime, the Appleseed movies and Vexille have been made that way, as has TO and Knights of Sidonia. It’s a technique that has its detractors, but it does allow for complex and fluid action animation a whole lot easier than traditional animation does. Besides, we’re some ten years down the line from the original Appleseed, so there’s bound to have been some evolution in the technology.

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    Speaking of evolution, Expelled From Paradise is set in a future where the majority of the human race have left behind their earthly forms, and have opted instead to exist as pure intelligences, in the circuits of a massive orbiting computer called Deva. It’s their perfect paradise where they can live endless lives of happiness, without worry of hunger or want, creating whatever digital realm suits their fancy. Only there’s trouble in paradise, as someone’s hacking into Deva, calling themselves Frontier Setter, and advertising crew vacancies for an interstellar exploration ship. That’s pure nonsense, as since the Nanohazard catastrophe that decimated corporeal civilisation, there’s been no scientific advance. The rulers of Deva command that special investigator Angela Balzac be sent to Earth’s surface to track down Frontier Setter and stop the disruption to Deva’s tranquillity. Coming to terms with, and working in a reality over which she has no control, a post-apocalyptic Earth will be bad enough, but Angela also has to get used to a freshly cloned material body, and existing in the real world. Fortunately she’ll have help from one of the humans that still live on Earth, and who works with Deva. But Dingo isn’t the by the book observer that she was expecting, anything but.

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    Expelled From Paradise gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this Blu-ray disc. It’s a fine transfer, clean and crisp throughout, strong, consistent colours, and no signs of compression or even digital banding. As mentioned this is a 3D CGI animation, cel-shaded to give it a 2D look, and make it feel like a traditional anime. It’s not my favourite style of animation, but it is probably the best that I’ve seen it done, certainly in terms of matching the typical anime style. It’s up there with Appleseed Ex Machina, and better than Vexille. The character designs are pleasing to the eye, with Angela’s cloned body, a long blonde haired, pint-sized tsundere, with a fan-service figure-hugging costume who unsurprisingly is voiced by Rie Kugimiya in the Japanese. The animation is fluid and engaging, with the CG-ness only rarely sticking out, while the action sequences are emphatic!

    The images in this review were kindly supplied by All the Anime.

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    You have the choice of DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround French with French signs, English (no signs), Japanese with English subtitles, and Japanese with French subtitles. As you might guess from that sentence, the options are locked during playback. I missed out sampling the dub this time, and stuck solely to the Japanese with English subtitles. The theatrical quality really comes across with the sound design, making full use of the surround sound to convey ambience, action and music. The dialogue is clear throughout, and the actors suited well to their roles. The subtitles are timed accurately, and are free of typos, although I did think that the font could be a smidge thicker.

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    Expelled From Paradise was an Aniplex US release across the pond. They had a barebones single disc release, and a 2-disc LE with the extras. All the Anime manage to get everything onto one disc for their Collector’s Edition release.

    The disc presents its contents with an animated menu.

    In the extras you’ll find 4 Teaser trailers running to 2:13 in total. The Making Of lasts 30:02, and you can watch it with English or French subtitles. In it, director Seiji Mizushima and the rest of the crew are interviewed about the making of the film.

    I haven’t seen the packaging, the art cards, or the art book to comment.

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    I wasn’t expecting much from Expelled From Paradise. In recent months, the feature length anime that have come out in the UK have been somewhat bland and lacking in my opinion. Nothing has really struck me as memorable, or special in quite a while. Thankfully Expelled From Paradise has bucked that trend. If you have any concerns about the animation style, as I know some people shy away from the 3D CG cel-shaded form, put them to one side for the duration of this film, and just take in the story. Expelled From Paradise is a cracking action film, it’s got great characters, and above all it’s one of the best sci-fi films I have seen in years.

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    Of course nothing is truly original, ideas and concepts do get recycled in stories, and the initial impression might be a little too Matrix-y, as we’re initially presented with a world where the majority of humanity exists purely as digital constructs in the confines of a massive orbiting mainframe. We meet the main character Angela Balzac in a digital paradise, ostensible soaking in some VR rays, getting her avatar a tan. In fact she’s an undercover agent tracking a hacker who keeps breaking into Deva to sell dreams of interstellar travel.

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    She gets ordered to hunt the hacker down, who’s been traced off the station, and on the surface of the planet. A body is rapidly cloned for Angela, assistance procured on the planet, and to get a head start on her rival agents, she opts to decant the clone early, at a youthful sixteen years old. And so she descends to Earth, a post-apocalyptic wasteland that contrasts directly with her digital paradise home. And while she’s trying to get used to a corporeal existence, she also has to work with Dingo, whose pragmatic approach to life contrasts with her devotion to duty and rules. The first thing he does realising that they are after a genius hacker, is to separate Angela from all of her technological, and easily hacked aids.

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    This sets the tone of their relationship, with her constantly being infuriated (which in that 16-year-old clone body is more than a little tsundere), by his actions, while being tantalised by his preference for life in a meat sack instead of a mainframe. Dingo begins to warm to his new partner when he sees just how committed she is. There’s plenty of action and comedy in this film as they continue their investigation, as well as a fair degree of warmth in the way that Angela and Dingo’s relationship develops.

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    But like all great sci-fi films, Expelled From Paradise has its share of messages, and it’s subtle about how it relates them. In their constant bickering, Angela and Dingo wind up debating the merits and deficiencies of their respective ways of life. Angela claims that life as a digital intelligence means no hunger, no want, until Dingo pushes her on just why she is so committed to being the first to find Frontier Setter. On the other hand, Dingo tries to extol the virtues of a corporeal existence, things like food, and music, or disgusting ingestion and raucous noise depending on your point of view.

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    It’s in the final act that everything changes, when they do eventually find Frontier Setter. I won’t spoil it, but it’s here the film shows its sci-fi trump card, exploring the definitions of humanity, and of intelligence. The sweet thing is that it does it all while entertaining the viewer with great characters, wit, excellent action sequences, and no little humour. If you twist my arm, I’ll admit that the animation style isn’t my favourite, but this one weakness is negligible compared to the film’s many fine strengths. Expelled From Paradise is a must for your anime collection.

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