Friday, September 3, 2010

FUNimation BD review Part III: Samurai 7 Blu-ray Box



Well, I got the boxset as soon as it came out.
Update 07-21-2009, got a Lite-on BDROM, now I’m able to capture the menus and screen captures in full 1080p glory, thus the review is finally completed. But the Lite-on BDROM was returned couple days ago, waiting for SONY/Plextor/Pioneer ones. All the screen captures, BDInfo scans on based on the last disc.


 1. The packaging: B+/A-

First let’s take a look at the packaging:

There are three discs in three individual cases and a flimsy box.

The jacket pictures of each cases are double side printed, with the front being some promotional arts from the series, and the back being episode summary:


The paper used here aren't those high quality glossy paper, they are rather coarse.

I’m quite satisfied with the packaging. A- for the effort of bring us three discs in three cases. Just hope FUNimation can give us back those super sturdy chipboard boxes… And maybe using clear cases like the PS3 games since the blue cases aren’t very good showing backside of the jacket pictures. B+ for these two points.

Lastly, there’s a brochure with the box which shows FUNimation’s future Blu-ray Disc release schedule:

The dates aren’t up to date. Shigurui: Death Frenzy has been pushed back to the end of March as far as I know. And there’s definitely no message regarding Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle… Coming soon section lists Blue Gender and Gunslinger Girl which are the two shows I’m really interested to double dip if they are good quality, especially for Gunslinger Girl DVD set which has really bad video quality.


2. The content: B+/A-

This show is an anime adaptation of the popular Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai. But the adaptation comes with a twist – it has sci-fi elements and big robots. The series is pretty entertaining to watch, the plot is pretty straight forward.

The animation has to be seen separately. GONZO has put lots of effort into the fighting sequences, so they look really good even in today’s standards. And there are lots of actions here and there in the show so that you never get bored while watching this. However, the normal scenes seems constantly off model on the characters, the worst case is the first half of episode 7, even minami-ke okaeri could do better than that…

While the story is engaging, I found it doesn’t have lots of replay value on the entire set. However, the beginning episodes, the middle peasants/samurai fighting bandits, the ending samurai battling with emperor/bandits have great replay value due to their high production value on the fighting sequences.


3. The Video: C+


GONZO logo, looks like upconverted.


FUNimation logo in HD, although it’s just a static picture…


I have to give this release a low score due to severe banding issue. After episode 6 and on, the bandings are everywhere, and they are too hard to be ignored. The bandings could go as bad as some random brush strokes on character’s face, clothes, or the background. FUNimation even acknowledged that the banding issue are from the masters. To me, FUNimation should either ask GONZO for a better quality master, or not releasing this on Blu-ray after all.

All in all, there are only 15% of the time the video quality managed to wow me. Other time, it’s either too soft or the dreaded banding issue.


4. The Audio: B+


Both English and Japanese languages are in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Due to my system limits, I can only get the core part, the lossy tracks. For this show, I listened primarily in Japanese. The audio quality is decent with good bass, good directionality/channel separation, also the dynamic range is decent although could be better since it’s partially a robot show. This show has quite a lot of percussion, so I would suggest turn the bass up a little, it would be quite fun to watch. I really like the direction the sound director took to make it a great presentation. However, the volume seems to be not normalized, some episodes just have louder volumes than the other ones. This is quite noticeable on episodes 9, 10 and few others which has louder volumes. Another problem is the sound effects, notably the katana fighting effects are off in the earlier episodes. I think this problem exists in the original mixing, not something FUNimation could avoid, unless they also remix the original Japanese track… (Now just need to go back to the English track to see if the problems are there?) I really would like to give A- for the audio, but the non-normalized audio volume is a big no-no to me.


5. The Menu and Subtitles: A-


The menu on this one is quite good, both title menu and pop-up menu are provided. The title menu has some ink droplets showing some scenes from the show, the background music is quite which perfectly depicts the moody feeling of the show. The pop-up menu has the same style/position as the title menu minus the background of course. Menus are simple and effective. Also FUNimation has fixed the issues for monitors with huge overscan by moving the menus inside the title safe window a little bit. The only problem is the small texts, it is still really hard to see them especially if you are sitting far from your TV. Seems like FUNimation just don’t want to follow the industrial standards. Another small nitpick is the menus come with button sounds, while the sounds cannot be disabled like other discs come with this feature.



The subtitles, two tracks are provided, one for signs, one for Japanese translation. The Japanese translation subtitle still don’t provide sign translation though, not a big deal for me anyways. The font size on the subtitles are all alright, and the rendering quality is on par with vobsub on computers thanks to Blu-ray technology’s 256 bit color support. The timing of the subtitles are on the fast side, or should I say the translations are too long given the time they appear. Might also be my first language is not English. Overall, it’s not bad.


6. The Extras: B





Clean opening shown above, pop-up menu is provided, the subtitle is enabled by default.

Extras are sparse on this release. There are the obligatory clean opening and ending on disc 3. There is also one promotion video in Standard Definition:


Interesting thing is that the codec is AVC in DVD-ish bitrate (5-8Mbps) even though the video is standard definition. English subtitle is turned on by default.


A pop-up menu is again provided despite the video being SD, again FUNimation is working hard on the disc. You won’t see other disc authoring house providing a pop-up menu on SD features, even for those Hollywood titles.

The other extras are two English language commentaries from the show’s staff. One commentary is for the first episode on disc 1, one for episode 14 on disc 2. And the main features can be resumed while accessing these extras which is really thoughtful for FUNimation.


And what’s left are all trailers. There’s one trailer (Dragon Ball movies Blu-ray, pic above) on each disc’s opening before entering into the title menu, they are all HDs though. As usual FUNimation title, the only way to bypass these are via title menu button from your remote (pop-up menu button won’t work).


There are a couple trailers on disc 3, there are two HD trailers out of the bunch:

Dragon Ball Z is one of them:



Tsubasa is another one:



The rest are all in SD, Jyu-Oh-Sei is probably the better looking ones out of the rest.



BDInfo Spec:

Disc Title:     SAMURAI_7_D3
Disc Size:      49,653,617,824 bytes
Protection:     AACS
BD-Java:        No
BDInfo:         0.5.2


Disc Title: SAMURAI_7_D3
Disc Size: 49,653,617,824 bytes
Protection: AACS
BD-Java: No
Playlist: 00001.MPLS
Size: 48,075,288,576 bytes
Length: 3:28:32
Total Bitrate: 30.74 Mbps
Video: MPEG-4 AVC Video / 17468 kbps / 1080p / 23.976 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Audio: Dolby TrueHD Audio / English / 4049 kbps / 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4049 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Audio: Dolby TrueHD Audio / Japanese / 3969 kbps / 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3969 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Subtitle: English / 35.542 kbps
Subtitle: English / 2.936 kbps

The report is too long that the blog don’t like it, here’s the detailed one:


Since FUNimation is releasing the entire series on three BD50 discs, the bitrate can’t go very high, averaging around 17Mbps mark, each episode [26min] is about 5.59GB (typical Japanese release [~24min] would have bitrate around 30-35Mbps, and each episode around 6.5-7GB for comparison). Note that the audios on the last disc has 24bit depth, while the first two discs only had 16bit. The 50GB disc space are filled pretty full. I still think it would be better to have a 26 episodes TV series on 4 BD50 with higher bitrate.


Final thoughts:

Disc authoring credits:


The first TV series on Blu-ray by FUNimation seems a little underwhelming to me, especially for the video quality issues. I don’t think this release could justify the name of Blu-ray. I would suggest a rental first, start from episode 6 to see if the bandings are issues to you as they are very very distracting for me.


Lastly, Boxset scans:

JPEG Version:

Uncompressed TIFF Version (4 parts):



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