Warner Bros. // 2011 // 499 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 2nd, 2011
Carry on my wayward pixel.
This came out of nowhere. A low-rated CW show has some juice in Japan?
As well it should. I stand by my previous verdicts: Supernatural is a damn fine show. But now is not the time to make that case. Our friends over in the Land of the Rising Sun obviously share my sensibilities, as they too have embraced the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles).
Relying on the creative and artistic horsepower of Japanese writers and animators, Supernatural: The Anime Series offers 22 episodes, each running 24 minutes. The series mirrors the first two seasons of the live action show, with a few tweaks made to characters and plot. In addition, you get a few anime originals and inspiration drawn from the Supernatural comic book.
This is cool and unexpected. There are few shows on television I genuinely look forward to, over the course of a week, but I'm always juiced about new episodes of Supernatural. What started as a standard-issue monster-of-the-week series morphed into one of the most creative hour-longs on television, powered by two guys who developed perfect on-screen chemistry.
Which leads us to the good and the bad about this series. The good: for creativity, you can't get more eye-popping than some of the visions these Japanese animators have cooked up. As the Ackles, Padalecki and creator Eric Kripke note in the accompanying interviews, there are things that can be done in animation that is beyond the realm of the live action show's budget. These advancements are noticeable with the implementation of some original and impressive demonic constructions as well as a smorgasbord of ghost effects and twirling Hell-fueled malevolence. The animation is solid and about consistent with the anime I've been exposed to: colorful, stylish and bound nicely to the overall feel of the Supernatural universe.
But there is a tradeoff for all this eye candy: the most important element of the live action show, the very engine that drives Supernatural's success is missing. That is, of course, Padelecki and Ackles. Padelecki voices Sam in all 22 episodes and Ackles does Dean for the two-part finale (the guy who handles Dean duties for the first 20 is completely serviceable) but it's not the same. For one, the writing is far more serious and the humor -- a major piece of the source show -- is downplayed.
Look, I'm dancing around it, so here's the straight dope: The Anime Series loses serious mojo because of the loss of the Jared/Jensen dynamic. As it stands, this release is a nice slice of supplemental material for fans, but can't measure up its live action sibling.
A nice Blu-ray presentation delivers the goods, starting with a razor-sharp and colorful 1.78:1, 1080p transfer that pushes the wild animation with verve. A dubbed 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track joins a 2.0 stereo Japanese mix, both of which do their job nicely; big, paranormal action scenes are enveloping and loud. Bonus feature are high-quality: a lengthy, in-depth two-part making-of featurette, interviews with Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Eric Kripke, directors Shigeyuki Miya and Atsuko Ishizuka and voice actors Hiroki Touchi and Yuuka Uchida, and episode introduction from Padelecki and Ackles.
An interesting concept, but Supernatural: The Anime Series lacks the heart and soul of its flesh-and-blood counterpart.
We'll slap with you a fine and call it a day.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 499 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site