Saturday, July 3, 2010

Miike's Graveyard of Honor - The AnimEigo Release

I recently received the AnimEigo release of Takashi Miike's Graveyard of Honor, the subject of the last Rundown - and boy am I happy!

The main disk contains the full movie with removable subtitles, and even allows you to choose the color of the subs - yellow or white (I'm sure this has been done before, but I don't ever remembering seeing it, so I'm already impressed right out of the gate) - and I prefer white - yellow just looks cheap to me, but the option to switch it is very cool regardless. The translation is thorough and excellent (better than the "grey market" version floating around - the grey market subs are a little more general and less detailed than the AnimEigo release. Although,
hey, if you understand Japanese, it's not really an issue), and in addition to the subs are occasional "culture notes" that give the occasional explanation of dialogue or other information on-screen.

Aside from the subtitle menu and the obligatory "scene selection" menu, you also get a translation of the movie credits.

The movie itself is a clean transfer, comparable to the original Japanese version, although not really super high definition, it matches the quality of the original Japanese version. The only thing really missing is a DVD commentary, which would have probably been the icing on the cake.

When I get my hands on a Japanese movie released in the USA and find subtitles burned into the transfer, and the whole disk looks thrown together with no extras, or god forbid with a dubbed English track and no Japanese option, I'm pretty much horrified, so all in all, the main disk already has pretty much all I could ask for in a Japanese movie release. This makes the extras disk all that much more of a bonus.

The extras contain a boatload of stuff to keep you occupied for a while, including copious notes on the setting and culture, a thorough biography of Director Miike, and a biography of the "real" Ishimatsu Rikuo - Ishikawa Rikio. It also throws in a few trailers of other movies, a picture gallery, and for people interested in the film making and acting process, the interview footage with Kishitani, Arimori, and Miike, as well as the "Making Of" featurette. You gain insight into Kishitani Goro's mindset and approach to playing
Ishimatsu, as well as Miike's directorial style, and this adds to the overall appreciation of the film. With the added insight gained from the interviews, I sort of wanted to watch the film again - which would make it the 4th time in a month - but I've got to sit through another showing of Like a Dragon for the next Yakuza Film Rundown, so I'll set this aside for a rainy day sometime in the future.

For anyone who wants to look deeper into Takashi Miike's brutal tale of Ishimatsu, the extras is a must have addition to the collection. The release is more thorough than one could hope for, and is on par with Criterion Collection's various releases (which are always top of the line), and so I can recommend it with only one reservation -
like I mentioned above, I just really wish Miike had sat down and did a commentary for this movie like he has with some of his others - that would have made the whole package complete. Aside from the lack of a commentary track, I really can't think of anything that is missing, except maybe an interview with the cinematographer, however I think in Miike's case, he basically IS the cinematographer, so again, it makes me think his commentary would have been great to have.

If you're up for a crazy time, you can get your paws on Graveyard of Honor at the Yakuza Film Store, as well as at the AnimEigo website.

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