Review: SHORT PEACE: Complete Collection (Blu-ray/DVD)

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Title: SHORT PEACE: The Complete Collection
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.7 GB) / Blu-ray / DVD
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Studio: Sentai Filmworks
Original MSRP: $39.99 (Digital Version with Game) / $29.98 (Blu-ray) / $24.98 (DVD)
Number of Discs: N/A
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), French, German, Italian
MPAA Rating: NR
SHORT PEACE is also available, without the game, on Blu-ray and DVD.
The downloadable version of this movie was used for this review.
A copy of this movie was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
SHORT PEACE: Complete Collection is part of a movie/video game package called SHORT PEACE which includes the game and four short-films. The review of the game SHORT PEACE: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day can be found here.

Story:
The movie itself is divided up into four anime short films, titled Possessions, Gambo, A Farewell to Weapons, and Combustible. Each short film deals with drastically different characters and storylines mostly with very strange, alternate reality themes.

The first film, Possessions, is about a wanderer who takes refuge from the rain in a shrine. As he opens the door, it appears that the shrine has been used to throw away garbage. Nevertheless, he asks the deity of the shrine for permission to stay there to wait out the storm. The traveler quickly discovers himself in an alternate world, where the shrine itself comes alive. Of the four films, this one is my favorite because of the strange and bizarre images in the animation. The wanderer himself has a very likable personality, and even though the film is around 15 minutes in length the creators did a great job of connecting me with the character. He seems to be completely fearless of his surroundings and instead of freaking out or losing his mind, he decides to make the best of his situation. What happens to the unnamed man is so bizarre and I completely expected him to react totally different that I expected him to. Everything about this short film is well done, along with the great ending.

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The second film, Combustible, starts out by panning the camera across a very long animated painting, similar to the famous Chinese panoramic painting, Along the River During the Quingming Festival. When the camera reaches the end, you see a little girl named Waka, called Waka-chan by her friend, Matsukichi, who lives next door. The film tells a tale of two childhood friends, a boy and a girl, who grow up together. Matsukichi wants to be firefighter, but his parents disapprove of this. It ends up being a story about firefighting in ancient Japan, where firefighters have to demolish whole houses to prevent the spread of fires.

Gambo is about a large demon who is terrorizing a town. Each night the demon will come to the town to kill and pillage, and also kidnap its women. There is only one young girl left, who befriends a rare white bear named Gambo, who she asks for help to slay the evil demon.

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The last film, A Farewell to Weapons, is about a dystopian future where a group of scavengers explore a mostly destroyed city, only to discover what seems to be the remnant of a robotic security system referred to as a GONK. The whole film had me on edge, watching the firefight between the men and these seemingly indestructible automated robotic tanks, and reminded me of several anime movies, such as Evangelion or Aquarion.

Overall, I really loved this collection and I really am grateful that they were subbed and released in North America. I think all four of these films did an excellent job of connecting me with the characters, and giving a sense of immersion into their worlds given the short amount of time that they lasted. Overall, the running time of the complete movie is one hour, eight minutes.

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Video:
Each animation is very well done and very detailed. The colors are bright and bold, and the lines are smooth and crisp. The animation itself is beautiful, with very lifelike mannerisms of the various characters.

The only overall complaint that I had is with the video playback mechanism on the digital version, which can only be controlled by a DualShock 3 controller (as opposed to the official PlayStation Bluetooth remote control). I found that if you pause the video, sometimes it won’t go back into the play mode very easily. Also, the fast forward feature is limited to three times fast forward, but it does have a feature where you can jump to any of the specific films.

Audio:
Unfortunately, I was not able to experience the movie in surround sound, but I found the sound effects and the voice acting to be well done. There wasn’t too much music in each of the films, but what was there was used at precise moments to capture the mood of each scene. Much of the music throughout the films was a blend of instrumental, sounds, and traditional-sounding Japanese songs. My most memorable and favorite song was the one sung by the small frog made from broken umbrellas from the film Possessions. That said, I cannot wait to get my sound system back up and running so I can re-watch these movies in surround sound.

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Bonus Features:
The main bonus feature of this film package is a game, Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, which is the fifth installment of the SHORT PEACE films, but in the form of a game.

Unfortunately, besides the video game, the bundle did not come with any bonus features. Given how short the overall content included in this video is along with the price, I would have liked to have had some interviews with the directors about their films and perhaps some behind-the-scenes footage.

Editor’s Note: The Blu-ray and DVD versions contain four postcards with artwork from the films and no other bonus features.

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Conclusion:
Overall, despite a few technical problems this is a great package and a really great set of anime short films. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime, you’ll want to see this. I first saw trailers for the game during a Tokyo Game Show presentation either last year or the year before and quickly put it on my watch list for a localization, so I’m really happy to see that Bandai Namco brought the films and the game over to the States.

With this said, unless you are a hardcore anime fan and money is not an issue, I cannot recommend this package at the current price. As mentioned before, all of the films were a combined length of one hour and eight minutes. With the lack of any sort of bonus features or extras it’s really tough to justify the forty dollar price tag.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray version of the SHORT PEACE films is available now for just about half of the price of the bundle, and comes with four nice-looking postcards featuring scenes from each of the four short films. So another option is to get the Blu-ray now and wait for the bundle to go on sale (or just do the latter when it gets into your price range).

Whichever option you decide, if you’re an anime fan, I highly recommend buying and watching the collection at some point.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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