DVD Title
Azumi
International Title
Azumi
DVD Length Original Length
128 Minutes 142 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
EVS Entertainment 2004
Language Subtitles
Japanese, Thai English, Thai, Korean
Region Number of Discs
0 2
Aspect Ratio Sound
1.85:1 (Anamorphic) 2.0 Stereo, 5.1 Surround
Extras
.
Menus (English)
.
Chapters (16, Preview)
.
Trailers: Azumi (1, TV spot), Silmido, New Police Story
.
Staff Profiles (Thai, 9 in total)
.
Cast Profiles (Thai, 16 in total)
.
Battle on the Wild Side: Staff and Cast Interviews (85 minutes)
.
Making of Azumi - Fighting on the Edge (40 minutes)
.
Azumi TV Special (13 minutes)
.
Making of Azumi TV Special (14 minutes)
.
Promotion Footage Feature (Music Video, 5 trailers / 10 minutes)
.
Concept Art Gallery
Captures
Review

One look at the outside package that this 2-disc set comes in should be enough of an indication that this is not your average region 0 release. In fact, there are several aspects to this release that raise it to way above average, although its still with its faults. The video presentation here could have stood to be better for example, not to mention that it cuts about 14 minutes from the film; however, the disc almost full makes up for this with the audio and extras, which are really above and beyond on this release.


 Video:

The instant that the Toho Logo appeared on screen, severally discolored, I was preparing myself for the worst. Fortunately, it's not anywhere near as bad as the logo would suggest, although its far from perfect as well. With that said, the colors here certainly leave some to be desired. They can be very vibrant on occasion, but because of the large amount of discoloration (the entire movie is overly green and yellow), these tend to be muted with more monotone shades. The brightness level here is also problematic, as it's set a little low, making many of the night scenes difficult to make out, although it's not nearly as bad as on AnimEigo's Zatoichi in Desperation release. Digital inconsistencies could have been handled a little better too, as there are some minor signs of artifacting as the movie appears to have been slightly compressed. On the positive side, the print used for the transfer is in excellent condition, sporting very little grain and without a scratch mark in sight.

The disc's real detractor here, though, is that 14 minutes of footage is cut for this release. Some of the footage left on the editing floor include a dream sequence and several other scenes, although none of the fights or violent aspects were removed, so this wasn't done on a censorship basis.

Azumi is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, or widescreen, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


 Audio:

This release deserves a lot of high marks here, as it varies the audio enough to satisfy most, while the quality of the tracks themselves tend to sound amazing. There are a total of three audio tracks present on this disc: a 5.1 surround Japanese track, a 2.0 stereo Japanese track and a 5.1 surround Thai track. The two Japanese audio tracks sound great on this release, both featuring crystal clear sounding presentations with no pops or crackles to be heard. The speaker distinction in the stereo and surround tracks is nice as well, although the Japanese surround track does sound softer than the other two, which is simply a side effect of the low volume level that it was recorded at.

The dubbed Thai track isn't as polished as the others, though, as it does feature some crackles on the very rare occasion. Thankfully, speaker distinction is still noticeable, and it's more than adequate substitute if one wishes to listen to the film in another language.

As a further positive, the audio tracks are accompanied by English, Thai or Korean subtitles on this release, which can be toggled on or off.


 Extras:

The extras present on this DVD really make it stand out, as there is a huge wealth of added features for this release, over 3 hours worth in fact. The extras are spread out across the two discs, although the bulk of them appear on the second.

Extras to be found on the first disc include a trailer and a TV spot for the film, along with adverts for the Korean film Silmido and the Chinese film New Police Story. The other extras on this disc are some text based cast and staff profiles, both of which are in Thai.

The second disc has the remainder of the extras, although they aren't as English friendly as the other aspects of the set. The features are selectable from the menu in English, but the actual supplements are only included with Thai subtitles or dubbed in Thai, as is the case with some. Still, one can't overlook the large array of added material to be found here. The Battle on the Wild Side feature, for instance, clocks in at more than two hours, as it features tons of interviews of the staff and cast as they discuss nearly every aspect of the movie. The second feature is "Making of Azumi", this one dubbed in Thai, which shows a lot of behind the scenes footage from the film. There are also two TV specials present, one focused on Aya Ueto and the other on the making of the movie. As a catch all feature, there is also a video here dedicated to the "promotion" of Azumi, which includes all of the trailers (5 in total) and a music video, which is really cheesy. The disc is rounded out by a Concept Art gallery, which is rather expansive and covers both costumes and locations.

The presentation of the menus on the first disc are worth noting on their own, though. Granted, the introduction to the disc is cumbersome, showing a great deal of the climax and lasting one minute long before it redirects to the main menu. Another slightly annoying aspect is that the movie will start automatically if left on the main menu for more than 30 seconds. On the positive side, and something that was totally new to me, is that the chapter menu is presented with previews. What this means is that the disc can take the viewer directly to that scene, or it can play from the chapter menu (in a small window, which loads instantly) to get a good idea if this was the correct scene one was looking for. It might sound a little awkward, but it feels very natural when one is actually navigating the feature, and is something that would be great to see added to other DVDs.


 Overview:

Bottom line, EVS Entertainment has proven them self to be a company worth watching out for in regards to quality region 0 Toho releases, something which I never thought I would say. The lost footage from the film itself is dishearting, but the other aspects of the disc are so well done that it's hard to discredit the release fully on account of that alone. It does retail for a little higher than the average region 0 DVD, $15-20, but at least it's more than worth the price.

- Anthony Romeros
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