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Super Atragon
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Box Front Japanese Title: Shin Kaitei Gunkan (“Super Undersea Battleship”)
Director: Kazuyoshi Katayama
Based On: The novel Kaitei Gunkan (“The Undersea Battleship”) by Shunro Oshikawa, and the illustrated story Kaitei Okoku (“The Undersea Kingdom”) by Shigeru Komatsuzaki
Original Release Year: 1995
Running Time: 99 minutes

DVD Released By: ADV Films
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: Japanese 2.0, English 2.0
Extras: ADV previews
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 16
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $24.98
UPC #: 702727026720
Catalog #: DSA/001
Status: Available


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Reviewed by:  Zillamon51
The Film: In 1945, during the final stages of World War II, the Undersea Battleship Ra prepares for battle.  Utilizing technology and an energy source far more advanced than anything else ever built by man, the Ra is the secret ultimate weapon of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  However, news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima convinces the captain of the Ra to stand down, lest another technological terror be unleashed on the world.  However, the Ra is confronted by its American counterpart, the Liberty!  In the battle that follows, both ships are lost.

Fast forward to the present.  Strange events are occurring at the North and South Poles.  Giant cylindrical columns are emerging from within the Earth.  They emit high levels of microwave radiation, and are melting the polar ice!  A United Nations task force sent to investigate is attacked.  When the UN military forces attempt to destroy the cylinders, they are faced with advanced weapons that modern man is helpless against.

Salvation appears in the form of the Ra.  The undersea battleship engages these strange enemies, and prevails in brilliant fashion.  It turns out that the cylinders are the vanguard of an invasion force from deep within the Earth!  The technology that was used to build the original Ra also came from this advanced civilization.  Now that the Ra has been rebuilt, it is the only weapon humanity has that can stand up to their subterranean counterparts.  Yet as powerful as the Ra is, how can one undersea battleship hope to defend the entire world against such an overwhelming foe?

Super Atragon is an exciting anime based on the same source material as Toho’s 1963 live-action classic Atragon.  This new version utilizes the medium of animation to present great battles and super weapons which would be difficult for a live-action feature to match.  The Ra is a wonderfully designed ship.  It manages to look both futuristic and retro at the same time.  Since it was built during WWII, but using futuristic technology, this is just as it should be.  The Subterraneans’ weapons are some of the coolest ever put on film, such as the gravity lens (a hovering ring which uses extreme gravity to bend remote-fired laser beams towards their targets).  Overall, the animation is very well done.

The film also benefits from interesting characters.  Young Go Arisaka is a naval officer who will discover that his long-lost father has played an important role in the rebirth of the Ra.  Sugawara is the only major player in the political and financial world who knows the full story of what’s going on.  The crew of the Ra is advised by Annette, a former Subterranean agent who wants to avoid war with the surface world.  Her counterpart is Avatar, who believes that all of the warlike surface humans are dangerous and must be exterminated.

All of these elements combine to make
Super Atragon an enjoyable film not only for anime fans, but for anyone who enjoys science fiction, fantasy, and military / war stories.  This DVD edition contains both episodes (approximately 50 minutes each), that were previously available on separate VHS tapes.  Grade:  A

Video: Super Atragon is presented in its original fullscreen aspect ratio.  The image is sharp, clear, and colorful throughout.  It’s free of grain and distortion, and serves the animation well.  Grade:  A

Audio: This disk includes both the original Japanese 2.0 language track, and ADV’s English 2.0 dub track.  Both sound good.  The Japanese voices are more subdued, whereas the dubbing tends to be more theatrical.  This really isn’t a weakness; in fact the English voices serve to add more power and authority to appropriate characters, such as Avatar and the Captain of the Ra.  The English dialogue is translated faithfully, and there are no overt lip synch issues.  Which track you choose to listen to first is strictly a matter of personal preference.  Definitely give each of them a spin.  Either way, the sound effects and catchy military marches all come through loud and clear.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: The only extras are previews of other anime titles available from ADV.  They include:  City Hunter:  The Motion Picture, Excel Saga; Nadia, The Secret Of Blue Water:  The Motion Picture; Steel Angel Kurumi, Sakura Wars 2:  Flower Power, and Go Nagai’s The Devil Lady.  All of the menus have music, and there are animated film clips in the scene selection and preview windows.  Grade:  C-

Final Analysis: The complete Super Atragon, on a subtitled dual-language disk with great sound and picture quality.  Though sparse on extras, this DVD is a definite winner!  Final Grade:  B+
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