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Headsup: Stories From Japan

Out this month are three releases of stories from the Land of the Rising Sun:

Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 Blu-rayFirst we have Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 (you can see our coverage of Sailor Moon Crystal Set 1 here), which follows the continuing adventures of Usagi as she now must face new foes in the form of the Spectre Sisters  and a mysterious girl with pink hair as they threaten to take the Silver Crystal.  This set contains episodes 15-26 of the rebooted series (the Black Moon Arc) and is available in standard DVD, standard Blu-ray combo, and Limited Edition Blu-ray combo packs.  Both Blu-ray options also have some bonus features, including a digital art gallery, clean opening and ending songs, and an interview with Momoiro Clover Z, the Japanese girls’ group that sings the theme songs for the series.  The Limited Edition set also boasts some additional extras, including an exclusive chipboard box, a 96-page art booklet with episode summaries, and six full-color art cards.  Fans should also be aware that (yes, only one f in the URL) also offered an exclusive Sailor Moon sun catcher with purchase but they were so popular that they’ve already sold out, so if you want that option, keep your eyes peeled on eBay and the like.  On Amazon you can snag the DVD set there for $27.99, the Blu-ray Combo set for $53.98, and the Limited Edition Blu-ray set for $62.19.


Silence Blu-rayNext we have Martin Scorsese’s passion project Silence.  Based on the 1966 historical novel (of the same name) by Shusaku Endo, the film follows the journey of two Portuguese 17th-century Christian missionaries (portrayed by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they seek to find their former teacher (Liam Neeson), a fellow priest who is rumored to have renounced his faith under torture in Japan.  Due to scheduling and legal problems, Scorsese has been trying to make this film for 28 years, and its successful completion again brings the director’s penchant for faith-based themes to the forefront of a career spanning more than five decades.  In addition to religious undertones in multiple pieces of his work, Silence rounds out a trilogy of religion-specific films, following The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988 (which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best director, polarized reviews from critics, and such an uproar from religious protest groups that it turned into a media sensation) and Kundun in 1997 (the Dalai Lama biopic whose distribution pitted the two world powers of China and Disney against each other).  Silence will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Combo pack on March 28 (and is currently available on digital HD for you early birds).  The Blu-ray option includes the singular bonus feature of Martin Scorsese’s Journey into Silence, a special which walks viewers through the director’s long journey of bringing the film to life, including interviews and production footage.  Amazon and iTunes both have the digital version on offer for $14.99 and you can pre-order the other formats on Amazon now (for shipping March 28)— the DVD goes for $17.99 and the Blu-ray Combo Pack for $19.99.

Last but by no means least, we have Ghost in the Shell.  If you’ve seen trailers for the new live-action movie starring Scarlett Johansson premiering at the end of the month, you may or may not be aware that it’s based on an original manga from over two decades ago.  The story revolves around a futuristic society in which humans routinely have cybernetic implants in their brains to allow them to function despite injury and trauma, which ultimately opens them up to the possibility of hacking.  The leading character is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg government agent who together with her fellow Section 9 agents and the Internal Bureau of Investigations must attempt to stop the machinations of a computer virus (“The Puppet Master”) intent on taking over the wills of human hosts.  The anime film that was subsequently released in 1995 (directed by Mamoru Oshii) revolutionized the genre and is still considered one of the leading Japanese animation films to date.  It is now out on Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging that includes exclusive artwork from Mondo.  Die-hard fans probably know that this is the third time the film has been released on Blu-ray, and if you have the 25th anniversary release, you pretty much have this one (no special features beyond the inclusion of a Digital HD Ultraviolet code, just the nice packaging with the exclusive artwork).  There are even some past releases that do have some bonus content (such as one that included a Limited Edition Collectible 24-page book featuring an interview with Director Mamoru Oshii).  If this is the one for you, you can grab it on Amazon for $24.99, but unless you must must must have this one (or if you really care about having the Ultraviolet code), you may want to check out one of the previous releases for a better price and possibly more content.

1 comment

  • I definitely want to pick up that Limited Edition Blu-ray set of the Sailor Moon Crystal. It’s a great treatment for a classic show.