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Supernatural: The Animation Series: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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The otherworldly TV phenomenon that is Supernatural makes history entering another world: as the first-ever live-action television show to be reimagined as an animé series. The internationally acclaimed animation powerhouse Madhouse Studios produces the show with the blessing of original series creator Eric Kripke. With storylines mirroring Supernatural’s first two seasons plus supplemental tales derived from prequels and spinoffs, this 3-Disc, 22-Episode Collection expands the dimensions of the familiar Winchester mythology. Journey down the backroads of America with brothers Sam and Dean as they search for clues to their father’s disappearance, hunt down the supernatural in all its unearthly forms and enter into the unexpected mystery of their destinies – in vibrant, exciting animé.
The OAV Supernatural: The Anime Series (2011) is an anime first: an American live-action show reworked as a Japanese animation series. (The original Supernatural debuted in 2005 on the WB, and continues on the CW.) Sam and Dean Winchester are Hunters--licensed officers who tool around the United States in a classic black Chevy Impala, pursuing demons, ghosts, vampires, and other evil spirits. They're also looking for their father, a Hunter who's chasing the evil entity that killed their mother. Almost all the specters strike attractive young women, and the series soon devolves into a damsel-in-distress formula, with Sam and Dean arriving in the nick of time to dispatch the threat with silver bullets, salt, and fire. Some of the episodes are reworked from the original program; others are new story lines for the characters. But too many of them play like a mash-up of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hardy Boys. Supernatural: The Anime Series recalls old live-action-based Saturday morning shows like The Karate Kid and Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. The designs for the characters are stiff, and the animation remains minimal, with still drawings accompanying voice-over dialogue. Although there are occasional interesting special effects, the series doesn't really make use of the potential that animation offers. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles repeat their roles as Sam and Dean, and appear in tight T-shirts to introduce each episode. (Not rated; suitable for ages 14 and older: graphic violence, violence against women and children, grotesque imagery, animal cruelty, alcohol use, potentially offensive religious imagery) --Charles Solomon
(1. The Alter Ego, 2. Roadkill, 3. Home, 4. Ghost on the Highway, 5. Savage Blood, 6. Till Death Do Us Part, 7. Temptation of the Demon, 8. Everlasting Love, 9. The Spirit of Vegas, 10. Moonlight, 11. Nightmare, 12. Darkness Calling, 13. What Lives in the Lake, 14. Reunion, 15. Devil's Trap, 16. In My Time of Dying, 17. Rising Son, 18. Crossroad, 19. Loser, 20. What Is and What Should Never Be, 21. All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1, 22. All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2)
- The Making of Supernatural: The Anime Series 2-Part Featurette
- Interviews with Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Series Creator Eric Kripke, Directors Shigeyuki Miya and Atsuko Ishizuka and Voice Actors Hiroki Touchi and Yuuya Uchida
- Episode Introductions by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles
- Trailers and TV Spots
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I did happen to wait a while for it to come down in price, because I'm a bit of a bargain hunter that way, but now that I've watched it a few times I'm pretty sure that I made the right choice to wait. Its not to say the Anime version of my beloved show is bad -its far from bad- its just a decidedly different spin on the mythos, characters and really the entire tone of the series.
The Animation takes place within seasons 1 and 2 of the main series, with the overarching plot threads of both those seasons pretty much intact. This was a good thing for me as a fan, because I never felt lost when it came to the storyline, even if it may have been nice to have a completely different story all together. But where the plot remains the same most of the episodes are completely different, if not completely original to this series. And this brings about mixed results.
Having gone back and watched the first two seasons after seeing this, you can tell which episodes were lifted from the original for the anime, and its a refreshing new coat of paint for many of them. Most, if not all, of their story and scripts seemed in tact, if a bit edited down for time and format (seeing as each episode of this is only 23 minutes or so) and the changes made to these stories are hardly the worst thing that could happen in the world. Actually, I found I liked the ending to one of the anime episodes much better then the live action series(but this result wasn't the norm across the board).
Where the set really takes a spin in an irregular direction is the original episodes. These episodes generally try to flesh out story bits that we otherwise never see in the original series, like, as an example, a little more about the other "blessed" children that end up in the ghost town (which was more of a post apocalyptic cityscape here. Very, Japanese. Very Anime) fighting to survive the night and become old Yellow Eye's general, with Sam. This series also tells you a little more about what John Winchester is doing while he's avoiding the boys. All of which is a nice thing to see if it wasn't for how the tone of these original episodes didn't shift the whole feel of the show from quirky and melodramatic, to decisively, almost gut-wrenchingly, hardline dramatic. It works, but it just doesn't feel right with the Supernatural name branded on it. One episode, in which Sam and Dean head to Vegas (which is a trip mentioned in one of the episodes early on in the live action series, that we never see) adds a bit of lighthearted levity to the whole back of tricks, but feels awkward amongst everything else.
The other thing that makes these original episodes stand out is the fact that, for the most part, these episodes use very Japanese centered folklore to provide an antagonist and story. This, was a bit of a double edge sword for me. In one case I liked it, because I greatly appreciate Japanese culture, specially when I have the opportunity to learn something new about it and its folklore. But in the other case, the case of watching it with someone who loves the original series as much as I do, but doesn't really know or care all that much about Japanese culture, it became a bit of a pain, because, like most things in Supernatural, the ins and outs of the lore were glossed over, but ultimately because of the time frame we're given to watch the story unfold, we're left with even half the usual understanding of the lore by the end. This raised a lot of questions from my friend, and many of which I couldn't answer, simply because I was new to that piece of folklore. Its hardly enough to jump to the conclusion and say "Don't watch the series!" but its something to keep in mind when it happens, just so you don't wrinkle your nose too hard --if anything it'll have you on google the next day.
Also, I feel like it needs to be mentioned for the sake of mentioning, and it maybe a nitpick, the idea of having things VERY rooted in Japanese culture and folklore, making the very Japanese mark they do in any American setting, without the express notion that this -whatever- was carried here or drifted here from the far east, really does make these things feel out of place. I respect the need to appeal to the place where this version of the show first aired, I just wish that when it was dubbed over for American audiences they snuck in more nods to how these things might have made it state side, given that things that were generally not strictly American legend didn't really end up showing up in the live action series till about after season 5.
Other then this the series takes new directions with some of the characters. You won't really recognize John Winchester or Bobby Singer (and Bobby takes a larger role it feels like, earlier on, but this maybe because of the melding of the two seasons into one whole). It doesn't hurt the series to see a change in them, but its a little hard to get used to at first. You'll recognize Dean, but if your like me you'll think they went a little too heavy on his boyish looks and not enough on the rugged side Jensen often brings. Sam, well.. Is Sam. They pretty much nailed him.
Speaking of, don't expect to hear the original cast dubbing this series. The only actor from the original series who came for the full run of the anime was Jared Padalecki. Supposedly the story goes that due to scheduling conflicts Jensen Ackles couldn't voice Dean for more then two episodes. His replacement, Andrew Farrar, does a good job, but knowing it wasn't Jensen really made it stand out to me that it wasn't really Dean talking. Farrar sounds close enough, but you notice he needs time to get comfortable with it across a few of the first episodes, and he doesn't quite have down all of Jensen's inflections. You also won't realize till you hear it how much those inflections really matter to Dean's character, if you watch this against the live action series. Otherwise, to go with their new looks, characters like Bobby get totally new voices and for the most part I feel they fit the bill.
Overall, this series will provide you a good could nights of entertainment if your a fan of the show, and may confuse you a little if your not-so-up on the show as is. The animation is great and the voice cast is solid, and the episodes where it fills in the blanks are a nice edition despite some of the inconsistency you might find between the tone of this series over that of the live action one. If you can manage to get it at a good price (I wouldn't pay over $25, if its fair to put such a thing in a review) you'll probably be pretty pleased with what you get.
The series mostly consists of a slightly modified retelling of the first two seasons of Supernatural with added anime flare. While well done, the retelling felt very rushed at times, but it's somewhat expected when you realize that they're cramming roughly 44 hour long episodes into a 22 half-hour long episodes. However, there were a number of episodes that were not simply reenactments of the original series and they are what really stood out. Many of these episodes provided fans with new background information on significant characters that were not well fleshed out in the Original series. This is really what made it worth watching.
The animation was top-notch. All of the characters were all well designed-drawn and in more Americanized anime style, if that makes sense. What stood out for the animation were the dark and ominous environments and settings. It was very effectively at portraying the dread from the first two seasons of the original series. The darkness of the series kind of reminded me of the batman cartoons series from the 90s.
The English voice acting was generally excellent, led by a pretty strong effort by Jared Padalecki. I was actually pretty impressed with how much effort he seemed to put into this. The anime series seemed to follow Sam's character more centrally. The voice actor filling in for Dean did a good job, but you could tell that it wasn't Jensen Ackles. Jensen does voice Dean for the last two epsiodes, which I found equal parts odd and exciting. If it hadn't been for the fact that Jared voiced Sam, then I would have said that they Japanese audio track was superior, especially for non main characters. Japanese voice actors carry an enthusiasm to there work that few English counterparts can match.
The soundtrack was a little light, but they managed to pull a few good tracks in. Most notable was Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas, which appropriately closed out each episode. However, if you'll probably be sick of the song by the time you're done watching, because it gets a little overused. You can tell the music budge for the series wasn't a big priority.
All-in-all, if you were a big fan of the original series and/or an anime fan, then you should check this series out.