The first thing that'll likely strike most viewers is just how vivid the colours are. The palette used has little in the way of subtlety, being mainly bold primaries, but it certainly delivers in terms of vivacity. Reds in particular are punchy and though there isn't a great deal of complexity or gradation, there is still a good depth to the darker colours and no obvious signs of noise or instability within them. The strength of the shades utilised helps present an image with a good degree of dimensionality, and the frame often draws the eye. There are instances though, often when CG is overused in wider shots, when the contrast takes a hit and what was vaguely three dimensional becomes decidedly flat in comparison. For the most part it is bubblegum hues and neon, but when depicting real people Miike has gone for decidedly dowdy tones and these greys, blues and blacks help show an extra layer to the visuals as they too stay stable and have a touch more delicacy to them, showing no signs of banding.
Grain is fairly even, though sometimes heavy, for a mixed live action and CG affair and there are some nice touches that blur the edges of the animated inserts with a touch of finesse. The result is an image that generally avoids any excessively obvious signs of overlaying people in front of computer generated backgrounds, being reasonably fluid whilst maintaining solid delineation in the foreground. Close ups stay the most strikingly sharp, but there is no sign of softness creeping in to mar the image in an uneven manner. Flesh tones stay realistic, a feat all the more stunning considering there are moments when cartoon animation mixes with the actors and significantly skews the palette.
There is so much on screen at any one moment that it is hard not to be impressed that everything has been held as stable as it is. Were it not for a few missteps with certain CG sequences that wash out the image somewhat (though arguably only in comparison to the rest of the punchy visuals) and leave proceedings looking more two dimensional this would have scored even higher.
If the image went for bold extremes but was hindered by a few missteps, the sound mix sits fairly comfortably in the middle playing it safe. Dialogue is extremely crisp and never wavers in terms of level. The surrounds come to life when action sequences start and objects ping between front and back, left and right with some regularity. Pans are handled well, with the noises meshing into the soundscape without being too obvious. If there's any problem with the mix, it is that everything performs well, but just never takes that extra step to bowl you over.
Neither high nor low frequencies are ever capable of pushing far enough into the room to actually resonate, the only exceptions being a few zipping robotic pans and an explosion or two. There is nothing wrong, but given the nature of the visuals a more straightforward and aggressive orchestration was what was arguably required here. Music is tuneful, but lacks the cutting and sharpness in the higher end to achieve what is necessary. The centre channel is nigh on flawless to my ears (though obviously I don't speak Japanese so can't attest to minute inflections etc), but ultimately that isn't where the greatest emphasis should have been. This is still a very good mix with no glaring faults and consistent levels throughout; it just lacks some dimensionality at either end of the spectrum.
Yatterman is a film that might scream cult classic to some, but for most will fall between the two influences that permeate so much of it. For many the diametrically opposed aspects of children's show and sniggering titillation simply won't work when viewed in tandem. The throwaway plot can easily be forgiven as to criticise a by-product of the source material would be wrong. There are many enjoyable elements, such as the music, mecha action and youthful exuberance to be commended and enjoyed, but the whirlwind of ideas and lack of coherent direction ultimately hinder a piece that could easily have shed half an hour of its total running time.
The disc is solid, with an image that for the vast majority of time shows the boldness of the visuals in an impeccable light. The sound mix may not be the most striking or potent, but it also lacks any true flaws. The omission of any additional materials is disappointing, as is the locking of the disc to region A, but if you're a die-hard Miike fan then I'm sure this won't have too significant a bearing on your decision of whether to buy this fun, flawed adventure on Blu-ray.
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