First Squad: The Moment of Truth [Blu-Ray] Yoshiharu Ashino

First Squad: The Moment of Truth [Blu-Ray] Yoshiharu Ashino
Moving past the questionable propriety of Russian writers and Japanese animators collaborating on a WWII Manga about zombie Nazis and super-powered Russian teenagers battling in and out of the underworld with faux-testimonials from pretend veterans interjected sporadically, First Squad manages to be perfectly adequate. To expand, while inappropriate, the story of a concussed teen girl with psychic powers helping out an occult division of the Russian army has a bit of dramatic intrigue, especially when contextualized with a troubled past involving dead lovers and a fierce training regimen. But this brief anime never makes any of it feel particularly cohesive, rushing through storylines and character developments that are only hinted at while Nadya travels to the underworld to find her gang of dead superhero friends. We get flashes of romance and teary-eyed close-ups of keepsakes, but it's never given enough heft or exploration to make this politically murky film more than a neat-o curiosity. The animation is consistent, vacillating between the washed-out eeriness of a zombie alternate reality and a static anime trajectory in the real world, making fantasies and flashbacks pop without undue exposition, which at least makes for some keen aestheticism on the high definition front. This helps a flawed package that has some severe subtitling issues if you try to view the "long" version. The short version, which is merely the anime sans first-person faux confessionals, works perfectly fine with an English soundtrack, but when you attempt to watch the full version, the Russian testimonials have no subtitles. When you use a sub-menu to put them up, they appear throughout the entire film, showing completely different English dialogue than that spoken in the film, making the viewing experience distracting and often inappropriately amusing. (Anchor Bay)