Blue Giant - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Blue Giant


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:




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Movie

I’m going to be honest here. I wasn’t really expecting a whole ton from Blue Giant. I’m a huge anime nerd going back 30 years (roughly 95 or 96 was my first introduction in high school) but I’ve never been a HUGE fan of non traditional Anime stories. By that I mean that I tend to lean more toward the traditional mecha/sci-fi/action/comedy/romance stories than I do sports or music based anime. Nothing against them, but most of the films or shows tend to be overly dramatic or heavily art house esque in order to make something as simple as a playing chess or the piano interesting for the average viewer. I honestly didn’t even look at the trailer when I got the announcement from Gkids/Shout Studios a month ago. I simply asked to review it because I’m willing to give anything a chance, and I’m really glad I did.

Based off of the manga of the same named by Shinichi Ishizuka, Blue Giant tells the story of a young 18 year old jazz saxophonist who is willing to give it his all to make it in a dying industry. Set in modern day Japan, Jazz is dying as an art form. About the only people still listening are boomers and Gen X’ers who have grown up listening to giants of old, but very few new people are interested in the style. That is except for one young boy named Dai who picked up the Saxophone 3 years ago and wants to make a name for himself in the Jazz circles. Teaming up with a talented piano player named Yukinori, Dai and his roommate Tamada decide to form a Jazz band name Jass.

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Now, while Yukinori is a classically trained pianist since he was 4 years old, Dai only has 3 years under his belt, despite being a literal prodigy. But Tamada has never picked up a drum set in his life, and is forced to do his best to keep up with his “betters”. The trio starts off small, practicing in the local diner, and bit by bit picking up steam until they finally break out and get some fans. However, no matter how disjointed they sound, or how many of the old guard stand in their way, all 3 boys have but one goal. To play at Tokyo’s prestigious So Blue club and be recognized for their talents.

The best way to describe watching Blue Giant (which takes its name from an old adage of a star glowing so brightly that it changes from the red/orange flame to glowing with a hot blue flame) is that it’s best to simply let the music carry you throughout the film. I can go in depth describing the trials and tribulations of the band, but that’s not the point. The real point of the film is to let the boys passion come out THROUGH their music and let it carry you to the finish line. In which the film does an amazing job. As I mentioned in the opening lines of this review, I’m not a huge fan of music/sports based anime, but this was simply fantastic. The viewer gets sucked straight into the boys lives with the music transporting you out of your seat and into the audience as they play. Sure, the story is great (with a tragic 3rd act twist), but the point of the movie, and the real boon of this film, is that the music is the narrator, the guide, and the end goal all in one. It’s simply best to go with the flow of the music and let it carry you across the finish line rather than isolate plot points.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :4.5stars:
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Blue Giant’s 1080p 1.78:1 AVC encode pops out onto the scene with a stylistic and very colorful looking image that is an all around crowd pleaser. The film employs a mixture of traditional hand drawn line art with 3D CGI effects for when they’re on stage that is designed specifically to mimic the character look of the Manga, but also add a sense of fluidity and motion to the stage performances (where the 3D CGI is used mostly) in order to compliment the fluidic nature of Jazz itself. The styles can sometimes be a bit jarring when you’re looking at the 3D CGI right next to the line art, but after a while you get used it. The image itself is mostly free of artifacts (I did see some very mild banding going on in the clubs) and looks fantastic most of the time. Top tier animation.









Audio: :4.5stars:
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The audio tracks are really where things get good. We’re privy to not only a Japanese Atmos track, but a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track (which is kind of confusing as atmos down mixes to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you’re not Atmos capable), AAAAAAAAND an LPCM 2.0 track for those 20 channel music fanatics out there. Personally I’m a fan of the Atmos track as it’s got an amazing sound stage with all of the music. The film can be heavily dialog centric, with only minor surround activity (such as the hustle and rattle of a construction site), but the music is REALLY where this track kicks into high gear. The entire mix is amazingly encompassing, bleed into all of the channels (including overheads) with a syrupy sort of saturation, and the bass track is blisteringly hot for a simple jazz track. All in all, this is a fantastic mix, and highly worth checking out if you’ve got a properly tuned Atmos setup just for the immersion on this one.












Extras: :1.5stars:
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• Q&A with Hiromi
• Teasers and Trailer












Final Score: :4stars:

Blue Giant is a lovely coming of age story, showcasing the hardness and dedication needed to attain your goals in the music industry, as well as acting as a spiritual awakening to reality for the three boys. When the film opens Tamada, Yukinori and Dai are all about as naive and green as they come. But by the time the curtain closes on their final act performance, they’re men. Shout Studio’s release of the Gkids Blu-ray looks and sounds really good, but I was a bit saddened by the limited extras on the disc. That being said, this is a very solid drama and one that I’m definitely keeping in my collection despite my initial trepidation. Recommended.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Yutaka Aoyama, Masayuki Kato, Sayaka Kinoshita
Directed by: Yuzuru Tachikawa
Written by: Number 8, Shin'ichi Ishizuka
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: Japanese: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese LPCM 2.0
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Studio: Shout Studios
Rated: NR
Runtime: 120 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 30th, 2024
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Recommendation: Good Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Never heard of this one but will check it out.
 

Travis Ballstadt

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Hi. Gen X jazz record collector here. Imma watch the hell outta this.
 
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