TO - 2001 Nights on Blu-Ray and DVD

TO - 2001 Nights

Manga Entertainment
DVD or Blu-Ray
1. (2 episodes + extras)
Running time:
128 mins approx
16:9 widescreen
English 5.1, Japanese 5.1
Release date:
26th Sept 2011
DVD £19.99, Blu-Ray £24.99
Actual Price:
DVD £12ish - Amazon - Play
Actual Price:
Blu-Ray £16ish - Amazon - Play

Brief synopsis:

Elliptical Orbit The crew of a sparsely populated space station in Earth orbit have some surprise visitors in the form of a deep space mining ship returning home after a long trip in cyro-sleep, bringing with them a precious a cargo that can supply the Earth with abundant energy for many years to come. Dan, the Captain of the station "Midnight Bazooka" and Maria, Captain of the returning vessel "Flying Dutchman" have a long and difficult history, not made any easier by the fact that Dan is approaching the end of his life while Maria, due to her time in cryo-sleep has barely aged since their last meeting 15 years ago. But whatever unresolved issues they may have to deal with get pushed to the wayside when a second group of unexpected visitors arrive at the station intent on capturing the Flying Dutchman and using it's precious load as a weapon of mass destruction.

Symbiotic Planet
Terra-forming an alien and inhospitable planet's hard enough at the best of times, but when there's a second competing settlement also trying to colonise the same planet with radically different and incompatible plans for the ecosystem, life can become pretty much impossible. Hailing from these competing camps, a pair of star-crossed lovers don environment suits and meet in secret amongst the flora and fauna of their adoptive home. When tensions between the two camps turn into outright war, it may well be the planet itself that is the only thing that can keep them all alive.


Here’s a bit of behind the scenes here at SFL for you. When news first landed on that there inter-webs that the classic and much-lauded sci-fi anthology 2001 Nights manga was about to get a new two part OVA I was quite excited. Then once it transpired that it was to be helmed by Sori (he of Appleseed and Vexille) and using the same cell shaded CGI techniques used for those two aforementioned movies, our Head Honcho and all-round nice guy Louis Savy was bombarded with messages from my outbox all along the lines of “you really really have to try and get this”. Then earlier this year, just before the anime all-nighter line up was to be finalised, Louis got word from MangaUK that TO was shaping up to be a possibility which was snapped up faster than you can say “hold the front page boys… we’ll have it”.

But why the excitement? Well for anyone raised on the great sci-fi classic short stories from the 20th century which sprang from the pens and typewriters of the likes of Arthur C Clark, Issac Asimov and William Gibson, the early 80’s Manga 2001 Nights was one of the few “comic book” series to ever get close to visually capturing the feel and wonder of these great sci-fi tale-smiths. Created in part as homage, part celebration of the sci-fi short stories that had flourished post WWII, when the world was looking to science – hard science, not that fluffy make-believe stuff you get on the Star Trek’s USS Make Sh*t Up - to create a better, more exciting future, 2001 Nights tipped many a hat to these previous works as well as referencing many well known - and not so well known - sci-fi movies and TV shows whilst presenting fantastic tales of humanity’s expansion across the stars. The name itself comes from Arthur C Clarke’s 2001 as well as Arabian Nights, both of which obviously had heavy influence on the nineteen individual stories which were published over the years, set over hundreds of years of human exploration and while most of these seem to have no connection, many reference back to earlier - and later – tales with many characters and stories subtly coming full circle. All nineteen stories were collected into three volumes published by Viz Media may years ago, which today are rarer than ducks teeth but well worth checking out if you can get your hands on them.

So what happens when you couple one of the great sci-fi anthology manga of the 20th century with the Director of some of the best CGI anime movies of the 21st century? Well you get a release that manages something that’s been sorely missing in a number of recent movies, that being the merging of both beautiful CGI animation and a well written story under-pinning it and holding the whole thing together - hey, James Cameron, are you listening to this bit? No lie, the animation is actually stunning and it’s nice to see that the animators have tried to stay with the original 80’s character and ship designs as they could, well as close as they could without looking silly. They’ve also tried to stick as close to hard science as they could though I think Issac Newton may have a thing or two to say about the nature of zero gravity shenanigans as shown in Elliptical Orbit.

It’s been interesting over the last few years to watch the Appleseed and Vexille movies and see Sori’s team get that little bit better at their art each time. I’m not saying it’s perfect, there’s still a way to go before the uncanny valley is well and truly left behind, but now it seems that they’re starting their ascent up out of the realism trench rather than falling further into it.

One thing I do have to mention before I go is the Dub. While a big fuss has been made about the original Japanese version - in which both Romi Park and Aya Hirano are excellent – the English language version totally takes it to another level here, both in the quality of it’s voice acting but also in the way that for once the “re-versioning” work on the on the script has actually improved and expanded upon the original to make the Dub version the far superior of the two. And that’s not something you’ll ever be hearing from me too often.


Interview with director Fumihiko Sori, Akio Ohtsuka and Romi Park; Interview with director Fumihiko Sori, Jun Fukuyama and Aya Hirano; Trailers; TV spots; Promo videos.

TO – 2001 Nights is available now from most high streets and online retailers. If you have a Blu-ray player, do yourself a favour and lay out the few quid extra for the Blu-ray version, your eyes will thank you for it.

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