Sky Crawlers, The

WSR Score4.5
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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Mamoru Oshii & Toshihiko Nishikubo (Animation)
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Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
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Based on the novel by Mori Hirosh ("Sukai kurora"), The Sky Crawlers is a story of an exciting but endless war with heroes too young to understand the reality of their battles. A group of eternally young fighter pilots known as Kildren experience the sudden loss of innocence, as they battle the enemy in dogfights above the clouds. With his only childhood memory consisting of intense fight training, the fearless teenage pilot Yuichi's (Kase) dogfights coexist with his struggle to find his missing past. When his beautiful, young female base commander Suito (Kikuchi) is reluctant to discuss the fate of the pilot that Yuichi is replacing''or the strangely perfect condition of that pilot's former aircraft—Yuichi's curiosity becomes heightened. Directed by Mamoru Oshii, the acclaimed director of Ghost In The Shell. (Gary Reber)

Special features include animation research (HD 30:52), sound design and animation (HD 32:16), Sky's The Limit: an interview with Director Mamoru Oshii (HD 15:18), up-front previews, and BD-Live interactivity.

The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture is often extremely muted but at other times, striking, with warm hues. Color fidelity is excellent, with an overall natural character. The animation is engaging with plain, simple animated humans and elaborately textured backgrounds and environments. At times there are some really photo-realistic moments. Blacks are deep, and "shadow delineation" is exemplary for an animated picture. Resolution is superb, revealing textural nuances, and the imagery is pristine. This is an intriguing and fascinating picture to absorb and appreciate the creative animation. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby® TrueHD 5.1-channel soundtrack is available in Japanese and English, as well as Portuguese. All three lossless soundtracks are superb, but the Japanese version is preferable. The sound is extremely dynamic, with very quiet sequences and blasting sortie battles in the sky. Dialogue is remarkably natural sounding and impressively integrates spatially with the animated scenes. Sound effects are perfectly recorded and dimensionally placed in the soundfield. There are impressive propeller-powered warplane pans and approaches from the back of the soundfield. Surround envelopment is holosonic®, with aggressive directionalized sound effects and effective atmospheric effects. Bass extension can be deep and powerful and can extend to below 25 Hz in the .1 LFE channel. The music score is well recorded, with a wide and deep soundstage. Fidelity is outstanding throughout and in every sonic application. This is a fantastic soundtrack that is totally engaging. (Gary Reber)