HOME   News   Reviews   Adv Search   Features   My DVD   About   Apps   Stats     Search:
  Directed by
  • Full Frame
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • 2 Teaser trailer
  • 5 Theatrical trailer
  • Interviews - Makoto Shinkai
  • 3 Short film - She And Her Cat (3 versions)
  • Jacket picture
  • Animatic

Voices of a Distant Star

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 25 mins . PG . PAL


Only a rather recent aficionado of animé, this one struck me out of the new blue. Just when I thought I’d kinda managed to sum it up and become used to animé’s style and management, it turns on me and shows me something completely different enough to leave me awestruck. Exquisitely resonant and achingly beautiful, Voices is where animé will be headed in the future. Utilising the human spectrum over the technological future, creator Makoto Shinkai has delivered a soulful interpretation of the future that is sweetly perfect and startlingly lyrical.

Only a short piece at 25 minutes long, it successfully captures the deep down ache of separation from one’s love in a rather moving, visually replete testament to the human condition envisaged for the 21st century. Regardless of its length, this is a haunting account of two young lovers, separated by Time and Space, finding the only means of communication their 20th century mobile phone text messages. There’s a malignant alien presence attempting to annihilate the human race, and Mikako is chosen to fly a super fighter against the threat. This takes her far from home; well over eight light years from Earth, where she has left her love, Noboru.

"Time is so generous to us and yet time is still such a cruel thief..."

An interminable wait accompanies each message as they must travel eight years in each direction to be received. And, while the trip for Mikako is almost instantaneous with light speed travel, Noboru ages at the regular rate, always waiting for a message from his lost love.

This heartbreaking story is told beneath the shadow of oppression and the theatre of war; though it is beyond the stars and far from home. Visually magnificent, vibrantly colourful and reflecting the beauties of life and love, the story is immediately engaging and told with a bittersweet essence that lends our two doomed lovers a heartfelt life we can all relate to, regardless of the unusual circumstances.


Being made for DVD and video, the aspect ratio here is only 4:3, unfortunately, although the layouts have accommodated the screen size well and have acted accordingly. Being a studio production never shot to film, there are naturally no artefacts to spoil the sensational transfer here. In fact, everything is sensational about the visuals. I couldn’t fault the film itself, as each frame glows with a secular life of its own, lending part of the atmosphere to the piece. This is the film that has hooked me on modern animé. Unbelievably better than most everything else I’ve watched so far in my growing experience with animé on DVD. Beautiful work, through and through.


A choice of weapons is on offer here, depending on your language preference. Both English and Japanese versions are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and are perfectly clean and crisp. The space battle scenes and the Earthly rainshowers get all around us and put us amidst the scene very nicely. The other array of sound effects are well placed and subtle for the most part, but subtlety is this film’s hidden weapon, and it has been employed masterfully.

Dialogue is clear in both versions, and although I didn’t understand the Japanese version, it sounded about right. Some of the subtitles are a little clipped, but this is due to differences in our languages, I think. The point is still the same, anyway.

As for music, there is a beautiful series of moments featuring a mournful, yet distinctly hopeful piano piece that carries us from scene to scene. It appears at various moments, sometimes more emphatic and at others more subtle, and goes a long way toward setting the tone of the film. Perfectly suited to the production, the audio has been treated just as nicely as the visuals and stands equally well alongside them.


Being so short, I guess they wanted to fill in the disc and give us something extra too. In this they’ve succeeded with a varied range of extras that do the film justice and certainly add to the value of the DVD.

First up, there is a short film made previous to Voices entitled She and Her Cat, a sweet little story as narrated by a girl’s cat about his love for her. This has the creator’s fingerprints all over it, if you’re watching it after the main feature, as Shinkai employs some of the same shots of finding beauty in the everyday. Told this time in black and white, the story is again lyrical and beautiful and remains with us after it is over. Three versions are included in various stages of edit, with a digest version running for 1.37 and deliberately grainier than the others. A three minute version and five minute version are also available, with my choice being the five minute. This version is so much more luxurious than the others, with deeper content and longer scenes. As a sidebar, this film also won two Grand Prix awards in Japan and is a thankful and worthy inclusion.

An Interview with the Creator follows and runs for 8:16. The English subtitles really ruin this however, as they run atop Japanese embedded subtitles and are almost impossible to read. Still, the interview is interesting and this soft-spoken young man speaks quite eloquently about his works, his limited animation experience and how he managed to finish the films.

An alternate director’s cut of the film is actually the same film, but with the original voices spoken by Shinkai and his fiancée Mika Shinohara in the leads. These are nice and an interesting inclusion, but as to which version is better, this jury is still out, as they both have their appeal.

The original production animatic is next and this is perhaps the least useful of the film’s related inclusions. Being for the full length of the film at 25 minutes, it’s strictly in black and white, has aliasing and lower compression and much less movement (of course). (For those who don’t know, an animatic is like a moving storyboard to the soundtrack to give the animators, among others, a feel for the film).

Original Japanese trailers are all much the same as each other and, oddly, run together as a short film of sorts. In total, they play for 7:34, although they do incorporate a few more facts that didn’t make the film, so are worth checking out for the help, should you wish for it.

Finally, a bunch of trailers for other films, marketed as advanced previews. These again run as a chaptered film and feature Battle Doll: Angelic Layers(?!), Full Metal Panic!, Martian Successor: Nadesico – The Prince of Darkness and the now classic Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Plus, just to keep it interesting, a jacket picture is included for those who like wallpaper on their TVs.

A very sweet bunch of inclusions here that do add weight to the overall value of the disc and support the rather short main feature ably.


Previously still hanging on the edge of committing myself to being a full-fledged animé fan, I’m now hurtling down the sheer walls of the other side, totally enamoured with this sleek and beautiful film. If all animé was this good, this vastly gorgeous and this heartfelt, I would have loved it earlier without doubt. Such resonance I’ve not seen in an animé to date, and can only hope that this is where it goes next; beyond the technology angle and into the hearts of people living in a time beyond, or even parallel to ours. For serious animé junkies, this is a must have; in fact, this is for anyone who even likes it. Haunting, deliberate, directed; this finally puts a human face on the technology and a human heart in the machine.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3308
  • Send to a friend.

    Cast your vote here: You must enable cookies to vote.
      And I quote...
    "Haunting and eloquent, this is animé beyond the now, visiting us from a future where it’s all this good."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
      Recent Reviews:
    by Jules Faber

    Narrow Margin
    "Gene Hackman as an action star? It happened… "

    A King in New York: SE
    "Taking a poke at too many demons makes this film a little stilted and not among his best works"

    A Zed and Two Noughts
    "Is it art or is it pornography? Who cares? Both are good."

    Blake's 7 - The Complete Series One
    "Performances are fine, but the flimsy sets, the crappy props and the undisguisable late 70s hairdos are just too much."

    Heavens Above
    "While not amongst some of Sellers’ more confident roles, this one is still up there amidst the more subtle of them…"

      Related Links
      None listed


    Search for Title/Actor/Director:
    Google Web dvd.net.au
       Copyright © DVDnet. All rights reserved. Site Design by RED 5