Night Raid 1931 Review

Anime

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Night Raid 1931

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: Siren Visual
Format:
DVD
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Price: $49.95 – Available Here

Overview
From the studio that brought us series such as Sword Art Online and Fractale comes a crime drama anime by the name of Night Raid 1931. With a solid sense of mystery and some supernatural elements thrown into the mix, Night Raid 1931 makes for an engaging action series, throw in the wild capers and you’ve got yourself a good night in.

Night Raid 1931 is quite easily the oddball series in A-1 Pictures body of work. It is strange in all the right ways and the distinct story-telling and setting make this anime something a little different from the norm. With a highly intriguing story and a sense of fun about itself, Night Raid 1931 is a solid anime series start to finish.

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Story
The proof is in the pudding as they say and with Night Raid 1931 the pudding is its setting; Shanghai. It is a backdrop that ignites a fire under Night Raid 1931 that refuses to go out. The city of Shanghai is dripping with character and every nook and cranny feels just as alive as the people that inhabit it. While Shanghai does make Night Raid 1931 into something truly special it is the superb story-telling that makes it so memorable.

In the year 1931 the world is on the verge of utter turmoil and a complex web of events are laying themselves out beneath the surface of our world. Conspiracies, criminal syndicates and the dark underbelly of Shanghai are all highlighted in gritty detail. That is where the Sakurai Kikan comes in. They are a group of 4 remarkable individuals that are tasked with uncovering truth in lies.

All of this plays out across an alternate history Shanghai. It is how this alternate history works that really brings the intrigue though, there is an unpredictability to Night Raid 1931 that you wouldn’t expect considering its foundations in a certain time in history. But the alternate history setting opens it up to a world of possibilities and it explores that idea in rich detail.

The characters themselves are each well developed in their own right. The Sakurai Kikan in particular are brought to life with a high level of characterization and depth. Each is distinct and written with deft accuracy. They are all on-point and their interactions with one another prove to be highly entertaining to say the very least.

This particular release of Night Raid 1931 covers the entirety of the series 13 episode run and what a glorious run it is. While there may be some pacing issues here and there, the overall complexity of the story and the high level of detail given to its characters and setting, result in Night Raid 1931 being one of the best crime drama anime in quite some time.

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Visuals and Audio
Artistically speaking, Night Raid 1931 is well-designed with some gorgeous cinematography to boot. The visual arrangement is engaging and appealing all at once. The character designs in particular are quite memorable and a large part of that is due to their appealing aesthetics. The real highlight visually for Night Raid 1931 is its portrayal of Shanghai. It conveys the city with an affectionate touch, bringing Shanghai to life in darkness and in colour. It is quite simple a gorgeous setting and it gives Night Raid 1931 a sense of place that is unforgettable.

Perhaps the real highlight of Night Raid 1931 is its brilliant musical score and arrangement. With an excellent array of jazz-infused tracks to give life to the grimy streets of Shanghai, Night Raid 1931 sounds as bustling as it looks. Not only does it feature some remarkable incidental music but it also has an amazing opening theme song and a solid ending theme. Both songs leave quite an impression.

This release of Night Raid 1931 comes with two language tracks. It features the original Japanese audio track and the English langauge dub track from Sentai Filmworks. The English dub is a solid effort by Sentai Filmworks and it does have some true high points such as the phenomenal Greg Ayres as Aoi Miyoshi. Sadly there is some low points on the other end of the spectrum for the dub like Brittney Karbowski’s grating performance as Yukina Sonogi. It is a mixed bag of a dub, but it is always nice to have the option available.

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Extras
This complete collection release of Night Raid 1931 is quite simply incredible. Siren Visual have bundled in a plethora of special features for fans to feast their eyes on. Included in the release is two OVAs, a special episode and of course the usual clean opening and ending credits. The OVAs and special episode are well worth the watch and give the release some real rewatch value. This is a great deal of substantial bonus content from Siren Visual in an all around great anime release.

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Overall
There aren’t many anime out there that are like Night Raid 1931. Heck even the ones that come close just aren’t quite like it. There is something intangibly special about this anime that is hard to nail down. It proves to be a wildly fun anime series that all the while can take viewers to some pretty dark places when it wants to. Its a crime drama that will no doubt have you hooked.

So what exactly is it about Night Raid 1931 that makes it so very addictive? Well its quite simple really. Night Raid 1931 doesn’t take itself too seriously. It sits nicely in the middle ground of light-hearted and deadly serious and its a comfortable place for an anime like this to be seated. It invites viewers in with a playful sense of excitement and keeps them hooked with the intense drama and action. It is a winning combination for Night Raid 1931 and it proves to overshadow any pacing issues the series may have.

Night Raid 1931 is excitement in a bottle, once you pop that lid, you just can’t close it. It is addictive anime through and through and we wouldn’t have Night Raid 1931 any other way.

9-0-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Senior Editor & Anime Specialist

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