If you are in the mood for some beautifully displayed, gratuitously violent, and adrenaline inducing screen time, then look no further. Brought to blu-ray by Drafthouse Films, The World of Kanako fits all of these attributes and continues the trend of high quality releases from this great distributor.
The Movie Itself (4.5/5):
The World of Kanako is a fantastic oddity; a fractured story of a father tracking down his missing daughter. This tale has been told countless times in a multitude of other films, but where those movies all stayed on the path, this one punches through, finding it’s own way and dragging you down a path that you don’t expect at all. At no point during this movie will you know what you think you know. Everyone’s motives are shrouded masterfully, and some of the plot twists are literally gut wrenching. This is a movie that will chew you up and spit you out; and you will love it.
Akihiro Fujishima, a disgraced former cop, absent father, and abusive husband is alerted to his daughters disappearance when his former wife calls him looking for the girl. Seemingly not all that worried, Akihiro hangs up mid conversation, finishes his drink, and begins a search that throws him deep into the world of drugs, prostitution, Yakuza gang wars, and teenage suicide. Throughout his investigation only one thing remains constant – the violence.
Featuring a unique style all of it’s own, this movie is incredibly gritty and oh so satisfyingly bloody. I’ll discuss style a bit more in the picture quality section, but for now I will say that The World of Kanako will draw you in early and won’t let go of you until the last credits have rolled and you’ve had a minute to let it sink in.
Surprisingly, this film is equal parts beauty as it is brutal. Intermixed with the dark or gruesome scenes are some of the most stunning images that I’ve encountered in film. Snow falling in the Japanese cityscapes is mesmerizing, and rave scenes will make the screen sing with colors that are only possible in high definition.
Everything comes together in a way that was altogether unexpected and left me thoroughly impressed. I cannot recommend this one enough.
Video Quality (5/5):
Not to sound like a broken record, but when talking about the picture quality of The World of Kanako, I must bring up it’s style again. This is quite possibly one of the most beautifully shot films that I’ve ever seen. What they’ve done here is taken a dark and gritty story, and have intermixed scenes of abuse and violence with ones of absolute beauty. You will see a man nearly beaten to death, and then moments later be in awe of raindrops cascading down the hood of a car. The real kicker here is the rollercoaster that this film takes you on, and the visuals are going to keep you locked in.
Technically speaking, this transfer is near perfect. The colors will pop out of your screen, the blacks are deep, and there is not a hint of artifacts or interference. This is especially impressive because many scenes include a vast array of colors and motions all happening super quickly.
All in all, this blu-ray screams ‘reference’ to me, and it is definitely one that I will be showing off to friends.
Audio Quality (4.5/5):
Similar to the video quality, the audio on this blu-ray is also very close to reference quality. From brutal, blood spattering gang fights, to LSD fueled rave scenes, this will give your system a workout.
Featuring a Japanese DTS-MA 5.1 lossless audio track, every speaker in your setup will be used frequently. The 3d sound space is used smartly and often, as voices from off screen characters will follow the character from one side of your room to the other. At one point in the movie I would have sworn that my phone was buzzing under my couch when the phone offscreen in the movie had started buzzing. Little details like this draw you in completely and are extremely satisfying.
There is no English audio track here, and the English subtitles are forced, so if you aren’t a fan of reading while watching, you’ve been warned.
What’s in the Packaging (4/5)
The World of Kanako is the first Drafthouse Films release that I’ve picked up that didn’t have the slim clear style case. This time, it seems that they have opted for a bit thicker of a clear case; almost like the ones Criterion uses. I don’t mind this change in size, but the cover art is just slightly not wide enough to fit the case all the way, and it looks as if they didn’t design the cover art for the wider edge of the case, as the art doesn’t quite fit the space. However, that is my only gripe with this release, the packaging otherwise is stellar, and they give you an awesome booklet with great art and a poster.
- BD copy of the movie
- Digital copy
- 26 page booklet with art and an essay
- 11″ x 17″ comic style poster
Special Features (3.5/5)
There are not a lot of special features here, but the making of and interview with Nana go pretty in depth and are fairly interesting. These featurettes are all in Japanese with English subtitles.
- The Making of The World of Kanako (HD, 32 mins)
- Interview with Actress Nana Komatsu (HD, 35 mins)
- Interview with author Akio Fukamachi (HD, 8 mins)
- MPEG-4 AVC
- Aspect Ration 2.39:1
- Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- 50gb BD
Final Thoughts (4.5/5):
The World of Kanako is as beautiful as it is brutal. If you can stomach the blood and don’t mind reading subtitles, you are in for a wild ride that is very unique, and definitely worth owning.