The Garden of Sinners is one of my favorite anime franchises, but sadly it isn’t easy to watch legitimately. The series of movies (eight in total) revolves around Shiki Ryougi, a girl with the ominous “Mystic Eyes of Death Perception” and her work helping a small paranormal investigation agency. The movies are luxuriously dark and sometimes very confusing, but they have never failed to satisfy me.
Well, now’s your opportunity to own a hard copy. Aniplex released a Bluray box set of the movies some time ago at ridiculous prices (around $600), and the item is now going for at least $730 on Amazon. Mercifully, they have released a new box set–DVD, unfortunately–that goes for a mere $150 to $200, depending on the vendor you choose. I ordered from www.rightstuf.com for $150; with free shipping, my order arrived within a few days once they got it in stock.
This so-called “Limited Edition” looks appropriately nice. The front of the box has a simple silver “The Garden of Sinners” logo and the words “Limited Edition DVD Box Set” printed boldly below in red. The spine is similar, while the back comes with an admittedly nice sticker taped on with the usual synopsis, running time, features, and so on. Peeling this off reveals a picture of Shiki and her knife by Takashi Takeuchi. The box is reasonably sturdy, but I wish it was a bit stronger still. It does have that wonderful “fresh-from-the-factory” smell.
The eight movies come in separate little cases, each of which has an original illustration on front. These “Digi-Paks” are pretty plain otherwise, made of very thin cardboard. It is surprisingly helpful that the movie numbers are printed on the spine of each case. The backs contain information on the running times of each movie (it varies significantly) and other technical details. The movies only come with Japanese audio and English subtitles. The “Garden of Sinners” logos on each of the DVD faces turned out well, but for some reason the other text (printed in silver) is somewhat blurry.
Special features are limited to a “Pre-Show Reminder”–little stop-motion skits that I think are intended to be funny–and possibly some kind of trailer. The Garden of Sinners movies have really beautiful artwork, and regrettably DVD just doesn’t do it justice. The image quality isn’t horrible, but it doesn’t quite pop out at you like it should; graphically, the subtitles are somewhat low-quality as well. The last few movies as they were released on PSN had some missing or scrambled subtitles (particularly during the previews), but these problems appear to be fixed for this release.
In addition to the DVDs, the box set comes with a 36-page art “book” (pamphlet might be a better word), 14 postcards with pictures from that book, and a proof of purchase card. Many of the images from the art book will be familiar to those who have watched the movies before, but they’re still nice to look at. Some completely unenlightening plot summaries and commentaries are included as well. Only an idiot would actually use the postcards, but maybe they could be hung up as little posters.
$150 is a lot to pay for eight movies, I admit, but the quality of the series justifies it in my mind. What I really wanted was to have the movies in some tangible form, just in case something happens. If there is another Blu-ray release of the series (for a more reasonable price) I will probably get it for the increased visual quality. If you are interested in the series, I would recommend watching on PSN and then making the decision of whether or not to buy this box set.