DRAGON AGE: DAWN OF THE SEEKER
NOW AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO
After a successful theatrical release in Japan, DRAGON AGE: DAWN OF THE SEEKER has just been released to the rest of the world in a Blu-ray/DVD combo set, available at Amazon, here. The animation looks terrific. You can see for yourself in the latest trailer, below.
Because I wrote the screenplay, a review by me might present a "slight" conflict of interest. So below you'll find a review which was originally posted on J-Entonline.com and is re-posted here with permission.
Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)May 25, 2012 by Dennis Amith
In a land where battles are fought with swords and magic, a young heroine rises to glory as Templars, mages, and dragons clash. Cassandra, a brash and beautiful warrior, must stop a conspiracy that threatens the realm’s most powerful religious order. Accused of treasonous crimes and hunted by friend and foe, Cassandra must clear her name and overcome her rage in order to save the day and take her place in legend.
When it comes to video games, the Canadian video game developer BioWare is famous for creating successful video game franchises such as “Baldur’s Gate”, “Neverwinter Nights”, “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”, and especially the popular “Mass Effect” series.
And in 2009, BioWare created “Dragon Age”, a successful dark fantasy role-playing video game which led to a sequel, “Dragon Age II”, in 2011, and since has spawned novels, a Facebook game, a Flash game, a tabletop game, comic books, action figures, a web series and now an animated film which was co-produced by BioWare, Electronic Arts and FUNimation Entertainment.
The animated film is directed by Fumihiko Sori, best known for having directed the live film, “Ping Pong”, also known for his style of anime featured in the films “Appleseed” and “Vexille”.
The animated "Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker" was released in theaters in Japan in Feb. 2012 and in the United States in May 2012. The film will also be released via Blu-ray/DVD combo on May 29th.
“Dragon Age: Origins” took place in the country of Ferelden, in the continent of Thedas, and gamers were introduced to the race and background of a human noble class, magi, elves, dwarves, and the Dragon Age mythology.
While there is a connection between “Dragon Age II” and “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker”, in order to be accessible to a large audience who have never played the video game, a short narration is given at the opening on the state of the world, and introduces a younger Cassandra Pentaghast.
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” takes place during a time when people believed in faith—faith in a dominant religious order led by The Divine Justinia V. Her Templar Knights have a tight control over the mages and ensuring that no one uses their power in a negative way. There has been corruption within the Templar Knights, but fortunately the best of the Knights, known as “The Seekers of Truth”, have rooted out corruption within the mages. Now, with the celebration of the ten year gathering of the faithful, pilgrims from all over world to the Orlaisian Empire are coming to pray for the peace.
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” begins with the antagonist, Frenic (leader of the blood mages), forceably feeding the blood of a drake (male dragon) to an elf named Avexis in order for her to have the abilities to control the dragons.
When the Seekers arrive to fight the Blood Mages and save Avexis, we are introduced to Cassandra Pentaghast, a Nevarran royal and Seeker of the Chantry, along with her Seeker mentor, Byron, who treats Cassandra like his own daughter.
Though the Seekers are able to save Avexis from Frenic, Knight-Commander Martel (the head of the Templar Order in Orlais) distrusts the Seekers and does not get along with High Seeker Aldren.
One night, Cassandra awakens from a nightmare and hears someone walking around the castle. It is her mentor, Byron, who has taken the elf, Avexis, and is trying to flee the castle. When she confronts Byron about why he is taking the girl he does not want to tell her nor get her involved with his special mission. But when the Templar Knights realize that the girl is missing, both Byron and Cassandra escape with Avexis, and Cassandra learns that Byron suspects a conspiracy that involves the High Seeker and the Chantry.
Because Byron knows that Avexis can control wild beasts, he wants to make sure no one uses her for evil and so he plans to give her to a friend who will keep Avexis hidden. But as Cassandra tries to make sense of all that is happening they are attacked by Blood Mages, and in the process Avexis is once again kidnapped by the Blood Mages and Byron is killed.
After the Blood Mages have left, Cassandra detects another Mage—a circle mage named Regalyan D’Marcall (Galyan) who claims to be working with Byron. Because of her hatred of mages for what they did to her family long ago, Cassandra cannot believe that Byron was working with a mage.
Now Cassandra must make a decision—to continue her job as a Seeker or to betray her fellow Seekers and the Divine in order to carry out the mission that her dead mentor had begun and investigate the corruption in the Chantry. But this means that she must work with a mage. What will Cassandra do?
Needless to say, Cassandra decides to continue with what Byron had started and goes off to track down Avexis. Now Cassandra and Galyan are wanted by both the Seekers and the Blood Mages. What plan do the Blood Mages have for Avexis? And how is the Chantry involved?
The Blu-ray Breakdown
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is an animated film that has Fumihiko Sori’s style. Presented in 1080p High Definition, “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
For those familiar with “Applessed”, “To” or “Vexille”, it’s a unique style that Sori films are known for, featuring beautiful background art, well-detailed surfaces, be it vehicles, structures or in this case, dragons. But most importantly, it’s the design of his characters. Some may say “over-exposed” or a “shiny” look. Sori’s style of creativity is unlike any other anime film, and when you see this style you know he’s involved.
Sori is also known for having his films showcase black levels and shadow details. Everything is pretty deliberate when it comes to the look of Fumihiko Sori’s work. I personally have enjoyed Sori’s animated films and how far he has taken them in trying to incorporate realistic movements with his animated style. For the most part, in "Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker" he is able to accomplish a style that is much different from “Vexille” and also “Appleseed: Ex Machina”, and you can tell from this film how far Sori's films have come since “Appleseed”.
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The film’s many action sequences sound absolutely impressive, with great use of the surround channels, as well as LFE and dialogue. And the musical score by Tetsuya Takahashi is crystal clear. But things really get immersive towards the final action sequences, and for the most part audiophiles should be pleased with the lossless soundtrack.
As far as the voice acting goes, both English and Japanese voicework are well-done. Both Colleen Clinkenbeard and Chiaki Kuriyama do a magnificent job with their voice role for Cassandra Pentaghast, and for J-Rock fans, I’m sure many will love the fact that Gackt does the voice of the Knight Commander.
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” comes with the following special features:
Bioware Studio Tour – (7:56) Mike Laidlaw (Creative Director of “Dragon Age”) gives viewers a tour of BioWare’s Edmonton studio.
Dawn of the Seeker Backstage Pass – (20:40) Featuring BioWare and FUNimation staff discussing the film, the visual design of the characters, the characters, and how the movie came about.
Dragon Age Production Art – View various sketches and art created during production of “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker”.
Previews – FUNimation Entertainment and BioWare trailers
“Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” comes with a Blu-ray, the English feature film and the Japanese version of the feature film.
I have probably watched “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” four times now and part of the excitement of why I enjoyed this film is because of the work of Fumihiko Sori and his staff. The look and feel of the animated film was very cool and I was very impressed by the 3D rendering of the dragons and also how beautiful the landscapes and structure were. The Blu-ray really does a magnificent job in showcasing the detail plus the various colors of the film, from the dark blacks to the vibrant outdoor day colors.
“Dragon Age” fans, especially those who have played “Dragon Age II”, will get a kick out of watching a storyline that revolves around a younger Cassandra Pentaghast. Fans who have watched the web series “Dragon Age: Redemption” will also enjoy seeing the tie-in between Cassandra and the characters of “Redemption”.
As for the film itself, while I do feel that “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” will appeal to “Dragon Age” fans, fortunately the storyline is accessible to those who have never played the “Dragon Age” video games. Writer Jeffrey Scott (who worked on the animated TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Dragon Tales”, “Mega Man” and “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”) was able to make a straightforward screenplay that doesn’t get too convoluted in Dragon Age mythos. All you need to know is that Cassandra is a Seeker, an important position within the Chantry, that she is on a mission to uncover a conspiracy within the Chantry, and how this relates to the Blood Mages.
The film itself is rather violent, has a lot of blood, major loss of body parts and thus the reason for the TV MA rating.But those who enjoy this genre will find “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” to be more to their liking and may entice them into playing the video game series.
The Blu-ray release looks and sounds magnificent and I was pretty impressed with how Sori’s films have gotten better in visual look since his work on “Appleseed”. And for audiophiles, the film also has its fair share of awesome moments during action sequences in producing an immersive environment. As for special features, I did enjoy the tour of the BioWare Edmonton studio and the interviews with the crew of BioWare and Funimation, though I was hoping to see a few more special features, such as an audio commentary or featurette involving the Japanese side who worked on the film.
Overall, “Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is an enjoyable, action-packed film that will appeal to “Dragon Age” fans or those who love the action/adventure genre with swordfighting, monsters, dragons and sorcery. While not a groundbreaking film, it’s an animated film full of action, and looks and sounds absolutely great on Blu-ray while featuring that Fumihiko Sori style that I enjoy watching!And most of all…who doesn’t love a strong female character who can kick major ass!?
“Dragon Age” fans and action/adventure fans…”Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker” is recommended!
Images courtesy of ©2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.