Arrow Video’s Daimajin Trilogy release is set to arrive on July 27, 2021. This article contains several comparisons which contrast Mill Creek’s 2012 Blu-ray transfer with the new release from Arrow. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Viewing tips: For gauging clarity and resolution, these images are best viewed on a large monitor with widescreen aspect ratio — if viewing on a mobile device, pinch-zoom for closeup inspection. Elements like color, brightness, and contrast are more easily compared in a narrow window or upright mobile.
Following in the footsteps of the Gamera franchise, another classic kaiju series is getting a second chance on Blu-ray from Arrow Video. Like Gamera, the Daimajin trilogy had a prior collected edition from Mill Creek which was proffered as an inexpensive budget release but went out of print and become quite valuable. We covered this release as part of our Kaiju series in 2014.
The 2-disc Mill Creek release paired Daimajin and Return of Daimajin together on a single disc; a second disc housed the third film and bonus features. Arrow’s release gives each film its own disc (with extras), and a technical analysis of the files shows that the movie files average 40% larger than Mill Creek counterparts — even with added commentaries, a positive sign that the picture is either of a higher initial fidelity or simply less compressed.
In my review of the 2012 set I gave it a hearty recommendation, which I still stand by. The picture quality was quite good, especially for a budget release. Comparing both editions, I only see a slight improvement in clarity or resolution in Arrow’s offering. What does stand out to me, though, is the much improved color and crispier contrast.
A side note, the trailers included on the Mill Creek discs were extremely compressed, demonstrating very apparent noisy artifacts and chunky macroblocking. The trailers on Arrow’s release do not have these issues. I don’t want to get too sidetracked by taking screenshots of extras but here’s one comparison just to underline the massive and obvious difference in their quality.
OK, let’s get into it. Here are full 1080p captures from all three films — you be the judge.
Return of Daimajin
Daimajin Strikes Again
Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system.