Math You Don’t Understand 101

A story about a young mathematician figuring out the cost of battleships is doomed to boredom, or so is the assumption. Yet, Great War of Archemedes is able to find a hook in universal concepts of rebellion, resistance, and doubt. What results is a compelling look at Japan’s erroneous, egotistical march toward conflict with America, filtered through a college student determined to expose government lies.

Historically, Great War of Archimedes finds an enthralling angle at which to approach Japan’s Imperialist methods. Apathetic Tadashi Kai (Masaki Suda) enters the military almost by accident, unaware of procedures, rules, and authority. War is revolting to him, thrust into an honor-bound system that sees older superiors assuming his ignorance. That generational divide gives Great War of Archimedes familiar appeal, even comedic glances as Kai rolls through those underestimating his abilities.

Great War of Archimedes makes Kai someone to root for

Higher-ups want war, or so it seems. Kai’s commanding officer Nagano (Jun Kunimura) commissions him out of political want, even showmanship, rather than a means to avoid fighting; among the superiors, it’s an accepted truth Japan will embrace conflict. Kai believes he’s being used to stop such brash decision making – and unknowingly so, he is even if he fails.

War of Archimedes opens with grand action, watching the ship Kai attempts to stall sink after a barrage of enemy fire. Seeing Japanese cinema contend with the nation’s loss, even decades later, continues to serve warnings as to country’s WWII’s folly. Imagining CG animators working to show their own nation’s defeat during scenes like this seems surreal. While this film softens the Imperialist effort through an idealist’s eyes, beginning on such a dour note is particularly brutal.

A clock ticks as Kai works. His effort is given an expiration date – a proposal meeting in regards to dueling plans over the navy’s build options. That allows crisp, frantic drama, which only slows in its final act (the meeting itself). There, the film stalls, spending some 20-minutes confined to a single room. The story’s twist is still coming, revealing the military leader’s understanding, turning Kai into a needless pawn in a wasteful exercise. Great War of Archimedes makes Kai someone to root for, a common underdog hero, then sternly rips that away. Battleship Yamoto will float, it will sink, and come to represent Japan as a whole.


Fair resolution finds enough definition to please at an average level. Not spectacular, if enough to convincingly reach HD tier. Facial definition sticks out, and even with distance, it’s possible to pick up on food during dinners or medals on uniforms. Sharpness isn’t prominent though, the visuals running soft, lacking the firmness evident in most modern features.

A poorly handled layer of noise/grain presents the greatest struggle though. Varying intensity leads to compression like mosquito noise, worse during scenes draped in haze. Brighter colors – although Great War of Archimedes doesn’t feature many – invite the issue further. A bright red carpet in a Geisha house swarms with digital chunks.

Drier black levels don’t help, offering no help to hide these faults. Shadows stick to a rudimentary gray, although the heavier contrast provides depth. It’s bright, frequently glowing as sunlight glistens off various objects.


For the first five minutes, the Japanese DTS-HD mix on this disc is raw, untouchable reference material. Blistering, room destroying bass stems from plane engines, turret fire, and the eventual sinking of a battleship. It’s aural magic. The density and depth easily holds up to any western blockbuster, and Japanese films aren’t often invested in their home theater punch. Well Go potentially added their own touches for this release.

Surrounds do the same, bullets piercing the rears, water splashing, and soldiers screaming. Every channel engages. Transitions happen smoothly, flawless in their motion.

The Great War of Archimedes settles down afterward, shrinking in scope to a standard drama. The sound doesn’t disappear, but nothing can match that opening sequence. The score takes prominence, spread into the rears to keep a sense of spacing alive. Ambiance filters in as well, giving interiors life.


Just trailers.

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The Great War of Archimedes
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An interesting, small-scale WWII story, The Great War of Archimedes becomes a stand-in for the entirety of Japan’s war effort.

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