Mania Grade: C+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 3 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 90
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Blood Reign
By Chris Beveridge
January 30, 2001
Release Date: January 30, 2001
What They Say
One lone warrior must seek out and destroy his former comrade in arms. But how does one slay the dead? Woven from strands of nightmarish battles in blood soaked clay where demons await the fallen and seaside clashes with flesh-eating stallions Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma tells the story of two young ninja whose friendship is sundered by the chasm that separates the living from the dead.The Review!
Blood Reign, also known as Curse of the Yoma, was originally released in Japan way back in 1989, subtitled by ADV in 1995 and then dubbed in 1998 and finally onto DVD in 2001. The show has made its trek through time and it's really starting to show. Audio:
The Japanese and English tracks both sound pretty decent here and are what you'd typically expect from something of this vintage. There's few bits of directionality across the front soundstage but the majority coming through the center channel. Dialogue throughout was pretty clear and distortion free.Video:
With the age of the materials, there's some obvious trouble right off the bat. The first thing that's visible is the number of nicks and scratches on the print. The first of the two episodes has considerably more scratches, but the second episode isn't free of them. The second problem is the grain, which again is stronger in the first episode and especially in the backgrounds which begin to look like they're moving. Again, the production values for this show bring this into question as you can see in several scenes pieces of the animation moving when they should be still. A sequence with Hikage on a mountainside with the blue sky behind him, you'll see the earth beneath him jitter. Hikage jitters himself here and other characters do at times throughout. The second episode settles down somewhat, but the issues are still there.Packaging:
The front cover is pretty good though just starting to border on being too busy, with a shot of Hikage, Maoru and some of the Yoma. The back has a few animation shots as well as a couple of the menus and a good listing of the features and the technical information. The only thing I couldn't find on the package that I wanted to find was the running time.Menus:
The menus here are pretty straightforward and problem free. The main menu gives quick access to the individual episodes as well as the setup menus. Access times between each was very fast and everything worked as it should.Extras:
There's a few extras on the disc, but the one I like the most is actually on the insert. On the disc itself we get the original ADV trailer for the show as well as the original Japanese trailer for the show. The character information page is also included. What I really liked is the reverse side of the insert which has the childrens Ninja Counting Song and why it's used. The song is written in both English and romaji. Very nice!Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If I had seen this show back when it first came out, or maybe even when it was first subtitled here, I may have found it more interesting than I did watching it now, almost twelve years after its original release. The show focuses on two young men, Maoru and Hikage, both ninjas. At the conclusion of what appears to have been a particularly brutal battle, Maoru seems uneasy about what's happened. Hikage convinces him to return to their place, but things twist oddly after that.
Maoru soon flees from their now dead lord and Hikage is ordered to kill him before he can tell of their lords death. Hikage, hating to kill his childhood friend, heads off in the same direction. After all, Maoru did throw a poisoned shuriken into his eye when he left the village. You can't just let something like that go unsaid and unaccounted for.
The path that Hikage ends up on leads him to some pretty interesting places. The first episode delves into a village that's enthralled by a spider Yoma that feeds upon the people there. The villagers, who spend their days drinking and simply enjoying life, are in an escape mode and this is the best that they can hope for. Maoru came through this way though, and Hikage can sense that he has indeed been there.
The resulting battle with the Yoma leads to revelations about who Maoru is and some very little bits about the Yoma themselves, which leads to the second episode that introduces several more Yoma, some slightly more interesting fights and possibly the most incompetent female ninja out there. I mean, how many traveling ninja don't seem to carry any hidden knives or sharp objects? At least she's only in one episode, so it's not a constant running gag.
Blood Reign is definitely a serious style show, but it's been repeated many times since this came out there it feels like a retread. Adding in the problems with the print, I just couldn't get enthused about it at all.
One of the biggest problems with the show is that it feels rushed. It doesn't answer all that many questions that it does raise with the Yoma. The relationship between Maoru and Hikage is reflected via flashbacks, but always the same set of flashbacks of them racing through the tall fields. And the relationship in the second episode between Hikage and Aya is heavily forced. There's no real connection between the two and things just don't click between them. When the crunch time comes and the relationship becomes central, it rings very hollow.
The animation for the show isn't bad, though newer fans may be turned off by the somewhat flat coloring of it. There's precious few really fluid sequences, but the action moments are fairly well done and pretty much in the traditional style of ninja anime. This show reminded me a lot of the Wrath of the Ninja show. While I'm not a big fan of the genre, Blood Reign seems like a competent entry that fans of feudal Japan and the bloody violent monsters that face ninja and samurai will enjoy.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Original Japanese Trailer,Dramatis Personae
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.