Blood Shadow (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2010

An array of female warriors are out to eliminate all demons from feudal Japan by any means necessary. Yum.

What They Say
BLOOD WILL RUN! In a world where demons lurk behind every shadow, ready to ravage any woman who crosses their path, murder and bloodshed are a way of life. A team of feisty female fighters known as the Crimson Lotus is humanity's last hope for survival. When tragedy strikes and one of their members is slaughtered, it's time for the Crimson Lotus to destroy the demons at their source and bathe the underworld in the blood of vengeance!

The Review!

Audio:
Blood Shadow retains the original mixes we saw on the Anime 18 release by containing a pair of stereo tracks encoded at 192kbps. The three episodes here sport a solid stereo mix with a few moments of good directionality during the fight sequences. There isn’t a lot of directionality during dialogue scenes or sex scenes as is the norm. The show does a decent job in the action scenes and adds a bit of impact at times, but overall it's a pretty straightforward hentai-action mix. Dialogue was nice and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally released in 2001, this three episode OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Blood Shadow has an attractive look to it with the animation but the source materials haven't held up well and some of the issues are more noticeable with the equipment now. The release uses the same pressing as the original Anime 18 release so there are no real differences here. During a number of panning sequences, there’s a fair amount of cross coloration showing up, such as in the backgrounds like trees. This is distracting in a number of areas but not throughout the print. The colors are rich and vibrant with some spectacular looking reds throughout all three episodes. Cross coloration and aliasing are fairly minimal outside of the panning issue, resulting in a great looking transfer.
 
Packaging:
Blood Shadow runs with a familiar piece of artwork that works very well as it has one of the Crimson Lotus ninjas with little on besides a bow as she looks out in something of a dead stare. The background is dark with a lot of black but also the visage of one of the demons. There's also the nice addition of some vine bondage here that's cute to see as it adds a nice element of danger to it on top of the rest of it. This piece of artwork looks great and is really attractive the more you look at it. The back cover has some illustration artwork of the same character alongside a brief premise summary. The discs features and technical information are all clearly listed and easy to find. No show related inserts are included with this release nor is there a reversible cover..
 
Menu:
The menu layout is nicely done with a faux “torn” letterbox image with the sides covered in red splotchy blood. The enter has a series of action sequences from the show playing in a loop with the selections laid over it, all playing to some of the action music from the series. The layout is nice and simple and fits the theme of the show nicely, as well as being able to load quickly and accurately.
 
Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal, with a nicely detailed full color art gallery showing off both action and sex scenes from the series as well as a set of three storyboard to animation sequences (which uses the dub track for the audio). Rounding everything out is a production art gallery that has a number of sketches of the various characters and equipment used during the show.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ninja style hentai isn’t exactly a rare genre, it’s something that’s done pretty often and usually pretty poorly. So going into Blood Shadow, my expectations were very low, but I found myself pleasantly surprised on many levels. The animation is fantastic, the storyline is fun and the sex scenes are very enjoyable. I haven’t been this happy with a hentai release in some time.
 
The premise is pretty simple. In this world, demons are a dime a dozen and hiding around every corner. In an effort to eliminate the problem, a special task force is set up called the Crimson Lotus, which is seemingly made up entirely of women and one man. These warriors travel the land either in groups or alone, seeking out demons to eliminate before moving on to their next target. We’re introduced right away to Tsukikage and her companion Rekka, the only male of the group we know about. Rekka is like a younger brother to her as she’s taken care of him since she found him without his memory many years ago, raising him in the ways of her training that allowed him to be perfectly suited for the Crimson Lotus mission.
 
Though Tsukikage is killed off pretty quickly in the beginning, Rekka ends up with a new group of Crimson Lotus warriors fairly fast and they begin their own new set of adventures, as well as Rekka falling for one or two of them along the way. With the group growing depending on the mission that they undertake, as one or two loner type warriors end up getting involved, the group deals with a variety of demons. From a large group that is capturing women in the hills and having their way with them (up until one of the Crimson Lotus women discovers a new power she has, since she’s got demon blood) to a Lord that demands women for his rule over the land.
 
Blood Shadow manages to pull of an interesting set of stories with what’s basically ninja women dealing with demons. While a good number of the women don’t get much detailed personalities, since there are only three episodes after all and time spent on that is better spent on sex scenes, the cast is fun to watch as they go about their job. It’s not all seriousness throughout it as there are some light comedy moments as well. The action sequences are great, very richly animated and colored, managing to look better than a fair amount of TV series that run in the same genre.
 
The sex scenes are also quite beautifully animated with the same attention given to the colors and animation. With just about all of the female characters looking very attractive with great designs, just about each scene is very enjoyable to watch. Though there’s a few demon rape scenes that make you just go “ew”, there’s more than enough to balance it out with good enjoyable fun sex scenes. There’s just something about these three episodes that made this show more fun than I ever expected it to be.
 
In Summary:
Blood Shadow looked like your typical ninja demon sex fiend fest but manages to be something more with a clean and interesting storyline combined with a good looking cast of women and situations to fill it all out with. The action is swift and bloody, the sex is hot and detailed and the entire show pulls it all together into one solid package. I liked this release a lot when I first saw it and while the transfer doesn't work as well as I thought it did back in 2003, the story is still fun and I like the mix of sex and violence with a decent storyline. This release being essentially a repackaging of the discs that we've seen before isn't a bad thing, though I would have preferred a remaster, I'm glad to see that this title is available again.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character Sketches, Storyboards, Art Gallery

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

 



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 18 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Critical Mass Video
MSRP: 24.99
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Blood Shadow