Kizuna (of 1) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, February 05, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2001

What They Say
Ranmaru Samejima’s sports career comes to an abrupt halter when he is mistakenly run over by a car intended to kill his boyfriend, Enjoji, who the son of the mafia don in Osaka.
Left paralyzed, Ranmaru spirits are dwindling and its up to Enjoji to rebuild them. But just as Enjoji is trying to help Ranmaru, the pressure increases to follow in his father’s footsteps….

To further complicate the problem, Enjoji’s younger half brother, Kei Sagano, has arrived on the scene and Ranmaru’s heart is being pulled in two directions. Will Ranmaru forsake Enjoji’s desire to be Ranmaru’s eternal love, or will Kei win Ranmaru’s heart and crush his hated sibling’s dreams of romance?

A light hearted yaoi ("boys X boys") title similar to Fake in style and nature.

The Review!
After enjoying Media Blaster's release of Fake, we were looking forward to seeing how a less comedic and more serious version of a yaoi anime would be. Kizuna's release, by a company who I don't believe has released any other anime since their initial offering of the show on VHS, brings one of the more muddled shows over in terms of plot.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. That also happens to be the only language on this disc. The problem with this audio track is that it's recorded at a very low level, to the point where if you go from one disc to this one, it won't even sound like there is an audio track on it. I had to crank it up pretty far to get it to a normalized level. The show itself is almost all dialogue with a few sound effects here and there, so it's all coming through the center channel.

This is essentially a port of the two VHS releases of this show onto one disc. The subtitles are hardmatted onto the image and there is a massive amount of grain. Both episodes suffer from this, but the first one even more so with the number of dark night scenes. Even when nobody is moving on the screen, the whole image is just moving. There's a few rainbows and some color banding as well. But if it wasn't for the massive amount of grain, this would look better than it does.

The front cover has a nicely drawn if a bit blurry picture of the two main characters. The title looks like it works fairly well placed over them where it is, but I think it would have been better along the top and removing the comic reference, or at least removing the banner format for it. The back cover provides one piece of animation and talks a bit about the related shows as well as giving a decent summary of the episodes inside. The technical specls are all listing along the bottom, much like a Hollywood movie. The only thing missing is the regional coding, so we're assuming it's 1. No insert was included in this release, but the disc is nicely silkscreened with an image of the characters.

Menus? How about menu. There's one menu page, and it's basically choosing either episode 1 or episode 2. Since there's no other languages and no subtitle selections nor any extras, there's nothing to put here. They probably could have gotten away with no menu and not heard any complaints.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kizuna's story is a haphazard on, especially during the first episode but again during the second. The story focuses on Ranmaru, the school kendo champion and Enjoji, the son of a yakuza boss. The show, through the poorly edited batch of opening sequences, shows a planned hit and run on Enjoji that gets thrown off by Ranmaru pushing him out of the way and taking the hit instead. Ranmaru ends up in the hospital for awhile, but eventually returns to his home with Enjoji.

Being the son of a yakuza boss, Enjoji knows that the hit was made for him, so he tries his best to make things up for Ranmaru and to make his life easier. But Ranmaru wants to get back into the swing of things, with the exception of his fencing and kendo career, as that is completely over with now. But during his first day back at work as what appears to be a professors assistant, he finds himself being taken to a gay bar and being hit on by the professor.

Through what is likely planning on his part, one of the waiters at the club is Enjoji's half brother from another marriage, and he manages to rescue Ranmaru from his would be attacker after the drink is laced with a drug. Kai doesn't reveal himself here, but takes off after the professor and leaves Ranmaru to be helped by others in the bar.

When Enjoji learns of all of this, we start to see some flashbacks to their high school past as well as Enjoji's earlier past with his yakuza father. We also see a fair bit of Kai's past and the current way things run between him and his father as well as his guardian yakuza, who apparently has strong feelings for him.

While I don't have anything against yaoi, and I'd like to see more, I have something against poorly plotted anime. This show definitely falls under that category, in that the story is so hapazardly told, you begin to forget whose related to who and why there's bad blood between the half brothers and so forth. The animation itself is fairly nice, being of more striking design for the leads being college aged men as opposed to high school boys. It definitely has an early 90's look to it though.

One of the things that really bothered me the most was the subtitling of the show. It's just poorly done in general. The timing is off in that they run seconds before a character talks, if not longer than that during some scenes. They're split in awkward ways as well. Essentially, the subtitling here reminded me of just how good other companies are at doing it and how much I take it for granted.

Kizuna's not a horrible experience, but if people are going to check it out to see how the yaoi scene is, it's probably not the best representation. Maybe someday we'll start to get a few more real yaoi shows brought over to test out the market for it, and hopefully Kizuna won't be held as a standard for such shows. There's got to be better ones.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: C
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Ariztical
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kizuna