Ushio & Tora: The Complete Collection (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Andrew Tei
Review Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2003



What They Say
Ushio thinks his father's tale of an ancient ancestor impaling a demon on a temple altar stone with the legendary Beast Spear is nuts, but when he finds the monster in his own basement, Ushio has to take another look at the family legend! Fortunately, Ushio knows it's best to let sleeping dogs lie and leave captured demons where they are. Unfortunately, the release of the monster's evil energies begins to beckon other demons to Ushio's hometown! To save his friends and family from the invading spirits, Ushio is forced to release Tora from his captivity. But will the cure prove to be worse than the curse? Will Ushio end his life a Tora-snack? Or will the Beast Spear keep Tora in line long enough to save the city? Find out in Ushio & Tora!

The Review!
We get a blast from the past with another one of ADV's back catalog titles. Knowing absolutely nothing about this series when I started watching it, I found myself really enjoying parts of the show.

Audio:

For my primary review, I listened to the original Japanese stereo sound track. While it is stereo, there is very little directionality present. I really noticed only one instance of it. Sound and dialogue was clear except for one segment in episode 10 around the 21:30 marker where they was a very loud crackle. I checked the English soundtrack at this point, and there was nothing wrong there.

Video:

Ushio and Tora was produced back in 1993 as an OVA series, and the video presentation by ADV is excellent. The materials used to master the video show the occasional scratch, but are well preserved. Colors came across solid, but there were a few instances in the blues and blacks of a bit of macro blocking. A tiny bit of line shimmering also found its way in. For something this old, this really looks great though.

For those of you who keep track of these things, the opening credits contain the original Japanese credits with hard subbed translations. I expect this to have been a result of their old masters. The English logo is placed over the Japanese logo, only blocking the middle of it. The ending credits are clean.

Packaging:

Ushio and Tora is a 2 DVD release, with 5 episodes on each. It comes in a double keepcase, and the cover features a closeup of both Ushio and Tora in battle. The marketing spiel on the cover is "Some Families have skeletons in their closets.....You won't believe what this family has in their basement!" Very cheesy. On the back, there are 4 pictures from the show and a good introductory description. The back lists Original Japanese Artwork as being an extra feature, but I couldn't find it. On the other hand, it doesn't list the ADR outtakes that are included either.

Menu:

The menus are static and feature the opening song playing continuously. The scene selection menus have moving images from each chapter stop. From the main menu, you can start any episode, go to scene selection, languages, or choose extras. The image is similar to the front cover, but close up on Ushio and Tora with slightly different pictures.

Extras:

There are two extras on this set. There are some ADR outtakes on the first DVD that will appeal to dub fans. On the second DVD, we get Comically Deformed Theatre. I love extras like that. It's around 30 minutes of super deformed goodness, with 3 different shorts, and 2 music videos. The opening even gets redone. My only problem with it was the songs during it were in romanji. Even when I switched subtitle tracks, both had romanji.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Five hundred years ago, a warrior armed with a young spear defeated a great beast in battle. The beast was so powerful though that the warrior could only end up impaling the beast onto a rock with the spear. To keep the beast trapped, the warrior built a temple over the beast to house it for the rest of time.

In the present day, young Ushio Aotsuki, lives at the temple with his father who regales him with tales of the young warrior. Of course, Ushio doesn?t believe him at all. After being told to clean the temple by this father, Ushio discovers a hidden chamber in the temple, and discovers the beast. The monster doesn?t seem too intelligent; since after asking Ushio to free it, it also tells Ushio he?ll eat him when he?s free. Ushio smartens up, and boards the creature back up.

Unfortunately, the monster presence attracts evil, and various creatures begin to invade the temple. Two of Ushio?s female friends, Asako and Mayuko, are visiting him at this time to get back some notes from class, and get attacked by the creatures. Ushio has no idea what to do, so he goes down to the monster for help. In exchange for his freedom, the monster agrees to help. Ushio takes the spear out and names the monster Tora. Tora then goes and defeats the creatures.

The spear, it turns out, is the Beast Spear, a magical spear that is a powerful weapon against monsters. Ushio uses it to keep Tora, who wants to eat him, in check. This starts an interesting relationship with the two, since Tora just hangs around Ushio getting the hang of this new world he?s in. Through the series, Ushio and Tora take care of various monster incidents that occur around them. Ushio because he wants to help usually, and Tora just ends up usually because not helping would be detrimental to him in some way.

There?s a lot of humor in this series, which is definitely a buddy series. Ushio gets a lot of development, especially with Asako. The two have been childhood friends forever, and they hide their feelings for each other with insults and some whapping. Asako?s father is also hilarious, and the relationship between the father and daughter is comedy genius.

There is no conclusion to Ushio and Tora. At the end of the series, everything is left open ended. But that doesn?t matter, the stories here are a lot of fun. This is one of those great old budget titles that should find its way easily onto your shelf.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,"CD Theatre" episode,Original Japanese artwork


Review Equipment
Toshiba 3109 player, Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver via optical, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears




Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 39.98
Running time: 275
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ushio & Tora