Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #2 (of 5) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, February 20, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2004

What They Say
Goemon, Ebisumaru, Yae, and the rest of the video game gang continue to fight to protect the human world and are constantly amazed at everyday things we humans take for granted. Tsukasa and his family and friends don't quite understand what the big deal is. Things that we think are boring-riding the train, camping and television-offer the evil master Seppukumaru more ways to wreak havoc on humans and fill the "rage gauge" to unleash an endless stream of cyber monsters. If Seppukumaru and his minions, the Four Tsugigiri, can keep the rage index high enough, Lord Makuamuuge can enter through the cyber-tunnel and rule the human world. But not if Goemon and friends can help it!

The Review!
After a surprisingly fun and family oriented first volume with my daughters, we engaged the second volume and found it to be just as much fun.

With this being such a straightforward kids aimed TV series, the audio tracks for both languages are standard stereo mixes that are pretty heavy for center channel use but have some occasional fuller sounds throughout them. We listened to the English language track and had no problems during regular playback with distortions or dropouts. This is a pretty simple mix and not much to it.

Originally airing in 1997, the transfer is quite solid and clean looking, free of dirt and other elements. Cross coloration is almost non-existent and even aliasing is very minimal. The only noticeable problem with the transfer is inherent in the source material and that's some frame jitter during various scene transitions. It's not on the same level as some older Gainax shows or anything, but once you get attuned to the jitter you see it whenever it crops up. The colors for the show aren't terribly vibrant for the most part, sort of a muted level but not quite down to the real-world color palette used in a number of shows. The color palette used helps make the show feel older than it actually is, pushing it back to late 80's or early 90's.

The front lets you know exactly what to expect once more while providing a good cast shot of heroes and villains with some vibrant looking colors, though there's some heavy black lining along the good guys. The back cover provides more accurate color shots from the show itself along with a small paragraph of basic plot summary. The discs features are nicely listed along the bottom in my favorite grid style along with several production credits. The insert has an action shot of Goemon and some of the villains from these episodes against a cloudy sky. The reverse side is mostly just a listing of what's on the disc and the previews.

The main menu has an orange tinted close-up of Goemon along the right while the left has a long list of selections as you can episode jump right from the top. With little on the disc outside of the show, there's not a lot of real options here to mess with, resulting in fast menu loads and quick access times.

Unlike the first volume, there's an original extra here with an eleven-minute interview session with the majority of the dub cast for the show so far. This is a heck of a lot of fun to watch and you can see just how much fun the actors are having with these characters, as well as the chance to do something completely unlike most other shows they do for anime series. There's nothing too revelatory here, but it's a piece dub fans will enjoy.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Legend of the Mystical Ninja was a complete surprise to us with the first volume, not only in that we found the show amusing, but that both my daughters got completely hooked on it. When the next pile of discs came in, they rifled through them to see if there was more Goemon. So when this one showed up a few weeks later, both got excited to see that weird little ninja warrior on the cover.

The world of Goemon really doesn't look set to change from volume to volume, nor does the premise. Seppukumaru and his band of eggs in robes continue to look for ways to get humans enraged so that their Rage Gauge goes through the roof and allows their little creatures to become super powerful and extend the area of hate, hopefully enough so that Makuamuuge can travel between the video game world where they're constantly doomed to lose against the heroes and the real world where? they're constantly doomed to lose against the heroes. Seppukumaru has a great little speech at one point about how all he wants to do is to win for once and how horrible it is that the "game is over" as soon as the hero wins. He almost wins people over with that one.

There are some amusing episodes on this volume that play out the formula pretty well. One of them deals with the group heading off to see the latest idol star, Rumie. She's come to town to do an autograph signing and then a performance the next day. Tsukasa, Asuka and gang are in line to see her, but Noburo uses his contacts and gets to cut in line, so he gets to take Asuka away, flighty little wench that she is. Rumie's not the all nice idol star that everyone expects; in fact, she's plum tired of the entire life of being one since she's not had a day to herself in two years and wants to cancel the signing session. So when Seppukumaru and gang realize the anger that gets caused, they try to abduct her. Of course, they're thwarted by Goemon, but Rumie still refuses to go back so she ends up hiding out at Tsukasa's place.

This still works out for the bad guys though since the manager and producer can't cancel the concert, so they still let everyone go into the auditorium the next day for it. Filled with people, the rage gauge will go off for sure when the performance is formally canceled if Goemon can't get her to go. What's drop dead hilarious here though is that Ebisumaru decides that he can fix things while the others look for Rumie by dressing up as her, complete with his ribbon, and taking her place on the stage. What a performance!

One episode that really had me laughing deals initially with Tsukasa's father being chided for not capturing anyone associated with Seppukumaru or his group yet. The dressing down is pretty depressing for the detective and it comes across to his family as well later that night. While he laments this, Seppukumaru and his gang find out that something else that will get the Rage Gauge to go off the charts is if you take away people's favorite TV shows. He sets plans in motion to take over all the TV stations broadcasts with his latest helper, the Telving. With everything going off the air, all at critical moments in stories or games no less, everyone starts freaking out and the Telving turns into a gigantic cow that starts to cause even more problems.

Imagine if you could harness the rage of anime fans? I think the writers here missed an obvious direction to go. Maybe for "Goemon goes to the US" series.

In Summary:
Much like the first volume, Goemon isn't striving to be anything more than it is. And it's nothing more than an amusing children's show with no educational value, but it does have its share of redeeming values (which the English voice actors cover nicely). It's not high art, but it's something that I've enjoyed watching with my girls and has let us get together for some fun and laughs. In that regards, Goemon has definitely succeeded ? it entertained us.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with the English cast

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Legend of the Mystical Ninja