Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #4 (of 5) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 04, 2004



What They Say
Goemon and Mudanashi have blasted each other with all kinds of firepower, from giant bazookas to oversized vacuum cleaners. The arms race has escalated, the guns keep getting bigger, but the heroes and villains keep coming back for more. What possible weapon could bring these super-beings to their knees? How about a little?love! That's right, romance is in the air in Ganbare Goemon, and Cupid's slinging his arrows at machine-gun speed!

The Review!
Goemon's adventures continue as Mudanashi does his best to eliminate all that waste that makes his skin so itchy.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 Goemon but not the egg foursome. 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 pose of Goemon and friends done up against a nice blue sky. The reverse side is mostly just a listing of what's on the disc and the previews.

Menu:
The main menu has a purple 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.

Extras:
The extras continue to be good for the fans of the dub. There's another thirteen minute cast interview piece (though it's deceptive since they re-use the same "introduction" segments, so you may think that it's the same as previous installments). There's also a commentary track for one of the episodes with a few of the actors and the director. Both pieces really just show the sheer love and enjoyment they all got out of this experience and it comes through very much in their performances as well. This series has spoiled me so much that I simply cannot listen to it in Japanese for any length of time anymore.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the series gets closer to its end, the stories manage to continue on much as we've seen, though we're still very much treated to the villain of Mudanashi still. His antics are still quite different from his predecessor and in some instances work out a lot better. He makes a more comical villain for different reasons and these episodes really highlight that.

This volume has some pretty entertaining episodes. The opening episode has a competition for the best robot to be built with a pretty spiffy prize, so just about everyone and their mother is entering. And yes, that means toupee boy Noburo is going for it as well with his lobster shaped robot that only he can control. Since the prize is a trip to Hawaii, Monoshiri is really interested in it since it'll mean foreign cuties for him to see, so he whips up his own little design, the Pumpkin Robot, which is basically Sasuke on stilts with a pumpkin on his head. Mudanashi's also going to enter the contest so he can utilize the rage generated from it to continue to try and open a portal between the worlds. His idea this time is to create a new robot and not utilize Protein (who, depending on which language you listen to, seems to shift between being a male or female robot). Protein takes this pretty hard and is upset about it, so much so that he enters himself into the contest by just putting a box over his head and making some eye-slits.

What works out so comically well, and plays into other episodes, is that Protein falls in love instantly with the Pumpkin Robot, only to feel betrayed later upon learning that it's actually Sasuke. But as it goes on into other episodes, he's still got feelings for Sasuke (who's confused as hell about all of this) and it plays into a lot of fun moments, particularly in the Valentines episode.

One episode that was surprisingly fun dealt with a cooking/bake-off competition in the area. It starts off initially by having Mudanashi and his crew doing their grocery shopping, an amusing site since there's so much waste in a supermarket, and Mudanashi trying to figure out what to get. He's helped at one point by Tsukasa's mother lifting him up so he can reach something on the top shelf. When he turns to look at her, he's instantly smitten by her, with the visuals going all soft and hazy as his cheeks go red. Mudanashi has truly fallen in love and will do anything he can to spend time with her. When he finds out that she's entered the cooking contest at the local center, and he realizes that he can create something that will engage the rage of housewives and women who do cooking all the time, he ends up dressed up as a woman just so he can get close to Tsukasa's mother. It's all quiet amusing and Mudanashi makes a horrible looking woman.

Probably one of the more amusing episodes is the one where Mudanashi realizes that breaking up couples in love produces quite a lot of rage. So he sets his gruesome foursome out onto the world to sneak up on couples and start smooching one of them and expressing their undying love, causing the other person to freak out. Even better, he sends off little UFO style robots into the air that intercept cellular phone calls (Japan's obvious perfect for this) and replace what they're saying with the other end telling them they hate them and they suck and so on. The rage gauge is all over the map as people are getting completely frustrated. Mudanashi's own frustration with being rebuffed by Tsukasa's mother is the perfect motivation for doing something like this.

In Summary:
Continuing to be against my better judgment, Goemon is a surprisingly fun little series that plays with some continuity and in general just has a lot of fun. There's plenty of repetitive animation for various things throughout it but that's par for the course for a kids series like this. There's some surprising adult stuff in there too, particularly when Tsukasa's mother indicates that she likes the fact her husband is being chased by other women since it reaffirms his hotness. Go figure. Goemon's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but for those that do get into it, it'll have a really solid cultish appeal.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Cast interviews,Commentary with Scott McClennen; Tiffany Grant and Vic Mignogna

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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Legend of the Mystical Ninja