Daiakuji: The Xena Buster Vol. #1 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, December 30, 2004
Release Date: Monday, December 13, 2004
What They Say
Yamamot Akuji noticed that the world is a totally different place after his release from prison. He experiences Osaka as something very new and strange after he got out of prison. During his imprisonment, the hierarchal structure flipped upside down, making it a world where the women dominated over men. Militia, churches, businesses and private businesses are operated by a female figure. Men were powerless, being controlled and enslaved by the women in Osaka. Being angered by the situation, Akuji and his partner Satsu begin their payback by teaching the stuck-up women in Osaka a little lesson...
After being taken over by another country, Japan goes topsy-turvy as women rule over all.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. This is also the only language available on this release as no English language version was made for it. The Japanese track is a pretty straightforward stereo mix that does have some good moments of directionality, more often in the fight scenes than anywhere else, and the music does a nice job of giving a full feeling performance. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in late 2003, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is definitely one of the more rich and vibrant looking hentai releases of late. There is a certain lushness to some of the colors used in this palette when combined with the rest of the animation and the backgrounds that really elevates this piece up a fair bit. With a lot of really bold colors in large sections, there's no noticeable blocking going on and that's the major problem that this release could have had but avoids. Cross coloration and aliasing are just about non-existent and overall this is a really sweet looking transfer. The opening and ending sequences are retained in their original Japanese text format, most likely as hentai releases don't usually have clean versions to offer up. They're not translated directly but are done following the show.
Using the image of Motoko in her almost business-like outfit, she's set against a stark white cover so that the darker colors in her design and outfit really stand out well here. There's a good amount of detail to the image but some of it gets obscured by the sizeable band across the center with the shows logo. The front cover is definitely an eye-catching piece with its simple colors and contrast between them. The back cover has a lot of artwork and shots from the show on it, enough that it takes up about two-thirds of it. The bottom third has a small summary and a list of the discs features. There's a small technical grid along the bottom that's clear on the features and overall it's easy to see exactly what's on the disc between the two sections. There's no insert with this release but the cover is reversible. The reverse side is the same image for the front cover but the back cover has a different series of screenshots used for it while everything else remains the same.
The main menu uses the character artwork of Motoko from the cover but sets it against a dark brick wall with the menu selections running down the left side. The strong instrumental music plays along to the static imagery and loops for a pretty lengthy amount of time instead of the usual short loop, letting you really get the full song. The layout is decent and there isn't too much here overall. As there was no language choice, the show defaulted easily to our preference for subtitles and we had no problems navigating here.
It can probably be classified as an extra, but there's a fifteen minute or so "episode zero" that's included here that basically goes on to explain the many relationships of the show and a bit of the setting. It's done in a super-deformed format which is just terribly cute, particularly for Akuji, on the principle that if they can get all this out of the way now and not in the show they'll have more room for the "dirty stuff" in the actual show. Akuji is all for this so we get a fun piece that's light in nature but does a really good job of explaining what is a large cast and interesting setting.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first anime and hentai release from Adult Media Source, Daiakuji is a six part OVA series that's based on a supposedly massively popular PC game and the anime release is apparently one of the more popular ones out there. It's apparently popular enough that it shows up on a couple of mainstream retailers in Japan that don't normally stock hentai releases in their catalog. Being their first release, the end result is actually really good barring a couple of problems that can be either big or small issues depending on the viewer.
The first is the complete lack of a dub. While dubs do make the anime world go around in the bigger business sense, it's unknown whether this really applies when it comes to the hentai scene. The fact that every other company out there continues to make dubs indicates that it does indeed make a difference so I think they really missed the boat in not producing a dub here. In fact, since the show is so much fun with its dialogue and plot, I think some of the production houses would have had a blast in performing in this show. The second problem is that the subtitles seem to be good in their translation, but their timing is ever so slightly off. They're on screen a touch early and disappear a touch early and just seem a slight bit too fast at that. It doesn't present any issues with knowing who is talking outside of maybe one or two sequences but it's enough to bother some people I'm sure.
As for the show itself, it's definitely one that sets itself up with a sense of style, though it can be confusing at times with how it shifts back and forth in time on some occasions as well as having the episode zero footage. It does have one really good soundtrack though and some of the instrumental pieces reminded me rather strongly of Pulp Fiction. This was only solidified more as the back and forth nature of the show became evident between the episode zero and episode one material started to come together.
The story focuses around a rough and tumble type named Yamamoto Akuji. He's spent the last few years in prison and has finally been released back into the world. Heading home to Osaka, he's going into a world that's vastly different than before. While that's often the case for most people getting out of prison, it's even more so here as in the time he was in there, Japan picked a fight with another country and things didn't go quite so well. In fact, it went so badly that the opposing country, Omui, has taken over Japan and instilled their own style of government and social order in its place. The radical difference is that it's a matriarchal society and that men are not allowed to own anything. All businesses are owned by women and they control every facet of life.
When Akuji returns to his home city, he's surprised to learn that his grandfather has left on some sort of vacation or trip and that his new wife/lover has taken over the place. She's got nothing to do with him and has her minions rough him up and send him on his way, which isn't all that hard since he's been weakened a bit due to being in prison. Due to this, he ends up falling in with a volunteer group, again led by a woman, and spends some time recovering there and making plans with them to start taking over sections of Osaka. Through the episode zero piece, we learn of the various factions within the city that are vying for power, with his new grandmother being one of the biggest players there. So Akuji spends his time in recovery and planning by conquering a number of women and having a friend of his aid in training them to be properly subservient.
With his falling in with the volunteer group and building up his own little group of women who can kick ass as well as take it in there, he starts making preparations to try and take his home back from the woman whose claimed it as her own. Throughout this we get to see Akuji with his various conquests as well as dealing with the woman he claims to love, though he seems to have a certain amount of love for all of the women he's with. Even on the opposing side there are those that have fallen for him which adds more complications to the entire effort to getting things back.
The style of this show is really quite good. The action moments tend to be a bit quick but they're fun to watch, often since Akuji is getting taken down since he's still weak. His entire design is actually a real plus especially when you consider that the character design for most males in hentai is pretty terrible with either wimps or janitor-types. Akuji's not breaking any molds here, but he's not the pushover that you find in most of these shows and it's a character that you'd actually want to see in a regular series. In fact, that's part of the appeal of this show is that if you took out the sex, other than being considerably shorter you'd have a concept that you'd want to see taken to a regular series.
As for the sex itself, it's actually pretty good throughout and there are only a couple of very brief minutes of scatological material and it's generally not used for actual sex itself. With it being so recent, the color design for the characters is really solid with some very good choices. Flesh tones look great, distinct and detailed hair designs and overall really attractive characters of the various stereotypes but with enough differences to them. Some of the sex scenes are fairly short since they're done in flashback mode but there's plenty of good stuff in here as well.
For a first release, it's not bad but could have been better, particularly in regards to the subtitles which are mistimed in both languages essentially. This does detract from the overall presentation but Daiakuji has a really great sense of style to it and an interesting concept that it wants to use as the backdrop. While it's not the same show for a number of reasons, it's the kind that reminds me of the original Urotsukidoji in that it does have a story and it does take time to deal with that as opposed to having a loosely strung together collection of sex scenes with a paper thin plot. This looks really interesting but since the next episode isn't due until sometime in Spring 2005, it may be one that takes quite awhile to get through.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Episode Zero
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Adult Source Media
Running time: 55
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Daiakuji: The Xena Buster