Daiakuji: The Xena Buster Vol. #3 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 21, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, February 08, 2005



What They Say
The absorption of Wakame gumi made Akuji gumi bigger and stronger. With Akuji leading his group, they begin to expand, recapturing the Ashiya region. However, Akuji and the rest would face a new problem. Fearing the domination of the new Akuji gumi, the religious group "Nako-Kyo" would step up to confront Akuji and his group. In this third episode, the battle of Akuji gumi and the religious group "Nako-Kyo" is filled with surging battle scenes and lusty sex scenes as the heat increases in the world of "Daiakuji."

The Review!
As Akuji firms up his support in one area, the religious faction starts making plans to eliminate him before he becomes serious trouble.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2003, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. 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 area that ends up being the most problematic, and more so in this volume than past ones, is the dot crawl which infects almost every scene and reduces the detail overall. 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.

Packaging:
Kikuko gets this volumes cover with her leash on and keeping what's left of her clothes wrapped around her while she leaks below, as this looks to be a pull from the show itself. 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.

Menu:
The main menu uses the cover shot of Kikuko herself without the background and sets it against a dark brown 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.

Extras:
The only extra included is a trailer for the fourth volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Daiakuji continues to be an interesting title as it progresses along as this volume goes back to getting a bit more of the plot moving forward, though as it seems to indicate, a lot of it is taking place off camera these days so that we can focus on the good stuff, the sex. We get to keep tabs on Akuji more as he does his training and conquering than his political maneuvering and with hentai I can't exactly complain as much.

A couple of things start moving along in this episode as Akuji and his team go through a bit of territory enforcement. We get a brief but fun action sequence right at the start but then it shifts into focusing on two different things. One of them takes us the religious faction in Osaka where Nako, treated as a god herself, is dealing with all that's required of her in that capacity. Though she's in charge, it's obvious that those under her are working more than she is and have their own things going on so that Nako is being shifted into a figurehead position more than anything else, though some of her staff are definitely dedicated completely to her. They've all recognized that Akuji is a threat though and someone is dispatched to deal with him.

For Akuji, he's taken some time over the past week to play with their new acquisition, a young woman named Kikuko, who is the daughter of one of the generals involved in all this nonsense. Having her captured and undergoing the training that those under Akuji must endure, she's still fighting against him but he's got some creative ways of dealing with her both in public and in private. This brings more toys into it and remote controls that prove to be fun but it's little surprise that she's slowly coming under his spell. The training is thrown off a bit though when the assassin from Nako shows up and tries to eliminate him, but you know nothing can keep a man like him down. Before the young assassin Toki knows what hit her, she finds herself in the same kind of training program as Kikuko is.

Technically, this volume drops down a bit initially due to the video problems with the dot crawl but also for the subtitling. When the show starts, the first three or so passages of dialogue are all left untranslated. And while I don't remember the last volume, the next episode preview with the awfully cute chibi characters is also unsubtitled. I can almost give in on the preview not being subbed but the missing subtitles on the first three lines of dialogue is just plain bad and hopefully it'll be fixed for future pressings.

In Summary:
There's material that brings some of the political maneuvering into play that Akuji is working on, combining it with the sex slaves that he's got in training, as well as dealing more with the religious faction. The show manages to hit a decent balance of the two though I do wish for more story itself to be here. Some of the promise in the first episode and episode zero seem to be lost along the way here but there's still enough that's keeping me interesting and hoping that it finds its way again.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Adult Source Media
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Daiakuji: The Xena Buster