Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #7 (of 9) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 08, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2006
What They Say
The real devil's kingdom is shaken up by Yuri's sudden disappearance. Wolfram confronts the sorceress Ulurieke and Baker to find out Yuri's whereabouts. After Small Cimarron and Big Cimarron's dispute, Yuri must board a strange ship to escape Lord Carolia. Just as Yuri is escaping, Wolfram and Geezera arrive at Carolia to search for Yuri. Meanwhile, on the political front, Maxene incites hatred towards the devil's tribe while delivering her speech at the opening ceremony of the forbidden box. Murata tells Yuri about a secret birth and gives him some unexpected advice.
Yuri's problems only seem to pile up even more as his Small Cimaron adventure continues while the seriousness of the problem becomes bigger elsewhere.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly standard TV action mix which provides some decent directionality during action scenes and occasionally with some of the dialogue. There's a fair amount of action so we do get to have both speakers work out nicely and the dialogue has a number of good distinct moments. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this show is essentially problem free and looks great both at standard display level and upconverted to 1080i. The digital nature of the show comes across really well here with vivid and solid colors that are free of gradient problems, backdrops that are free of blocking and no visible cross coloration. This is simply a very smooth looking piece that's pleasing on the eyes through and through.
Keeping to the same style as before with a good looking brown cover, the character artwork would have been more appropriate for the last volume as it focuses on the time that Adalbert and Conrart had spent together as soldiers. The back cover is done in a similar style but with a different border that holds the basic summary and numerous pieces of artwork and shots from the show. The discs episode numbers and titles are clearly listed next to the discs features and extras while the bottom is filled out with the production credits and the spread out technical information. The insert for the release replicates the front cover artwork with a few less logos while the reverse side lists the episodes and future volume release dates along with a few shots from the show, which means this is a fairly useless insert. With the keepcase being clear, the cover is full color on both sides and the reverse side is just a dark brown background with a shield and crest underneath where the disc itself resides.
The menu layout for this series is nicely done with a central image that goes towards a fantasy/kingdom theme with the symbols of the demon kingdom set in the center against a purple backdrop while each of the four corners of the symbols lead to different menu selections, all set to a brief bit of instrumental music. It's a nicely designed menu that fits into the theme of the show and provides for quick and easy navigation that's free of transitional animations. The only downside to the menus is that it doesn't play our presets properly since they put the sign/song subtitle track as the first English track instead of the second one.
The only included extra is a series of conceptual sketches in a gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kyo Kara Maoh has continued to do a good job of being a series where it's able to bring in and introduce new things that take it in slightly different directions and sometimes with unexpected results. New relationships are discovered, new ties not previously known and the scope of the world expands even more. In a way it reminds me somewhat of the Xanth novels in how each new adventure reveals so much more and binds it all together.
Murata's becoming his new traveling companion has led them to some rather amusing encounters as they try to figure out about the region of the human world that they're in. Yuri's in his usual disguise with the sunglasses but Murata is fairly wide eyed at times but also very relaxed in dealing with everything that's going on. Their encounter with the masked Lord of Caloria has in itself been something that reveals more about the history and split between the Demon Tribe and everyone else since we get to hear things from a different source. But even that doesn't get long to play out as Adalbert, under the command of another, arrives and throws more of a wrench into things. The human nations are in various states of conflict and through this we learn more about how Big Cimaron is using its balance of power to force other small nations to join up and send soldiers to them so that they can prepare to take down the Demon Tribe.
The return of Adalbert isn't surprising since he's like a bad penny that shows up at the worst of times and his previous encounters with Yuri only make for amusing new encounters. He's a bit more fleshed out this time around and while his motivations don't exactly make him a good guy he's starting to be someone that you can at least understand. The ties to previous revelations with Conrart certainly help a lot in that regard as well and Yuri's ownership of the pendant now isn't something that works in anyone's favor at first. With Yuri, Murata and the Lord of Caloria now under their control and being shipped off to Big Cimaron, the truth behind a lot of what's going on with Small Cimaron also works into the history of the split between the two races with implications for how Big Cimaron intends to take control of the entire world.
The majority of these episodes play out this storyline as Yuri and Murata along with others get wrapped up in it and it's all fairly interesting. The setup is for the last storyline of this season of the show presumably since there's only two volumes left after this and it's one that brings together a lot of things that have been around the edges of the series since the beginning which gives it a really good feel. But it's also mostly setup and rearranging of the "players" in the game a bit so it's not quite at that level where it's really completely engaging. Events in the previous volume are also more relevant here which shows just how much setup has been going into it but it's still building up overall.
What really made this volume is one of the aspects of the show that continues to be its strongest and that's the comedy. While we get more amusing animal gags such as the poofy sheep, it's the character humor that tends to work the best. Murata has some choice lines throughout as we see that he may be more than we've been led to believe but the best material for this set of episodes involves Gunter. Since he'd been poisoned before, he's coping with his new existence as his body has been kept in good shape but his consciousness has been moved to another body by Anissina. His new placement inside of a pint sized classic doll's body is priceless on its own, but when it's revealed he can fly and shoot laser beams from his eyes? It's beyond hilarious. Gunter has some of the best lines in this volume, from admiring how his body looks in death to the new pitch of the voice in doll form. And the frickin' lasers. Someone on this show must be an Austin Powers fan.
Kyo Kara Maoh is just a fun show and this set of episodes continues that tradition while building more towards the main storyline that looks to finish out this season of the show. There's a fair bit of action throughout it which keeps things flowing and some tense moments as the big powers that are involved are revealed. But it also provides much of what really makes the show special, the character interactions themselves, their quirks and the comedy of it all. This show is one that's just so on the mark with everything that it does that each episode is fun in itself but when taken in larger doses like this you can see it all so much better in how it's put together. Very enjoyable and it looks to be setting the finale up with something nice and big.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kyo Kara Maoh!