Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Brett Barkley
Review Date: Friday, February 09, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2006



What They Say
Loki, Norse God of mischief and part time detective, has always had something of a magnetic personality. How else does one explain the steady influx of supernatural beings from the realm of the Gods, continually vying for his attention? Sure, they come to kill him, but that doesn't make him any less of a popular guy! His shrunken body may limit his powers, but Loki's colossal charisma continues to be the driving force behind his survival. But a summons from Odin can change the fortunes of both man and God alike, and a gift given to Loki's greatest foe, Heimdall, may signal the end of Loki's current streak of good luck. Can Skuld, one of the sisters of fate, who continues to be haunted by the enigmatic smile with which Loki countered her latest assassination attempt, unlock the mystery of Odin's fury once and for all? And with Hel (the goddess) on Earth, can the final war, Ragnarok, be far behind? What secrets lie in the past? What fortunes lie in the future? What visions lie in Heimdall's eye? There's only one way to find out: Take a look for yourself!


The Review!
In the series' penultimate volume, a major threat rises to challenge Loki, and the foundation is set for the conclusion.

Audio:

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English and Dolby 2.0 in Japanese with English subtitles. I greatly enjoyed the English track and felt the actors really did a great job in bringing personality to their respective characters. Considering the large amount of dialogue in this series, this was actually a necessity. That the audio was reproduced well only served to do the actors justice. Understandably, the same can be said for the actors on the Japanese Dolby 2.0 track, though it comes across much flatter in comparison. On an issue of personal preference, I actually prefer Ms. Fuchizaki's rendition of Loki on the Japanese track, though again you just don't get the same impact with the 2.0 audio. As always, there are trade-offs between the two audio options, but this feels like a solid release all the way around.


Video:

Having an original Japanese air date of 2003, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok clearly shows in its production values and relative freshness. Video is crisp and clear with colors represented very nicely. This series appears to really rely on moody and striking color schemes, which are all done to great effect throughout the episodes on this disk. I found overall quality of the presentation to be very strong, finding no instances of cross coloration or pixilation. This is a great looking piece of work.

Packaging:

Volume six ships in a clear keepcase and features an image of Hel, the mysterious villain featured in episodes twenty-two and twenty-three, one side of her figured illuminated in a dark red light, giving her dualistic appearance that is at once gentle and ominous. The cover also features some intricate designs that give it a very unique look unlike any other anime cover I'm immediately familiar with. The back cover continues the black and dark gray background pattern, featuring an easy-to-read volume summary and features included on the disk, as well as several images from the episodes, which also read nicely against this dark background. The spine clearly displays the title (though not the logo) and has a very classy feel. While there is no insert included with this volume, the clear keepcase does feature a vibrantly-colored reversible cover beach party image of the bulk of the cast to this point (though with no Mayura).


Menu:

The disk menu is nicely designed and very easy to use. Featuring some of the Victorian-inspired border design work from the rear cover of the disk itself, the primary image features Loki staring through a window as rain falls in the foreground. As with the menus from the previous disks, ghostly feathers float over the entire menu as a moody music clip plays throughout. Featuring a more ominous, pondering image than what has come prior, this menu does a great job of reflecting the darker mood the series has taken.

In terms of navigation, the menu is also successful. A breeze to use and easy to instantly understand, all navigation is featured against a gold band along the lower edge of the screen. The Mythical Detective seal is featured boldly in the lowermost left of the screen, and the episodes are listed in order twenty-one through twenty-three, with a Preview of Volume 7, Extras and Language options in the rightmost corner. By pressing the down key on the remote, the viewer can quickly move through the listing of disk options.


Extras:

The fifth volume of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok features a preview of volume 7, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, another Interview with Seiyuu (Part 2 of a session with Japanese voice actors Rika Komatsu, who plays Reiya, and Yui Horie, the voice of Mayura), Japanese TV Commercials, the welcome inclusion of Norse Mythology Notes and ADV Preview and DVD Credits. I actually really liked the Clean Opening Animation, simply because the mood and design of the opening is just that good. The Japanese TV Commercials are a nice touch, offering seven original advertisements for the Loki DVDs and soundtracks. They do tend to run together, however, as each commercial is featured here with exactly the same sound cut from the opening theme song. The video interview was again fun and playful, though slightly more goofy than informative, but enjoyable nonetheless. I was very pleased with the inclusion of the notes on Norse Mythology. This in-depth examination of the source material is very enlightening, though only marginally beneficial in enjoying the series.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok began its life as a serialized manga published in Shonen Gangan under the name, Mythical Detective Loki. The title was lengthened to the final Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok after the property was relocated to Comic Blade magazine. The television series based on the original manga ran for 26 episodes in 2003.

Very loosely based on Norse mythology (in which Loki finds himself exiled to Midgard "our human realm, or Japan in this case "in the body of a child, and a number of other famous Norse characters are recreated here as well, as teenagers), this series is a sort of fusion between those mythological characters and the boy detective genre. The plot follows Loki, who has established the Enjaku Detective agency, which appears to handle more occult-oriented cases. Loki has been judged by Odin and exiled to this realm and placed in the somewhat limiting form of a child. He is accompanied by his faithful servant Yamino (who has a penchant for sending away for mail-order junk and seems genuinely surprised when it breaks) and Mayura Daidoji, an energetic, if somewhat clumsy high school girl who manages to force her way in to Loki's life. Additional characters from Norse mythology are introduced play a vital role in the plot. Each of these Norse transplants also has special abilities, though theirs do not seem as limited by their youthful exteriors as Loki.

Without changing gears from the more serious tone of the previous two episodes (the final two episodes included in volume five), episode twenty-one opens as Odin takes the form of Verdandi and visits Heimdall, reminding him of his mission to destroy Loki. In order to motivate the god of tactics, Odin presents him with a magical replacement for his missing eye. Meanwhile, a torrential downpour forces Loki, Narugami, Fenrir, Yamino, Mayura, and Reya to take refuge in Loki's mansion, though Loki has a foreboding sense of impending doom. When the rain subsides, the group ventures out, only to find the city completely abandoned, even showing no sign of the recent rains. Sensing something is wrong, Loki and the gang attempts to return to the mansion, but none of the roads seem quite right and they quickly become lost. In quick succession, their small group disappears one by one, until only Loki remains. Having Loki all to himself, Heimdall initiates their duel-to-the-death. While Loki futilely pleads his innocence in stealing Heimdall's eye, the god of tactics refuses to listen, unwavering in his onslaught. The renewed powers provided by Odin's gift make him a truly formidable opponent. Though Loki finally manages to break through Heimdall's rage to reveal the true thief, it does little to dissuade the god of tactics. With plenty of mood, truly beautiful imagery, and an absolutely powerful and surprising conclusion, this episode is very well executed. As the series continues with the darker, more dramatic feel found in the last three episodes, episode twenty-one is shocking in the way the inevitable unfolds.

Following the stunning events of the last episode, episode twenty-two slows the pace a bit, opening with a more ponderous glimpse in to the issues facing both Loki and Skuld. Loki struggles with last episodes' conclusion and the position Odin has placed them all in. Meanwhile, Skuld struggles to reconcile her feelings for Loki and her mission as a Norn to destroy him. As the remaining Norns dismiss Skuld, restricting her involvement in their ongoing efforts to destroy Loki, Loki himself goes to them with an offer of peace. The Norns, however, aren't quick to let their mission from Odin drop, and as Loki effortlessly passes through the gauntlet of the Norn's mansion, Skuld, seeking to regain her clarity, summons the Urdarbrunnr in order to learn who she truly is. Finally, the Norns reveal Odin's reasons for sending all the gods to destroy Loki. Some time ago, Odin used Heimdall's eye to peer in to the future and foresaw a time when Loki would steal the life from every living thing in the world; Ragnarok. Once again, before Loki has a chance to defend himself, the Norns banish him to the realm of illusion in order to destroy him. Meanwhile, the being Skuld believed to have been the Urdarbrunnr appears to actually be the goddess Hel (though the villainess' identity is never really revealed in the episodes, it is alluded to in the next episode, as Hel would make up the final, missing part of Loki's family). Sensing her swaying from Odin's mission, Hel attacks Skuld. Recognizing her mistake in trusting Odin, it is only through Skuld's intervention in to the realm of illusion that prevents Loki's death. As the Norn's struggle to come to terms with what appears to be Odin's lies and betrayal, Loki attempts to do battle with this powerful foe inside the Norn's mansion. But as Frey, Freya, Narugami, Yamino and Fenrir come to Loki's aid, their enemy seals the mansion, allowing none to enter. As the evil energy slowly eats away everything in the mansion, threatening to consume Loki and the Norns, the four manage to muster a brave last-ditch effort to repel the evil, narrowly escaping.

While the episode clarifies a few of the key elements in determining the reason Odin has sent the gods to destroy Loki, it raises new questions, particularly regarding the powerful foe behind the attack on Loki and the Norns, as well as Odin's true motivations for destroying Loki. As Loki manages to save the Norns by the episode's conclusion, a new alliance is formed here that begins to hint at a larger confrontation toward the series conclusion. While not as overtly dramatic as last episode, episode twenty-two uses enough suspense and foreshadowing to intrigue.

Episode twenty-three, the final on this disk, opens with a moody scene between Heimdall and the girl who attacked Loki and the Norns from last episode. Still intent on destroying Loki, Heimdall ponders his destruction with Odin. Quickly changing gears to a feel somewhat more akin to what viewers have come to expect from the series, the episode finds Loki and the rest of the cast (yes, even the Norns) getting some R&R at Kotaro's lakeside villa. While this change of scenery presents the viewers a brief reversion to the lighthearted cast-wide fun found in previous episodes in the series, naturally Hel soon shows up to wreak havoc. Thinking Hel, previously only seen by Kotaro, is a ghost, Mayura goes out in to the woods at night to find her. The "strange mystery" she encounters, however, is a little closer to terrifying experience as Mayura is saved only by Loki's timely intervention. As Loki realizes that Heimdall is again engaging him from a distance, Hel sets her sights on Mayura, and Mayura begins to realize, only twenty-three episodes too late, that there may be something a little different about Loki. While this episode is deceptive in that it feels primarily dedicated to a build-up of suspense for the final episodes, the status quo is again challenged in a major way as Mayura begins to see the truth about Loki. What this holds in store for the conclusion of the series I'm not certain, but as there is plenty of foreshadowing that Mayura will be playing a much larger role in the endgame, I'm very excited to see how it plays out.


In Summary:

Though volume six is short, offering only three episodes, a great deal happens to set the stage for the series' conclusion. While Heimdall, previously serving as more of a comic annoyance than major antagonist, becomes a definite threat to Loki, the Norns also go through a change of heart, apparently opting to abort their mission to kill Loki, instead falling in with him. Mayura also goes through some changes, though these deal more finally recognizing Loki's otherworldly nature. What will become of her new revelation is not certain at this point, but it is certain she is now targeted by Hel. While this is great, in that it's about time one of Loki's foes actually targets Mayura, the weakest link in his circle of friends, I was disappointed the major villainess makes her appearance this late in the third act (and is not even officially identified in this volume).

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Actor's Talk with Rika Komatsu (Reiya) & Yui Horie (Mayura),Original Japanese TV commercials,Norse mythology notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.



Mania Grade: A-
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: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok