Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, March 15, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
What They Say
It's time to play family feud, but the fun n' games are over, as Fenrir and Yamino are forced to choose between father and sister. Will Ragnarok, war of the gods, be nothing more than a family reunion gone afoul? And what's to become of Mayura? As the gods prepare to depart this mortal coil, will she fall hostage to Hel's wrath, or will she face an even worse fate, deserted by her only friends forever? As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." But will the final chapter be written in blood, or will the saga conclude with kisses and hugs? Find out in the final installment of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok!
The end of the world as we know it?
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.
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.
Volume seven ships in a clear keepcase and features an image of adult Loki, his piercing green eyes staring out with intensity at the viewer. 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 beautifully-colored reversible cover featuring most of the main cast dressed in traditional Japanese garments as fireworks explode in the background.
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 a dramatic upshot of Hel as she sits in the enchanted trolley car, looking on. Behind her, through the glass, an ominous red glows seeps in to the car. As with the menus from the previous disks, ghostly feathers and dust float over the entire menu as a moody music clip plays throughout. While not overtly ominous in appearance, the menu for vol. 7 does have a foreboding sense about it which reflects the darker mood the series has taken, as well as the questions of finality naturally raised by the last disk in a series.
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-four through twenty-six, with 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.
The seventh and final volume of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok features Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, Series Commentary with Shiichiro Miki (who plays Yamino) and series Director Hiroshi Watanabe, the welcome inclusion of Norse Mythology Notes and ADV Preview and DVD Credits. Considering this is the final disk in this series, I was surprised at how little extras were actually featured. The real meat here is found in the Series Commentary segment, in which Shiichiro Miki and Hiroshi Watanabe walk through the series, exploring art and plot decisions, as well as letting slip there may be a follow-up series. Obviously, due to the inclusion of Shiichiro Miki, much of this feature is dedicated to Yamino. I actually really liked the Clean Opening Animation, simply because the mood and design of the opening is just that good. 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.
Episode twenty-four, the first episode of the final volume of the series (and quite possibly the beginning of Ragnarok), begins quietly enough, opening in the library with Kotaro as he encounters the strangely fascinating girl from the lake (last episode). Definitely intrigued by her beauty and charm, he does his best to impress, though she appears impervious to his charm. Meanwhile, Mayura struggles with confronting Loki with his strange abilities she discovered last episode. Little does she realize she has now become the target of the concerted efforts of Heimdall and Hel. At the mansion, Yamino has thrown a party for all their friends, new (the Norns) and old (Yamino, Fey and Freya) but Loki is troubled by their recent tribulations that could likely be the work of his daughter Hel. As Loki and his sons ponder Hel's hand in their most recent fortunes, Mayura, unable to confront Loki with her many questions, opts to go through Loki's possessions. Putting to work all of her love for the mysterious, and a surprising tenacity at digging for clues, Mayura is soon caught by Loki. Still unable to actually deal with the situation as well as Loki's temper, and fearing Loki will soon be departing, she leaves, fueling Hel's desire to see Loki and those he holds dear to suffer. On their way to apologize to Mayura, Loki, Yamino, and Fenrir are delayed by Heimdall, as Hel manages to kidnap Mayura. The episode closes as Mayura's father comes to Loki, asking for his help in saving his daughter's life.
As has been the general standard for this series, this episode does a great job of layering the different plots, mingling and crossing-over threads of drama and depth with a playful lightheartedness. As Mayura struggles to understand all she has learned, but doesn't quite understand, of Loki, she's playing right in to Hel's hands. When she digs for clues throughout Loki's mansion, she exhibits the same fun simple personality she has shown throughout the series, but Loki's intense reaction to her nosiness is almost as much a surprise to the viewer as to Mayura herself. The spicy cake-eating contest was a fun diversion from the layered and more serious subplots leading to the finale, and serves as a terrific juxtaposition with the final scene in which Fenrir, with genuine fear, asks Loki why this terrible thing has come upon them.
With time against him as the seconds tick away after Mayura's abduction, Loki ponders his next move in the opening of episode twenty-five. As Yamino question whether or not they'd be capable of bringing themselves to face Hel, she appears before them, brazenly taunting them before capturing them using Loki's own banishment spell. Now without his trusted companions, having had everyone he cared most for removed from his life, Loki must wage battle against someone he cares about in order to save yet other loved ones. Hel and Heimdall plot another trap for Loki, this time enlisting an enchanted trolley car. As Loki follows Hel's lead and boards the trolley, he's carried with her to the location of her choosing. He attempts to speak with her, pleading for the lives of his friends. She reveals the reason for her hatred and her grandiose scheme of revenge to be her abandonment by Loki and his two sons in the world of the gods (which, ultimately suggests she is either the neediest person in the universes, or is so massively insane as to actually warrant her abandonment "all in all, a fairly poor and unbalanced reasoning to become one of the series' chief antagonists). After Hel's whiny, self-pitying speech, the trolley arrives at a giant cementary, where Mayura is chained to a large stone column, flanked on either side by spear-wielding skeletons. When Hel asks Loki what Mayura means to him, the skeletons immediately move forth and impale Mayura. Immediately, her form becomes little more than floating petals, revealing it all to be an illusion under the ever-watchful gaze of Odin. Almost like a dream, the scenery changes. Loki is now seated at a table in a beautiful field of flowers. As Hel continues to speak about her abandonment, the mystical environment begins to change to reflect Hel's own embitterment. While beautifully done, the rest of the episode is dedicated to Hel's whining. Loki transforms to his adult self, and Hel lets slip that Odin has been informing her of Loki's "true" feelings for her, fueling her already substantial neuroses. When Hel tests Loki, inviting him to come with her in to eternity where they can be alone together, Loki actually takes her up on the offer and the two of them share a brief moment in paradise before Hel, finally getting what she most longs for, simply disappears in to nothingness.
Episode twenty-six, the final of the series, brings with it a certain amount of dread. Naturally, by the conclusion of any series a viewer has grown to enjoy, there is a bit of trepidation as the end approaches. However, beyond the standard sentimentality, as the series reaches its conclusion, it brings with it a number of questions: What will become of Loki and his family and friends on Earth? Is there a resolution in store between he and Odin? Is Ragnarok truly the inevitable outcome for these characters?
Opening with a eulogy for Hel read by Yamino and the adult Loki's assurance that it is indeed their time to return to their world, the episode fulfills the melancholy of a true ending, a final parting of ways. The displaced gods prepare to depart as Mayura struggles to understand what is happening in the lives of her closest friends. In preparation for their departure, Loki seeks to enlist Verdandi's aid in removing all traces of he and his friends from Mayura's mind while Frey wrestles with just how to say goodbye to his "Japanese Beauty." Once presented with the item that will make it possible to erase Mayura's memories
After realizing she has never known anything about Loki, and sensing something has happened and that her friends are leaving, she returns to the mansion to find Loki in his adult form. As she speaks with Loki (in his adult form), she is unaware of just whom it is she is speaking with. He actually goes so far as to reveal himself to her, but she doesn't believe he's truly a god. She doesn't believe in gods at all, after she lost her mother long ago. Understandably, her mother's death affected her greatly, thus serving as the reason she can't accept her friends' departure. In vain, she continues to search for the child Loki she knows as her friends and Loki determines not to remove her memories. As the time to leave rapidly approaches, Loki must decide to return to the world of the gods and take his vengeance on Odin (thus ushering in Ragnarok), or relinquish his power, forgo his vendetta, and remain in our world.
While with this episode the series (at least this volume) comes to a close, though not all questions are answered. With the conclusion of this volume, viewers will likely have a number of questions remaining. For instance, why did Hel appear to have died? Certainly, Odin lied to other gods and they didn't die once they learned the truth. At what point did the gods gain the ability to return to the land of the gods when they wished? I recognize this ability was likely tied to Hel's enchanted trolley, but this was left almost entirely up to the viewer to determine.
And what of Loki's battle with Odin? Many viewers will be disappointed at the resolution (or lack thereof). While this is most likely intended to serve as the lead-in to the next volume in the series, the conclusion feels a bit unsatisfactory in that nothing is really done to prevent Odin from continuing to mislead various gods, sending them to Midgard to destroy Loki and his friends.
However, the series had much strength. Fun and endearing, the characters are easy to like and a joy to continue watching. Much like the characters themselves, many of the relationships were complex and multi-layered. Often Loki's foes would spend several episodes as arch nemeses, only to later become staunch allies. Winding in and out of the various challenges and dilemmas, the characters remained true to themselves, all the while rising to that episode's role.
As beautiful as the characters development is, as they are guided through the series, in and out of deadly conflict with one another, the series' visuals rival it. With lush coloration and beautiful scenes that perfectly reflect the mood and tone of the scene, it is not the series' opening alone that catches and holds the eye. There is a certain magical depth to the design and color of the characters and the lighting employed throughout Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, an unmistakable something extra that firmly defines the characters. This is truly a beautifully animated series.
Finally, I have to admit by the end of the series I was totally won over by the dub work of the English voice cast. Without a doubt, their work was invaluable in capturing the heart and soul of the characters. Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok does not rely on lengthy exposition to define the personalities of the characters, and their relationships with one another. Rather, the series relies almost entirely on the actors' abilities to make us, in the moment, understand who the characters are. John Swasey's work as Fenrir was spectacular. The way he so drastically changed his tone of voice when addressing Loki and Yamino, went a long way in defining the character's dualistic nature, but making us love him at the same time. Jose Diaz as the adult, or teen Loki, did an unbelievable job of maturing Loki's voice, while at the same time maintaining Shannon Emerick's (who also won me over as the definitive Loki) speech patterns and even pronunciations. This made Loki's transformations seamless, as he consistently felt like the same character. Illich Guardiola was perfect for the always reserved Yamino, and of course Kira Vincent Davis was spectacularly naïve, funny and cute as Mayura. Frankly, the obvious effort put in to the performances on the English dub truly won me over and, in the end, did the most to define the characters for me.
A series I consistently looked forward to, I'm sad to see Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok go, though I do hold out hope we'll see new volumes in the near future. While generally lighthearted and fun throughout, this final disk does a spectacular job of building suspense and tension with the characters as well as the viewers, as we can all sense the impending end. While I was initially disappointed so little regarding Odin was addressed in the final episode, and that so much remained unresolved, I feel this ending was absolutely perfect for these characters.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Series commentary with Shiichiro Miki (Yamino) and Hiroshi Watanabe (Director),Norse mythology notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok