Moeyo Ken TV Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2007
What They Say
Yuuko Kondou, Toshie Hijikata, and Kaoru Okita are the daughters of the legendary and honorable Mobile Shinsengumi team. They carry on the torch of noble tradition from their samurai fathers. Their task is to defend Kyoto from a hoard of outlawed and unlicensed beasts! But along with crazy monster cat Nekomaru, wacky inventor Gennai, and silly-boy Ryuunosuke, these danger-prone damsels stir up more trouble than they can shake their swords at when madcap match-matching and money-woes trump any danger the monsters can conjure!
With monsters run amuck in an alternate version of the Meiji era, only a group of second generation women from the Mobile Shinsengumi can stop them.
With two audio tracks, ADV Films has the basics set for this release but nothing really provides a thrill. Providing both tracks in a 2.0 mix, the English and Japanese tracks are solid but there isn't much else to them. We listened to the show primarily in Japanese and it was solid but without much real flair to it. Dialogue was well placed and the action sequences have enough sense of directionality about them but it's a fairly typical mix for a show of this nature. We did listen to the English 2.0 mix as well and had essentially the same kind of sense about it. On both language tracks we didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. In general, the show tends to lack a lot of fine detail to it so the designs and animation is simple in that it has large areas of colors. The lack of detail isn't a problem as it works for the show and it makes for an easier authoring job with less problems. Colors look good throughout without much in the way of noticeable noise or compression artifacts though some backgrounds do look a touch soft and fuzzy at times. Colors are vibrant and most of the problematic areas like hair tend to maintain a solid feel. Aliasing and cross coloration are very minimal with only a touch of either showing up, often around faces during some of the mid range shots, but only very briefly.
The design for this release is pretty good as it gives it something of a historical feel with the kind of background used. The central image of the cover is the two main characters of Ryuunosuke and Nekomaru as they're running along and it's admittedly cute. With their color design, the green background with the artwork of that period fits in very well and is well complemented by the logo that's used. The front cover won't stand out among some of the better ones out there but it works for the show and certainly can catch your eye. The back cover is a little worse off as the black text for the summary, production and technical information does not work well against the green background artwork. A number of shots from the show are included and some promotional artwork which helps to show off the series female characters but reading the summary isn't easy, especially under an overheard lighting in a retail store. No reverse side cover is included nor is there an insert.
After a few menus from recent series showing some return to the better designs and animation of a year or two ago, Moeyo Ken's menu is surprisingly bland. If it wasn't for the nice border given to it, you'd almost think it was from the ADV Kids line as it's just a basic image with the episode numbers and other selections down in a strip alongside the character designs. The artwork and design looks good but it has something of a weak effort feel to it. Access times are nice and fast however and top level episode access is a plus. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras side of things make out fairly well here with a couple of surprises. The tradition of including a clean opening and closing continues here and we get a treat in seeing some storyboards for the series. For English language fans, a commentary track is included with the ADR director and the voice actor for Nekomaru.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Of the various titles that get announced that I dread actually getting to, Moeyo Ken was one that I had hoped wouldn't get licensed. After the arrival of the OVA series back in January of 2005, the show reminded me so heavily of Sakura Wars for so many obvious reasons that it was practically a chore to get through it. With its origins from the same folks behind Sakura Wars, it essentially felt like that show was transplanted to an earlier period with a few tweaks.
This new thirteen episode series was aired during 2005 in Japan and saw a complete TV set box release in early 2006. The individual episodes were then released a scant four days before this US release came out and it's another highlight of the differences in the markets. While the Japanese individual discs retail for about $30 each, there are six of them. Since they're coming from the box set, they're all released at once but either way the US release is a far better value. At least in terms of money since I don't think the show itself has much value at all.
Taking place during an alternate world version of the Meiji era, times have certainly changed as the monsters that once ravaged the countryside are now able to become citizens of Japan if they register and wear their license. Naturally there are monsters that want nothing to do with this and either continue to cause trouble or just hide out in the forests and mountains. These unlicensed monsters can become a problem but it's not something the ordinary police can handle. Thankfully for them, a second generation version of the Shinsengumi has arrived to help them. Under the guidance and financial backing of Ms. Oryou, the daughters of Kondou, Hijikata and Okita have formed the Mobile Shinsengumi and tackle the problems that face this new era in Japan.
The group finds itself getting a bit bigger as the series kicks off as a new character has arrived. The son of Ms. Oryou, Ryuunosuke is an effeminate looking young man who is paired with a monster named Nekomaru and both are intent on dealing with unlicensed monsters. Getting hooked up with the Mobile Shinsengumi isn't quick and easy since it's currently an all girls club but as events play out and various monsters get involved they find themselves working together over time. Ryuunosuke doesn't provide much balance for the girls though. While he's not as pervy and destructive as they are, he's sometimes oblivious to things and generally ends up causing trouble by his actions.
Just like when I had watched the OVA series that this came from, the show leaves me feeling very empty and unsatisfied afterwards. While the concept isn't exactly a bad one, it really does feel like a retread or a way of getting a new generation of fans hooked on a new kind of Sakura Wars. While the OVA series didn't have a really big concept to it, it did have a bit more to work with in terms of plot though and that's lost here. These five opening episodes of the series, which is just under half of the series in total, really has nothing going for it in terms of plot outside of introducing Ryuunosuke and getting everyone acquainted with the concept of this world. The simple fact that they hit up a hot spring episode and do a love potion kind of episode within the first five episodes just has me writing the show off completely in terms of a real plot.
Shows without an overall arc or plot aren't bad either but Moeyo Ken wants to work more as situational comedy with some pervy attitudes about it. Much like they say in the commentary track, it simply wants to be silly. Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could actually find funny about it or laugh about. This is another one of the shows where it may have more value and comedy if you haven't seen a lot of other shows before. Where the show does succeed is with its character designs which are adapted off of the original designs done by Rumiko Takahashi. Each of the leads are very colorful and well designed, attractive enough and believable enough in their own way to be related to their parents. The animation for the show in general is also pretty solid, if light in detail, which in a lot of ways feels like it's very much a Takahashi show. Her character designs convey a certain feeling about them and it's something that works as a real positive for the show.
Attractive character designs may be able to carry a plot-free adult anime but something like this it just ends up feeling a bit more vapid. From a technical level in appreciation the artwork and overall fluidity of the animation, it's a good looking show and enjoyable there. Beyond that, the stories left me checking the timer on my player every couple of minutes. Just like the OVA series, this feels far too much like a committee project where the best elements were cherry picked from Sakura Wars and adapted to a different time period. The Meiji era has been vastly overdone in the last several years and this is just another stone in that wall. I had dreaded this release since it was licensed and the first five episodes of the show bore out my fears. Fans of it will love how well its done and people new to anime well likely enjoy it but for most everyone else it's best to avoid.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Episode one commentary Edwin Neal (Nekomaru) and Charles Campbell (ADR Director),Story boards,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Moeyo Ken