Moeyo Ken TV Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 02, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2007
What They Say
A magical and musical mystery mother, marauding goddesses, and a madcap marriage conspire to keep the Mobile Shinsengumi team on their toes! Putting their demon-fighting prowess to work, they level buildings and wreak havoc all through Kyoto. If only their minds were as much on their work as it is on the dual difficulties of an escalating damage debt and the impending threat of losing their den-mother's son to the far-away lure of Shanghai!
Can the team fly straight long enough to honor the names of their samurai fathers? Or will their bumbling bring this noble era to an end?
Contains episodes 6-9.
Continuing with simple standalone adventures that amuse at best, Moeyo Ken takes its premise and plays it safe for another four episodes.
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 three main women as they have their weapons of choice at the ready while looking "dead sexy." With their color design, the purple 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. A new extra for this volume is an interview with a couple of the Japanese creative staff members. This is done as a multi-page text offering with a picture at the start for reference. Another nice new extra is a music video for the ending song. For English language fans, a commentary track is included with the ADR director and the voice actress for Hijikata.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first lackluster volume of the series, the second installment of four episodes actually managed to amuse me a bit more than I thought it would. It didn't make me laugh out loud or entertain me greatly and I'm certainly hard pressed to remember much of it not long after watching it, but I didn't feel quite the same sense of dread that I did during the first one. No thoughts of "please, don't let there be another episodes after this one" while going through it.
Moeyo Ken continues its formula of simple standalone stories that at times feel like a mixture of Sakura Wars and Urusei Yatsura. The burnout from seeing so many Shinsengumi shows over the last several years has certainly hit hard so seeing the next generation offspring in wacky adventures involving spirits and the like just doesn't work all that well for me. The big draw, beyond it being from the people behind Sakura Wars, is that it had its original character designs by Rumiko Takahashi. Unfortunately I think seeing her designs just bring in an unintended effect for me where I don't expect anything of any long term merit. With so many of her works being associated with a long running and pointless nature, Moeyo Ken already starts to feel as tired as some of those.
The adventures in this volume are all over the map as the girls of the Shinsengumi Mobile Group end up causing more trouble than anything else. Most of the time the trouble is of their own cause which means they're usually trying to stop things from getting worse before they get into more trouble. One of the areas that seem to spark this is that they're trying to find ways to keep Ryuunosuke around so he doesn't return to Shanghai. One of these things they try to do is to figure out who should marry him since that seems to be one method. None of them are particularly keen on it so they also try to work through a goddess of love by having Okita invoke her. This leads to them resurrecting a woman that's been dead for a thousand years who decides that she's better than everyone else. It plays out in the usual fashion that seems to end with a wide section of Kyoto completely destroyed.
If there's an aspect to this set of episodes that proved fun to watch it was that of Okita and her growing feelings for Ryuunosuke. With the girls generally aghast at the prospect of marrying Oryou's son, Okita finds herself conflicted when she's manipulated a bit into believing that Ryuunosuke actually likes her a lot. An issue with a nine-tailed fox has it impersonating Ryuunosuke and saying he was in love with her in order to cover its schemes. Okita never learns this and then starts to look at Ryuunosuke more seriously as the episodes go on. She ends up becoming quite girly during parts of this that are endearing and amusing to watch. Ryuunosuke is completely oblivious to all of this and things start to come to a head for a bit during an episode where Ryuunosuke finds himself losing his manhood and gaining some womanhood.
While Moeyo Ken didn't have me watching the countdown clock every couple of minutes like the previous volume, it hasn't become something that I'm all that interested in either. The original OVA left me wounded and the first volume of the TV series seemed like it was going in for the kill. This volume felt like a small reprieve before the next one comes around to finish me off. Moeyo Ken is pure fluff and I can see where it would be amusing and fun to watch if you're attached to the game and the characters or hadn't seen anything else like it before, but for me it just doesn't work that well at all.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with the Game Director and Anime Director; Creator and Story Editor, Commentary with Laurie Gallardo (Hijikata) and Charles Campbell (ADR Director), Closing Theme Music Video, 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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Moeyo Ken