Kyo Kara Maoh! Season 2 Vol. #4 (of 9) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2007
What They Say
While Gorda runs the gamut of destruction using the Holy Sword, Yuri and the others reunite with the man of valor, Alford. Alford tells them that Gorda stole his Holy Sword and he has been searching for Gorda in order to get the sword back. Murata says that the only thing that could go against Gorda is the Demon Sword, Morgif. However, Yuri previously ordered Josak to discard the stone that is the source of Morgif's power... What are they going to do now?
A new evil is sweeping the land and it has large yet hidden consequences for the future.
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.
The front cover is done with a light sea green background and is framed with some intricate artwork to give it a few polished feel. Within the frame, the title is along the top (along with a Season II tag) which gives the character artwork plenty of room to look good. The focus is nicely done on the characters for this volume with Yuri in Demon King mode as the central point. 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 one very different change, a technical grid within which all the information is kept. It's great to see yet another title adopt this format. The insert for the release replicates the front cover artwork with a few less logos while the reverse side lists the episodes and a look at the tentative months for the remaining volumes (through March 2008!).
Using the much better designs for this season, the menus continue to look great as it has the image of an old worn book cover with the logo on it as the lighting flickers just above. Set to a light bit of instrumental music, it's very relaxing and mellow while looking very well done. The way the light plays on it is simple but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of it. I particularly like the way going to submenus has it paging through them. Access times are decent and getting around is easy enough though the disc keeps to its own language preferences (English only) and ignores player presets.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Season 2 continues to plug away at its storylines and this set of episodes is one of the strongest yet. Particularly enjoyable about it is that it avoids the back and forth nature of previous storylines where just as things seemingly get resolved Yuri is sent back to Earth. This time around he sticks around and starts to show more of a spine and commanding nature. Though it's not in his personality to be that way, these slight changes make him all the more enjoyable.
Even though the disc kicks off with the second half of a two part storyline it's really just the start of the larger storyline. With Yuri and the others trying to help out in recovering the Holy Sword from the thing that seems to have possessed someone, a fun magical battle ensues as Yuri must take him down head on. The only thing that can provide this power for him though is Morgif with the jewel in place in him. That's something that Yuri had Josak toss away some time ago though it's easy to guess that such a treasure wouldn't be dealt with in such a way. Where Yuri's problem lies is in having to convince him to return the jewel. This is actually one of the weaker moments in Yuri's character as instead of asserting himself in his position he simply lets the others talk him down. Yuri's slowly getting a handle on being the Demon King but his nature still has him overly cautious and malleable by his advisors.
This two part storyline is more a prelude of what's to come as we get this "king of chaos" concept brought into play as well as the whole puppet aspect. Though it seemingly is over with what Yuri does during it, Murata makes his usual oblique and mysterious mentions while visiting the Great One about what's to come. The light and fun nature of Yuri's slow rise to power is something that he fears may be coming to an end as the more serious issues are starting to come to light. This crops up in other episodes throughout this in small ways, such as Gwendal's twitch in his left eye as well as Conrart's sharp pains in his left arm. There are plenty of signs and portents going on here that are tied to the boxes once again though much of it is still unclear.
One of the themes of Yuri's time as the Great Demon King centers around having the humans and demons working and living together. The alliances he's managed to make along the way, often inadvertently, are coming to fruition with a sizable party of sorts at his castle. The arrival of many old friends he's met along the way is like old home week with some nice little character bits. Particularly amusing is how Wolfram continues to react with regards to Lady Flynn. Wolfram's jealousy is generally amusing but someone like Flynn is a character that I wish would get closer to Yuri and expand on that. Wolfram has been fairly low key lately but that changes with this storyline as he's kidnapped by some mysterious puppet soldiers.
This new storyline has Yuri giving chase and with its roots in the two part storyline early on it has some good potential. The downside is that once again we're headed to Big Cimaron and dealings with King Belar. The entire Cimaron adventures in the past have been some of the longer ones that felt too stretched out so having to delve back into it makes me leery about it. There are some good twists to it that keeps to the "old home" week aspect as more characters from the past are brought into play. The secondary cast of characters is expansive for this series and most of them find some good uses in the large scope of the storyline. It's also interesting to see some of them come back together after figuring out how the world is changing due to the things that Yuri has been up to.
With an interesting story element introduced at the very end regarding the fourth and final box, Kyo Kara Maoh ends on a note that demands that the next volume come out quickly. The series has had its ups and downs along the way with stories going on a bit too long but this latest one seems to be mostly an up. Even with the return to Big Cimaron. Yuri's growth is all the more apparent in these episodes though some of it continues to be just be his stubborn nature. That along with the way everyone is really seeming to come into their own even more just made this set of episodes fly by while keeping me completely engaged.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kyo Kara Maoh!