Kyo Kara Maoh! Season 2 Vol. #6 (of 9) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, October 18, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007



What They Say
The animals in the Great Demon Kingdom are acting strangely. Yuri's beloved horse, Ao, has lost its appetite, the "bad omen" birds have stopped singing, and Pochi the Dragon has withdrawn into its nest and won't come out. Furthermore, the Boney Corps has gone on strike and stages a sit-in protest on the roof of the Covenant Castle! What is going on?! On another day, Flynn visits the Great Demon Kingdom along with Baker and T-Zou to return the remaining Wincott's poison. However, during the sealing ceremony of the poison at the Tomb of the Great One, Yuri accidentally spills the poison over Gunter! To save his life, Anissina makes him into O-Kiku Gunter and Snow Gunter again!!


The Review!
In the aftermath of acquiring the Boxes, the series dips into some simple character tales that stand alone but play out quite well.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The front cover is done with a light pale 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 the pairing of Josak and Conrart. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The series has gone through a lot of big moments as of late and the previous volume really turned out to be above average with how it mixed in events with Earth. So with all of that behind them now, it's little surprise that Kyo Kara Maoh eases things off a bit and plays to the standalone story model while still touching on the larger story arc material.

The return of the four boxes to the Great Demon Kingdom is an event that is certainly noteworthy but the effects it may have are largely unknown. The main focus that the core group of characters has is that of securing the boxes properly, which means having Ulrike performing a ceremony that will have them offered to the Great One to take into himself. That naturally takes time, which is something that they find out that they don't really have. The coming together of the boxes has spooked a number of creatures across the Great Demon Kingdom but none more so than the Boneys. They're amassing in great numbers as their fear rises and start causing a wave of panic across the Kingdom. Hube is brought back into play as is his wife and child as they get caught up in events but it all falls short of seeing so many hundreds of Boneys together in one place as they take up residence in the castle.

Yuri's travels all over this world has brought him into contact with a great number of people and that has been something that has solidified his time there. While we see his commanding presence when it comes to dealing with the Boneys, we also see his more mellow side as he deals with the arrival of Lady Flynn from Caloria. She's a bit forthright in her attempts to snare him in a way, something that Wolfram takes him to task over, but her arrival is far more interesting in how it brings about old issues with the Von Wincott family. This world has had so many longstanding issues over the years that there is plenty of things for Yuri to participate in as a mediator. This isn't exactly a big thing but the coming together of two very different people who had serious issues in the past is given a look in a new light based on how Lady Flynn had to deal with Yuri and the Great Demon Kingdom. The path of understanding is a strong aspect of the series and it's given some good light here.

That's not to say it's all seriousness here though. Gunter is the cause of many problems which isn't a surprise as he ends up being poisoned along the way. This has him being shifted over to the doll once again which in its own way is far too cute and priceless to watch. Yuri and several of the others end up back on Earth as well as he's come to pick up a few items he needs for his time in the Great Demon Kingdom. The way everyone gets along so well with his mother is still fun to watch, since she's waiting beside the kiddy pool with a plate of curry to entice them back. Even more amusing is that she's intent on shopping for a wedding dress with Wolfram, with two dresses being required for the occasion for one of them, while Conrart slyly wonders who will actually be wearing the dress.

In Summary:
Not unlike many of the other standalone episodes that have shown up throughout the series, of which we've seen sixty-six of them now, there may not be anything really world shattering going on here but it goes a long way towards fleshing things out more. The world is certainly diverse and different, such as the flying sheep that show up, but it's also similar in many ways when it comes to the people and their misunderstandings of each other. Everyone has become so familiar over time now that seeing them engaging in such simple endeavors is still a lot of fun, especially as Yuri gets more confident in himself without becoming cocky. Kyo Kara Maoh is light and silly but it mixes in the serious and intense along the way without becoming melodramatic. Simply put, it's found the right balance for everything and is great entertainment.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kyo Kara Maoh!