Kyo Kara Maoh! Season 2 Vol. #5 (of 9) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, July 16, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2007



What They Say
Following Ulrike's word, Yuri and the others of the Great Demon Kingdom decide to go to Earth in search of the fourth box, "The Bottom of the Mirror." Yuri's parents welcome the party who safely (?) arrive in the Shibuya family's bathtub. His parents are unfazed and don't even ask Yuri for any explanations about this unusual situation - Miko rejoices in reuniting with Conrad and Shoma congratulates Yuri for having become the Demon King! Everyone is enjoying their stay on Earth, except for Shori, who is mistrustful of the group for deceiving Yuri and putting him into danger. And then, they head to Switzerland in order to obtain more info on the whereabouts of the "Bottom of the Mirror" from the Earth's Demon King, Bob.

The Review!
Providing some of the best episodes of the series yet, Kyo Kara Maoh resurges wonderfully here even as it continues to deal with the Boxes.

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 blue 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 being surrounded by everyone from Earth. 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)
Going through such a lengthy series as Kyo Kara Maoh, it's bound to offer some lulls and dull points throughout it. This series has managed to avoid them during the first season but the second season has been a bit more awkward, mostly because aspects of the entire magic box arc have been terribly uninteresting. All of that changes with the search for the fourth and final box which is apparently on Earth.

The four episodes across here deal with this box in its entirely and takes place on Earth for the majority of it. The crossover between the two worlds is nicely done this time around since it's not just Yuri falling into a pool of water since Gwendal, Wolfram and Conrart are all going with him. Naturally, nothing goes quite as planned and while the group arrives safely in Japan, Gunter ends up getting tossed into New York City where he lands a beautiful modeling job that garners him plenty of worldwide attention. Gunter's subplot is amusing to watch as it unfolds but the real beauty is in Japan, where Yuri's mother walks into the bathroom to see five naked men. Conrart's little gleam is just perfect.

There's been a lot of fun in the series in seeing how Yuri handles adapting to life in the Great Demon King. His misunderstandings, confusion and otherworldly views have provided great humor but also proven to be something that can change that world for the better. Throwing several from the Great Demon Kingdom to Earth can provide much the same but it has the aura of familiarity with it. When the gang gets on a plane, it's amusing to see their reactions but you expect that since we're familiar with such things. As amusing as these moments do get, they pale next to the character interaction moments. Yuri's mother has always been woefully underused to date but she shines across these four episodes as she reveals all she knows about the situation and what Yuri is.

Even better with Miko, who prefers to be called Jennifer for some reason, is the way she completely takes to everyone. Her past experience with Conrart provides an atmosphere of comfort in the group and she treats all of them likely family. Even Gwendal fits in perfectly with all of this. The only fly in the ointment comes from Yuri's older brother Shori who isn't quite happy that everyone is there. Part of it sure comes from his highly amusing brother-complex but a large part of it comes from the grooming that he's getting by the Earth's Demon King, Bob. Plans have been put into motion in the past but Shori isn't ready for all that's happened yet and his highly protective nature regarding his brother kicks into overdrive. This provides some of the tension for the episodes as he alternates between being all loving with him and then being cold and disinterested with everyone else. Add in that he still can't believe that Yuri can do anything for himself, even after years of knowing better, and it's fairly contentious at times.

Though these episodes do take some time to really get rolling in terms of dealing with the fourth box itself, when it starts to delve into Bob's relationship with the world and his plans it all comes together quite well. As Yuri and the others try to figure out what's really going on and get a meeting with him, other characters such as Dr. Rodriguez are brought in to handle things. This brings some nice material that ties to earlier episodes with Conrart when they two talked about their "sun and moon" charges. Gunter's subplot connects with the main storyline as well as it progresses and it provides a great deal of incidental humor along the way, particularly at the airport sequence.

In Summary:
Kyo Kara Maoh has some of its best episodes of this season as it all just clicks right. From Wolfram trying to tell Jennifer about his relationship with Yuri to Jennifer's own playfulness throughout the episodes, the comedy is spot on. Add in that the guys all look great in modern day clothing and have some great interactions with the world that they've only heard about it and it changes their beliefs about what Yuri can really accomplish. The bigger picture is examined through this arc as we can see exactly what it is that Yuri can bring to the Great Demon Kingdom as the Demon King. With a few more volumes to go there's still a chance that there's going to be an even better volume but right now this is the one that reaffirms my love of the series.

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: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kyo Kara Maoh!