Kannazuki No Miko Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007
What They Say
"The Advent of the Priestess of the Godless Month!
Shy, timid Himeko happily attends school with both the popular and beautiful Chikane and her childhood friend, Souma, blissfully unaware of what's in store for her. However, the destiny of these three changes on Himeko's 16th birthday when the mark of the sun appears on her chest. What does this solar mark represent? At the same time, why has a black aura of agony burst forth from Souma? Who is the enemy? The legend of the eight-headed beast returns to Japan!"
I primarily listened to the English stereo mix for this review. There was no noticeable distortion to be found and everything was clearly defined. However, the track seems a little shallow with bass getting a much bigger workout from music than sound effects. This is particularly jarring when two 20-story behemoths are ripping into each other on the screen. It’s still not a bad track though and everything else is high-quality. When I switched to the Japanese track, I found an increase in directionality, and it felt much richer.
Originally produced in 2004, the 1.78:1 anamorphic video is appropriately rich with only a few instances of cross-coloration to be found. Even the night shots are vibrant in this show so it’s good that color reproduction is almost perfect. Some of the shots that feature intense lighting feel oversaturated, but I’m convinced this has more to do with the source material than the transfer. Macroblocking can also be found in the ending credits but I didn’t notice it anywhere else in the show. Overall, the discs have very solid video for a colorful show.
This boxset contains all three volumes in a sturdy artbox that features some colorful work. I have some issues with the box design though. Although the character design and coloration are top-notch, the design seems unbalanced to someone not familiar with the show. Himeko and Chikane are on one side with a mech while the main six villains are thrown together on the other side and Souma is found on the spine. The reasoning is clear once someone has watched the series: the priestesses represent good, Orochi’s followers represent evil and Souma is caught in-between because of his destiny. However, when I first saw it, I just thought it was unbalanced with one very busy side and the other minimal in comparison. All three volumes feature the original reversible covers, booklets and the first and third discs come with pencil boards. This artwork is very good with the booklets getting more risqué as you go through the show. You might also be hesitant to display the third disc’s pencil board as it features some nudity. Overall, a nice package, but I’m not sure the box itself would tempt someone to blind-buy the series.
The main menu on every disc features a light animated intro and then displays a nice static image. All text is clearly legible on every menu. The chapters page is well-organized, and the set-up options and extras are found on the same menu. It’s easy to read but it seemed a little odd to find two unrelated items on the same page. Access times are always fast.
Unfortunately, there is very little to speak about here. Every volume has a non-text opening or ending. Volume 1 has the opening, Volume 2 has the ending and Volume 3 has “Ending #2.” (Warning: this is the ending to the final episode so it might give something away if you watch it without finishing the show first.) Disc 2 also has a promo video which features the extended cut of the opening theme and disc 3 contains four letterboxed TV spots which all run around 15 seconds and are nearly identical. Each disc also contains a few trailers of course.
Content: (Warning: Content review may contain spoilers.)
Despite being hopelessly unpopular at her school, Himeko Kurusugawa has long-standing secret relationships with both of the most popular people in her class: Chikane Himemiya and Souma Ogami. These connections are only strengthened when the legendary demon Orochi returns on her 16th birthday and threatens the world with Armageddon. Himeko is the solar priestess, destined to save Earth from this evil alongside the lunar priestess, who just so happens to be Chikane.
Orochi doesn’t return as the classic eight-headed beast from legend though. Instead, every one of his necks is represented by a human follower who fights inside a mech that they can summon at will. Unfortunately, Souma happens to be one of Orochi’s followers, but his will and feelings for Himeko are so strong that he vows to protect her and fight the rest of Orochi’s group. Chikane’s feelings for her seem to be comparable however. Can these teens deal with their emotions and save the world?
I should probably start this portion of the review by admitting a personal bias. I went into this series knowing very little about it- so little that I didn’t even notice the mech on the box. I’m really not a fan of mecha shows at all and generally avoid them. I’m glad I didn’t research this show too much though, because I would have missed out on a genuinely enjoyable story.
The best thing about Kannazuki No Miko (or Destiny of Shrinemaiden) is that it is incredibly balanced which is important since the show strives to include shoujo romance, mecha action and Japanese folklore. The fantasy elements usually end up taking a backseat to the other two, which suit each other very well in tone. In the beginning, everything is fairly light. The shoujo part of the story is fairly melodramatic and the mech battles don’t really seem all that dangerous. In fact, most of the scenes that involve the villains plotting would seem more at home in Super Paper Mario than X.
Halfway through the series, there’s a rapid shift in tone and tension increases across the board. The romantic plot is more dramatic and the battles are more intense. That’s not to say that this shift comes out of nowhere. The relationships and main characters are constantly evolving which breathes life into the series. Human drama drives the story and becomes inseparable from the action which makes everything more interesting to watch. Scenes involving Chikane’s feelings for Himeko are especially good, because they feel more unique when compared to more traditional scenes with Souma and Himeko. The emotional pain Chikane feels by hiding her love for Himeko is almost always more compelling than the physical pain Souma sustains during battle as well.
If it isn’t already clear by what’s been said, this show approaches the destruction of the Earth on a fairly small scale. If the characters didn’t keep training and whipping out the mechs, the viewer might forget that doomsday is approaching. The action rarely leaves the main characters and the approaching threat allows the three to spend more time with each other so the love triangle can take off.
The only thing that drags the show down a bit is that some of the shoujo and mecha elements in the beginning seem like they were taken from “Anime Screenwriting for Dummies.” This applies especially to the monologues in the first few episodes which say a lot without really saying anything since the audience hasn’t had time to get to know the characters yet. The mecha battles also didn’t have anything unique until they start showing the mechs and pilots performing the same moves interchangeably. (They seem to be controlled by full body movement as they never once show a control panel in the series.) These issues are fixed within a few episodes though and just keep getting better as the show moves along.
Although Shoujo romances and mecha action flood the market, the creators of Kannazuki No Miko have managed to make them work together by having human emotion fuel the robotic battles. The only disappointment in the series comes from its slightly underdeveloped ties to Japanese folklore and a few problems with the formula in the beginning. Even though I dislike mecha, I highly recommend this series. If you don’t dig romance stories though, you might want to rent the first volume before shelling out for this boxset.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening & Ending Animations,Promotional Videos
Review Equipment: 26” Olevia 16:9 LCD HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 (upconverted to 720p through HDMI), Kenwood 550-watt 5.1 surround system
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Kannazuki No Miko