The final arc of the series starts to take shape as more of the past of this world is revealed and how it will affect the present.
What They Say
Just as the promise of peace begins to take hold, trouble ripples through the Demon Kingdom and Earth! A "Light Wolf" begins to haunt an old battleground where a both humans and Demon Tribe have started constructing a bridge between their countries. Later, after learning more about the great battles between the Great One and the Originators, Yuri receives a surprise from Switzerland- his brother Shori! Seeing Yuri act as a king surprises Shori and leaves him feeling helpless without control over his own magic powers. So when Shori notices a miasma seeping from the Four Forbidden Boxes, Shori does not hesitate to question when a strange looking Wolfram offers a filled cup and says "I'll give you strength." Everyone will need all the strength they can get as assassins take advantage of the pouring rain to attack Covenant Castle and the Tomb of the Great One!
Geneon’s bilingual presentation of the series is straightforward as we get a pair of stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps. 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 pale purple 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 Shori and Yuri overlapping each other. 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. 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 which is admittedly very amusing to read at this point. The reverse side artwork is pretty amusing as it has the main characters in Christmas mode, complete with Gunter as the Christmas tree.
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)
Coming nearly a year after the shutdown of distribution, Geneon gets back on track with Kyo Kara Maoh’s second season. This release is essentially what was due out back in November of last year so packaging and content continuity wise there is nothing different to be found here. Getting back into the series proved to be quite easy with the delay as the characters are certainly familiar and the storyline is touched upon regularly enough that getting back up to speed was a breeze.
Of course, being as far into the series as we are, Kyo Kara Maoh is still dealing with some of the smaller stories before delving into what appears to be the big storyline for the conclusion of the series in the remaining two volumes. That’s not a bad way to get back into the show as we follow Yuri and Gunter making a tour of the country to see the status of things. The village they end up spending time in is going through a reconciliation from the war twenty years earlier as both the human and demon kind side are working together to rebuild the bridge that runs over the small river. The village is of course threatened while Yuri is there, this time by some Light Wolves, which gets dealt with when Adalbert shows up as he’s been asked to help by the villagers. The ties that Yuri has been working on since his arrival are strong with Adalbert in particular and the two continue to have an ongoing period of change with each other that’s tweaked a bit more during all of this. At it’s heart, it’s more of a standalone story designed to changed the opinions of others that will affect later stories.
As fun as all of this is, and certainly important in the long run, Kyo Kara Maoh starts to get into the bigger picture after that as we get a history lesson. The founding of the Great Demon Kingdom is given some much needed time as it goes back to the days when the Great One began building his army around a group of core supporters in order to fend off the Originators that were swarming the lands. There are a lot of names thrown around in this and plenty of descendents that we’re familiar with because of them, but it’s the Great One Himself that is paid the most attention as he has a certain reckless boyish charm but also a certain gravitas. It’s also plainly apparent what his genes will carry one day as he’s a striking image of Wolfram in the present, which unfortunately gives away some potential plot points later.
The events that are swirling continue to revolve around the upcoming ceremony to seal the boxes once again. With their origins now revealed, along with having seen how they can be abused in previous episodes, the need for the new sealing to occur is certainly all the more apparent. But there are forces moving to cause mischief at the least with this Yuri’s still not too keen on the whole thing but he’s trusting in Murata to steer him right. His time continues to be spent with his friends and enjoying life while making sure the basics of the Kingdom are being taken care of. He is a bit off though as he hasn’t realized that Wolfram hasn’t been sleeping with him for a few days and that Wolfram isn’t exactly his normal self.
Where a spanner is thrown into the works is when Shori finds himself caught up in one of the swirling water vortexes and finds himself now in the Great Demon Kingdom. It’s a shock for him to arrive here, and in the Tomb area no less, but there are far more shocks in store for him. When Yuri and the others saw him on Earth, he started to appreciate a little bit more as to how Yuri has grown and changed. But to Shori, Yuri is still his little brother no matter what happens. When Shori starts spending more time with him and the others in the Great Demon Kingdom however, he sees a very different young man who has really taken to this kingdom and has earned the reputation that others have talked about. It becomes plainly apparent that Yuri is capable and has surrounded himself with the right people.
The storyline does go back to touch on the origins of the Kingdom a few times and it delves into Bob’s world as well which was very welcome. With Shori gone now, watching Jennifer deal with the unusual situation is rather amusing to watch. She’s even more amusing when a group crosses over from the other side to attack Bob and she provides a good deal of defense during it with her rallying cry of “Yokohama Jennifer!” She’s one of those rare amusing mother characters that gets it all right each time. With the kind relationships that have been built up between the various characters on both sides of the portal, watching them shift back and forth is a lot of the appeal here, especially as some of them wear slightly different hats depending on where they are at the time. Episodes like this are great for that as we see Shori dealing with a new situation and Jennifer standing firm once again.
Geneon, for obvious reasons, hasn’t missed a beat with this release. Getting back into the groove with a ten month window between volumes doesn’t hurt a show like this, especially having seen fifteen volumes previous to it with both seasons. Going back into it for the final twelve episodes starting with this set is like coming home after being on vacation for awhile and you feel all happy and comfortable. The start of the final big arc looks to be touching upon a lot of the foundations of the series and breathing some new direction into the lives of some of the characters. Everything about the show has an air of fun to it, even when it’s dealing with the darker side, and coming back to it is wonderful. Where it’ll go from here is obvious in some regards, but Kyo Kara Maoh continues to have surprises mixed in and I’m eager to see what they’ll do with the remainder of it. Fans of the series will be extremely happy to come back to this show once again.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.