Tokyo Majin Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2008



What They Say
If they don't pass this test, it will be the end of the world!

With the decreased incidence of demon attacks in Tokyo, the city seems quiet... a little too quiet for the students of Tokyo Majin. They know evil still lurks in the shadows but they can't do anything until it rears its ugly head. What they don't know is that the reason for the attacks is to force out an ultimate supernatural power that's deep within one of them - a power that will raise the dead to the land of the living.

The five brave students of Tokyo Majin will be engaged in the most vicious of attacks. One of them must endure a seduction of the heart and another must hold strong against a psychological attack for the control of their mind and soul.

If they survive, they still have to battle against the unholy warriors of the dead. They're going to need help! Past allies will have to unify if they are to be victorious, because if they don't, the world will be engulfed by darkness and overrun by the dead in the thrilling third volume of Tokyo Majin!

The Review!
Kozunu sets the stage so that he can acquire the power he needs to control the world so that he can have vengeance for past wrongs placed on him.

Audio:
The bilingual presentation of Tokyo Majin is quite good as both mixes play to their strengths. Both are encoded at 448 kbps and the background and action effects are solid throughout, though these aren't common since it's kept most to action sequences. Dialogue placement is used well in both mixes also with some throws to the rear channels which add to the overall atmosphere of the scenes. The original score has plenty of movement as well which brings it all to life while still coming across as unobtrusive. Dialogue placement and depth is good, but not above and beyond some other shows, but it is better than the majority of the seemingly standard stereo mixes that come out of Japan. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally in 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Tokyo Majin is one of those series that tries to rise above the standard action presentations and give the viewer something a bit grittier and a bit more detailed. The transfer for this show reflects the solid production values of the series and lets the quality of the work really shine. What surprised me the most was how well the few scenes with gradients worked out as it didn't devolve into a lot of noise or blocking. Additionally, the show has a very specific look, not as stark as some others, where it uses a very light kind of grain in order to add atmosphere. The end result is that the materials here look fantastic and it really provides for an engaging series of visuals. We watched this one late at night in a completely dark room on a 70" set and came away very pleased with it.

Packaging:
Not unlike the first two volumes, the cover artwork here is rather busy with all that it has on it but it manages to work well with the theme of the show. The darkness that the show plays in is very obvious from the artwork here as you have Kozunu and Tatsuma going at it while the decaying image of Hirasaka is behind them. The logo, both in its translted and original form, takes up a huge amount of space though. The saving grace for it is that the reds and blacks of the Japanese portion really does help to push the dangerous element of the show. The back cover continues the dark theme with bloody splotches abound as well as several shots from the show and an overall sense of foreboding with mysterious eyes peeking out from behind the summary. The discs production information is cleanly listed, though a touch small and difficult to read in some cases, while the technical grid covers the basics along the bottom. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
Continuing a recent trend from ADV Films with simple static menus, this one is decently done as it features the strong character artwork off to the right that has a slightly fuller shot of Tatsuma and Kozunu from the front cover without any extraneous pieces to it. The background to the menu is done in three horizontal strips with flames and parchment while the center strip has the navigation. As is standard and welcome, individual episode selection is here while the only submenus are for the languages and extras. Everything loads very quickly and moving about is pretty much a breeze. The disc also performed as expected when it came to it reading our player presets as it grabbed what I specified and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first act of the series nearly draws to a close here with four more episodes taking us up through number thirteen. The storyline reaches a rather solid crescendo here as the first act dealing with Kozunu and his plans for Aoi and the world in general reach fruition. It also works well in that it doesn't feel like we're getting a mid show kind of epic moment but rather a good near ending to the first storyline. Tokyo Majin does still have its rather unusual pacing at times however which lets things slow down just a bit too much.

Kozunu's plans have been in the works since the beginning, so seeing them starting to really gel together is certainly enjoyable. Realizing just who he has to deal with throughout all of this, he's started to manipulate things so that he can get the key people separated from each other in a way that uses their strengths as a weakness. The most interesting one, and the slowest one unfortunately, involves what he does with Tatsuma. The two of them have a long history that gets explored later in this set of episodes, but the focus early on is with Tatsuma and Hirasaka. After the loss of her family in the previous fights, Tatsuma feels obligated in helping her get to her uncle's place out of the city where she's now going to live. The two are very quiet with each other but there's a certain kind of appreciation she has for what he's doing, but also the possibility of more. That isn't a surprise considering what she's been through, but when you learn how she's really manipulating Tatsuma you end up feeling even more for her. The situation that Hirasaka is placed in is one that's not easy to fault and it makes for some compelling moments as she gets directly involved in the fight that spawns between Tatsuma and Kozunu.

The other main manipulation that Kozunu has been working through is his deal with Aoi. She's been feeling a bit off in recent episodes but isn't sure quite why, so when Kozunu begins to offer suggestions to her as to why, she hates it but she knows it feels right. The discovery that she is the vessel for the Bodhisattva Eye means that she's filled with incredible power that can subjugate the world. It's a power that she finds to be too much, especially since she knows how people like Kozunu will try to and use her for it. There isn't a death wish mentality going on here, but she's incredibly conflicted about it considering the promise she and the others have made about protecting everyone. Knowing what she may be able to do and keeping it a secret for the moment only adds more weight to the guilt she feels which makes her all the more susceptible to Kozunu.

The first half of the volume deals in these two stories as they play out at the same time. Tatsuma's story is the more engaging of the two since you have to wonder when he'll discover what Hirasaka's deal is and the small revelations we get along the way as Anko figures it all out. Aoi's story is quite good as well since we learn more of the Bodhisattva Eye and its history with Kisaragi's family. With the way that Aoi and Kisaragi have gone back for so long, seeing his earlier memories with his grandfather explaining what must be done when he discovers who contains the eye is only more striking. With his personality, it isn't a surprise that he's conflicted about it but still intends to kill her since he understands the situation. But this all goes back to the core idea of the group in that they'll do what it takes to protect everyone and this adds in plenty of conflict among them.

When Kozunu actually makes his move while using Aoi, the show really does strike the feeling as if it's the end of the series/season. It doesn't come across as that weak halfway story idea that's used to make things seem bigger than they are, even if it is. The use of the Bodhisattva Eye as a way for Kozunu to have his revenge works well and the two episodes where the storyline is front and center are very strong pieces. Kozunu's reasons are certainly selfish but understandable, and it opens up some interesting ideas to the past. From when we first see the ties that bind both him and Tatsuma, Tokyo Majin starts to show some of its longer reach that will hopefully be further explored. As an action piece, these last two episodes up the ante nicely for an already attractive looking show as there are some great visuals that are kept within the dark framing and colors that the series has been using to date. There are so few bright moments here that when we get even a hint of daylight now it feels very unusual.

In Summary:
In some ways, I'm still not entirely sure what to make of Tokyo Majin. It has some really good ideas in it and I love the make-up of the cast with their different personalities and the way they haven't all come to love one another just yet. The tension within the group is balanced by the strong bonds among some of them as well which gives it a very rich and diverse feeling. Where the show starts to lose me sometimes is in its pacing as it feels like it's wandering around a bit too much. With the first season running fourteen episodes, it's somewhat easier to see how they could have tightened it up down to twelve and not really lost anything. That said, the almost end to the first chapter of the series has me feeling much better about it than the second volume and it has me rather looking forward to seeing the second full arc and what they intend to do there.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
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.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tokyo Majin