Dark Myth - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 110
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dark Myth

Dark Myth

By Andrew Tei     October 20, 2003
Release Date: September 30, 2003


Dark Myth
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Before the age of man, warring gods of ancient legend shook theivery Earth to its foundation with their might. Now these prehistoric rivals from Japan's past are fighting to preserve their secrets in the present day.

Cast from the High Celestial Plane to the shadows of the underworld, the chaotic God of Darkness, Susanoh-oh, lies sleeping. now is the time of his rebirth. But the harbinger of his coming have not gone unnoticed.

Agents of the Kikuchi clan - direct descendants of Japan's first inhabitants - have witnessed the warning signs of the swelling darkness and hurriedly prepare to face it. Armed only with arcane knowledge andia handful of occult artifacts, the team of investigators must combat theiassembled spirits of hell to find one young boy chosen by fate to grapple with the destructive might of the deadly gods.

Surreal, chilling, intelligent and complex, The Dark Myth is a two-part tale of forbidding prophecy andifear, weaving the mythology of ancient Japan into a web of modern horror. Music by Kenji Kawai

The Review!
The legends of Susano'o and ancient Japan resurface in present day Japan as his rebirth is at hand. Only a few people are aware of the God of Darkness's reawakening, and they have amassed to stop what could be a disaster for the world.

Audio:

For my primary viewing session, I listened to the show in its original language of Japanese. While it is a stereo soundtrack, no directionality is used and is mostly present in the music soundtrack. Sound is primarily directed towards the center speaker. Dialogue and sound effects were clear for a 13 year old OVA. I took a quick listen to the English dub, and didn't notice anything wrong with it. The acting was also quite good.

Video:

Manga Entertainment is advertising a digitally remastered 4.3 full screen release for this, and the quality of it is fantastic. The OVA is thirteen years, and there are scratches that are clearly evident on the print. Compression related errors are non-existent though. The colors of the OVA look slightly subdued, but I believe that is intentional

Packaging:

The cover features several characters from the show with a monster behind them. I'm not sure who designed this cover, but it just plain looks awful. The picture has such a low resolution that it's every evident it's been blown up. The logo is placed on top, and fits well. The back cover features three paragraphs describing the show and setting it up. There's a lot of Japanese mythology involved in the show and most viewers will probably be unaware of it. Five images from the show are included on the back. The insert inside also has poor resolution and lists the chapter stops.

Menu:

The main menu features Takeshi, the main character and instrument of Susasno'o's resurrection, floating in space as various images from the show float across the screen. The selection part of the menu looks like the constellation of Orion, which is a great touch since it's a featured part of the show. Menu transitions were fast despite a transition sequence screen, which in the case of the Extras transitions was highly amusing. The sound selection screen features no indicator on the chosen languages.

Extras:

The only set of extras on this DVD is a glossary. Normally you might think that that wasn't such a great set of extras, but for Dark Myth it's an absolute necessity. The glossary covers the numerous ancient texts, divinities, sprits, places, and people featured. There is also a timeline of ancient Japan.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

When the elder god created the world, afterwards he decided to purify himself in a ritual. From the ritual were born three gods: Amaterasu, the sun goddess; Tsukuyomi, the moon goddess; and Susano'o, the god of seas and storms. Susano'o didn't seem to really care for the order of things, so he ravaged his own lands, and then climbed to Takamagahara, the High Celestial Plane and home to the gods. After causing more mischief up there, he was expelled into the underworld where he slew Orocohi, the eight tailed serpent which used the sword Kusanagi, and became the god of darkness.

A young man named Takeshi is living with his mother. Years earlier, his father was murdered in a forest and he saw the body. One day while examining an ancient artifact in a museum, an old man named Takeuchi comes up to him telling him about the ancient days of Japan, and its creation myths. The next day, a man named Koziumi comes up to Takeshi and gets him to look at some of his father's old texts. Takeshi's father was researching into the ancient history of Japan. Eventually, Takeshi, Takeuchi, and Koziumi start to follow down his father's footsteps into checking out the ancient history and the treasure of man named Sabura Koga.

Takeshi has a scar on his right shoulder that looks somewhat like a serpent. On the trip to find the treasure of Sabura Koga, he becomes an instrument of the gods when fate chooses him to be the instrument of the resurrection of Susano'o. In order for this to occur he must get seven other symbols on his body, in addition to the one on his right shoulder. Each of the symbols corresponds to the constellation of Orion. Takeshi encounters Brahman, and becomes his alter ego Atman. Too much Buddhism.

When this journey begins, the clan of Kikuchi, the direct descendants of Japan's first inhabitants, recognize the signs of Susano'o's awakening. The head of the Kikuchi clan, who is known as Kikuchiko, assembles his clan in order to stop Takeshi.

The story becomes dark as the forces of light go up against the forces of darkness. Ancient Japanese history, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shinto elements combine to form a twisted tale of horror. At times, it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate which side is good, and which side is evil. A lot of the dialogue involves a lot of exposition of the ancient histories and myths of Japan. Takeshi's journey and Kikuchiko's pursuit of him brings in such famous Japanese myths like Princess Kaguya, and the hungry ghosts. Hungry Ghosts are more related to Buddhism though.

Like any good piece of horror anime though, there are plenty of creatures of darkness including some horrific death scenes. Despite all this, there is an excellent story woven using all the mystical elements. The mysticism is overwhelming, but I felt that encourages the watcher to pay even more attention to what's going on. Now if you don't love mythology, or are just looking for action, you may want to pass this up. I recommend it though.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japan Mythical Reference Glossary (Terms & History)

Review Equipment
Toshiba 3109 player, Toshiba 36” Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rear

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