Demon Prince Enma Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • 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: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Demon Prince Enma

Demon Prince Enma Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 29, 2007
Release Date: June 26, 2007

Demon Prince Enma Vol. #2
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.

What They Say
Enma is the Demon Prince of the Underworld; a demon "Born of Fire." His mission is to take back or destroy demons that have escaped to the human world from the Underworld, but there seems to be no end to them.

Now, the stench of demons seems to be closing in on Enma and his group. One after another, victims are swallowed up by the darkness of their hearts. Enma is consumed with a furious rage. Whose darkness has this enemy demon concealed itself in?! Having submerged in the darkness of the heart, the demon has grown and is finally prepared to show its true self! A special person has been consumed by this darkness, and it can only be repelled by Enma's flame!

Includes a 16-page booklet with four-panel manga by Go Nagai and a short story by Ritsuko Hayasaka.

Contains episodes 3-4.

The Review!
Letting the main cast take a breather for most of these two episodes leads to an awkward yet solid storyline.

A pair of Japanese language tracks makes up this release with a 5.1 and 2.0 mix that are both encoded at 448 kbps which comes across pretty well. The show has its moments of action but it is for the most part a very dialogue driven one so there isn't a lot of time to shine. There is a good bit of directionality across both the forward and rear soundstages with small ambient sounds to create the mood however and the music works very well. Though not an in your face mix, it's one that serves the material well to create a sense of atmosphere. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2006, the transfer for this two episode OVA release is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With a dark palette of covers for the most part, the transfer holds up pretty well on our system though not perfectly. While character animation is generally free of problems outside of some noticeable color gradients once in awhile, the backgrounds maintain a mostly solid feel. Where they tend to have some problems comes in the form of certain kinds of walls that are shaded in gray and black as they tend to exhibit some noise there. It's very minimal even on the 70" set and hardly an issue at all on smaller sets. Beyond that, the usual problems we see such as cross coloration or aliasing are non-existent, resulting in a surprisingly smooth yet not too digital looking transfer. These episodes feature a lot more CG work in terms of backgrounds and camera motions than the first two. This brings in a new issue in that there is a fair amount of banding going on but only a few of these areas show much in the way of blocking. The gradients are strongly seen here but they do for the most part maintain a solid feel and are part of the source material.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with the title in English instead, it's a very dark and murky looking piece. The background is done with some very dark reds and blacks which when combined with Enma's design and the bright white of Yuki it all comes together wonderfully. The only burst of color comes in the small form of one of the women from the show who has on a red shirt. The cover screams that it's a dark horror show and one that's adult in nature, not something for the younger set. The back cover is pretty text heavy as it covers the basics of the show as well as its origins. Between those areas are a pair of strips that have shots from the show that highlight the violence and characters. The discs episodes and titles are clearly listed as are the extras and the discs features in a great looking technical grid.

The enclosed booklet is a great piece that provides what was presumably in the two booklets in the Japanese release. The covers for each DVD make up the front and back covers of the booklet while inside it has a red section for the first booklet and a blue one for the second. Each of them has character designs, notes, a short story and a couple of strips by Go Nagai about the show. The credits section in particular looks really good with the layout and artwork. If there is anything that Bandai Visual is missing with the design of their releases right now, particularly those that are combining the original OVAs, is a reversible cover. For the price that they're asking, they should have a reverse side that has the full design of the second Japanese cover there instead of relegating it to the back of the booklet.

While I had thought that Gunbuster 2's menus were simple, that was nothing compared to Enma. After a lengthy bit of animation leading into it, the main menu has the titles for the two episodes and the scene selection right underneath it. The bottom has the setup and a lead-in to the special features (where each volume's extras have their own page). The backgrounds for them are just static pieces of dark and murky stills from the show which when combined with the red used for the logo just feels poorly done. There isn't any music or animation to the menus but they do have some dripping sounds coming across once in awhile. Surprisingly, if you leave the main menu on for a couple of it minutes it eventually stops. Access times are nice and fast however and we had no issues in getting around the menus.

The extras included in this release mirror the Japanese releases pretty well. The third episode's extras are a pair of video interviews with the voice actors for Kapaeru and Sat-chan which run just about eight minutes total. The extras for the second episode include the video interviews of the voice actors for Chapeauji and Yuri, both of which also run just around five minutes combined.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Demon Prince Enma provided a pair of rather solid episodes in its first volume that were essentially standalone pieces but with ties that bind them together. A larger plot, as large as it can be for a four episode series, has been looming throughout it and it comes together in the third episode. Where it takes an unexpected and somewhat poor turn is that across the ninety minutes these two episodes run, the lead characters are off screen for about seventy-five percent of it.

The various events in the first volume that caught several people up in the supernatural continues on here as Kapaeru's attention on young Sat-chan keeps Enma close to what's going on. Kapaeru's involvement with Sat-chan is a nice touch as it continues to make him the most human of all those that work with Enma and it allows for some highly amusing scenes. Having Enma meet up with her for an ice cream cone among a rather lushly animated scene is priceless. All of this is just foreplay however to the brief but disturbing events that occur as one of the older demons that Enma had thought he had eliminated some time ago surfaces again. Its influence has caused plenty of bloodshed over the years but it now appears to be back and even more dangerous than before.

This revelation simply infuriates Enma but once it comes up the bulk of the cast is shifted to the background. The demon that Enma is after has set up residence in an abandoned hospital but has pulled the neat trick of setting up various doors around the city from which it can draw people in. A group of strangers is brought in to the hospital through these doors, each of them with a measure of darkness in their hearts. Once inside the building the exits disappear and the horror starts. This horror also has its hooks firmly in Yuki as it uses her to terrorize those that it has lured into the building. Across the bulk of the first episode and the entirety of the second episode, the strangers explore the house and are slowly killed off one by one. The use of Yuki is the only real tie to Enma there is up until Enma himself shows up late in the game which is somewhat problematic.

As a traditional supernatural horror story, this is a good one as it ratchets up the atmosphere just right. Whittling away at the cast while exposing their darkest secrets is a standard story element that's worked effectively here. Some of them are obviously more interesting than others with Yuri being the most interesting as he secrets are revealed. The flaw continues to come back in that other than Yuki making token appearances here and there to add a new element of surprise it lacks the core cast. Having Enma off stage for so long hurts the episodes in terms of being a show about the demon prince. If it was just a supernatural horror story inside an anthology or something it'd be a very entertaining piece on its own. When it does tie things back together with Enma it comes across much better and brings in some of the things that made the series so enjoyable in the first volume. The bookends of these two episodes is some of the better material of the series but the middle is just as good but for different reasons.

The visuals for these episodes are a bit different than the first pair. The beginning and ending portions are similar, particularly in the first episode where it deals with a similar plot device to the first volume. When the story shifts to the hospital however the design of it takes on a very CG feel. The camera movements throughout the hallways and the room has such a heavy CG feel to it that it feels out of place compared to the atmosphere of the first volume. The shadows are no longer quite as dark or menacing and the movement of the camera feels too unnatural when it goes along. The CG animation also introduces a lot of color banding in the source which can get fairly distracting at times, especially since it's so hued in oranges and other murky colors.

In Summary:
Demon Prince Enma offered a lot in its first volume with a show that was mature without being sensationalistic. It's a hard edged supernatural horror story that doesn't pull its punches. While some of the nudity does of course feel tacked on to be more titillating, it doesn't come across as poorly done. The storyline that wraps up the series is a bit unconventional as it takes the lead character and places him offstage for quite some time but overall the series really won me over. Go Nagai's works have never been my favorite but this is one of the few that turned out to be quite enjoyable, effectively atmospheric and entirely engrossing.

Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actor Interviews

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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