Descendants of Darkness Vol. #2: Devil's Song - 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: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Descendants of Darkness

Descendants of Darkness Vol. #2: Devil's Song

By Chris Beveridge     April 05, 2003
Release Date: March 11, 2003


Descendants of Darkness Vol. #2: Devil's Song
© Central Park Media


What They Say
A musician inherits a haunted violin, and his skills increase to superhuman levels! Detective Tsuzuki is called to investigate, but before he can vanquish the demon, he himself is possessed. Now, it’s up to his brash young partner to solve the mystery and save him.

The Review!
The beautifully drawn men are back, this time with a musical edge to things.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a good stereo mix with some nice sounding instances of directionality, but for the most part it’s a full stereo mix that simply fills up both channels with the same sounds. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions on either track.

Video:
Originally airing during the first half of 2001, the series features some very nice looking late night animation. There are a few slight instances of cross coloration along some characters during the first episode, but it seems to disappear as the episodes progressed. Some slight chroma noise manifests during some of the Japanese text logo screens with the red against black, but it’s very minimal. Unfortunately, CPM has foregone a second subtitle track, so there are a few instances of hard subtitles on the print, which also suffer from minor cross coloration.

Packaging:
The cover for this one is again very nice as it shows off the solid artwork of the character designs with two of the Bureau men right up front while the storylines main character is shadowed in the background with the pentagram. The back cover does a bit more of the shaded character imagery and provides a short summary of this arc. The discs features and technical specs are all clearly listed here. The reverse side of the cover has some black and white artwork but mostly focuses on providing the scene selection and bilingual cast list as well as the detailed production listings.

Menu:
A rather nice menu, though slightly difficult to navigate, you have the visual of a flaring pentagram with each point being a selection point. With it being angled, sometimes you’re not quite sure which way to go to get to where you want to be, but since it’s much different than most standard CPM menus and doesn’t have much in the way of the show playing in the menu, it stands out nicely against their other menus. Access times are nice and fast and we had no issues moving about.

Extras:
Most of the extras here seem to in-house originals from CPM, such as the meet the detectives’ section or the trailers. One of their more detailed in-house extras here is a lengthy music video to the series with music from mp3.com, something that they normally have been doing with trailers. The only Japanese based extras here are the design and art gallery pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way this series is being split, each volume basically contains a self-contained story arc. While I’d rather have more episodes per disc and a lower count overall, I do have to admit that it makes for a good way to spend a bit of time and get one complete story without having to wait for the next volume.

The second volume contains the Devil’s Trill storyline, which brings the guys from the Bureau into a music-oriented plot. The plot kicks off easily enough, as we’re introduced to master violin player Otonashi, but only for a brief few moments as he’s all bloodied up and in a rage. His death is the gateway to the bigger things though, as his left eye ends up becoming part of a donor program. This eye ends up in the body of a young man named Hijiri Minase.

Hijiri, also a violin player in his school, is naturally glad to have full sight back, but feels uneasy about being unable to thank the donor. Since Otonashi is dead, he goes to pay his respects and give his thanks to his young daughter named Kazusa. The two end up becoming friends, but something inside Hijiri is wrong as he keeps seeing things that don’t seem to really be there. And then some pain starts coming into the eye, but he can’t bring himself to complain about it.

His return to the school after his surgery has cast him out some among those in the music program, which looks to be an extensive one for this school. Running against the rich kid group, he ends up setting them off enough that they go and torch the main music room where everyone’s violins were. Hijiri’s violin, the only thing he has of his own long lost father, is now gone and he’s beside himself. But Kazusa, feeling strongly for Hijiri, offers him her dead fathers beautiful ornate violin.

It’s from here that the evil becomes unleashed again, as we learn of the contract that Otonashi had signed with the devil. That contract has been extended to Hijiri instead of ending at Otonashi’s death, and Hijiri now finds himself under the power. This power also allows him to become one true master of the violin, able to play the Devil’s Trill, one of the most complex and beautiful pieces ever written. But he’s also now on devils list for consumption, and the men in the Bureau end up becoming involved in trying to save him from this, since he shouldn’t have to deal with the contract of a dead man.

This arc plays out very nicely, though it ends up becoming something more to an internal issue of Tsuzuki of the Bureau instead of focusing on Hijiri. It turns into one of those stories where those who should be the focus ends up being sidelined somewhat as the regular cast get more involved in the problem than they should. This distracts as things get further into the show and I think ends up taking away from the power of the “guest” character of the storyline to find redemption or the ability to free himself.

That said, I still found the show to be a lot of fun to watch as well as very pretty to watch. Having a show that’s fairly free of women is always interesting to see, since they come up with different ways of covering that “gap” of the romantic angle that always ends up there. With the dark brooding nature of much of this, it works very well and has a good atmosphere, though not quite as dark as the first volume was. Fans of this show and this genre will be pleased overall with this release, though there are enough minor things that one would wish CPM would have stopped doing by now that can distract.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Music Video,Art & Sketch Gallery,Character Profiles,Descendants of Darkness Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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