Mania Grade: B
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- 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: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Descendants of Darkness
Descendants of Darkness Vol. #4: Demon’s Reckoning
By Chris Beveridge
July 06, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003
Descendants of Darkness Vol. #4: Demon’s Reckoning
What They Say
© Central Park Media
A mad scientist stalks Tsuzuki, seeking to cage him and clone his supernatural powers. Trapped in the diabolical doctor’s laboratory, Tsuzuki comes face to face with his oldest enemy, a vengeful immortal who has hunted him throughout his afterlife. The Review!
The conclusion to the anime series comes in a four-part storyline that does a good job of showing just how much our characters have changed.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 front cover continues with the pentagram in the background against the mists while the foreground has the good-looking character artwork of Muraki with Tsuzuki in his hands. 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:
The menu here is pretty much the traditional style we get from CPM in its layout and selection naming conventions, with the fiery imagery in the background of a building burning while a photograph fades in and out next to the selections themselves. The menu has no transitional animations so things move to submenus quickly and the access times are nice and fast.Extras:
The final volume has a nice selection of extras, until you realize most of it is fluff. The video art gallery, running just under two minutes, is probably one of the better pieces with its snapshots of good scenes set to the opening theme as well as some character sketch work and the original Japanese DVD artwork. The meet the cast section is another quickie bio section for two characters while the Legend of Suzaku extra is about six pages of text that goes over the legend and some of its variations. The opening and ending sequences get their textless forms here again and we also get the domestic trailers for the entire show itself as well as one for this final volume.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final set of episodes to Descendants of Darkness, the show opts to go to a four-part tale. As if the three part tales weren’t already dragged out a bit more than need be…
Demon’s Reckoning does a good job for the most part however. The story starts off with Tsuzuki and Hisoka being told to go to Kyoto with Watari to help solve the mystery of a recent chain of serial murders in the area. Apparently, even though Watari was raised in Osaka and he’s definitely got a Kansai accent, he was actually born and spent many years in Kyoto. So he takes to the city quickly and ends up showing off a bit to the other two his knowledge of the area.
Tsuzuki knows that there’s something more to this though and pushes Watari to reveal why they’re all there when it’s probably not necessary. Having seen some of the brutal murder photos, Watari reveals a small evidence bag to the two where inside is a few strands of platinum blonde hair with silver streaks. The recognition is of course instant, and Watari’s indication that they were found clutched in the hands of one of the victim’s causes them to question it. Muraki isn’t the type to be making simple mistakes like that, so it must be something of a calling card, his way of ensuring that Tsuzuki would be there.
With the three of them in Kyoto and beginning their investigation, we’re given a lot of time to spend with Muraki to see what he’s actually up to. Working in concert with a doctor he’s know for some time, he’s securing “specimens” for him to perform experiments in regards to human cloning. The specimens of course come from the bodies of the dead that are now littering the city, but the doctor doesn’t seem to really know or care, he’s just eager to keep on researching all of this. But his experiments keep coming up against failure after failure, as the tissues he’s been getting just can’t survive.
So when Muraki shows him a photograph of Tsuzuki and tells him a tale of how this man survived for eight years without food or sustenance back in 1925 under his grandfather’s care, the good doctor is quite intrigued. When Muraki reveals that he’s seen this man recently and can procure him for the doctor, it gets even more interesting and the potential for the experiments becomes even greater. The path the two of them are working along, much like Muraki’s plans that were revealed in the previous trilogy, are quite chilling.
Naturally, things eventually come to a head and we get to see just how much our characters have grown since Hisoka and Tsuzuki were brought together. The only downside to all of this really is that it just feels so drawn out. A lot of it is intentional to be stylish and mood setting, but so much of it just feels unnecessary. It feels like this could again be done in half the episodes and still exudes that aura of calm and eerie. But this has really been a problem with the entire series from beginning to end, so I’m not terribly surprised that the ending was done the same way.
Descendants of Darkness has been an interesting series overall and one that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. There’s plenty of undertones to the series as well as overt moments that are generally avoided in a lot of shows but is done nicely here and provides some fun twists to the entire cast. The general aura and feel of the show was nicely creepy with plenty of rather violent moments splashed in just to keep things on edge. Add in the great character designs and the enjoyable detective nature of the show with its links to the world of the dead and you get something that’s decidedly different. And something different than the norm usually gets a recommendation.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Character Profiles,The Legend of Suzaku Synopsis,Descendants of Darkness Trailers
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.