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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Half

Dragon Half Essential Anime

By Derek Guder     December 16, 2004
Release Date: September 28, 2004


Dragon Half Essential Anime
© ADV Films


What They Say
You think your adolescence was challenged? Consider poor Mink. Her dad's a famous Dragon Slayer and her Mom's a dragon. While that does have the advantage of making her abnormally strong, it's also left her with a cute pair of wings and a big green tail! Oh yes, and horns. Try explaining that your prom date! And to complicate things even more, Mink's got the hots for Dick Saucer, a fabulously popular pop idol who also happens to be a professional dragon killer. Big romantic complication! In order to beat her arch rival, the nasty Princess Vena, to Dick's affections, Mink and her inept band of friends set off in search of a spell that will make her dragon half human. Along the way they'll face evil wizards, demons and a monstrously stupid warrior who's so dumb that he has to keep saying his own name just to remember it! The world of fantasy has never been quite so weird, in the wacky comedy classic Dragon Half!

The Review!
Truly deserving of the "Essential Anime" title, an anime classic gets a slight-repackage and a 5.1 English dub track in this re-release.

Audio:

Both audio tracks are nice and clear. I didn't notice any problems at all as I watched it over and over again in the course of writing this review. I originally saw the show quite a while ago in the Japanese and that track has stuck with me all these years. The acting is great, swinging from deadly serious to the off-the-wall zaniness that made the title stand out so much. All the actors are great, but Mink's in particular stands out as a simple joy to just listen.

The English dub (remastered in 5.1 like many Essential Anime releases) is also surprisingly good. It doesn't click with me as well as the Japanese, but I'm already pre-disposed to that anyway and I found little to fault with it. Performances are impassioned and generally well-delivered. There is a bit of deviance from the subtitle script, but it seems that the actors were given a fair amount of space to play around and even ad-lib, and I think that freedom really helped enhance their work. The commentary track explained that this was a dub that ADV took a great deal of care in casting, and it clearly paid off.

Though it's been remastered in 5.1, the dub didn't seem to be very different. The show is far from subtle in sound as well as visuals, so pretty much everything is front-and-center. There isn't much of a sound-stage to really take advantage of.

Video:

The video's a teeny bit soft or fuzzy, but given the show's age (just past a decade) it still looks good. The DVD transfer is nice and I didn't notice any problems.

Packaging:

The case is simple and straight-forward. The cover has a picture of Mink looking anxious and the princess looming ominously in the background. The back cover has the summary of the show with the usual collection of a few images. An insert is included with ADV ads on one side and one of those under-cleavage shots of Mink that makes you wonder if the character designer had some special ideas of his own about where you could take the show…

It also has the purple Essential Anime bands at the top and bottom of the cover, and on the spine. In that, I have to say that I like the original case design, with its dragon-hide background and more SD characters, a bit better.

Menu:

The menus are even more straight-forward than the packaging. There aren't many options or frills, but things are big, clear and fast, which are all good.

Extras:

In addition to the clean closing animation that the original DVD had, this includes a commentary track with two of the voice actors, Brett Weaver and Tiffany Grant, along with Matt Greenfield, ADV's omni-present ADR director.

The commentary is for the second episode and most of it is spent with everyone just talking about how much the love the show or loved working with the other actors. There were a few interesting threads about the actual casting process or some of the different voices the actors used, but it was worth listening to it to hear about how much some actors ad-libbed and to have the Evil Mario Brother hiding in the background of one scene pointed out to me. I've got to agree, he is the best villain ever.

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

Before Excel Saga, there was Dragon Half. One of the original pillars of the "crack comedy" sub-genre in anime in the US, it was also one of those shows that really cemented my love for the whole medium. A ridiculous plot mixed with random insanity, it's one of the very few shows to not only have normal and super-deformed characters, but also super-super-deformed ones as well. Just when you thought it had gotten as silly as it could, Dragon Half always goes one step further.

In the first episode, Mink is living peacefully (except when her father the dragon-slayer and red dragon mother are going at it), pining away for the pop idol (and dragon-slayer on the side) Dick Saucer – until she falls into a plot by the king and his advisor to try to bump her father out of the picture so that her beautiful mother will be available for the king. When she escapes their dastardly clutches, the king dispatches the Great Damaramu to hunt her down. After a dramatic battle in which the knight is brought down by his own sword, Mink is finally able to set out on her journey to Dick Saucer's concert. Little does she know that the king has sent Saucer to kill her, telling him she's a dragon (which is half-right, after all).

To get the money for tickets and travel, Mink is forced to enter the Brutal Killer Martial Arts Tournament in episode two. All of the other main characters and villains have joined in as well, and it's one grueling battle after another until the final show-down between our beloved half-dragon and the son of the lord of demons himself.

In Summary:

Or at least that's what the summary would be if Dragon Half were half-serious. Sure, all that happens but it's far less sane than that and the schizophrenic pace at with the tone changes – along with the sudden and whimsical shifts to SD and even more warped super-SD designs – throughout the show is really what makes it a masterpiece. This is a classic that all anime fans should watch at least once, and if you have any love for SD characters or smirked just a bit at the antics in the more recent crack-comedies, it should be right up your alley. At it's new price-point, there's all the more reason to buy it.

For those who already have the original DVD, there's not much to attract you to this version unless you're a dub fan and really want a 5.1 re-mix and even then it's not such a significant step up that it's really worth it. Just go convince all you friends who haven't bought it yet to go do so, and give their copies a run.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Commentary with English Dub Producer Matt Greenfield; Brett Weaver and Tiffany Grant

Review Equipment
Panasonic CT27SX12AF 27" flat-screen TV; Koss KD365 DVD player; Onkyo TX-SR501 receiver; RCA 6-piece home theater speaker package; Component video and optical audio connections

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