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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: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Half

Dragon Half

By Chris Beveridge     September 05, 2002
Release Date: September 24, 2002


Dragon Half
© ADV Films


What They Say
So you think YOU have problems? Mink's mom is a dragon and her dad's a knight, and that's just the beginning of her list of teenage anxieties! After all, when you're part reptile and you're in love with a handsome singer who's also a dragon slayer, you just know somebody's going to get burned!

So what's a lovestruck Dragon Half to do when the man of her dreams wants her head on a platter and Mom and Dad are too busy fighting to notice? Why, go to his concert all on your own, of course, even if it does mean a long, strange journey filled with sinister villains and bizarre encounters. It's a good thing Mink inherited wings and the ability to breathe fire from her mom's side of the family, because when you're half-dragon, you don't make friends easily...

The Review!
Dragon Half is one of those rather rare things we don?t see coming out all that often anymore, and that?s a very short comedy OVA series that just goes right for the laughs.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a pretty basic but good sounding stereo mix that?s light on directionality but does the subject matter right by providing a clear and undistorted mix. Dialogue in the English track is also pretty clear throughout with no noticeable distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released in 1993, the source materials have held up pretty well over the years, though it wasn?t exactly a shining example of what OVA quality could be like back then. Beyond some minor grain in some of the blue and dark black sequences, this is pretty problem free transfer. Colors look good if a bit muted, backgrounds are somewhat soft though it looks as if it?s by intent and cross coloration is just about non-existent. There is some slight aliasing in a few panning sequences, but nothing bad. If there?s one thing to be disappointed about with this release, it?s the very bring single overlay we get during a flashback sequence to the Slimeville, where the name of the town is done in English and overlaid with a white block and purple border.

Packaging:
The cover art for this is pretty good looking, with a nice skin shot of Mink in bright colors while Vinas is behind her in more subtle color shading. The background looks to be some sort of dragon scale, though it?s pretty muted, it adds nicely to the overall artwork. The back cover provides a couple of small animation and menu shots as well as a bunch of super deformed versions of the characters running around. There?s a good summary of the shows basics as well as the production and basic technical information. The insert shows another fanservice shot of Mink while the reverse side is just boxart advertisements.

Menu:
The menu for this release is pretty simple, with the artwork from the insert used of Mink in her skimpy outfit against dragon scales. With little on this disc, just about everything is quickly accessed with even the sole extra being available from the main menu. Access times are nice and fast, and you?re going to enjoy that since the closing song plays partially here, and if you let it play too long, you?ll go insane.

Extras:
The only included extra is a textless version of the closing sequence (as there is no real opening sequence). This closing definitely is worth watching all by itself without all the usual text since there?s just so much to it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When I originally saw Dragon Half, it was around the same time I had tried to watch Slayers on VHS and around the time I was starting to wander away from anime a bit. At the time, it left little of an impression, as I don?t think I even finished the first half of the first episode, never mind the whole thing. But now I?ve got both episodes again and no Slayers, so it?s already doing better.

Dragon Half is both a simple show and a hard show to explain. The easy explanation is that it?s a prototype Excel Saga (it even has the same Japanese voice actress). A whole load of strange and bizarre stuff goes on in this mix of fantasy/science fiction setting in both regular and deformed modes. Things happen oftentimes just for the sake of happening, but manages to come out in a very humorous way.

The hard way? the story focuses on a young girl named Mink who is actually a dragon-half. In other words, her father went to slay the Red Dragon, ended up falling madly in love with her, and married her. The resultant offspring is Mink who was hatched from an egg (never you mind that bellybutton!). Mink?s parents are goofy and act in extremes, such as when Mink idolizes the singer/dragon hunter Dick Saucer, her father gets all puffed up about his own days of being a dragon hunter, only to have his wife smack him upside the head and bring him back down to reality.

Mink?s life is one of random events, usually caused by others. One of these causes, other than the obvious of Dick Saucer, is the King of the land who is in love with Mink?s mother. He sends off his minions at different times to kill Mink?s father and bring back her mother to be his bride, or sends Dick Saucer off to kill Mink so he can get rid of a thorn in his side. The King?s own daughter ends up in an encounter with Mink, and we learn that she?s a ?half? too, but a slime-half. We see the origins of that family and it?s only stranger than Mink?s own.

Dragon Half features a lot of quick visual gags and word puns, lots of facefaulting, outtakes and general wacky moments. It?s at times done up more as a manga than an anime, where all the little side bits in a regular manga are done solely as animation here. There?s very little regular designs used here, and often they?re used just to really emphasize the weirdness of the situation. Comedies are very hard to really pin down, since so much of what makes them work is up to the viewer. This is one of the more classic ones though, and I think it works really well, especially since it?s one of the few to really have me laughing out loud.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Closing

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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