Dragon Knight: Wheel of Time Vol. #1 - 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: N/A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: SoftCel Pictures
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dragon Knight

Dragon Knight: Wheel of Time Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 15, 2003
Release Date: June 17, 2003


Dragon Knight: Wheel of Time Vol. #1
© SoftCel Pictures


What They Say
Many years have passed since that shining example of knightly virtue, Takeru, performed his heroic deeds. Now it falls to his son, Kakeru, to save the kingdom from encroaching evil. The forces of Lucifon, ruler of the eastern realm of Reimling are on the march, preceded by a black mist that turns everyone it touches to stone.

Led by the mysterious Eto, Kakeru and his (mostly female and scantily clad) friends must take the fight into the very heart of Lucifon’s empire or become statues for his garden.

The Review!
One of the more underused genres of hentai is that of fantasy. Dragon Knight manages to fill that niche beautifully. And surprisingly well in terms of a real plot.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. That’s because Japanese women moan better. Now that that debate is out of the way, the stereo mix here is pretty decent though there’s not a lot of directionality to find in this show. Dialogue is nice and clear and mostly center channel based with music and some of the fight sequences using the stereo channels. We noted no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Released in 1999 as Dragon Knight 4 (for the game on which it was based I believe), the transfer here looks quite good. Colors are nice and solid, night time blue skies hold up well and some of the scenes that are intentional soft look good without breaking up or getting pixellated. Cross coloration shows up in a few tightly drawn areas, as well as some aliasing during panning sequences, but otherwise this looks like a solid transfer.

Packaging:
The front cover is a mix of being a bit too dark and murky and being somewhat eye-catching at the same time. The background image of the close-up of Eto’s head, which is covered by his helmet and cloak, proves to be very dark and murky looking. But having the warrior princess in front of that, it adds a catchy mix of white and red along with the golden armor. A bit of skin doesn’t hurt either. The back cover provides a creepy backdrop of a decrepit castle with Marlene laid out over that in her nice skimpy outfit. There’s a good summary of what to expect and the discs features are nice and clearly laid out.

Menu:
The main menu uses two images of Eto, one from the cover off to the left and a full length version of him on the right. The full length shot looks really nice and has some good colors to it, which helps to offset the brooding image on the other side. Selections are quick and easy to load and with little here outside of the show, moving about is a breeze.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Well, this has to be one of the most surprising hentai releases I’ve seen in quite a long time. As it usually goes, I sat down to check out the latest hentai release and my wife sits along with me, generally to see the inept plots so she can get a good chuckle before going to bed. So imagine both of our surprise when we get near the end of the first episode, over twenty minutes into it, and it’s only then we get to our first sex scene. And it’s pretty tame at that.

Dragon Knight: Wheel of Time, is based off of the fourth game in the series. This particular series is fairly plot heavy, contains a large cast of scantily clad women and a nice basic fantasy setting. While it’s not mind blowing in any way, it’s one of the better series out there for mixing fantasy and sex into one package without one overshadowing the other into silliness.

The show opens with Keraku, a man who has fought against the evil that is Lucifon for many years but lost and ended up a prisoner. He’s chained to the wall and in some ways slowly losing his mind. His thoughts continue to wander to the past and what happened there, though it seems like lifetimes ago for him. So when one of his compatriots arrives fully armored and it turns out to be the beautiful elf Marlene, he’s unsure of what’s going on.

Marlene tells him that she made a terrible mistake during the final battle by not being with him, as she could have turned the tide and saved the day. She’s regretted her actions ever since, but she’s come to make sure that things are set to right here. Giving him a small black stone, she tells him that if he prays hard enough and keeps his thoughts to the past, to a time where he can go back and actually save his friends and lovers that died because of him, he can truly do it and make things right.

And so, with the thoughts of his one true love that had died due to his inability to save her, he ends up returning to the past as he is now. But he has to keep his identity secret from his younger self. His younger self is the typical bright eyed son of a warrior who is cocky as hell and ready to take on the world. This attitude is actually useful at this point in time, as a black mist has been spreading across the world, a mist that causes the towns it goes through to turn its citizens to stone.

As it attacks the kingdom where Keraku is, the older Keraku arrives and helps get many people out of the city quickly. He introduces himself to his younger self as Eto, and never removes his helm from his head. Rounding up a band of warriors from there, they head off on a long journey to the far away kingdom where Lucifon is, the man who has set this mist on the world so he can conquer it. Along the way, all sorts of characters show up and join the group, often scantily clad women of different skills, such as sorcerers, thieves, ninjas and warriors.

The first two episodes here are very plot heavy and introduce a lot of characters. Their journey is told quickly at times and then slows down in others, all with Eto’s narrative as he’s experienced areas of this before. Some aspects are different due to him being here, so he keeps everything as being new, but in the end their group turns into a strong wedge that starts making a serious dent in the invading armies as they head towards Lucifon.

But…. But… it’s a hentai?! Yeah, there’s some sex in here too. There’s one “gratuituous” sex scene per episode here, such as the first one where a rescued elf repays Eto for his bravery by offering herself to him. These scenes don’t add all that much to the show, but they add a flavor and a feel to it. They’re not explicit, at least no more so than the uncut sex scene from the first Terminator movie. It’s the kind of sequence that if you cringe when it comes up, you may be too uptight about such things (even if you are watching with your mom!).

While the elf sex isn’t as hot as it could be, that’s bound to be a selling point for some. This is a very enjoyable series in its first two 30 minute episodes here. If there’s anything to complain about, it continues to be the extremely silly eye-rolling foolishness of SoftCel itself, where some really inane names make it into the vocal cast and you have a director named Slappy Cortez and an ADR engineer named Jackie Treehorn. At least the translator and timers had the nads to put their real names to their work. It’s hard to take seriously someone’s work if they don’t have it in them to put their real name to it – or at least a reasonable sounding pen name. Things like this are almost getting insulting in my mind.

Fans of fantasy anime will definitely want to check this one out if they don’t mind a little slap and tickle. There’s an engaging story here, some good albeit brief fights and a lot of very nice characters designs. This show was a real surprise and I’m looking forward to more of it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

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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