Mania Grade: A-
1 Comment | Add
Rate & Share:
- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 54.95
- Running time: 420
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Hakkenden, Legend of the Dog Warriors
Hakkenden, Legend of the Dog Warriors
By Morton Lane
February 16, 2002
Release Date: October 09, 2001
I will not cover too much on the technical side of things, because I am not an expert of anime production. However, I will say that if you purchase this DVD set for eye candy purposes, you may be utterly disappointed. This set, folks, is NOT like Star Wars or Matrix where you'll get tons of FX, superior sound (even though the music is great), and the like.
When I watched this set, I had this distinct feeling that more than one team of animators had worked on this project; the animation quality ran from exquisite to cheap, almost as if the lead animator went on vacation so the not-so-talented assistant took over for a few weeks. Even the characters' faces and looks changed in the middle of the story; if the characters weren't addressed by their names, you would think a brand new cast took over the show. It was that bad. Fortunately, toward the end of the story, everything went back to normal, and I could once again enjoy the excellent animation that was present in the beginning.
The picture quality itself was quite good, however; the transfer seemed to be done cleanly, with no obvious lines/block noise/etc.
As far as the soundtrack, I thought the music was excellent; the score seemed like a mix of Japanese and Western instruments, and was beautifully executed. I also thought this DVD set has good sound quality; the sound was clean & clear, and even throughout. I didn't encounter any sudden changes of volume, unlike some cheaply produced films I've watched before. Since the film has lots of dialog, most sounds I heard came from my main speakers, & very little from my surrounds. I didn't bother to listen to the dubbed track; I feel the English voice-over really takes away the overall ambiance and rhythm. I generally like to watch a movie in its original language, whatever that may be.
I will not include too much details; it's no fun to watch an anime when you already know what it's about. You can get the general plot by reading the box, so I won't bother stating something readily available.
Overall, I find the story appealing. The story doesn't follow your average good guy/bad guy formula; rather, all the characters have very human qualities that get you involved. Toward the end, I find imperfections in all the characters, much like real life. The villain, though evil, has motivations not necessarily horrible or unreasonable; I was then left to ponder humanity as a whole, and our motivations for our behaviors in life. As I watched, the series made me want to find out what happens next, which is what a good story should do. Plus, I like the story's romanticism & atmosphere; given time to absorb the series, the presentation is really quite charming.
Qualifier: you have to be PATIENT. The story is hopelessly complex, & it demands A LOT of attention to follow the story's twists and turns. The film weaves about ten people's stories together, & this film constantly shifts between characters, often when things become exciting/clear/intriguing (pick one) with one character. Therefore, you're forced to remember all the plots to make sense out of the film. If that's not you, return the DVD and watch a good boxing match on cable. You have been warned.
One small morsel of salvation: the DVD set does include a Hakkenden digest that summarizes the film. However, you won't find that until the very end, and somehow I don't think that will help anyone who lacks patience to begin with.
My overall verdict? I will recommend Hakkenden, provided you have read my qualifier. If you're mildly interested, rent it if you can find it in stores. If you like complex & intriguing stories, or have watched the series on VHS, add it to your collection. For the action fans who like to cut straight to the good parts, i.e. fight scenes and blood? Avoid it like a plague. Or practice Zen meditation beforehand.
Panasonic 27" TV w/ component video cable; Sony DVD player with fiber-optic cable; Yamaha DTS/Dolby Digital receiver; Bose speakers w/ KLH center channel