Ikki-Tosen Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ikki-Tosen

Ikki-Tosen Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     February 23, 2005
Release Date: March 01, 2005

Ikki-Tosen Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The mortal battle between Hakufu and Ukitsu has begun. A fight that ended Hakufu’s life 800 years ago and one that will determine the future of all the fighters! Will Hakufu break the 800 year cycle, or is death truly their only destiny? How can these stupid girls even think of trying to fight their own fate?

The Review!
Bringing the first chapter of the larger work to a close, it's filled with lots of nudity and violence which makes it virtually the same as previous volumes.

For our primary viewing session we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, but then we ended up listening to it in English about three times while getting caught up in other things. Both tracks feature a solid stereo mix that makes good use of the left and right channels for both dialogue and action effects. There's some good placement for both of them there while the music comes across solidly in both. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, Ikki Tousen is presented in its original full frame format and a very good looking transfer. While the show goes for the traditional color palette used for a school based series, there's a mixture of some very vibrant pieces for the backgrounds, such as setting sun scenes that go beyond the norm a bit. The characters tend to go with the normal almost drab uniforms but even in those there are some real flashes of vibrancy or outright competing uniforms. The series maintains a very solid feel for the backgrounds and avoids any noticeable blocking. There is some noticeable aliasing throughout though and that gets to be very visible in a few scenes where otherwise smooth curved lines instead look like a series of stairs.

Geneon went all out with the packaging for this release. The clear keepcase uses the same character artwork as the Japanese DVD release with a solid looking image of Hakufu in her usual uniform but with it being fairly well ripped from an impact hit. The background material looks to be the same as the Japanese box with the flame-like imagery for the borders and the Chinese dragons as light background sketches. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and gives a brief summary of the premise of the series along with the discs features and extras. The reverse cover is a less zoomed in shot of the front cover while the back cover for it is virtually the same as the other except for the artwork being swapped out for other shots. The insert has a good variety of images with the front having three of the girls in their swimsuits while fighting, a two panel spread inside of Koukin and Hakufu enjoying some beach time and a really good panty shot image of Hakufu on the back.

The menu layout is nicely done but suffers from too many transitional animations. The main menu is a decent looking piece that has Hakufu and Ryumou face to face while clips play of the various action sequences under a cloudy filter as the opening song plays along. The menus load fairly quickly but there's transitional pieces going to each of them and they don't look too good since there are a lot of broken lines in the animation. The disc read our player presets correctly but since the sign and song subtitle track is the first English subtitle track it selected that instead of the full translation track.

The extras continue to be different from volume to volume here. This time around, we get a new art gallery with full color pieces that are used around the cover and packaging while a brief series of TV commercials for the shows airing and DVD release are included as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a series like Ikki-Tosen where the main thrust of the show is dealing with ones fate, either in embracing it or trying to change it, and it's built around a repetition of what's happened in the past occurring again, you're basically really limited to two ways of dealing with it. Either they're able to break past the fates of the past and forge their own road or they're so bound to it that it'll play out exactly like before. Many series have done both angles in the past and each definitely has its appeal so one doesn't necessarily win out over the other.

This volume brings the last three episodes to finish things out, though the manga is still running, what this ends up feeling like with its conclusion is that it's the end of the first chapter of a much larger book, one that could actually be interesting if they ever manage to shift it out of the school districts and into the real world. The idea of reviving the Three Kingdoms inside a modern nation and changing the course of the fates of the past is an intriguing one and one that could have an engaging blend of both politics and martial arts fighting. Viewing it in a long term angle like that lets you look at the school days of the series as just that, the rough impetuousness of youth struggling against the bonds placed on them in the only way they know how.

So much of these last three episodes is made up of fighting that it's hard to really get a good flow of storyline so they instead focused more on shifting each fight to providing a resolution to a particular piece of the fate of each of the fighters, some of them like Ryufu struggling against hers as does Totaku while we get someone like Saji trying to manipulate things so that he does continue along the plan. The thing that's continually throwing up the mix is Hakufu herself and that all-powerful dragon inside of her that's been barely awakened. Some see her as an advantage since she's not really aware of the fates of their namesakes and she continues to fight no matter what but even she's starting to become interested in what everyone is talking about and once her mind starts processing things like this there's a chance of her accepting her own fate.

Much like the previous episodes, Ikki-Tosen keeps up with a lot of sex mixed into the violence with plenty of nudity to complement it. Continuing with the idea of passions being as strong as the violence, it works its way into a couple of the relationships here, both consensual ones and those who find themselves needing to submit to those more powerful than them. So many of the scenes here are just skirting the edge of what you'd normally associate with a hentai release that it's surprising to see just how far they go at times. As it goes though, it's rarely the best shows that really push the envelope in these kinds of things but those that follow in realizing that they can go certain distances and do things differently. Ikki-Tosen has been a show that I've definitely enjoyed for the way it tries to play hardball both in the violence and sex.

In Summary:
With a concluding volume that's based all around fighting and fighting against destiny, practically every step of each of the fights gives away too much information. These last three episodes played out fast and were fun all the way through with its sheer delight in showing sex and violence so closely linked together and as bloody as they can. The actual plot of the show has been light and repetitive but there was something about it that was fun in a way that kept me wanting to watch each episode and to see where it's all going to go. It's trashy anime but it's fun trashy anime that kept me entertained across all four volumes.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,TV Commercials,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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