Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: C
- Video Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Be Beautiful
- MSRP: 14.95
- Running time: 30
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Kizuna
By Chris Beveridge
July 19, 2005
Release Date: August 09, 2005
What They Say
© Be Beautiful
Based on the hit manga that The Village Voice calls "a romantic epic" by yaoi superstar Kazuma Kodaka
Ranmaru and Kei have a strong and passionate relationship built on years of trust, sacrifice and love. But when the mysterious son of a Yakuza boss begins to pursue Ranmaru's affection, tempers flare, and hidden emotions rise to the surface. Will Ranmaru and Kei's love survive, or will the emotional conflict finally come to a head?The Review!
A more serious story of love and how far people will go for it, Kizuna's one of the few and first yaoi series to make it to this side of the ocean.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. That also happens to be the only language on this disc. The problem with this audio track is that it's recorded at a very low level, to the point where if you go from one disc to this one, it won't even sound like there is an audio track on it. I had to crank it up pretty far to get it to a normalized level. The show itself is almost all dialogue with a few sound effects here and there, so it's all coming through the center channel.Video:
Originally released in 1994, the transfer for this OVA release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials for this look better than the original release from Ariztical a few years back but still has a significant amount of grain throughout the program but more heavily at the beginning. This is simply the only materials that must be left for it so I doubt it'll ever look any better. Once the major grain section is passed though, things do look much better and in general the colors are good and free of most problems. There's some considerable softness in a lot of scenes but cross coloration and aliasing are both pretty minimal to non-existent.Packaging:
Using the same image that seems to be standard across all of this series releases, the front cover is a nicely illustrated piece with good colors of the two leads laying next to each other with strong eye contact and just the right look to show that you can figure out exactly what the show is all about. The new logo design works nicely and the overall feel of the cover is spot on and attractive. The back cover provides a few shots from the show itself and a small summary paragraph of the premise. The minimal amount of disc details are listed here as well as the usual production information. The reverse side cover, in black and white, has one panel of artwork on the left side that's a replica of the front cover while the other panel has the chapter stops, voice cast and production information.Menu:
Done as a static piece that takes the front cover artwork and plays with it a bit, the image of Ranmaru is kept strong and in focus while everything else is blurred heavily and zoomed in a bit. The selections are pretty minimal as there are no language choices or extras on the disc so it's a pretty straightforward thing of pop it in and play. Access times are nice and fast and the layout extremely easy to navigate and problem free.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kizuna was the first yaoi series to makes its way to release here, mostly because it's fairly harmless compared to most straight adult series. It's strong in showing some upper chest skin and pretty boys, but it avoids for the most part in this first episode going all the way. Originally released by Ariztical back in 2001, the show has now moved to an actual anime producer and has had its two episodes split into two volumes but still lacks a dub.
Being the son of a yakuza boss, Enjoji knows that the hit was made for him, so he tries his best to make things up for Ranmaru and to make his life easier. But Ranmaru wants to get back into the swing of things, with the exception of his fencing and kendo career, as that is completely over with now. But during his first day back at work as what appears to be a professors assistant, he finds himself being taken to a gay bar and being hit on by the professor.
Through what is likely planning on his part, one of the waiters at the club is Enjoji's half brother from another marriage, and he manages to rescue Ranmaru from his would be attacker after the drink is laced with a drug. Kai doesn't reveal himself here, but takes off after the professor and leaves Ranmaru to be helped by others in the bar.
When Enjoji learns of all of this, we start to see some flashbacks to their high school past as well as Enjoji's earlier past with his yakuza father. We also see a fair bit of Kai's past and the current way things run between him and his father as well as his guardian yakuza, who apparently has strong feelings for him.
While I don't have anything against yaoi, and I'd like to see more, I have something against poorly plotted anime. This show definitely falls under that category, in that the story is so hapazardly told, you begin to forget whose related to who and why there's bad blood between the half brothers and so forth. The animation itself is fairly nice, being of more striking design for the leads being college aged men as opposed to high school boys. It definitely has an early 90's look to it though.In Summary:
In comparison to the original release, it's a no brainer to avoid that one and pick this up. The improved transfer, lack of hard subtitles and better distribution it's going to be easier to find. Unfortunately, I think the Be Beautiful folks missed the boat a bit here by splitting the episodes and avoiding dubbing it. This will play well to the hardcore crowd and those that must have everything but it could have gotten a bit wider I'd guess the other way. While this isn't anywhere near my favorite show, it's not a terribly bad intro to very light yaoi that focuses more on the love and romance aspect than the sex.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.