Kurokami Part 2 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kurokami

Kurokami Part 2

Kurokami Part 2 DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     August 13, 2010
Release Date: July 20, 2010


Kurokami Part 2
© Bandai Entertainment

Important details are given out rather easily before the show deals with its midseason moment of epicness.

What They Say
Having formed a ritualistic bond between human and Tera Guardian known as a Pact, Kuro saved Keita's life and attained new powers. But the bond carried a price that neither Kuro nor Keita was truly aware. Through new comrades formed in battle, Keita learns that his mother might have been involved with Tera Guardians before her untimely death. With mysteries to be answered, Kuro and Keita head to Okinawa to find answers.

The Review!

Audio:
The bilingual presentation for Kurokami is pretty decent though it’s on the slightly weaker side of the technical aspect with the two language tracks in stereo and encoded at 192kbps. The show is mostly dialogue, which is generally well placed when required and showcases some depth as well, but the action sequences that do exist could have used a bit more oomph and impact. The sound design is rather standard TV material with only one or two people on screen talking at any time so a lot of it has a full or center channel feeling to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This release contains six episodes of the series on one disc and overall it’s a very good looking disc. The animation quality, particularly the backgrounds, is really quite good so the materials here have a lot of detail to them. The show is a dark one in general with a lot occurring at night and it doesn’t look as if much detail is lost to the encoding in this nor is there an introduction of a lot of noise and blocking because of the colors. Brighter scenes look really good with some lush colors at times but by and large the show wants to be dark and mysterious. Cross coloration is non-existent but there are instances of line noise during various panning sequences. There’s little to find fault with here overall though I wish Bandai had not changes the credits, especially the ending ones with the scroll that’s stuttering a lot of the time.
 
Packaging
The cover design for Kurokami is something you can say is similar in layout and design to the first and it again has a feeling of being simply acceptable. The logo takes up a huge chunk of space along the bottom, though I do like the logo but I hate that inclusion of “the animation” for any show. The rest of the cover has two principle characters for this arc with Excel in the foreground with a mischievous look while Steiner is looking over his shoulder in a way that's almost inhuman as he has a knowing look in his eyes.  The back cover is laid out well but has far too much text as it explains a lot of the premise when it should be more concise and allowing more space for the designs and artwork to sell it. There are a few shots from the show through the middle or so which are too small and fall under the murky line again making them hard sells. The rest is given over to the discs features, episode numbers and titles and the basic technical aspects along with production credits for the Japanese side. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
 
Menu:
The menu design for Kurokami is pretty nice and pushes the dark and murky aspect in a good way. The bulk of it is using clips from the show that are fairly dynamic and active that showcase a lot of different parts of the series which makes it pretty engaging as the music plays along. The bottom of the menu has a strip with the logo and a lot of black space while the right side has a strip down it with the individual episode access and other navigation aspects. The layout is very easy to navigate and I liked that the disc read our players’ language presets. This is an easy menu to navigate around but I was a little disappointed there wasn’t a proper disc credits section to be found.
 
Extras:
The only extra included here are the original next episode promos which weren’t used in the show proper.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even though the first volume came out in March, it feels like forever between releases considering it's a four volume series to cover twenty-four episodes of the show. The first six episodes proved to be pretty interesting as it introduced the Doppeliner system where there are three of everyone in the world and a persons lifespan and fate is determined by those others in some way. Eliminate the ones who are below you as the Master Root and you increase your luck and life. Eliminate the one above you and you gain some amount of power and ability, but it doesn't necessarily increase your luck or happiness.
 
The second batch of episodes brings us up through episode twelve and brings in a few new characters, almost too many in some ways as it seems like there are Tera Guardians everywhere, and fills in a lot of gaps in a rather quick manner that's almost an info dump. Through these episodes we get a pretty good idea of what's happening, but it all still has this air of being just a bit too much with certain things left unexplained that helps you to suspend disbelief enough to really get into it. The core ideas are ones that I do like with the Doppeliner and how people are coping with it in different ways, but the introduction of other bigger concepts into it I think damages the show a little.
 
Kuro, Keita and Akane (along with Punipuni) are off to Okinawa to investigate the picture that he has that indicates his mother was there during what appears to be a turbulent time. The trip there isn't without its issues though as there are those that want to stop Kuro as we've seen with the Tribal Ends. Not only do they seem to be everywhere, but there are others that want to interfere as well. The trip to Okinawa does take the group to Keita's grandfather's place which leads to the main bit of amusement and humor in this batch of episodes as Akane ends up drinking heavily with him, with Kuro and Keita there as well, and basically reveals plainly that she's interested in Keita. But that she'd settle for his grandfather as well since the two are pretty similar. It's a cute scene that definitely endears you to Akane's position and the way she's come to love and care for Keita over the years.
 
Okinawa has a lot of revelations to it that are spooled out over the course of the episodes. Hiyou is making more attempts at taking down Kuro and is becoming much blunter about it. He's using others and doing it himself directly which is cause for concern because of the way he is so bloody and violent in getting what he wants. The encounters with Hiyou and some of what he says, along with Excel being thrown into the mix, causes Kuro to explain to Keita what's really going on, or at least some of the main background. Informing him that she's actually from someplace called the Pure Place that's hidden behind a barrier and that she's a princess there doesn't exactly shock Keita after all that he's seen. Learning that her older brother, Reishin, killed their mother and most of the others of Pure Place before going to the real world highlights the kind of issues she's coping with in coming to Okinawa to find him. The Pure Place background is interesting, but much of it just feels too otherworldly in a way that doesn't quite blend with the rest of it.
 
The interesting part of the story during these episodes focuses on Reishin and what's going on there with the Kaionji group. Reishin obviously has a large plan in mind considering he killed his own mother and most of his own people in order to enact it by gaining full control of the Doppeliner system so he can use and manipulate it to create a new world that eliminates most of humanity from it. The people he's surrounded himself with, such as Hiyou, is what makes this arc so interesting. The first surprise is that Kuraki is revealed to be Sawamura, a fellow classmate of Keita's that died a few year prior while investigating the death of Keita's mother. The two have an interesting history that plays out here and it explains a bit about how both of them lead their lives and why they are as they are now.
 
The real fun is when Keita's mother's doppleganger shows up. This is a shock to Keita but it leads to some interesting discussions about what's happened in the past and how Shinobu is a sub who ended up coming across Keita's mother, which is what caused her death. It gets far more detailed and twisted as it progresses, and as we learn that she's a contractee to Hiyou, What Shinobu introduces to the show is a different path that a sub can follow and she attempts to put that little idea into Keita's head, since it can change the path that he's on as well. Keita's ties to Kuro and the way his life is essentially hers is not something he has an issue with, but the possibility of another way to live, one that involves the woman who appeared before his mother and her sudden death, certainly causes him to stand up and take notice.
 
In Summary:
Kurokami continues to be a show that's interesting with some ideas that you don't really see often, but some of what it introduces in these episodes doesn't flow well with the rest of it. It does help to cement certain things and gives clear reasons behind what Kuro is after and some of what Reishin has done, but the real fun is in watching those working for Reishin and seeing the plans within plans that are playing out there that may help Kuro in the end. Keita has some good material when it comes to Shinobu and the entire Sawamura angle is very intriguing since it puts something unexpected into Reishin's plans. Halfway through the series and I'm enjoying it well enough, though it's not a show that's proving to be hugely memorable and the wait between volumes isn't helping. It's still hard to see the near universal scorn that it gets as well.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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