Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 24.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Kyo Kara Maoh!
Kyo Kara Maoh! Season 2 Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
September 02, 2008
Release Date: September 02, 2008
Kyo Kara Maoh! Season 2 Vol. #2
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
In order to separate Yuri from Wolfram, Stoffel introduces an eligible girl for Yuri to marry! But the bride-to-be shocks everyone by claiming she is really Wolfram's fiancee and she challenges Yuri to a duel. Then, Dunheely Weller's past is revealed. His stepson, Gwendal, hates him, and long ago, a trip to a remote ghost town provided Gwendal with the truth that would change his future. After a quiet interval, the nation of Big Cimaron begins moving again and requests an ""exchange program"" with other countries - but it may be a ruse to take hostages! Yuri and Adalbert join forces to escape the Big Cimaron army together. Alone together for the first time, Adalbert starts talking about his late fiancee, Jullia...The Review!
Yuri's control of events continues to be minimal as he basically moves on from one awkward or bad situation to another.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a fairly standard TV action mix which provides some decent directionality during action scenes and occasionally with some of the dialogue. There's a fair amount of action so we do get to have both speakers work out nicely and the dialogue has a number of good distinct moments. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this show is essentially problem free and looks great both at standard display level and upconverted to 1080i. The digital nature of the show comes across really well here with vivid and solid colors that are free of gradient problems, backdrops that are free of blocking and no visible cross coloration. This is simply a very smooth looking piece that's pleasing on the eyes through and through.Packaging:
The front cover is done with a light brown background and is framed with some intricate artwork to give it a few polished feel. Within the frame, the title is along the top (along with a Season II tag) which gives the character artwork plenty of room to look good. This one provides a look at some of the characters that are key to this particular volume that deal with an earlier point in time. The back cover is done in a similar style but with a different border that holds the basic summary and numerous pieces of artwork and shots from the show. The discs episode numbers and titles are clearly listed next to the discs features and extras while the bottom is filled out with the production credits and one very different change, a technical grid within which all the information is kept. It's great to see yet another title finally adopt this format. The insert for the release replicates the front cover artwork with a few less logos while the reverse side lists the episodes and a look at the tentative months for the remaining volumes (through March 2008!).Menu:
Eschewing the design from the previous season, this volume takes a very different and almost somber turn as a bit of flickering light plays over a very worn down book that has the series logo and navigation strip on it. Set to a light bit of instrumental music, it's very relaxing and mellow while looking very well done. The way the light plays on it is simple but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of it. I particularly like the way going to submenus has it paging through them. Access times are decent and getting around is easy enough though the disc keeps to its own language preferences (English only) and ignores player presets.Extras:
The only extra included for this volume is a clean version of the closing sequence.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Similar to many other points in this series, the show simply keeps moving on with fun but small increments in the overall storyline. Sometimes it has the big sweeping moments, such as when the Boxes figured in very prominently, but most of the time it's dealing with smaller standalone episodes or a two or three episode arc. This volume touches on some of the larger material but also keeps its focus squarely on the characters.
Kyo Kara Maoh does have a good bit of fun for these five episodes but there is still something about it that just doesn't work too well. Or more specifically, the shows inherent weaknesses are more evident when you watch five episodes in a row rather than on a weekly basis. Take individually, the episodes have plenty going on that expand both the characters and their setting but when taken as a whole it feels like it's less filling than it should be. This set of episodes covers both the past and the present but avoids any time spent on Earth so it's all about the time in the Great Demon Kingdom.
The opening episode is actually a good bit of fun where Stoffel has plans to get closer to Yuri by arranging a potential bride for him. This is a completely obvious trap to everyone, well, outside of Yuri, but they go along with it in order to spring it on their terms. Elizabeth is quite the attractive young woman and she's the epitome of a perfect fantasy-style princess/bride for Yuri. Where the twist comes in her actual relationship to those within the castle and it sets off a most amusing sequence of events and duels. Stoffel's plans continue to look simply inept at times but what it allows to play out is something more interesting as we get to see new shades of existing characters, such as Wolfram or Lady Celi.
Another episode that deals with the past helps to flesh out a group of characters as we see the time spent when Conrart had gone off with his father to learn from him. The younger Gwendal is something of an interesting change from how he is now as he is more emotional and subject to voicing his opinions without thinking. His distaste for the man that Conrart is with is plainly evident but it helps to highlight the kind of relationship all the brothers' share. It's also highly amusing to see Wolfram as a much younger child and the way he is with everyone, particularly Gwendal. This episode provides some small but welcome details to the time when Yuri wasn't here for characters that need to be better defined away from him.
The larger storyline points also make appearances in this volume as it deals with both Big Cimaron and the magic boxes that have been so prominent earlier in the series. These stories deal with a couple of episodes here, one of which is fun early on as it takes the gang to the location of where they think the missing box may be. This is sort of how earlier episodes played out but it lets us get familiar with new areas of the Great Demon Kingdom. The new thing we get to see this time around is a lake where the fish inside are like the bone creatures that have made small but key appearances throughout the show. There is a bit of interesting magic involved in all of this related to the box as well as the young guardian of the area, Lady Ondine. The storyline doesn't exactly truly go anywhere but it's another one of those incremental movements that helps the show along.
Big Cimaron starts to cause some trouble once more but in a way this is an instance where they're going back to the well too many times. Having had so many episodes focused around that particular area of the world, going back for another segment just doesn't hold the same mystery and intrigue that it did early on. At the same time, the cast is starting to feel a bit underutilized as there are so many people running around now. Yuri gets enough face time but Murata finds himself being shifted to the background. Others from Yuri's side also tend to suffer in the same way while the far less interesting characters from Big Cimaron take up more time. Gwendal manages to make out better than the others during this arc and this is a good thing after having the flashback episode that highlighted more of his past.In Summary:
Kyo Kara Maoh is still a fun show but the further into we get the more I want to watch it in smaller batches of episodes. This volume brings us up to episode forty-nine so there really aren't all that many surprises with the characters and we're definitely comfortable with them. The larger plot points seem to surround the search for the magic boxes as well as the trouble that's being caused by Big Cimaron but neither of those really excite or interest. The characters are where the fun is however and they manage to make the show enjoyable, be it action pieces or watching Yuri play shogi with his sword. The further along the show gets the more it becomes a guilty pleasure as its flaws are just showing more and more.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.