The deal with the Great One becomes clear as he makes his move on Yuri and company in order to unleash himself into the world once again.
What They Say
Intent on eradicating each of the "key" inheiritors to assure the seals to the Four Forbidden Boxes remain preserved, Seraphine and her minions storm Covenant Castle on the eve of the re-sealing ceremony, attacking Yuri and the others. Sensing Yuri's danger and wholeheartedly wanting to protect his younger brother, Shori invokes and unleashes an immense magical power that overwhelms Seraphine, but at the same time it possesses his mind, resulting in a chaotic force that threatens to destroy the castle and everyone in it!
Geneon’s bilingual presentation of the series is straightforward as we get a pair of stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps. 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.
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.
The front cover is done with a dark grey 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. The focus is nicely done on the characters for this volume with the Yuri and Murata together along the bottom while the Great One looks on behind them. The inclusion of him with his colors and blonde hair brightens things significantly and changes the dynamic a lot. 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. 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 which is admittedly very amusing to read at this point. The reverse side artwork is a simple piece with a few of the lead men all standing together in their usual outfits against a framed window.
Using the much better designs for this season, the menus continue to look great as it has the image of an old worn book cover with the logo on it as the lighting flickers just above. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kyo Kara Maoh gets ever closer to finishing out and the setup is working its way to becoming something epic. With all that’s happened in the series so far, that’s not exactly an easy task. So what better than to do than to unleash the past into the present with the Great One and the Originators at the same time? It’s like bringing out the biggest boogeyman you know and letting him loose on the world once again. With a few trips back into the past to see how events came to what they are, Kyo Kara Maoh does a solid job of setting up for the big conflict to finish out the licensed portion of the series.
The four episodes here work out pretty well in starting to work through the background issues that are leading to where things are now. Initially, it seems like we’re going to be flummoxed mostly by watching Shori trying to use his new found abilities and failing miserably at them. He even goes so far, accidentally, as to attack Yuri and the two end up in a brotherly tussle that is huge in the scale of power involved. Thankfully, Jennifer is able to talk smack to them even across the dimensions and get them to calm down. The use of Shori within this realm is still admittedly unnerving as he’s a character that doesn’t seem to fit there well. Even after seeing all that Yuri has accomplished and the respect that he has, he still can’t help but want to protect his little brother and almost seems to trivialize what he’s done in that time.
The summation of events that have occurred boils down to a simple fact; the four boxes have been leaking their mystical energy for some time and that’s allowed the Great One to begin his revival. Or so we though, as it’s not truly the Great One in a sense but rather an Originator that has possessed the Great One. The past has been the subject of much discussion in recent episodes as people have started commenting more about the fact that nothing is documented about how the Great One passed on. The four boxes were created with the intent of sealing in the originators but they knew they couldn’t be kept together because the seals wouldn’t hold long. So they get scattered and one gets taken off to Earth for protection. But with them all back together, it’s almost like they were begging for it.
That casts some suspicion on Murata since he was with the Great One back in the day and it forces him to start explaining what really happened. The tales of the past have been interesting at times, but the similarity of characters between then and now and the way families have crossed since then leaves it feeling a little awkward at times. The Great One during this period is interesting to watch as he’s now coping with being a ruler and not being able to ride off into battle whenever he feels like. That he’s infected by the Originators also makes it hard because he’s getting increasingly violent tendencies. With the surrounding nations starting to beat the drum of war as they’re fearful of the Great Demon Kingdom, it’s like he’s being pushed harder and harder to snap.
Similar to the previous volume, a lot of this feels transitional rather than progressive. Enough time is spent on issues of the past, necessarily so, that it doesn’t feel like it’s really moving us forward. Events do occur that keep things moving, having the Great One getting his hands on some of the popular characters and changing them dramatically has that affect, but by and large it comes across as a waiting game. After the big events occur early on, everyone stands around the seemingly dead Wolfram and they have an in-depth conversation about the past. It feels out of place, especially for a show where Yuri has always run off to do what was necessary and do his thinking on the way. His restraint is part of his change in character with the time he’s spent there, but this is one of those moments where it feels like he should revert to what he was before.
Kyo Kara Maoh is plugging right along and it’s looking to be an interesting finale for this season in the next volume. The plus side is that we’re getting to see the end of the season, something that was pretty unlikely for far too long. The downside is that since the show is still running in Japan now, there’s a chance we won’t see more unless it does well enough with FUNimation’s distribution of it. My hope continues to be that the first season and this season get some really solid box set/priced down releases early next year and the push for more is made apparent by those who don’t want to have eighteen singles on their shelves. This is such a fun show, even when it’s at a weak moment, that I can’t help but recommend it to people who want to have fun, thoughtful and enjoyable anime shows to watch.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.