Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • 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! Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 02, 2005
Release Date: July 05, 2005


Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Yuri, a new Demon King in the alternate world, sets to search for Morgif, a legendary sword which only Demon King can touch. After Yuri and his search team arrive Van Da Via Island, they learn from the shop's proprietress about a strange incident that occurred at the mountain summit's spring some 15 to 16 years ago. Convinced that the incident was caused by the demon sword, Morugif, they immediately proceed on to the summit's spring. A creepy-looking spring and a limestone cave. Could it be that the devil's sword, Morugif, is...

The Review!
Yuri's trip to get the Demon Sword moves forward as he continues to learn more about his Kingdom and the world in general.

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:
While the Japanese retail releases went for a single character on the cover, the US release (presumably using the rental artwork) has a paired shot of Yuri and Wolfram in their regular garb, though Yuri looks amusing in adding his Kingly items to his school uniform, as well as showcasing a bit of flame and water around them. It's not quite as good as the first cover but I like the way the elements come together and the overall design of the background. 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 the spread out technical information. The insert for the release replicates the front cover artwork with a few less logos while the reverse side lists the episodes and future volume release dates along with a few shots from the show, which means this is a fairly useless insert. With the keepcase being clear, the cover is full color on both sides and the reverse side is just a blue background with a shield and crest underneath where the disc itself resides.

Menu:
The menu layout for this series is nicely done with a central image that goes towards a fantasy/kingdom theme with the symbols of the demon kingdom set in the center against a purple backdrop while each of the four corners of the symbols lead to different menu selections, all set to a brief bit of instrumental music. It's a nicely designed menu that fits into the theme of the show and provides for quick and easy navigation that's free of transitional animations. The only downside to the menus is that it doesn't play our presets properly since they put the sign/song subtitle track as the first English track instead of the second one.

Extras:
The only extra included in this volume is a round of twenty four pieces of character artwork in a gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kyo Kara Maoh in its first five episodes proved to be a rather surprising show as it seemingly crossed a number of genres and played up heavily some of the Boys Love angles between the cast. Having the male lead engaged to another guy through accident may not be terribly original but it added to the flavor of the show and allowed for a lot more innuendo and other more obvious bits to exist without any problem. That twist on what is otherwise a seemingly somewhat standard boys show lets it get away with a bit more humor and winking at the audience.

The show has a nice sense of humor about it, such as the opening arc that continues here and has some great moments even after it's over. The group has gotten closer to their goal of acquiring the Demon Sword Mogrif which is located deep within the top of a mountain where the lake turned acidic years ago from a falling meteorite. Yuri, Conrad and Joskar head up there to get it since Wolfram wimped out from the hike and they take a boat across the lake, which thankfully is resistant to the acidic nature and doesn't burn them. To keep the show going with its amusing winks and twisted nature, Yuri has to strip down to nothing and dive into the lake to retrieve the sword since his status as the Demon King means he's unaffected by the water.

The sword is a rather amusing piece of work as just above the hilt is a section where a small white face on black is that looks like the mask from the Scream movies. It's got a personality of its own but it only works in moans and groans, possibly since it's not eaten a soul in fifteen years and is still pretty hungry. When Yuri first reaches for him, it actually bites him. Later in a tournament moment, the sword senses an old man about to die from a heart attack and it absorbs his soul first. Even better, when it's back at the Covenant Castle, when it comes across a group of young maids its eyes turn heart-shaped and it pulls Yuri along as it chases after them. Combined with its moaning nature and how they handle the thing, it's a great little addition that surfaces in amusing ways.

Yuri makes a trip or two back and forth between this world and his own and it's neat to see the changes that are already taking place in him from his experiences. The time he's spent in trying to acquire the sword and what it would mean leads him to question the wisdom of it after he interacts with a lot of the regular humans on their trip and that works into things in his own life back home. Seeing him go back to school and to take on a leadership role with the baseball team was surprisingly heartwarming as he took things he learned and applied it right away in trying to make a change in his life. You normally don't see these kinds of changes so early in the series.

On one of his return visits, he ends up getting to know more of the place by being summoned in by Ulrike, a young woman who is in charge of the shrine maidens where the first Great Demon King's presence resides. Her bringing him in leads to a new situation in the kingdom where we see Stoffel's advisor moving a plot forward that's ostensibly aimed at gaining control over the kingdom from Yuri. What's frustrating with the series of events that this goes through as they lure the lead characters out to deal with it is that so much info is being kept from Yuri that would help him understand that if he'd just demand they tell him, they'd have to. The fact that he's been there as long as he has and is just now getting an idea of how the kingdom is laid out in its power structure shows a lack of curiosity on his part, which in a way is surprising since he's taking a somewhat hands on approach to the situation.

A lot of ground is covered in these five episodes but it goes by very fast due to the characters. The way they interact is very well done and amusing, from the way Gunter is so protective of Yuri to the back and forth nature of the engaged couple. Gwendal starts coming off much better this time around as we see more of him and his hobbies as well as the way he's so fearful of Annissa. There's a very smooth feeling in how they all deal with each other and the way there's even small cliques within the group that do things together. It's very male heavy though which isn't a bad thing since half the time they act like women and the women that do show up run roughshod over all of them.

In Summary:
Kyo Kara Maoh manages to keep up much of the motivation from the first volume and having another five episodes lets us get much deeper into the lengthy series all the faster. Getting to know these characters better much more quickly than usual has helped make it quite enjoyable as does the way the show works in very noticeable character growth so early on. Mixed in with some minor but decent action, comedy and the larger plot, this is a very enjoyable show that's just having fun itself which translates well into the end product. Very good stuff and definitely recommended if you like the first volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery

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

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