Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #3 - 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 29, 2005
Release Date: September 06, 2005


Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The battle between Stoffel's militia and the current regime's army has begun! Yuri tries to stop the conflict, but his anger transforms him into the out-of-control Demon King. After this incident, it's rumored that a Demon King is arrested in Svelera. He is said to possess the long lost demon flute, but in reality, this Demon King is an imposter. Yuri and his group set out to search for the truth, but Conrad and Wolfram go missing in a sudden attack of the "sand bear." Meanwhile, Yuri and Gwendal meet a girl named Nicola who reveals that she is pregnant by the father of a Demon tribesman. When Nicola reveals the father's name, Gwendal's look is one of complete surprise.

The Review!
While we got to know Yuri in the first couple of volumes it's now time for the Demon Tribe characters to really understand him.

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 Gwendal in their regular garb. While the character artwork is decent, the combination of two very dark colored uniforms against a dark brown cover just doesn't mesh well and it feels very murky and heavy. 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 brown 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 character artwork in a gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the series being thirteen episodes longer than what's considered a standard season, each of the arcs that we go on tend to be a bit more stretched out than usual, or maybe it's just that we're given more time to loiter around instead of just rushing from plot point to plot point. It doesn't feel like it's bad time spent since there's a good sized cast here and plenty to learn but the lengthier arcs already give the show something of a different feel.

The Stoffel arc comes to a close surprisingly quickly in just the first episode and overall it's really just anticlimactic since it feels so separated from the episodes that lead up to it. It does have some fun moments though since Gunter gets to have fun and show off a bit and it pushes one of the main buttons that I think is really legitimate with this show. Stoffel and his underling really push the idea with Yuri that he shouldn't trust Weller and the rest as much as he does since what does he really know about them? Whenever he does ask questions, particularly family related ones, he's often shushed or ignored on it. But Yuri makes the most basic mistakes anyway by never actually really asking questions that anyone else in this position would. That it took until the last volume that we got an idea of what the continent looked like and Yuri was surprised by it shows he's not asking the important questions, just taking baths.

The next arc, which finishes in this volume thankfully with the four episodes remaining, is a fun little on that starts off with an amusing moment at home with mom as she shows Yuri the moves she's learned in self defense class. His arrival in the other world gets him on a fairly new course to follow as he finds out that Gwendal has gone off to the kingdom of Svelera where someone who has been accused of being the new Demon King has ended up in jail. The reason for his being in jail is that he bailed on a restaurant bill which just totally devastates Yuri. While he's intrigued that Gwendal has gone to deal with it, the revelation that this imposter is in possession of the long lost Demon Flute piques his interest.

The Flute was lost some two hundred years ago and some twenty years ago Gwendal sent his own cousin off to search for it after he did something that caused quite a lot of trouble in the kingdom. This was essentially exiling his own kin since the Flute had been lost for so long but now that there's apparently someone with it and the potential for finding this lost cousin, Gwendal has gone in search of it. Yuri decides that he wants to get in on this and sets his command to go and do just that, which of course throws everyone off since they expect a king to do all his work from the castle. And poor Gunter, he once again gets left behind and subjected to the whims of the former queen and Aninissa.

With Svelera being a desert kingdom and one that's suffered with no rainfall for a few years, it doesn't take long for Yuri and the others to catch up to Gwendal and join for the expedition, though Gwendal doesn't care for it. Very amusingly, they encounter some serious trouble along the way in the form of a "sand bear", which is basically a giant panda that causes huge pits to snare travelers so that it can devour them. The party gets split up a bit here as Gwendal and Yuri are left together and the rest are all over the map. This lets Gwendal and Yuri finally get some one on one time and slowly explore each other in a far less confrontational way than they have in the castle. The two get along surprisingly well here until they arrive at one border town where they're mistaken for a pair of elopers that are being sought after, a pair of people who in fact very reminiscent of Gwendal's cousin.

Misunderstandings become the name of the game as the two end up in shackles together and even crash a wedding that leads to them gaining more clues about what's going on. What's interesting about Svelera is that unlike the Demon Tribe's land, what's the main force here is an esoteric mastery and esoteric stones. These stones absorb the power of the Demon Tribe people when in enough numbers so Gwendal is fairly weakened while traveling throughout the population areas. Weller for example isn't bothered at all since he uses no magic but Wolfram feels sick constantly. With Yuri's strange nature, he's surprisingly indifferent to the entire situation which lets him just feel all the more confused about things. Svelera's also different in that it doesn't allow an unions between human and demonkind which leads to some social subplots that bring us back to the core story of finding the Flute and figuring out what happened to Gwendal's cousin.

With four episodes to cover ground here, they do a really good job of making an interesting plot and bringing in several things that serve as coincidences that they all align now in order to provide revelations. The story arc is nicely punctuated by scenes that go back to the castle where Gunter is subjected to various devices and gadgets that are created as well as the whims of the former demon queen. Overall though, this story works nicely in allowing us to see more of the lands surrounding the Demon Tribe lands and how they deal with their neighbors as well as understanding some of the social issues that are going on. They're basic world building stories but they tie some good character development to it and Gwendal has managed to turn enough from a one-note one-dimensional character to something a bit more interesting.

In Summary:
With a bit more of a leisurely pace, the series hasn't really hit its halfway mark yet and we're still in the midst of the kinds of episode that help build up the basics of the world that we get to explore and the characters that inhabit it. The new arc that's explored here takes us to another new land with different customs and people that are just as interesting as the previous ones. It also delves a bit more into the character and family history of those lead characters that Yuri has entrusted himself to and it even manages to sneak in some fun things like the panda's as deadly sand bears and great white sharks that are purely vegetarians. The sometimes less than subtle gender bending gags and the occasional highlights of great magic balance the rest of it out and this continues to just be a fun show to watch.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art 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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