Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #8 - 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: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • 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. #8

By Chris Beveridge     June 29, 2006
Release Date: July 04, 2006


Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #8
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
After witnessing the widespread destruction that the "End of the Earth" caused, Yuri decides to destroy Conrad's arm, which has turned into a key that opens the "End of the Earth." After learning that the world's best fighting event is actually fixed, Yuri and his group set off to participate, against Gunter's objections.

Power struggles emerge during the competition as Maxene takes Flynn as her hostage, and demands that Yuri forfeit. With the competition locked in a tie, Big Cimaron sends out a surprise player against Yuri in the championship game.

The Review!
With the adventures in Small Cimaron essentially done, it's time to visit Big Cimaron and see what the fuss is all about.

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:
Keeping to the same style as before with a good looking dark grey cover, the character artwork is spot on for this volume as it brings in a pairing from one of the fights and an interesting new look for Yuri and Conrart. 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 dark 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 included extra is a series of conceptual sketches in a gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Closing in on the end of the first season of the series, we get a surprising number of minor revelations that only serve to enhance the fun of the show while expanding the cast nicely. The adventures in Small Cimaron have been interesting to watch so far with its potential for grand plots revolving around the boxes, but it's the character moments that continue to make it the most fun.

I've enjoyed seeing how Ken Murata has dealt with being in this new world and his mannerisms have been most unlike anyone you'd see if they were sucked into such a situation. This has led to some obvious speculation about him actually being placed on Earth to watch out over Yuri but the truth is far more engaging as he reveals the reality to Yuri during a quiet moment. The concept of reincarnation happening across multiple worlds is fascinating in and of itself, especially if you take in the possibility of multiple worlds through quantum mechanics, so finding out that Murata is actually a reincarnation of the Great Wise One from this world just brings in an amusing new piece to the puzzle. His position is almost instantly assured once its revealed and now that he's not having to hide his nature, he's able to feel far more comfortable with himself and his situation. A lot has changed since he died in this world but so much is still the same so he proves to have a lot of useful information.

There are a few amusing twists that go into the finale of the Small Cimaron arc but it's the shift to Big Cimaron where the real fun begins. Knowing that there's still a box to be had there, Yuri can't bring himself to leave it and head back to the Demon Tribe country just yet. Things time out well though as the Ultimate Tournament is about to start in Big Cimaron, a rigged sort of Olympics where Big Cimaron always seems to win, and the winner gets whatever they wish for by the king. This gives Yuri the perfect opportunity to organize a team on behalf of the devastated Small Cimaron who cannot participated and would pay heavily for it. Taking Josak and Wolfram with him while another team organizes a heist of the box to ensure that they get it no matter what, they head to Big Cimaron for the challenge.

Being further north on the map, it's a colder country and there are some new revelations made about people who actually have ancestry back to this large country, including Josak. Similar to the start of new arcs in past volumes, there's a fair bit of comedy that gets introduced as we have the team having to go through a sledding contest in order to even properly participate and that means we get all manner of creatures as the muscle with which to pull the sled. The actual event itself gets forced down to just two teams that are playing by all appearances with Yuri's team going against the Big Cimaron team. Unfortunately for Yuri, the opposing team is led by Adalbert, who came to the tournament for the sole purpose of putting the hurt on Yuri.

There's a lot of humor in these episodes that really smooths things out as it plays out. Morgif has some great moments early on when Murata recalls how he "used to be" but also when Yuri gets into the tournament and has to use his sword to defend himself. Annissa has a couple of small moments that are priceless as she talks about the skill of knitting and we get to see Gwendal's "pig" again. But what really worked nicely for me with this volume was the way that Murata manages to fit into things. He's one of the few people outside of the currently missing Conrart who understands Yuri's cultural upbringing. The two have been friends for so long that it makes Yuri even more at ease, though you can sense some amount of jealousy welling up within Wolfram. Murata could have unbalanced things heavily but like most of the other introductions of characters into this world, he's found a good niche and provides plenty of commentary that used to be the realm of just Gunter or Conrart.

In Summary:
This series has worked its level of humor, innuendo and action quite well so far and this volume carries on that tradition nicely. The cast has grown quite a lot and while you wish some characters would get a bit more time, it's very well balanced overall. The reworking of various animals is an area that I also really adore so seeing that come back into play with the sled race was a lot of fun as well. Where the show shines though is generally through Yuri's forthright nature and intent to do good and this volume lets that stand out again, as well as many moments that provide small but very useful insights into the why of the world as it stands, and many of the characters we've gotten to know better recently like Josak. Simply put, Kyo Kara Maoh! continues to be a really good time and a lot of fun.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 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.

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