Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #9 - 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. #9

By Chris Beveridge     September 25, 2006
Release Date: September 05, 2006


Kyo Kara Maoh! Vol. #9
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Yuri finally finds Conrad in the unlikeliest of places: as Yuri's opponent in Big Cimaron's Ultimate Tournament! With Conrad no longer on his side, what will Yuri do?

Yuri and his group manage to escape with "the End of the Wind," one of the Four Forbidden Boxes, thanks to Yuri's transformation into the Demon King. Later, with news that the Forbidden Box "Hells Fire on Frozen Tundra" was found in the land of Francia, Yuri and his team set off to find it. Unfortunately, what awaits them is betrayal by an allied country and Big Cimaron's army!

The Review!
With the location of another box now coming in, Yuri and most of the other high ranking nobles head with him to a small isolated country to secure it.

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 green cover, the last volume of the "first season" gives us the imagery of Yuri and Conrart as well as someone from Conrart's family history. It looks good with the shades of green used and has a fairly somber feel to it. 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 a second season release date 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 green 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 images from the show in a "Memory Slide Show" that runs nearly eight minutes in length and covers the first nine volumes of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though this it the end of the first season, the show really doesn't have all that much of a break in it and there isn't all that climactic of an ending. In fact, the story arc that runs through these episodes is fairly mild and mostly character driven. It has its fair share of action and moments where you wonder where it'll all go, but it certainly doesn't feel like how most shows end a season or a series.

The Big Cimaron arc comes to a close relatively quickly in this volume though not without some angst. The shock to Yuri of seeing Conrart being on the Big Cimaron side certainly throws off his composure and he's not sure how to proceed. Events force his hand though and he ends up going into Demon King mode with his powers taking out everyone in the coliseum. To the man in charge of Big Cimaron, this basically turns Yuri and his friends into a band of criminals since they spoiled his "fixed" games. In the end though, since this is all a cover for the theft of the Forbidden Box, it doesn't matter how things turn out in the tournament. But the way it affects Yuri's reputation as well as that of the Demon Tribe isn't for the positive.

A lot of the angst that comes from these episodes, especially the downtime one where Yuri goes home briefly, revolves around the feelings of abandonment by Conrart. Yuri can't believe that he's changed sides like that but through Gunter he's able to learn more of the Weller family past and its relation to Big Cimaron. This does change the view a bit but Yuri is still upset by the entire episode. Gunter is as well, as we see from his reaction and response later on when he comes into contact with Conrart. The separation of this very even handed and balanced character from the group does change the dynamic a fair bit, but with Murata now a part of the gang and the inclusion of Hube and Gwendal in the next storyline everything feels like the balance is kept.

The discover of the third Forbidden Box in the land of Fransia gets Yuri back into the swing of things though and he heads off there with a sizeable group of lead characters to get it. The country is actually fairly hard to get to as it has no relations with any other countries outside of one. It's through there, after a brief overly-shiny experience with some of the leaders there, that Yuri and the others make their way into Fransia to secure the box. The introduction of a new kingdom brings us a new leader, someone who is apparently even more of a wuss that Yuri, but also a land that seems to be far more at peace than any other that we've seen. It's a great contrast to things but with the Demon Tribe in there now sneaking around and the arrival of the Big Cimaron force led by Conart, it doesn't stay that way for too long.

While the show continues to have a lot of good moments to it, be it Yuri going into Demon King mode during the tournament or how Morgif sucks up all the energy of an attack and burps when done, this volume felt fairly well underwhelming. Instead of being a good point where you get excited by the show a bit more and look forward to the second season, it feels more like a good jumping off point instead. Though the stories are still as epic in size as they have been in the past, they don't feel quite as grand. Instead, it's a bit more personal which is good but it just feels underwhelming in how it plays out, if even a little bit rushed.

In Summary:
Kyo Kara Maoh has been an enjoyable series for the bulk of its run and for the most part this volume really isn't an exception. But as an ending volume it's one of the weaker ones so far. One of the best things about the show is the way its able to cross genders and bring in fans from both sides of the fence as it plays up the relationship angle in amusing ways without it being too hardcore or offensive. Fans of the show will enjoy this volume even if it does feel a bit rushed since it keeps to the ideas and gags that make it fun. The larger storyline is covered pretty well and the only thing to really be said against this volume is that it's a bit of an awkward place to call it an end before restarting with volume one again.

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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