Legend of the Dragon Kings Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 94
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Legend of the Dragon Kings

Legend of the Dragon Kings Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 13, 2001
Release Date: November 13, 2001

Legend of the Dragon Kings Vol. #1
© Central Park Media

What They Say
There's something strange about the four Ryudo brothers. Each seems to be endowed with almost superhuman abilities. But someone out there is envious.

Kamukura no Gozen, the 'old man of Kamukura' is the richest and most powerful man in Japan. He also seems to know more about the brothers than they know about themselves. He's spent his entire life trying to unravel a secret so important, so powerful, that it's worth any price. And somehow, the brothers hold the key to that secret.

Until now, the brothers have led a pleasant, peaceful life.. But all that is about to change. They weren't bothered when the assault and kidnapping attempts were directed at them... But when their friends become victims, it's time to get tough. Unfortunately, no one knows how powerful the brothers really are - but they're about to find out!

The Review!
Based on a series of novels written in the mid 80's and then animated as a 12 part OVA series in 1991 and released in the US subtitle only by CPM in 1995, Sohryuden is now know getting itself dubbed and released for the new millennium.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a somewhat older show, it's no surprise that even though it's a stereo soundtrack it sounds primarily mono with most everything coming through the center channel. Music sounded decent if a bit flat while dialogue was clean and clear with no noticeable dropouts.

While many OVA series from the early 90's sport some high production values, this one's a bit more of a smaller budgeted one based on its looks. Or if you prefer, it's more real-world in its design and coloring, giving it a less vibrant feel. Colors are nice and solid and there's a small bit of grain throughout the presentation. Some cross-coloration shows up in some of the more tightly animated areas but is otherwise pretty negligible. The shows look just isn't one that just shines in how its made.

Going by the cover art, you really can't tell what kind of show this is. While it's got the big logo for the Dragon Kings, you get a picture of a mansion and four variously dressed males, from a business suit to a high school jacket. Checking out the back you get a few non-descript images there as well with a very short summary. Almost more line are given to the discs features than to what it's about. The reverse side of the covers gives some murky black and white images of the cast while listing the chapter marks for the two episodes and the English cast (it indicates that the Japanese cast information could not be found; nobody could translate the end credits in the show?).

A fairly average menu layout here, with some of the show playing to the right while selections are listed along the left. Everything is laid out in a straightforward manner and access times are nice and fast.

There's a couple of nice extras included here. The single background page works nicely in letting us know the origins of the materials and a CLAMP connection while we also get a couple of video galleries showing off character artwork. There's also a trivia game, but I suck at those and tend to stay away from them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ahh, the good old days when you could afford to release a 12 episode OVA series with each episode running 45 minutes or so. This makes the series closer to a 24 episode TV series just with more content per episode.

Legend of the Dragon Kings was something I had no idea what to expect. And even after the first two episodes, I'm really unsure of what to expect or what it's all really about. The show takes place in "present day" Japan and focuses on a family of four brothers. You've got Hajime as the oldest at 23 years. He's on the board of chairman at the academy his grandfather created and his uncle is chairman of. He also works as a history teacher in the high school section of the academy. Tsuzuku is 19 and is a junior in the college of said academy. He falls into the category of the pretty boy of the four. Next is Owaru at age 15 whose sort of the rough and tumble of them all. And coming in at 13 is Amaru, the youngest and least defined family member.

The boys have lost their parents, but Hajime keeps everything held together with his job and keeps them all together in their family home. They do get a fair bit of help from one Matsuri whose their cousin related to the chairman. She seems to fall in around the age of 18 or so and does her best to keep them cleaned and fed and generally happy.

So what's so special about these boys? Well, at one point in the past their grandfather, the founder of the Academy they all go to, said that they have an important future. One so important that the fate of the school should not be a concern. The boys are all also demonstrating some strange powers. Amaru, the youngest, sometimes sleepwalks and levitates, and during one segment while sleepwalking, his eyes glow green and he begins to attack people who were trying to kidnap him.

Kidnapping? Yep, you got it. It seems that this legend that's attached to these boys is known to on Funazu, a man in his 90's whose control of the politics and finances of Japan from behind the scenes is paramount. He begins using a variety of minor tactics to challenge the boys to see if they really are what the legend tells of while keeping himself fairly out of the picture. So it's through his underlings that we see most of the dirty action take place.

Strangely, this really does sum up the first two episodes/90 minutes worth of show. There's a somewhat odd pacing to the show, but it takes its time in getting to know the characters and their situations. There's no rush to get from one scene to the next, but a lot of this is probably due to the novel origins of the show as other novel-to-anime shows operate in the same style.

Legend of the Dragon Kings doesn't seem bad, it's just that we really don't know what the heck is going on yet. And as of this writing, we've had no indication of the remaining 10 episodes being dubbed and prepped for DVD release. So at this point, it's a chancy title to try out if they don't continue with the series. Of course, if sales are low, they don't continue, so it's another fun problem.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Background,Art Gallery,Character Gallery,Trivia Quiz

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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