Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     December 18, 2003
Release Date: December 30, 2003

Legend of the Mystical Ninja Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
A god of unparalleled evil lurks at the edge of the Game World. This vile creature, Makuamuuge, declares a revolt against the Game World and sends his loyal and steadfast foot soldiers into the Human World to unleash his master plan. Only by twisting the very nature of the Human World can they bring about the total victory of evil. Confronted by a worthy adversary, they are forced to resort to ever more malicious tactics. The fearless and noble Goeman from Game World's lost city of Edo, the protector of all that is good, may have the strength, the will and the sweet rice balls to prevail over this insidious threat.

The Review!
With a concept by Konami, you can let your imagination run wild from there what this series is like.

With this being such a straightforward kids aimed TV series, the audio tracks for both languages are standard stereo mixes that are pretty heavy for center channel use but have some occasional fuller sounds throughout them. We listened to the Japanese track for the bookend episodes and the English for the center three and had no problems during regular playback with distortions or dropouts. This is a pretty simple mix and not much to it.

Originally airing in 1997, the transfer is quite solid and clean looking, free of dirt and other elements. Cross coloration is almost non-existent and even aliasing is very minimal. The only noticeable problem with the transfer is inherent in the source material and that’s some frame jitter during various scene transitions. It’s not on the same level as some older Gainax shows or anything, but once you get attuned to the jitter you see it whenever it crops up. The colors for the show aren’t terribly vibrant for the most part, sort of a muted level but not quite down to the real-world color palette used in a number of shows. The color palette used helps make the show feel older than it actually is, pushing it back to late 80’s or early 90’s.

The front cover gives what most people will need to know about the show right off the bat with a look at the video game world good guy cast spread out above a shot of the Earth and surrounding space aglow with stars. The colors here are more vibrant than they are in the show itself, but that’s not too unusual with advertising artwork. The back cover provides more accurate color shots from the show itself along with a small paragraph of basic plot summary. The discs features are nicely listed along the bottom in my favorite grid style along with several production credits. The insert has an action shot of Goemon as well as his giant robot in the background set against Mt. Fuji. The reverse side is mostly just a listing of what’s on the disc and the previews.

The main menu has a blue tinted close-up of Goemon from the insert along the right whilethe left has a long list of selections as you can episode jump right from the top. With nothing on the disc outside of the show, there’s not a lot of real options here to mess with, resulting in fast menu loads and quick access times.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Out of all the shows that come out that I know little about before hand, Legend of the Mystical Ninja Goemon certainly qualifies as one I knew absolutely nothing about. When I initially saw the trailer, I figured it was some kind of ultra-cultural show that was likely aimed for kids, but often those have enough wit to them for adults to get some laughs out of as well.

So when I got the disc and the opening credits rolled, starting with a “concept by Konami” credit, I knew I was suddenly in a video game to anime conversion and my throat tightened. They snuck one by me!

After watching all five episodes that are on the first disc, I’m admittedly ambivalent about it. The concept is certainly overdone, especially for the video game anime genre, but it’s competently done. There’s some cute in-jokes throughout it, but not enough that a lot of people will be intrigued by it. But again, it’s a kids show. So after the first episode, we switched over to the English track and suddenly both of my girls (one and three) became very interested in it. For the three episodes that were on during their time up that night, they sat and watched it without moving or fidgeting.

Konami’s invented child mind control!

The concept is painfully simple. There’s two worlds, the real world where were follow the life of Tsukasa, a grade school student who has a potential girlfriend in a red haired lass named Asuka. He also has something of a rival on rich boy Noboru, the only grade schooler with a toupee to cover his awful skullcap haircut. Tsukasa’s mother is a stay at home mom while his father is a police detective. There’s nothing truly out of the ordinary in this at all and it’s the basic setup for most dramas.

Then there’s the video game world. A shadowy figure named Makuamuuge has decided that he wants to invade and conquer the real world for his own. So he sends Seppukumaru to Earth along with four henchman called the Four Tuskijiri (that look like onions with eyes and Edo-period clothes) to accomplish this job. Seppukumaru is the tall handsome human looking villain who tries to get people all riled up with rage and fear so that his Rage Gauge will achieve maximum capacity, allowing various kinds of giant robots and creatures to come to life and there by helping to conquer the world. One street block at a time.

To stop this, Goemon the mystical ninja type character comes to our world as well to save the day, but he and his companions arrive via the monitor in Tsukasa’s room (complete with little banana markings to ensure that it’s not a PC clone). Goemon’s something of an oblivious type do-gooder who doesn’t think things through but has a bit heart. He’s ably helped by his friend Yae and occasionally by Ebisumaru when he’s not eating. The old man mentor type named Monoshiri comes to help as well, by building various robots to aide Goemon (as well as his own lecherous ways in pursuit of cuties). The best friend that Goemon has is Omitsu, the pint sized version of the perfect Edo woman who makes him his ohagi food, special food that gives him extra special powers.

Every episode, each side runs up against each other and various things either aid or distract each side depending on the situation. These are all really stock stories so far and nothing surprising at all.

For the Japanese cast, there’s two notables that made part of the episodes rather enjoyable. Aya Hisakawa takes on the role of ninja girl Yae, the competent one who occasionally messes up cutely, while Sakura Tange tackles the role of Omitsu and does the cool and calm role when she’s not furious at Goemon for even looking at another woman. What doesn’t work is Goemon, who just sounds horrid and very irritating on the ears.

So that was one huge reason why I enjoyed the show in English much more. The other is that so much of this cast just feels like they’re having an absolute blast playing at something so simple and easy to do. There’s just an ease to the delivery of the lines that works very well here and gives it a much more Saturday morning cartoon feel, which in reality is all this really is. It’s not trying to be more than what it’s setting out to do, so it’s not like it’s a show you want to compare to a lot of the other Japanese 1:45 AM shows or the like.

In Summary:
Goemon is a show where you definitely check your brain at the couch and just let it flow through you. There’s unfortunately not enough humor to really carry it for adults but kids will likely enjoy a lot of this. The English track is slightly toned down, so the couple of hells and damns are absent, but this isn’t really an issue considering the actual intended audience. Goemon is something that you can easily imagine showing up on network TV or elsewhere during the early mornings for kids.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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