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Info:

  • 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: 19.95
  • Running time: 70
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Munto

Munto 2

By Chris Beveridge     March 21, 2006
Release Date: April 04, 2006


Munto 2
© Central Park Media


What They Say
It’s been a year since psychic schoolgirl Yumemi’s life turned upside down with the arrival of Magical King Munto. When he first appeared and demanded her help to save his world, she refused out of fear…and has regretted her weakness ever since. Now, worlds once more collide as Munto returns, desperate for Yumemi’s supernatural abilities. Can she find within herself the strength to save his world…and hers?

The Review!
The battle wages on with even bigger stakes and the need for Yumemi becomes even more critical.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this release in its original language of Japanese. The show provides a pretty good sounding forward soundstage mix with some distinct directionality across it, typically in some of the bigger action sequences or some of the various sound effects used with magical powers. In terms of dialogue, there isn't a lot of strong directionality for it but all of it was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with distortions or dropouts during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2004, this OVA is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this being a show that feels like it's being done outside the normal system, it has a slightly different feel to the transfer but it comes across very strongly here with great looking colors and a very clean print. There's some visible cross coloration going on along the edges but with suppression in both our DVD player and TV, cross coloration isn't something that affects us as heavily as it used to. There's a touch of some color gradation issues in a few scenes but the bulk of the solid colors look just that and are problem free. Aliasing is minimal and overall this is a very sweet looking transfer.

Packaging:
Contrasting with the first cover which was very bright and almost sweet, this one has a far darker tone as the background is that of destruction and the characters look on with serious looks to them. None of the colors that made the first one bright are here but the scheme does fit the dark nature of this episode. The back cover is a fair bit simpler with a nice shot of Yumemi reaching out as she falls as the centerpiece while she's surrounded by either a strip of shots from the show or a short basic paragraph that summarizes the premise. The discs features are clear and easy to figure out though as usual I dislike how they seemingly hide the runtime in such small print. The reverse side of the cover has a black and white image of the Yumemi artwork from the back cover on the left panel while the right panel lists the bilingual cast list and chapter stops as well as the mixed production credits.

Menu:
The layout for the menu is something of a standard from CPM where they breakt it out into sections and use various elements from the show to fill it up. The lower portion which has the navigation strip for example is a rocky cliffside and serves to separate the three bands that rise up from it. One has action shots from the show, another has a small slow moving panning view of various locations while the third is a static shot of Munto. There is a lot to see visually here and it's nicely accented by some heavy instrumental music but at the same time it feels a touch too busy. This is a good looking menu with easy navigation and fast accessing submenus. The disc didn't read our language presets too well as there are two English subtitle tracks and it picked up the sign/song track first instead of the real full English subtitles.

Extras:
There aren't a lot of extras here but what we do get is useful and helpful. The first is the recap of Munto which is a bilingual piece that covers what happened in the first episode, which runs about eight minutes in length. The Japanese TV warning, which is also bilingual, is short but hilarious. It should have been included at the start of the actual show though. Also included is a series of galleries, one for general artwork, character artwork and background pieces.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When the first Munto OVA came out back in 2004, it was almost like a breath of fresh air as the show felt unlike a lot of other OVAs that came before and certainly had a different feel than most TV series that have been on then and since. Essentially a high class OVA that's done outside of the normal system, the lengthy episode was like a bridge between TV and theatrical as it worked with an interesting plot, took a different route for pacing but still had an epic sense about it while tied to very human characters.

As complete as it was, there's always room for more and the relative success of the release has spawned this second part which came out in late 2004. With Munto having used the influx of Akuto that Yumemi was able to bring to the table, the Magical Kingdom was saved and the future that the young king had seen was averted. Yumemi went back to Earth but could still look off into the sky and see that other world there. Many others had seen it briefly as well which led to some interesting discussions around the world but the main follow-up to all of it is that on Earth, the year since the sighting has had numerous earthquakes and other occurrences that are making folks uneasy. Yumemi finds herself wondering what's really going on there and longing to go back.

There's an interesting sub-arc to all of this as her friend Ichiko is really concerned about the spacey nature of Yumemi. Yumemi had been up front in the past about seeing what she saw but since nobody else could they discounted it and just sort of ignored it. But once Ichiko actually saw that it was for real, it changed how she had to deal with Yumemi. It's unclear whether Yumemi ever told anyone what really happened but Ichiko has this concern now that Yumemi thinks that this other world may be accessible and that she's wasting away her life and time in thinking about going there. Yumemi is certainly interested to be sure as she and Munto have a connection, but her concern continues to be from a more overall perspective of hoping that everyone she met is all right.

Munto's need for Yumemi is becoming apparent again as the Magical Kingdom is the only place that's seemingly able to fight back against the new enemy that's rolling all over the place. It's forces are strong and many alliances are falling apart or being broken under the powerful threat. The future that Munto had seen was broken by bringing Yumemi and her power into play but what they've gained instead almost seems worse in a way as the threat is set to wipe everything out. Much of the nearly sixty minute episode is focused around the various fights that the kingdom's are going through, a mix where some survive and some don't, but also the hands on fights that Munto takes directly to the enemy and the way Gass is now intent on being much more involved in keeping some peace in the world.

Gass continues to be the character that I think really steals the show, both between the visuals of his design with the powers he uses and his overall look. His position has allowed him to take things directly up to Heaven and Gntarl to try and force things into a better position but even he's not able to do everything that he wants. While there is a lot of action and very tense scenes throughout, a lot of the show is also given over to Yumemi as she almost sleeps through life on Earth, feeling disconnected from things while at the same time having a connection to this other world where she's needed. While the first episode was more focused on the meeting between Munto and Yumemi, this one is more aimed at expanding on the battle that's going on and then bringing them back together so they can deal with things.

With its almost quirky nature in pacing and design, Munto 2 is a rather good OVA that again feels like it's trying to find a new way to do things but keeps hitting some of the same classic restrictions in storytelling. One thing that I think helps make this work better is watching it with the first one in a back to back session; the kind of mood that both of these episodes evoke is strong but it takes some time to really get into it. Having the first one get you into the groove of it, the second episode right afterwards manages to build upon that pace and style rather than coming in cold. Each of them are well enough tied to each other that the primer in the extras section here does help but I think the entire episode before this one would work far better.

The quality of the show is once again an area that really stands out. The world that these characters in habit in the Magical Kingdom and other realms is so richly realized at times, wonderfully detailed and executed. While some of it certainly isn't unique, what they do with it here helps push it beyond a lot of what we've seen in the past. A good portion of what Munto feels like as a show is something of a fable that's been told for generations with the Earth side changed to be up to date with how the world is today. The fable element to the show gives it the ability and feeling that it can do whatever it needs to in order to tell the story while making leaps of faith and logic that a stricter series would be unable to do.

In Summary:
While the original OVA was one that felt self-contained and told an interesting story, Munto 2 takes the leap from there and shows what changes have happened and that the situation is dire in a new way now and is more open ended in how it's going to proceed. The self contained nature of the first episode certainly worked in its favor but with this one being more open it's definitely more relaxed even as the battles get more tense. The show has plenty of places to go and they're definitely leaving things open to allow themselves the room to move. This episode builds nicely upon the fable nature of the story and brings us back into a very interesting world. The only downside is that unlike the first, you can't finish this volume and think of it as done as there is definitely more to come. It's an engaging and attractive show that I'm glad has spawned more material and I hope we see it here quickly.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Munto Recap, Art Galleries, Original Japanese Trailer

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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