Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #3

By Brett Barkley     February 22, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006


Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Figuring out a way back to the world of the gods is hard work and with evil around every corner, Loki has his work cut out. Especially now with Mayura looking for her mystery fix at the Enjaku Detective Agency, which only can only lead to trouble, Loki really has his hands full. And it’s not just Mayura, she somehow gets the other Norse gods, Thor and Frey, into trouble as well.



Life among the mortals can be quite challenging. The exiled Loki and his fellow gods must face off against evil spirits appearing as a giant Buddha statue or virtual reality game characters that are all too real. Meanwhile, Thor must make passing grades and work a part-time job at an evil spirited coffee shop. As for Frey, he searches for his beloved sister while having a god size crush on the “classic Japanese beauty”, Mayura. Join Loki and his friends, and his enemies, in their mysterious adventures in this evil third volume of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok!



The Review!
An overall more humorous diversion from some of the slightly heavier Heimdalll’s-revenge-driven story arcs we’ve seen before, this volume presents a number of humorous stand-alone character-driven episodes.

Audio:

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English and Dolby 2.0 in Japanese with English subtitles. I greatly enjoyed the English track and felt the actors really did a great job in bringing personality to their respective characters. Considering the large amount of dialogue in this series, this was actually a necessity. That the audio was reproduced well only served to do the actors justice. Understandably, the same can be said for the actors on the Japanese Dolby 2.0 track, though it comes across much flatter in comparison. On an issue of personal preference, I actually prefer Ms. Fuchizaki’s rendition of Loki on the Japanese track, though again you just don’t get the same impact with the 2.0 audio. As always, there are trade-offs between the two audio options, but this feels like a solid release all the way around.



Video:

Having an original Japanese air date of 2003, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok clearly shows in its production values and relative freshness. Video is crisp and clear with colors represented very nicely. This series appears to really rely on moody and striking color schemes, which are all done to great effect throughout the episodes on this disk. Some of the scenes with the possessed doll from the first episode, or even the opening itself are perfect examples of just how nicely this series’ colors are represented throughout. I found overall quality of the presentation to be very strong, finding no instances of cross coloration or pixilation. This is a great looking piece of work.

Packaging:

Volume three comes in a clear keepcase and features a moody image of Heimdall amidst a nicely designed cover. Though consisting of more muted purples and greens, When juxtaposed with the dark grays and blacks of the cover’s background, the colors employed in the figure really pop. The cover also features some intricate designs that give it a very unique look unlike any other anime cover I’m immediately familiar with. The back cover continues the black and dark gray background pattern, featuring an easy-to-read volume summary and features included on the disk, as well as several images from the episodes, which also read nicely against this dark background. The spine clearly displays the title (though not the logo) and has a very classy feel. While there is no insert included with this volume, the clear keepcase does feature a vibrantly-colored reversible cover candid shot of Loki, Ecchan, Yamino, and Mayura.


Menu:

The disk menu is nicely designed and very easy to use. Featuring some of the Victorian-inspired border design work from the rear cover of the disk itself, the primary background image is a shot of Freya, palm extended toward the viewer, hair gently waving in the wind, as ghostly images of feathers float over the entire menu and a moody music clip plays throughout. Somewhat lighter in tone and design than the previous disks, the cooler, brighter colors used here are an interesting change

In terms of navigation, the menu is also successful. A breeze to use and easy to instantly understand, all navigation is featured against a gold band along the lower edge of the screen. The Mythical Detective seal is featured boldly in the lowermost left of the screen, and the episodes are listed in order nine through twelve, with Preview Volume 4, Extras and Language options in the rightmost corner. By pressing the down key on the remote, the viewer can quickly move through the listing of disk options.


Extras:

The third volume of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok features a preview of volume 4, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, another Interview with Seiyuu (Part 1 of a session with Japanese voice actors Showtaro Morikubo, who plays Narugami, and Romi Paku, the voice of Heimdall), a Character Art Gallery, the welcome inclusion of Norse Mythology Notes and ADV Preview and DVD Credits. I actually really liked the Clean Opening Animation, simply because the mood and design of the opening is just that good. The Character Art Gallery is pretty nice, offering animation still of a number of the characters from the first volume. I was slightly disappointed there weren’t more and would have really appreciated more in the way of concept sketches and unfinished pieces, just to get a better idea of the behind-the-scenes artistic energy brought to the series. The video interview was again fun and playful, and this time actually gets to the heart of an issue of the changes in Hemidall’s character, which is something that felt curious to me as well. I was very pleased with the inclusion of the notes on Norse Mythology. I think this would have better served the readers if it had been included on the first disk, but better late than never.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok began its life as a serialized manga published in Shonen Gangan under the name, Mythical Detective Loki. The title was lengthened to the final Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok after the property was relocated to Comic Blade magazine. The television series based on the original manga ran for 26 episodes in 2003.

Very loosely based on Norse mythology (in which Loki finds himself exiled to Midgard—our human realm, or Japan in this case—in the body of a child, and a number of other famous Norse characters are recreated here as well, as teenagers), this series is a sort of fusion between those mythological characters and the boy detective genre. The plot follows Loki, who has established the Enjaku Detective agency, which appears to handle more occult-oriented cases. Loki has been judged by Odin and exiled to this realm and placed in the somewhat limiting form of a child. He is accompanied by his faithful servant Yamino (who has a penchant for sending away for mail-order junk and seems genuinely surprised when it breaks) and Mayura Daidoji, an energetic, if somewhat clumsy high school girl who manages to force her way in to Loki’s life. Additional characters from Norse mythology are introduced play a vital role in the plot. The additional characters introduced to this point are Thor, Hemidall, Frey and Freya. Each of these Norse transplants also has special abilities, though theirs do not seem as limited by their youthful exteriors as Loki.

Now that the primary characters have been introduced, this volume sets about further exploring those characters. Overall, these episodes are much lighter in tone than many of those featured on previous volumes. While this tends to feel like inconsistency, specifically in regard to Heimdall’s character, but I actually enjoyed the somewhat lighter tones of these episodes, particularly as they offered opportunities to further explore the core characters.

The first episode in this volume, episode nine, opens as Frey unknowingly loses the red broche he wears around his neck (which happens to be Heimdall’s), and thus allows a terrible evil, Embla, to enter the world. And before he can recover the broche, a giant tree, the leaves of which grant wishes, has sprouted up in a nearby park. Mayura and Narugami, who are both failing their classes, desperately need some help. But, as they’re unwilling to actually dedicate themselves to their coursework, they may have to resort to cheating, that is until they discover the mysterious wish-granting tree. When they discover a group of people plucking leaves from the tree and believing a god lives in the tree who will grant them their wish, Mayura and Narugami can’t resist. Recognizing it for the soul stealing entity it truly is, Loki quickly becomes involved. I enjoyed this episode greatly, as it offered fun insight in to the primary cast of characters and the humor abounds. Exhibiting more of the series’ trademark clever humor and play on words, this episode’s punch line is a clever tie-in to the god-in-the-tree aspect from earlier in the episode

Slightly darker than the first, the second episode, episode ten, deals with a haunted coffee shop, which also just so happens to be the latest place of employment for Narugami. When Reiya discovers Mayura’s lost purse, she decides to treat the young girl to a drink. The group finds themselves at the Twilight Coffee Shop. They soon discover the kindly old coffee shop owner has been terribly down on his luck, all the customers having fled after a number of strange occurrences. When Mayura volunteers the group to help the owner, Mayura, Yamino, Loki, Reiya, and even Kotaro all join in to help bring the shop some good fortune. For a time, it actually works, until yet another supernatural event causes all the customers to again flee. Recognizing the owner’s own prized coffee cup, an one-of-a-kind china cup he has kept by his side as an old friend for years, to be Bodn, the source of the evil, Loki is caught in a dilemma. Does he destroy the kindly old man’s prized cup, the thing he prizes most in this world, and save the shop, or does he allow the old man to keep his cup at the expense of his coffee shop? When Loki returns to the shop, with the intention of destroying Bodn, he is interrupted by Narugami. It would seem Narugami knows something of having a prized possession, his sword Mjolnir, and refuses to allow Loki to so easily destroy his employer’s. The conclusion forces a conflict, both between Loki and Narugami, but also with what Narugami at once believes to be right and knows he must do. Confronted with what he has done and how this will injure his new friend, Narugami makes a startling offer of atonement for the broken coffee cup. This episode truly explored Narugami as something more than common relief, offering him the spotlight and the tough decision. While this episode certainly had its fair share of humor, it was this character exploration that truly made it work for me.


Episode eleven showcases Mayura’s desperate attempts to prevent her school’s fledgling Mystery Society from being dissolved. It seems the student body president does not believe the Mystery Society to be an actual club, and unless Mayura can prove to her it deserves to remain, she will be forced to remove it as an officially recognized club. Following the fairly standard narrative course of the character desperately trying to justify his or her beliefs to the non-believers, this is a fun, albeit predictable episode. When Frey learns of his “classic Japanese beauty’s” distress, he quickly decides to come to her aid, going so far as to join the school as a transfer student and, shortly thereafter, joins the soon-to-be-doomed Mystery Society with the intention of faking some mysteries to impress (or distress) the head of the student council and get Mayura’s club reinstated.

This episode, while certainly predictable, offers a tremendous amount of humor. From the issues most likely to result in having two slightly egotistical gods attend the same high school, to Frey’s jealousy of Mayura’s attention, and Frey’s hilarious attempts to scare the student body council president (including a brilliant tongue-in-cheek “homage” to the Ringu movies). Managing to resolve itself with copious amounts of action, a plot to create artificial mysteries gone terribly awry, the aid of a somewhat lighter Heimdall, an all-out battle between a statue of Jizo filled with concentrated evil and Frey’s flying Neo-Skidblandir battleship, and of course Loki’s assistance, this episode has enough humor and action to be truly entertaining.

Episode twelve, the final on this disk, opens with Loki and Yamino in what appears to be a basement in their mansion, observing the towering flames of evil energy they have accumulated in their time in our world. While this stands to be a prominent aspect of the ongoing series, this is the first time it has appeared as a plot thread in the series, which was a little disappointing. The rest of the episode deals with a very special and haunted game in the arcade owned by Kotaro’s father. It seems this state of the art virtual reality arcade game, Dracula’s Revenge, is actually possessed by the evil dragon Nidhogg and has the ability to actually pull individuals in to the game. In order to rescue both Mayura and Kotaro, Loki must test his video game prowess as he too goes inside the game. Once inside, he is confronted by twisted versions of people he knows from his life. Easily dispatching each of these phantoms, he progresses to the final boss, Dracula himself, or Nidhogg. While this episode certainly presented many instances humor, particularly in the game’s twisted versions of characters we know, it all felt a little too linear and, again, predictable.

In Summary:

On average, I thoroughly enjoyed these episodes, finding myself actually laughing out loud on a number of occasions. I enjoyed the further exploration of the characters, and feel this most benefited Frey, who now appears better-rounded and realized than was previously the case. However, this disk brought to a head a number of questions I’ve had regarding the series for some time. Though I’m not certain it’s necessarily an inconsistency, as there are indications this may be addressed in future episodes, I’d like to get a bearing on Heimdall’s character. To this point, there has really been little consistency in his portrayal, as he regularly swings from a homicidal psychopath bent on revenge, to simple comic relief. I’d like to see something more resembling a consistent character develop in Heimdall’s case, and at least expect a decent explanation as to why this has not been the case. Further, the introduction to Loki’s collecting of evil energy felt completely unannounced and somewhat inconsistent with what we’ve seen thus far. In the earlier episodes, Loki often wondered why he had been banished from Asgard, seemingly with no understanding of how to return, only to assert in episode 12 that he wonders how much evil must be collected before he can return. It just feels more inconsistent than I’d like. While the great characterization and clever humor remains, I’m sincerely hoping some of these inconsistencies can be addressed sooner rather than later.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with voice actors Showtaro Morikubo (Narugami) and Romi Paku (Heimdall),Character art gallery,Norse mythology notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
34” Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.

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